Menachem Stark — Just Another Hasid?

It's Wrong To Slander Slain Man — and Entire Community

courtesy of stark family

By Mordechai Lightstone

Published January 12, 2014.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Can it ever be appropriate to paint an entire community in broad, unfavorable strokes?

For example, I’ve personally witnessed and heard of plenty of crimes perpetrated by my African-American and Caribbean-American neighbors here in Crown Heights. Does make it OK for me to joke that the alleged crimes of a young African American “sounds like every person of color I’ve ever met?” Is a statement like that OK if I add the caveat that there are plenty of blacks who don’t commit crimes?

Or every time there’s an act of terror commited by an Arab, is it OK for me to say that it sounds like every Arab I’ve ever heard of. But hey, I “assume” that there are some good Arabs out there as well?

If I ever make such repugnant statements like those of Jay Michaelson about any community, please do me a favor and pour some water on my head. Slap me in the face. Do something to wake me up from my narcissistic binge that somehow justifies that I can denigrate an entire community because of the sins of individuals, even if those individuals gave a negative experience to my friends on Facebook.

We Hasidic Jews have our problems. Let’s be honest: In Williamsburg, Monsey, Crown Heights, Lakewood, we all have our sins, individual and communal, that we must address.

But secular Jews also have their problems. As do the Italian and the Irish, the African Americans, Asian Americans, Muslim Americans. In fact, so does every single other group that makes up the diverse crowd of peoples — the “gorgeous mosaic” as it was once dubbed — that live in and love this crazy rock covered with jungles of iron and glass that we call New York.

We fight, we cry, we struggle and build, we sin and we repent. And together we make it great. That’s what New York is all about. Not tearing our neighbors apart over the perceived sins of the Menachem Starks of our world — or any other.

Mordechai Lightstone is a rabbi by training, but a blogger by choice. He can be reached on Twitter @Mottel


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • PHOTOS: Hundreds of protesters marched through lower Manhattan yesterday demanding an end to American support for Israel’s operation in #Gaza.
  • Does #Hamas have to lose for there to be peace? Read the latest analysis by J.J. Goldberg.
  • This is what the rockets over Israel and Gaza look like from space:
  • "Israel should not let captives languish or corpses rot. It should do everything in its power to recover people and bodies. Jewish law places a premium on pidyon shvuyim, “the redemption of captives,” and proper burial. But not when the price will lead to more death and more kidnappings." Do you agree?
  • Slate.com's Allison Benedikt wrote that Taglit-Birthright Israel is partly to blame for the death of American IDF volunteer Max Steinberg. This is why she's wrong:
  • Israeli soldiers want you to buy them socks. And snacks. And backpacks. And underwear. And pizza. So claim dozens of fundraising campaigns launched by American Jewish and Israeli charities since the start of the current wave of crisis and conflict in Israel and Gaza.
  • The sign reads: “Dogs are allowed in this establishment but Zionists are not under any circumstances.”
  • Is Twitter Israel's new worst enemy?
  • More than 50 former Israeli soldiers have refused to serve in the current ground operation in #Gaza.
  • "My wife and I are both half-Jewish. Both of us very much felt and feel American first and Jewish second. We are currently debating whether we should send our daughter to a Jewish pre-K and kindergarten program or to a public one. Pros? Give her a Jewish community and identity that she could build on throughout her life. Cons? Costs a lot of money; She will enter school with the idea that being Jewish makes her different somehow instead of something that you do after or in addition to regular school. Maybe a Shabbat sing-along would be enough?"
  • Undeterred by the conflict, 24 Jews participated in the first ever Jewish National Fund— JDate singles trip to Israel. Translation: Jews age 30 to 45 travelled to Israel to get it on in the sun, with a side of hummus.
  • "It pains and shocks me to say this, but here goes: My father was right all along. He always told me, as I spouted liberal talking points at the Shabbos table and challenged his hawkish views on Israel and the Palestinians to his unending chagrin, that I would one day change my tune." Have you had a similar experience?
  • "'What’s this, mommy?' she asked, while pulling at the purple sleeve to unwrap this mysterious little gift mom keeps hidden in the inside pocket of her bag. Oh boy, how do I answer?"
  • "I fear that we are witnessing the end of politics in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I see no possibility for resolution right now. I look into the future and see only a void." What do you think?
  • Not a gazillionaire? Take the "poor door."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.