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Speak Up As An Orthodox Jew Who Believes in Common Decency

Speak Up As An Orthodox Jew Who Believes in Common Decency


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When I was first making the transition from Conservative to Orthodox, an observant Conservative family I knew invited me over for Shabbos essentially to have an “intervention.” “Look,” they told me, “you can be kosher and shomer Shabbos without becoming one of THEM. If you become Orthodox – you’ll become a rock-thrower.”

Where did an intelligent, observant, well-meaning family get such an idea? From the headlines, of course. Rock throwing, spitting on girls, refusing to sit next to women on planes and subsequently inconveniencing the rest of the passengers – I don’t know how many there are out there who do these things while wearing the “Orthodox garb,” but these actions go against the very roots of being a religious Jew. And the trouble is that our entire community gets judged by it.

“Derech eretz kadma l’Torah” (Common decency is a precursor to Torah) states the Talmud. “V’ahavta l’reyecha k’mocha” (Love your neighbor as yourself) the Torah commands us. And as the great rabbi Hillel explained the entire Torah on one foot: “What is hurtful to you do not do to your fellow. The rest is commentary.”

As I read these headlines of people doing awful things in the name of Orthodox Judaism I cringe, then cringe some more. So I decided to be proactive. The papers write stories about all the people who don’t seem to follow these Torah principles about common decency, so we will come together on social media and collect many of the Orthodox Jews who do. We can’t stop extremists from being extreme, but we can create a record of many of the people who are trying to do the right thing.

Please comment below to indicate that you’re an Orthodox Jew who strives to live by these aforementioned Torah principles and share it with as many people as you can who will do the same.

Thank you.

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  1. As an Orthodox Jewish married woman, I too cringe when I see every frum Jew depicted in a not so nice light. Unfortunately, a few bad apples spoils the bunch. Just as we are suppose to catch our kids when they are doing something right, instead of focusing on the bad, the same goes for the secular world, but…As outwardly Orthodox Jews behave badly, and yes, there are far more that don’t, my experiences for the most part are few and far between, for example. If I hold the door open for someone with a carriage, they barely look at your face, let alone say thank you…of course I do it because it is mentchlikite, but what do the “other” see?? The craziness on the plane? You can’t sit next to a woman? If a man is so pious, so holy, higher a chartered plane…this sense of “we are better than anyone,” is what causes many of the issues. As Jews, we are held to a higher standard, and so we should be. The world expects crass behavior, rudeness, bad manners, etc from the “other,” but when we do it, we are judged. If you see a medical doctor in his white coat, a nurse, in her white uniform, or better yet, Buckingham Palaces’ Changing of the Guard…tell me, would expect to see them acting in an inappropriate way? Being rude, trying to get away with something cause look at me, I am special? I am proud to be an Orthodox Jew, I raised both my sons that, with tzit tzit showing and a kippah, you act accordingly to the Torah..and yes, if you are not a mentch, all the Torah you learn, is for naught.

  2. I'm an orthodox Jew and an eruv(Sabbath boundary) inspector for a mostly non-Jewish neighborhood. I keep a ladder in my car to make repairs. Several weeks ago I noticed that someone had misdirected the street signs. I took my ladder and redirected the signs. Maybe it will keep someone from getting lost.

  3. I am an Orthodox Jew who believes that every human was made in G-d’s image.
    I would never throw rocks.
    I listen respectfully to those who don’t agree with me, even when they say disrespectful things to (at) me.
    Most (I strive for “All”) of the non-orthodox people who know me would say that I am kind
    and respectful. I like to say “We can disagree without being Disagreeable”.

  4. Rebecca Klempner : January 9, 2015 at 12:39 am

    As an Orthodox Jew, I believe that Hashem created everyone. He is the Father of every human being, and the best way to show I love Him is to honor each and everyone of His children.

  5. These hostile people are such a tiny fraction of the orthodox community, which is, for the most part, very loving and helpful. Some groups exclude others who are not of their sub-group from social interaction, but will stop everything and do anything to help any other Jew in trouble. There is so much anger and prejudice and ignorance about Orthodox Jews among the non-religious. Try actually making a friend in the community and you will be amazed.

  6. I am a Modern Orthodox Jew who lives out of the NY area. I strive for Derech eretz in my interactions with Jews of all opinions and beliefs. I also strive for positive interactions with the community at large.

    However, what I notice when I return to NY and the friends that I left behind when I relocated, is a very narrow definition of who deserves Derech Eretz. The use of pejorative terms shiksa, shvatze, korva, queer, and on and on is disturbing and embarrassing. The mindset that one can be less than forthright with someone because “they’re not religious” or “they’re a goy” is mind boggling (let alone neged halachah). This has led my husband and me to stop associating with some who have been friends for decades.

  7. I normally don’t comment on websites, but I’ll come out of lurkerdom for this one. As an ultra-Orthodox Kollel wife living in Israel, I hereby declare the obvious – spitting on people, throwing rocks at them (unless they’re physically attacking you or some such), and preventing flights from functioning smoothly are not what God wants from us. (I don’t have a problem with a person politely trying to avoid sitting next to a person of the opposite gender – preferably by doing something to accomplish this ahead of time – but while calmly asking somebody if they would mind switching seats with you is fine, demanding a different seat and making things unpleasant for those around you is NOT.)

  8. Chanie Wallk Waxler : January 13, 2015 at 7:08 am

    I am a Chassidic orthodox woman who believes everyone as a "tzelem elokim" (image of g-d) in them

  9. Hi am an Orthodox Jew and I strive to respect everyone.

  10. I’m Orthodox (what some people would call chareidi) and I respect human beings. I’d like people to know that nobody thinks rock-throwing is okay except the rock-throwers themselves (and some truly ill people). Holding up flights 🙁
    I just want everyone to know that we are not dysfunctional and repressed, despite what nearly every novelist/documentary filmmaker/newspaper decides to portray us as.

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Allison Josephs

Allison is the Founder and Director of Jew in the City. Please find her full bio here.