The other night I went to the Kotel, to take my daughter on the occasion of her birthday. What we didn't know was that it happened to be the night of a hashba'ah, a swearing-in ceremony for IDF soldiers. I passed a wonderful charedi couple who were posing for photos with their son, and I couldn't resist taking a photo also.
It's a great picture, and it shows that there are charedim who have their sons enlist in the IDF and are proud of it. But at the same time, these are the exception that proves the rule. Nobody would be taking pictures of dati-leumi parents posing with their soldier son, because such a thing is perfectly ordinary. With charedim, on the other hand, there are only a tiny minority who send their sons to the army, and an even smaller number who actually proud of their sons for it (there is a category of Lone Soldiers who are charedi soldiers whose families have disowned them).
Here's another example of an exceptional person. The BBC has an incredible story about a Chassidic rabbi from Brooklyn who has managed to rescue many dozens of people from Afghanistan. It shows that there are chassidim whose concern for others extends far beyond their community, to non-Jews in a different part of the world. At the same time, it is also true that such behavior is unusual.
In last week's post about Chassidim on a Plane, some people criticized it as being generic, prejudicial, unfounded, and even antisemitic. They are wrong.
I never claimed that all chassidim act this way on airplanes. Obviously, there are many who do not. At the same time, it also true that chassidim engage in such behavior to a much, much higher degree than do other Jews (for sociological reasons that are readily apparent).
Making a generalization from a small number of cases to an entire group would be wrong. However, there's nothing wrong with making a general statement about a group which is true. Generally speaking, Americans are more overtly friendly than are Brits. There's a greater problem with the behavior of Israelis at hotels than with other nationalities. And there's a widespread problem with chassidic behavior on airplanes. That's just the plain truth.
Finally, to those who claim that I hate chassidim or charedim, I would like to point out the following. Due to my job at the Biblical Museum of Natural History, I interact with a broader range of chassidim and charedim than probably anyone else here. And the interactions are, without exception, entirely positive, and I love all of them.
I don't hate chassidim or charedim. I just recognize that there are very serious societal problems that need to be fixed.
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