I’m conservative/raised modern orthodox in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh, but these days I work with tons of haredi and chassidish Jews, almost all of whom live in Rockland County, including Monsey.
They’re really good people. A little hard to get used to at first, I admit. But there’s nothing quite like their community. It’s a rare and beautiful thing, in its own way.
The truth is that prejudice against the haredi and chassidim in Rockland County is deep, widespread, dangerous, and equally shared by Black folks, Latinos, and yes, many secular and non-observant Jews too.
I have always had a hard time with it, to be honest. Because I’m not haredi, people in Rockland (Spring Valley in particular) feel free to share their opinions about the haredi with me, and it makes my skin crawl every time. They believe the haredi community is guilty of every crime imaginable. It’s nuts. People just can’t get their heads around the idea that the haredi just want to live their own lives and be left alone.
And the hatred is all quite socially acceptable. Not just acceptable – it’s regarded as a kind of virtue, like a signal that you’re a good person. Loudly expressing contempt for the haredi proves you’re a good feminist, because yeshivish women by custom dress so modestly. Belittling and insulting yeshivah education proves you’re a super-woke education activist. Spreading conspiracy theories about the haredim can get you elected to office in Rockland County if you’re loud enough about it. .
So now there’s been this attack in Monsey. And it’s horrible. Rabbi Rottenberg is the sweetest man. So people are being forced to acknowledge that antisemitism exists in Rockland. They can’t just pretend anymore that when Jews worry about antisemitism they’re being hysterical. Or — most commonly — only pretending there’s antisemitism to silence “legitimate criticism of their behavior.” (I’m so sick of that fucking phrase.)
And now I’m seeing all sorts of pious bullshit from exactly the same people who I know want nothing more than for the haredi to leave. The same people who spread conspiracies about the haredi online, and who have nothing but contempt for their way of life and beliefs.
And it all makes me feel almost as bad as I felt when I heard that Rabbi Rottenberg’s house was attacked.
TLDR: I’m just bummed out, ignore me.