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It's not the Internet
6/4/2012 5:49:00 PM
Last week, I read with you that well over 40,000 Haredim gathered at Citi Field in New York to discuss the dangers of the Internet.
I do believe that the Internet can be turned into a "dangerous" place if someone is looking for the many social ills out there.
But I wish the same angst that motivated all of these men to sit in a baseball stadium to talk about the Internet, would have considered the same sort of approach in other areas as well.
One of them is the issue of agunot. I am so very, very tired of anyone who would violate the sanctity of another person's entire life by not giving them a get or religious divorce.
I firmly believe that the same people who got up and spoke at the baseball park last week, could if they had the courage, get up and speak before even bigger crowds on the issue of divorce. There is no call in this world that would permit a man to leave his estranged wife stuck.
I have two friends and one acquaintance who are agunot. One of the friends quite bluntly told me that she could be looking forward to a future of not being intimate with anyone ever again. The sadness on her face far outweighed any thought of "too much information."
She is raising her three children as a single mom. Her ex lives on the west coast.
But she is clearly stuck. She's stuck in her life, and she is self-defined by her status.
We hear more and more about rabbis who are urging couples to sign a pre-nuptial agreement with very specific language about divorce and the husband's obligation to give a get should the marriage not work.
So I guess what I'm asking is why did the Haredi rabbis turn the Internet into a priority to fill a stadium above the urgency of women who are chained in place?
Somebody is going to have to brave enough to change the way these women are mal treated. It's going to take a tidal wave of movement to see a change. I've heard rabbis say, "it's complicated" or "it's just not that easy."
Believe me, if they truly wanted change, there would be change.
I know that the Beth Din of America The Beth Din of America prenuptial agreement (which can be found at www.theprenup.org) is a sincere effort that has a proven track record. It is referred to as the "vaccine" against the agunah problem.
Just want to see it work for not only for younger women, but also for women who might be a bit older, who have waited years for a get.
Secondly, it just feels like each time we turn around there's yet another news media account of molestation within the Jewish community with more of the issue coming from Haredi communities.
There's so much finger pointing, and so much sadness and fear, and in some cases panic. I'm not going to speak for the molestatioin survivor community on this at all. Just speaking for myself, I think if someone really showed an ounce of leadership and simply apologized for actions and then the cover up, it would at least engender hope.
So when we see thousands of Jewish men pack a stadium to talk about an issue, may they realize that the issue is far greater than the Internet. The Internet carries the very behaviors they fear. But the behavior, and what's the cause of that behavior is what should concern them more.
When I first started my career in Jewish journalism in 1982, I remember Gary Rosenblatt, my editor, sending me out to do a story on Jews who were compulsive gambling. It seemed that a local university treatment center's statistics showed that some 20 percent of compulsive gamblers at the time were Jewish.
We ran the article, and this is way before we knew what the word "website" even meant. People wrote angry letters, because we were printing negative news about Jews. Instead of a care for addicted, the care was more focused on the newspaper's publishing this article.
Blaming the Internet is changing the subject or distracting from the subject. If people are feeding addictions by using the Internet, we have to help them change their destructive behavior.
When it was learned that smoking cigarettes could cause lung cancer, it took years before cigarette ads were banned from television ads. Still, today, people are smoking even if they know they could possibly die from cancer.
We're blowing smoke around the issues of agunot, trauma, abuse and addiction by focusing on the Internet.
How did this segment of Orthodoxy keep a great measure of popular influence from their lives? They simply banned TVs from their homes.
Yet some people within their circles having eating disorders, are smoking cigarettes, hitting their spouses, or not giving their spouses a get.
The Internet didn't hit their spouse or cause their eating disorder. Fact is, the Internet has search engines that can help people in recovery find solutions.
My solution next time you're going to fill CitiField, go to the center of the problem, not the delivery device. Or instead, just go watch the Mets play.
Yeah, yeah, yeah
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