“[W]hy can’t the Jewish world, the haredi, ultra-Orthodox world in particular, accept th[e] hard truth [about covid]? Why do some people think that they are different from everyone else?”

“The haredi community believes they are being singled out and even persecuted, in the United States as in Israel, because they are different, because they stand out. They are right. They are being singled out. But not for those reasons. They have thrown the health recommendations out the proverbial window and their number of coronavirus cases has skyrocketed…

The riots I am seeing on television and social media, the open disregard for the law of the land, is the stuff of anarchists and hate groups…”


“I’m enraged, and I’m embarrassed,” writes Micha Halpern.

She also, in her opinion piece, asks why a lot. Why are they doing this? Why is this happening?

Yet Israel’s ultraorthodox, many of them, riot a lot, and have done so for years. Their open disregard for the state of Israel, its laws, and the laws of science, is a well-established, freely expressed, fact. UD thus suggests that perplexity and anger in reaction to this group’s indifference to their own and everyone else’s health comes a bit late in the day. Ultraorthodoxy’s “highest living authority,” whose skeezy money-making prayer schemes and refusal to close schools we have followed on this blog, is apparently close to death, since this absolute fool has gotten himself, along with tons of other people, infected with covid. But he’s in his nineties. He got to have a long life before he infected himself. Because of his selfishness and stupidity, lots of his followers won’t get that.

It’s far too late to scratch one’s head over the sort of subculture that would continue to promote an arrant fraud as their highest moral, spiritual, and intellectual authority. The urgency at this point is to back up their neighborhoods’ lockdowns with police force if need be. When things have settled down, America (Israel too?) will absolutely have to start figuring out how to force these poor fools to educate at least the coming generation in basic cultural literacy . Maybe there’s some hope there.

OTOH, the problem with opinion pieces like this one…

… starts with the headline: TO MY FELLOW NEW YORK JEWS

Ultraorthodox Jews do not consider themselves your fellow Jews; they consider themselves the only Jews. Why aren’t they part of the painstakingly nondenominational New York Board of Rabbis, composed of every denomination except ultraorthodox? For that matter, why is the entity we’re calling haredi or ultraorthodox strikingly at odds with itself?

Let’s focus our eyes: We’re looking at splintered sects, often mutually contemptuous (they’re not real Jews; we’re the real Jews), and each led by, or in search of, its own authoritarian.


What in the world, for instance, does the undisputed leader of the violent mob the other night, a hero of large parts of his community, Heshy Tischler, represent? In terms of any recognizable, organized, Judaism?

[He] threaten[s] Cuomo that “if you touch my boy Trump, I’m going to put you over my knee, Cuomo, and smack you around like a little girl when you cry”; call[s] Mayor Bill de Blasio an “idiot” (and sometimes “the fuhrer”); call[s] Chirlane McCray, de Blasio’s wife, a “retard woman,” as well as an unclear epithet that was variously heard as racist or merely insulting. Earlier this week, he ginned up a mob to corner an Orthodox reporter, Jacob Kornbluh, calling him an informer…

[I]n 2013, … a judge sentenced him to a year and a day in prison for immigration fraud. Tischler and 11 co-conspirators had been charged with extracting fees from thousands of undocumented immigrants to pretend to employ them at jobs that didn’t exist. (“I love Trump but I still don’t agree with him on immigration,” Tischler says now. “I believe this country should be open to everyone.”) “It is clear in the case of Mr. Tischler that there is a wide disconnect between his acts of religious charity and his views about the need to conform to the laws of civil society,” said the judge, Naomi Reice Buchwald, according to a sentencing document. “Not only did he commit the crimes charged as well as an earlier immigration fraud, but he has built up literally pages and pages of debts and judgments that are recited in the presentence report which can only be understood as reflecting a dismissive view of the obligations of a civil society and perhaps worse.”

… “The community is driven and guided by a combination of paranoia and a desire for full personal autonomy while excluding outsiders, outsider point of view, and that which makes them uncomfortable. Trump validates a lot of their attitudes,” said Menashe Shapiro, a political consultant. “Trump is the cocaine, Tischler is one of the dealers (as are super-right-wing radio, blogs and podcasts). The community are the addicts.”

When Andrew Cuomo identified the source of the violence on the streets of New York, he carefully identified it as ultraorthodox, not orthodox.

If I were an orthodox Jew, I’d be ultrapissed at the tendency of many writers on the issue to use the terms interchangeably.

‘As a Jew, I am appalled by the lack of responsible leadership in the ultra-Orthodox ZIP codes.’

What’s happening in these nine [New York City] ZIP codes should have been no surprise. Three ingredients for the spike in cases we are now seeing have existed for months: a deficit of scientific literacy, a mistaken belief that April’s horrendous morbidity and mortality resulted in herd immunity and a longstanding distrust of outside, secular leadership borne of generations of collective trauma.

All of which can be summarized in two words: incivility and imbecility. Incivility with an emphasis on the word’s origin, having to do with one’s identity as a citizen of a shared polity, not merely a member of a small isolated sect; and imbecility having to do with the long-standing refusal of your sect to educate its children to mandated national standards. The failure of governments to insist that you adopt those mandates is shameful, to be sure; but the failure of your sect to instruct you in basic moral responsibilities toward people who don’t happen to share your mindless faith in things like herd immunity is the real scandal.


These foolish people are suing. A law professor weighs in:

Covid-19 kills some and permanently injures others; the threat to human life is real and immediate. Those who flout the rules endanger everyone around them, and this is sufficient reason for regulating even a worship service… Nondiscriminatory rules to protect human life can be applied to the exercise of religion.


Oh and look at that. The judge says would you please please stop??? Case dismissed.

The state argued the new restrictions do not unfairly target the Orthodox Jewish community and it is not a constitutional violation to acknowledge that religious gatherings have a higher risk of spreading the virus.

The judge agreed, stating she could not ignore the compelling state interest in protecting the health and life of all New Yorkers.

‘“This is a community in which tens of thousands of people have very little knowledge of science,” said [Naftuli] Moster, who was educated in a yeshiva. “I didn’t learn what a cell or a molecule was — the idea that there was something smaller than what your eye can see — until I was 21 years old and in college.”’

With remarkable persistence, New York’s ultraorthodox have kept their children fatally ignorant.

‘[C]ommunity nonprofits based in Hasidic and other ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods have rebuffed some … outreach efforts, out of respect to some religious leaders who opposed government involvement in their communities.’

Respect? No. Slavish obedience. That’s very different. You can respect someone and at the same time be aware of the limitations of their intelligence — and act accordingly, for the sake of your and your family’s health. Cultic loyalty to rabbis unable to understand the germ theory of disease is nuts, man. Time for the New York Times and other local papers to be less diplomatic in dealing with people who are rioting, assaulting, and burning.

‘The decision not to wear a mask, the [Notre Dame] faculty members said, stemmed not from politics but from a desire to politely blend in, as a guest at a cocktail party might remove a tie upon realizing everyone else was dressed in business casual.’

We’ve followed the supremely dumb sports programs at Notre Dame on this blog forever (first post is about the cathedral; scroll down); but who knew the campus altogether – from its infected president on down – was so fucking stupid?

Several people in fact wore masks at the Rose Garden event (check out a photo). Notre Dame’s leadership seems keen to model a herd – lemming? – mentality for its students.

As Trump’s Last Remaining Battalion Burns Masks, Attacks Journalists and …

sets NY on fire (while shouting “TRUMP! TRUMP!“), an Israeli journalist offers a fascinating account of the escalating violence among ultraorthodox Jews in both countries.

[T]here are elements in the Haredi community intentionally generating hatred of Haredim among the rest of the Israeli population.

The “barriers should be higher,” these people believe; you can never be too separatist a cult, and making people outside the cult loathe you guarantees they won’t get anywhere near you. So — refuse basic health measures in a pandemic. To be sure, a lot of cult members will die; but this is the will of God. What’s more important is that viciously, insistently, imperiling the life of anyone anywhere near you keeps appalled outsiders far, far away.

But is this really a good way to guarantee the flourishing of your cult?

Well, consider your hero, Mr Trump. He and his vile advisor, Giuliani, obsessively say and do things that make people sick. Does this work to repel and intimidate their enemies, so that they stay hands off?

No. Reason? There’s an escalation written into the strategy. Almost all human beings respond strongly to cruelty; cruelty attracts sadists, to be sure, but there aren’t that many sadists. Mainly there are normal people horrified by cruelty. When you intentionally generate hatred by your cruelty, you eventually mobilize some outsiders against you.

If you’re an ultraorthodox Jew, your cultic paranoia may overreact to these mobilized people and double down on that which sets you apart, which builds the walls higher: You look and act increasingly bizarre (your mohels refuse to stop sucking infants’ penises, for instance); your contempt for state authority becomes more and more violent; your disbelief in the germ theory of disease becomes more and more adamant.

Trump and the ultraorthodox take the path of escalating grotesquerie – and the grotesque certainly stops people in their tracks.

But then we recover from being stunned, and we realize that there are basic human values we need to defend against Trump and his battalion.

Unlike Trump and his battalion, we hate war. But we are willing to fight.

‘For decades, the political class has given this ultra-Orthodox community broad autonomy in exchange for its service as a reliable voting bloc. Now the high costs of that fragile contract are becoming clear, and the consequences for the rest of the city are potentially grave.’

Grave. Get it?

The Country with the Highest Per Capita New Coronavirus Cases in the World

[Israel’s] coronavirus czar… carved the country into red, yellow or green zones depending on their virus rates. He intended to enforce lockdowns in the hardest-hit places.

But his plan, which became known as the “traffic light plan,” turned into political dynamite: The red cities were found to be overwhelmingly ultra-Orthodox or Arab, attesting to the crowded conditions in which these communities live. Mr. Netanyahu, for whom the ultra-Orthodox parties are a crucial coalition partner, balked. We became the country with the highest rate of new coronavirus cases per capita in the world.

The Shame of New York’s Ultraorthodoxy

On Wednesday, it becomes official: The city’s viral hot spots will be locked down. Life can only go back to normal when these communities are able to bring their shockingly high infection rates (8 percent positivity in some neighborhoods) down; but this is unlikely. More likely are riots, and even more brazen (because now enraged) flouting of masking and distancing. As in Israel, struggling with the same catastrophe on a vaster scale, there’s nothing admirably tolerant about letting populations fail to educate themselves and their children in the germ theory of disease, or fail to grasp basic civic life and social responsibility.

Local leaders said that [the] surge was driven by denialism, wishful thinking around herd immunity and misinformation spread by President Trump, who in 2016 carried some precincts in these neighborhoods with more than 80 percent of the vote.

Oh, and another thing Trump and his most enthusiastic voter bloc have in common:

They’re both currently reaping the personal rewards of cruelty, shamelessness, arrogance, and ignorance. And since the disease they recklessly invited to overtake them is insanely contagious, they are sharing those rewards with the rest of us.

“Most of the [ultraorthodox] community had it already, so we’re not so worried.


“Most people had it way back,” [Tzvi] Rosenberg told The Daily Beast, enjoying a cigarette unmasked a few feet from a similarly unprotected friend. “… We’re not wearing right now, because we’re smoking.”


[M]any in the community believed in the Trump-touted … treatment of hydroxychloroquine…

[One man] approached his wife in synagogue and warned her … that masks cause COVID-19 infection.


One man walking through Williamsburg provided the simple explanation. 

“We all had it already,” he said of COVID, not stopping long enough to give his name. 

An 18-year-old walking nearby said the same.

“I had it already and my community had it already,” he said…


No major Hasidic rabbis in New York City have been seen wearing masks. In fact, photographs of large indoor gatherings — weddings, large prayer services and tisches, gatherings in which the rebbe sits at the head of a table surrounded by followers — have circulated on local news sites and social media.


[M]ost of the rabbis themselves had the virus earlier this year and believe they have immunity.


To some, the disregard for masks is evidence of an outlook in which everything in life is up to God.

“I don’t sense a lot of fear,” an administrator at a network of clinics in Williamsburg said. “I think there is a fatalistic attitude, like if it’s meant to be, I’ll get sick.”



And Trump’s epitaph? UD takes it, with a small alteration, from Larry Kramer’s great play about AIDS, The Normal Heart:

Being defined by [the president’s cock] is literally killing us.

In his swagger lies our doom.

Trump and his Fervent Ultraorthodox Base are…

… (as Elizabeth Bennet says about herself and Darcy) so similar. Both can be acidly vindictive rule-breakers; both live in a world of their own. Why so vindictive? No one will ever know.

Why in a world of their own? Eh. Who knows why many damagingly out-of-it haredim can’t think of anything better to do than stew in their super-spreader isolation?

As to the belle indifférence on Trump’s face as he flopped around, the other night, like the dying Quilty at the end of Lolita (“We rolled all over the floor, in each other’s arms, like two huge helpless children. He was naked and goatish under his robe, and I felt suffocated as he rolled over me. I rolled over him. We rolled over me. They rolled over him. We rolled over us.”), he has always lived in a grandiose fantasy world, and no one did the guy any favors, mental health-wise, to crown him the actual president of the United States. By this point, in his head, he’s Napoleon. (“The man has spent years at war with reality: living in delusions, perpetuating fantasies, imagining hoaxes, constructing conspiracies, accruing debt, rewriting history constantly as self-serving myth. At some point, reality was going to get personal in return.”)


Both Trump and many ultraorthodox pretend that they are victims. Both sometimes seem drawn to violence. Both are nihilists – the atheist Trump poses for pious pictures with his evangelical Christian base and then tells his WH associates that believers are dumb pricks, losers; and the minutely ritualistic haredim often in fact seem spiritless, passively accepting their own and others’ untimely deaths.

Both Trump and many of his ultras, I mean to say, have ripened to something close to madness, and need to be subdued in the name of public safety. Mayor and governor have indeed stepped it up with the ultras, threatening a lockdown.

Is there, among Republicans, a Duke of Wellington?

Jumpin’ Jesuits! What the hell’s the deal at Georgetown University?

You name the scandal, one of America’s most Catholic educational institutions has a high-profile entry. Georgetown had more Varsity Blues bogus students than anyone else; its longtime tennis coach is just a plain old career criminal; a half dozen priests with Georgetown associations “have [recently] been credibly accused of sexually abusing minors.” It took ages and lots of pressure from students for it to revoke the honorary degree it gave to super-sexed Theodore McCarrick, a regular and adored presence in Georgetown’s chapels and classrooms. And so it goes.

And I mean yeah it really goes. Like every month. This month there’s the knotty little matter of one of its football players getting arrested for first degree murder.

Clearly the Jesuits running the school are weenies. A firm hand is needed, and UD recommends as next Georgetown president Pater Edmund Waldstein, a leader of the Adrian Vermeulen-sponsored Cathophate-to-Come, who would not hesitate to burn people at the stake.

‘Can a sector that does not obey the law determine the rules for everyone?’

Covid emergency in Israel.

A group that violates emergency government regulations in a pandemic cannot be allowed to make decisions for the rest of the observant public who follow the rules...

Most of the people who pray and most of the synagogues are responsible and governable and follow the government’s decisions… [T]he most important task in preserving Judaism in Israel is for the state to stop letting the Haredim dictate the religious order.


Headline, Haaretz opinion piece: Haredim Are Willing to Get Sick and Die, With the Help of Israel’s Leaders

If large groups of people don’t believe in empirical science, don’t respect state authorities, and are nihilistic in regard to the deaths of themselves and their loved ones, there is almost nothing an enlightened world can do to defend itself.

“[Covid is] communal in nature and now it’s a matter of getting them to understand that and getting all these folks to understand what they need to do to minimize the spread.”

Says the Rockland County executive.

Covid has been a loud global fact for how long? People have been trying to get the ultraorthodox to wear masks and stop partying for how long?

You are not going to get these folks to understand.


Theological teeth-gnashing here.

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