My heart is broken and I feel so incredibly sad. Nobody seems to know much about Hassidic Jews. I was one of those people. They seemed like they came from a different world till I had the pleasure and good fortune to get to know them. I discovered they love, care, feel and hurt the same way we all do. I found out that they want to be able to provide for their families and I discovered that their belief and commitment to Gd is what drives everything.
The reason I know all this is my Nephew, who I love with every ounce of strength in my body became Hassidic. He studies the Torah and the commentaries, and he attends synagogue on a very regular basis. My Nephew is also very, very smart. When he graduated from University he won a Gold Medal for having the highest marks in his Business School. The entire school.
My Nephew moved to Israel, married a wonderful girl, and now has five adorable and incredible children. They are all exceptional kids. When I hear people complaining about Ultra Orthodox Jews, I realize now that it is out of pure ignorance.
I am sure within the Hassidic community there are some people who aren’t as wonderful as we would like, but that happens in every group. In every faith group there will be some who don’t reflect well on the others or act in ways we wish they wouldn’t. This is a minority of the group, yet we way too often paint everybody with the same brush. I know the Hassidic people as loving, decent, and good people.
This past week in Israel there was a huge celebration in the Mountains. It was to enjoy a festival called Lag B’Omer. It took place on a mountain called Meron. People get together and light a huge bonfire. The people then sing and dance with reckless abandon. It is pure joy and happiness, but this year something went terribly wrong.
Huge throngs of Hassidic people were on Meron, but some brainiacs decided when it was time for them to leave they had to exit through a confined space. Thousands and thousands of people had to go through a walled-in area and out a small exit.
Tragedy happened. It was the worst nightmare of Jews everywhere. Young and old alike died. The cause of the senseless deaths was attributable to people not being able to get out of the narrow exit. People fell and were trampled by the mass of people behind…