“I don’t speak because I have the power to speak; I speak because I don’t have the power to remain silent” – Rabbi A.Y. Kook
We find it palpably horrifying that the Chabad Lubavitcher community can make a groys handlen out of a string tied around a community, so much so that they are willing to commit crimes to put a stop to it; but there is nisht a gezunt when it comes to the rape and molestation of their children.
It is our sense that behind both vandalism of the Eruvs and the silence of the Chabad community is the notion of insularity. If they allow the Eruv to govern the boundaries wherein children can play and women can breath, they are allowing freedoms. If they speak of the violence against children, they embolden other victims. By tearing down the Eruv and by the enforced code of silence, the Chabad Lubavitcher community is enslaving its people.
An Eruv gives the community fresh air, a sense of freedom. On Shabbat, an Eruv allows mothers to carry or stroll around with their children outdoors. It gives those mothers freedom. Chas v’Shalom, a woman should have a place outside of the kitchen within that community. In a proverbial sense, the small piece of string by which the borders of a community are delineated and in which a community is bound, has the power to break down walls, unchain the women.
Similarly, the dead silence of the Chabad Lubavitcher community in dealing with the sexual abuse of children keeps the crimes of the community hidden, bound, captive. The secrets that darken the community remain enshrouded in that silence. It acts as protection, lest the outside world see the community for what it is, fundamentally flawed. That silence acts as a wall between the harsh and unkind truths from within and the justice system of the outside world. It would be a kinehora, after all, if children were protected, abusers were prosecuted and jailed and more children were emboldened to speak out.
Flyers posted along Kingston Avenue in Crown Heights after the new “Greater Crown Heights” eruv was erected explain “there is no eruv in our community.”View Full Caption
CROWN HEIGHTS — Police are investigating multiple cases of vandalism to a controversial new eruv built by a local Modern Orthodox synagogue in Crown Heights — following an uproar about the religious structure from the area’s Lubavitch Jewish community.
The eruv controversy has exposed fault lines between the Lubavitch Hasidic community — longtime residents of the neighborhood who, for the large part, do not use or condone the symbolic enclosures — and the relatively recent arrivals to the area who belong to Congregation Kol Israel, a less conservative Modern Orthodox faith.
Since it officially opened in mid-June, the new eruv — a ritual enclosure constructed from see-through string hung between light poles and walls to symbolically delineate an area where observant Jews may carry items on the Sabbath — has been torn down and tampered with in multiple locations, according to police and those familiar with the case.
Those on both sides of the debate condemn the acts. But those who oppose the eruv can empathize with why the vandalism might have been done.
“I don’t think anyone should condone vandalism in any way, shape or form. I think it’s 100 percent, absolutely wrong,” said Chana Lightstone, a Lubavitch mother of four and Crown Heights resident. “Nevertheless, I do completely understand why people are upset about it.”
No eruv has ever been erected in the Lubavitch section of Crown Heights before, those with knowledge of the practice said, due to a belief that it violates traditions and religious teachings from the sect’s leaders, including the group’s influential and revered late leader, Grand Rebbe Menachem Schneerson.
But elsewhere in the city, country and world, eruvs have become “standard” in many Jewish communities, said Naftali Hanau, a trustee at Congregation Kol Israel, the Modern Orthodox synagogue at 603 St. Johns Place near Franklin Avenue that spearheaded the effort to erect the new eruv.
“Modern Orthodox people who are growing up today and now starting families, nearly all of them grew up in communities with eruvs,” he said. “They’re all over the place. It’s not controversial. Young people are not going to move to a community without one.”
In the absence of an eruv, those observing the Jewish day of rest are forbidden from picking up or moving anything outside of their homes on Saturdays, including strollers — a particular challenge for those with very young children, Hanau said.
“Practically speaking, young mothers are stuck in the home [on the Sabbath] until their children can walk to synagogue,” he said.
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