Hi, I was just your typical 19 year old Seminary girl in South Jersey (if you don't know where I mean, you are probably on the wrong blog). We all have nisoynos, challenges, and experiences, both positive and negative. Here is where I have decided to share some of them.

Location: Lakewood, New Jersey, United States

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The Illogical World of Chelm

For those of you wretched souls who watch TV shows either the old-fashioned way or via the internet, Hashem Yishmor, there is a very old show called Star Trek. One of the trademark lines from that show is, "Beam me up Scotty, there is no sign of intelligent life here". That is precisely how I feel right now.

For many years I have noticed that families who are being tortured and harassed by the State Child welfare authorities, receive no (emphasize ZERO) , support or compassion from the community. It takes very little to fall into their net. If you are involved in a divorce, your ex-spouse or their friends/relatives can make allegations against you. If you have a grievance against a neighbor, are jealous of someone, or want to retaliate against another parent causing trouble in your child's school, someone can make an anonymous phone call to the abuse hotline and fabricate a story, or embellish something that happened. No matter how flimsy the report,they are required by law to investigate. If numerous calls are made, a history is created and the children are forcibly removed from the parents home. It is impossible to describe the pain that these parents and children endure-sometimes for years on end. Lives, families and reputations are being ruthlessly destroyed.

On the one hand, this is an incredible community that provides a mind-boggling degree of charity and chesed. From Chaverim, Hatzala,Chai Lifeline, Bonei Olam to the plethora of gemachs of all types the list is overwhelming Boruch Hashem , Kain Yirbu. On the other hand, however, absolutely no support at all is provided to these tragic families. I am not even talking about the legal oskonus that is provided to your everyday, common white-collar criminal who delight in making a major chilul Hashem with his greed and arrogance. But rather a simple phone call, a visit, a sympathetic word, divrei chizuk. Even those individuals we look to as Robbonim and Roshei Yeshivos will usually tell these distraught families, albeit politely, to say tehillim, have a nice day and not to take up any more of the rov's limited time.

Thus I naively thought that this is a very insular community and most people can only respond to what they personally can relate. In the past few weeks, however, all my thoughts, illusions, and attempts to be mlamed zchus (judge favorably) were totally shattered.

It came to light that there was a totally assimilated Jewish man in a far off place who committed a horrible crime. He brutally and mercilessly bludgened a 26 year old gentile park ranger and mother over the head with a flashlight until her brains splattered. Then just to finish her off he shot her at close range. He was convicted of the crime and ended up on death row. Recently he became the cause d'celibre when, after many appeals, his execution date came up.

In contrast to the distinct lack of concern and care shown some local ehrliche families( a couple of whom I know personally ) who have been shattered by child protective agencies, the frum community was falling all over itself to help this convicted murderer avoid execution. The olom was urged to sign petitions, call the governor, write letters, make phone calls, etc. Tehillim was said in yeshiva, seder was extended an hour, all to help this convict avoid execution. The uproar reached a feverish pitch as frantic yungerleit proclaimed this convict to be their brother! Now,I am not an attorney or a Rov, so Im clearly not going to discuss the case here. Personally, I felt that if all the organizations involved asked the olam to email the Governer, why be a 'poresh min hatzibbur' (exclude onself from the Jewish community). Be that as it may, why is anyone who says this whole episode is over and done with and we need to move on labeled an anti-semite? Why are ordinarily very aidel and caring religious Jews saying that the victim was only a goy? Not only don't we feel any collective shame for the criminal act of one of our own, but the family of the victim is receiving phone calls from Jews calling them Nazis! Why?? Why is there no compassion for a family that lost a daughter, mother and sister to murder?

My confusion and anguis knows no bounds. All I can do is beg and plead to Hashem that I be given daas (wisdom) and siyata dshomaya ( divine assistance) to one day understand this...


Blogger Jennifer said...

I totally agree with you. I just wished that someone in the frum community would make a statement showing sympathy for the poor woman who was murdered. Everyone was shouting for his death to be avenged but no one cried for the woman he murdered to be avenged. somehow that was okay bc she wasn't Jewish. Shame.

2/19/2010 3:19 PM  
Blogger OSM said...

Ok, the letter is on my blog

2/21/2010 6:57 AM  
Blogger debka_notion said...

The problem is that sometimes, when the State is investigating a family, it is because there really is a parent or both parents, or whomever else in the home who is abusing a child and may be putting their life in danger. Often everything is fine- but sometimes not. Being taken from your family is horrible- but abuse is worse. So there's this doubt, and as much as we should be dan l'kaf zchut, I'd hope that people are also worrying and hoping that what is best for the children is done.

2/22/2010 11:44 PM  
Blogger Concerned Commenter said...

debka_notion, you are very naieve. Social services is more concerned about covering themselves than the wellbeing of any child. They could be sued. Thus, if they imagine theres a .1% chance that something could possibly happen children will be removed from loving homes. There is no objective criteria. It is usually left to the discretion of underpaid, undertrained workers. These workers are mostly in their 20's and non-parents. Accused parents are guilty until proven innocent. Parents have far fewer civil rights and constitutional protections than murderers. Families, lives and reputations are carelessly destroyed by such malicious negligence.

2/24/2010 11:15 AM  
Blogger no one said...

I have noticed your blog from time to time and I find it sensitive and well informed and very interesting reading. It sounds like you are a well informed, thinking young lady. I wish you lots of success.

2/28/2010 6:06 AM  
Blogger SemGirl said...

Thank you. :)

3/02/2010 12:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

IS VERY GOOD..............................

5/26/2010 5:02 AM  
Blogger Rabbi Lars Shalom said...

never watch TV unless forced to

6/10/2010 9:11 AM  
Blogger %Shocked% said...

Very well written and I agree with you. However, being vaguely familiar with the case of the man who was executed, I was under the impression that he was mentally ill...? In that case, of course people are going to try and stop it from occurring, no? Is that not understandable?

Undoubtedly what happened to the woman is a terrible tragedy, but an ill man shouldn't be held completely accountable for his actions. Ya, he should be taken off the streets, but executed?

You said: "Why are ordinarily very aidel and caring religious Jews saying that the victim was only a goy?" Where have you seen this apathy that you speak of where frum Jews are saying that the victim was a goy and therefore we shouldn't care?

As far as the welfare authorities go, I'm unaware of any ongoing cases. If there are, yes, of course something should be done! I think one problem might be is that maybe very little can be done...? If an ex-spouse or family/relatives are making allegations about someone, what can the other side do? Who knows who's right?

An associate of mine told me a story a few months ago that when he was flying from Europe to Canada with his son, his wife didn't write a letter giving permission for his son to fly. The airport security man could have given this person a ridiculously hard time but he said that "I saw the way you and your son interact and I can tell that everything is fine." That's not the way the system works when it comes to child care. Proving innocence is very difficult and I think that there's good reason for it. There have been too many cases where the abuser won custody for the welfare authorities not to be extremely thorough.

A former co-worker of mine who I now I have no contact with was divorcing her husband who supposedly is gay. She was(/is?) fighting for custody and telling all of us co-workers stories about how insane her husband is. He's frum, she was going off the derech last time I saw her and judging by pictures I've seen, she's all the way off by now. Now, who am I supposed to support? Having a gay father is a terrible experience for a frum Jew (crazy stories aside because I have no idea if they're true or not), but is being raised off the derech better?

I know a woman personally who has been fighting her husband for custody for more than 3 years now. I've only met her a few times and always in the company of others, but she seemed to be a very sweet woman. Our mutual friends naturally back her so I, by default, do as well. But 3.5 years ago, they all thought of her husband as a really great guy. Now, he's the devil. The point is, there are two sides to every story and it's almost always impossible to ascertain which one is true.

So, it's very hard to throw support behind one side unless you personally know the family and the full story. By backing one Jew, your losing another. I don't know the solution, or if there is one, but it's not an easy thing.

3/31/2011 6:32 PM  

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