We thought that what happened somewhere to some Jews in some synagogue was bad and reprehensible but we did not dwell on it. And then, it happened, at the top. Our Bishop Mahoney, Rabbi Barry Freundel was found, after years of accusations of misogyny that Orthodox religion is famous for, he was found of true and real evidence of disrespect. To not touch a woman and then to watch her enter a Mikveh, is the ultimate disrespect which was only a portion of what he taught his community everyday.
He was the law, the ultimate authority, he said who is Jewish and who isn’t Jewish. Man who molests his children and never does Kosher but has a Jewish mother: Jewish. While a woman who goes to the synagogue, grew up Jewish and has known nothing but Judaism but whose mother is not Jewish is not Jewish and must move mountain and river, give up everything in life to prove to him that she is worthy of his opinion that she is Jewish. And what is his opinion worth? At the end of the day, no Orthodox will ask for her “certificate,” but they will continue to ask: “But is your mother Jewish?” As if Hitler or any other anti-Semite ever made that distinction.
The crisis has come home. I know several people deeply and personally affected by Rabbi Freundel. Not just by his ultimate transgression, but by his demeanor, his actions, his words. The last one was horrifying but given the character than many women who knew him had come to know, was not surprising, just humiliating.
We are at a turning point, we are faced with a crisis and yet, looking over the plains of Jewry, as of this moment I can say that nothing will change. Aside from some bloggers and a few Jewish publications, all is silent over the Jewish world. As long as Jewish foundations do nothing, as long as Chabad says nothing, as long as Rabbis continue to ignore the issues whether it be women violated in the Mikveh, by their husbands, at the Western Wall or even by a man who refuses to sit next to them on a flight, as long as that is allowed to be, nothing will change. But one thing will change, all of those who are untouched, one day, like me, all will be touched and so will our community and so will our dignity, before our country, our friends, before our families, before our God and most importantly, before ourselves. Because we said nothing.
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