Considerations for Deciding on a Sentence – A Deficiency of Education? Really…
Zalmund Zirkind is charged with the laundering of funds derived from drug trafficking. There are numerous victims, including those who have fallen victim to drug abuse, overdoses and death for whom Zirkind, whether directly or indirectly, provided a pathway to use. His laundry operation was clever, considered and committed. And excusing this behavior on the basis of a failed education is a travesty.
If Hasidic education is inadequate it should be acknowledged as a failure and fixed. If the Hasidics are fighting any effort to provide them with an adequate education, they should not then be excused from the accompanying failures with respect to abiding by civil laws. The Zirkind family ascribes to their belief system, indoctrination of educational neglect, the accompanying insularity and community centrist religious practice. They should not be rewarded for their choices when running afoul of the law.
The community with which Zirkind identifies is entirely opposed to secular education with rare exception. They claim that their Torah education is superior to civil education, a claim echoed in the United States, Canada and throughout Europe and Israel. Rabbi Zalmund Zirkind is a rabbi, a person held in high esteem and regard, a person of allegedly moral superiority. He is supposed to be exemplary and pristine, setting an example for his followers.
The religious community has fought in courts the world over to prevent the imposition of civil education. There are claims in lawsuits wherein Torah education is described as “superior” and “secular studies as morally challenged.” If Torah education, absent civil studies, is superior are we to reward its failings? Is Zirkind, then, by virtue of the educational environment in which he was raised superior or is he morally challenged? He can’t have it both ways with the above letter also being evidence of reasons for leniency, a shield protecting him for the charges for which he has pleaded guilty.
While the person who wrote that letter claims to have fought the religious educational system for years, his fight is irrelevant. If Zirkind himself believed his education inadequate, why allow his own family members to follow suit? Perhaps so they will later have an excuse to claim that their deficient understanding of the world should yield the benefits of diminished sentencing when they commit crimes? That is an absurdity.
Rabbi Zirkind was to have been a pillar of his community, an example. His affinity for decency as expressed in the above letter does not mitigate the crimes he committed or the responsibility he had to provide a pristine example for his congregants. Were we to be lenient what message would that send to his followers?
The following are pages from the Government’s position on the Zirkind sentencing which can be found on the court docket. It is not to be deemed as complete.