Another effort to explain the appalling ongoing behavior of New York’s ultraorthodox Jews.

“[The New York haredi community has] always framed every failure as the government coming after them. And what’s happening now is that these people grew up with this messaging, and so they’re now acting [violently] on it,” [a] community member told The Daily Beast. “Whether it was leadership by the measles crisis, by education reform, [controversial circumcision ritual] metzitzah b’peh… they framed it as ‘we’re hated.’”

All of these examples are moments when the government attempted to restrict the Haredi community, and when their leaders spread the message that the problem wasn’t communal. For instance, the problem was not anti-vaxx sentiments leading to the measles crisis. The problem wasn’t poverty caused by the lack of secular education in the community. The problem wasn’t the dangers of the practice of sucking the blood from a baby’s circumcision…

[Harder to square the immense amount of public assistance the government gives these communities with their being hated. I guess the being hated comes into play when the government decides to go after endemic haredi welfare fraud. They hate us so much, they won’t even let us steal.]

However implausible it may seem that the second coming of Hitler is somehow embodied in the combination of politicians like de Blasio and Cuomo, Haredi leaders have built up an enemy that must be fought—and fought hard.


Sounds like the Serbs, with Milošević leading them. We are the world’s ultimate victims; violence is our only option.

UD sees dark skies ahead.

Not politically – politically, she likes the numbers (“Joe Biden Has 91 Percent Chance of Winning Electoral College”); she’s talking about actual, real, authentic dark skies, as in you can maybe see fireballs and the Milky Way. Not to mention “the new Moon, with the old Moon in her arms.”

She leaves tomorrow to visit Cherry Springs State Park – the best dark skies on the east coast which yes you don’t have to tell me isn’t as good as Nowhere Utah but is quite good. She will of course blog from there.

‘Writing gives me comfort. Trying to understand can be somewhat self-enlightening, maybe in a self-deceptive way, but that’s helpful.’

An interview with Don DeLillo, who has just released a new novel, The Silence.

“I do not know why they are protesting or what the agenda of that protest is.”

Jacob Kornbluh, a journalist who knows the ultraorthodox community intimately and is recovering from having been beaten up by rioting members of that community (as we speak, hundreds of them have gathered threateningly around his house), says the most important thing of all. He took part in a Haaretz-sponsored zoom session this afternoon (UD watched it) about the (sometimes violent) refusal of ultraorthodox Jewish communities in New York and Israel to mask and distance and stay home, and when asked about the motivation of these people, he said… see the title of this post.


A relative of Kornbluh’s asks the haredim, on his Twitter page, “Are you all out of your minds?”

But I don’t think it’s a madness of crowds thing. Like Kornbluh, I’m not sure there is a reason. You have to contort yourself until you’re way off the charts intellectually to get anywhere with this mystery.

Haredi Jews in Israel and to a lesser degree in the United States live in crowded conditions and have less access to information, not to mention fewer intellectual tools for fully understanding the pandemic by virtue of an education devoted almost exclusively to the study of religious texts. However, unlike any other impoverished, undereducated minority, the Haredim have consciously chosen this way of life by adhering to an ideology that looks upon the modern world as a threat. It undercuts the argument that they are blameless victims of a virus.

So UD would like to suggest that consciously choosing an ignorant, impoverished life was the last conscious thing the haredim did. The reason one can’t get anywhere with them is that they are in a group trance; their life is perennial twilight sleep. In her great short story, “Holiday,” Katherine Anne Porter’s narrator recalls visiting a hardworking German American farm family in Texas. She was struck by “the repose, the almost mystical inertia of their minds in the midst of [their] muscular life” – and if you change muscular to communal I think you get the daily existential reality of many haredim, people who intuitively understand the advantages of sleepwalking through life. Saul Bellow used to say that most of us sleepwalk through life; entire spiritual practices – Buddhism, say – are devoted to trying to shake us awake.

The haredim are out to prove that religion really is the opiate of the masses; and, like most people suddenly jolted out of a dream by some rough shove, they are truly not going to be pleasant with the wakened world, the threatening modern enlightened world.

Think of it like this: People coming out of anesthesia are sometimes combative: It happens enough to have a name: Emergence Delirium.

You know: Til human voices wake us, and we drown.

If human voices wake the haredim, they will drown; their rabbis know at least this much.

The threat of death and disease should be a powerful countervailing force, but Haredi leaders live in perpetual fear of their followers’ religious observance slacking off and even of them leaving the community. If the momentum of prayer, study, and mass gatherings is halted for even a few weeks, no one can predict what the consequences would be. One study estimates that 15 percent of young Israeli Haredim leave the community.

And after all death (by covid or any other means) is only, if you like, an intensification of trance – Shakespeare calls sleep “death’s second self,” and if UD is correct many haredim, by this reckoning, are already living quite morbid lives, lives quite close to death. The refusal of the world; the refusal of almost everything the world has to offer by way of pleasure, enlightenment, expressivity, discovery; the pale black-suited men and the virtually invisible women… 15% attrition? The rabbis are certainly right that under the unbearable pressures covid places on already unimaginably repressed lives (stuck in a crowded apartment with not much in the way of toys, and no secular books or television or internet) that number will grow. Hence their refusal to acknowledge the existence of a pandemic.


Zzzzzz: “Borough Park Synagogue With COVID-Positive Rabbi Still Holding Large Indoor Prayer Services, Despite $15,000 Fine”

‘It hurts to say it, but “they” are not “us.”‘

We are appalled by the blatant disregard shown by some of our own coreligionists for the age-old requirements of our own Torah, as well as the dictates of common sense. We watch in horror as some segments of the community conduct large weddings and pack synagogues and places of study with those who too often disregard masking and social-distancing requirements. We are mortified by street demonstrators who have burnt garbage, engaged in crude rhetoric and even physically targeted dissenting ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Orthodox Jews begin to do what they should have done long ago: Draw a very bright line between recognizable members of a shared Jewish faith and irresponsible, violent, cultists.

Where, by the way, is Alan Dershowitz, a man who has been the voice of all things Jewish/Israeli for decades? Where is his condemnation? Or does he not condemn?

“[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.

Scathing Online Schoolmarm Says: Sometimes the best writing is of the moment, very simple, and very personal.

An ultraorthodox Jew writes about his uncle’s death from covid.

“He didn’t die because of antisemitism. Or because New York Governor Andrew Coumo is inept or because New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is a hypocrite…

He died because many of our rabonim, leaders and askonim are too afraid or lazy to do their damn jobs.

He died because Boro Park, N.Y., where I grew up, is now run by the mob and not by rabbis.

He died because he had so much respect for daas torah that he believed them while they downplayed the seriousness of the virus.

He died because we were completely negligent.

He died because it was more important to say tehilim for Donald Trump than it was to care for the health of our elders…

He died because we were just too lazy to put on a simple mask to protect one another…”


The D.C. government on Friday set up a free coronavirus testing site outside the White House in response to the growing number of confirmed cases linked to the Trump administration.



‘A growing roster of Republicans are stepping sideways or ducking from the camera to make sure they are not captured in the same frame as Trump. In addition, Trump is simply too consumed by the resident chaos all around his West Wing in the closing weeks of his own reelection campaign to carry out punitive measures against GOP disloyalists.’

Things are getting shaky for the Genius of the Carpathians.

‘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.

‘Trump Attempts To Pivot Narrative Away From Coronavirus Controversy By Molesting Child Of Fallen Soldier’

Whatever it takes.



So Jamie Raskin is My Guy, Representing UD’s Montgomery County, MD…

… and she’s delighted he’s scheduled to be standing next to Pelosi today, introducing legislation that would trigger the 25th amendment, replacing an incapacitated president. This announcement will push the Sitting Paranoid further into what UD believes will likely be, unless help is forthcoming, a suicidal rage.

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Dr. Bernard Carroll, known as the "conscience of psychiatry," contributed to various blogs, including Margaret Soltan's University Diaries, for which he sometimes wrote limericks under the name Adam.
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There's always something delightful and thought intriguing to be found at Margaret Soltan's no-holds-barred, firebrand tinged blog about university life.

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