Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Secret Squads enforce modesty in Williamsburg

NY Times    The rules are spoken and unspoken, enforced by social pressure but also, in ways that some find increasingly disturbing, by the modesty committees. Their power is evident in the fact that of the half dozen women’s clothing stores along Lee Avenue, only one features mannequins, and those are relatively shapeless, fully clothed torsos.

The groups have long been a part of daily life in the ultra-Orthodox communities that dot Brooklyn and other corners of the Jewish world. But they sprang into public view with the trial of Nechemya Weberman, a prominent member of the Satmar Hasidim in Brooklyn, who last week was sentenced to 103 years in prison after being convicted of sexually abusing a young girl sent to him for counseling. [...]

The details were startling: a witness for Mr. Weberman’s defense, Baila Gluck, testified that masked men representing a modesty committee in the Hasidic village of Kiryas Joel, N.Y., 50 miles northwest of New York City, broke into her bedroom about seven years ago and confiscated her cellphone. 

The Brooklyn district attorney, Charles J. Hynes, who prosecuted the Weberman case, has now received allegations that members of a modesty committee forced their way into a home in the borough, confiscating an iPad and computer equipment deemed inappropriate for Orthodox children, officials say. Allegations have also surfaced that a modesty committee threatened to publicly shame a married man who was having an affair unless he paid the members money for what they described as therapy.[...]

“There are quite a few men, especially in Williamsburg, who consider themselves Gut’s polizei,” said Yosef Rapaport, a Hasidic journalist, using the words for “God’s police.”

“It’s somebody who is a busybody, and they’re quite a few of them — zealots who take it upon themselves and they just enforce. They’re considered crazy, but people don’t want to confront them.” 


  1. Recipients and PublicityJanuary 30, 2013 at 5:21 PM

    These kind of illegal forces, a kind of extra-legal paramilitary force is how all tyrannies impose their will. It come straight from the top leadership.

    They are tacitly involved in allowing these kind of thugs to organize themselves but at the same time the leadership "acts dumb" that allows it to have "credible deniability when acts of real or alleged violence and breaking of bot secular law and normative Halacha and mentschlichkeit are violated.

    This is how "business" is done in the former USSR, when Putin does not like someone that opposes his regime, then suddenly goons are sent out and to intimidate and hurt the citizenry.

    It is the lowest and most despicable form of cowardice, and the worst kind of "non-leadership" in a modern day society that functions on freedom of choice and openness.

    Instead of winning people over with kindness and wisdom and the effort to make one's sown way of life appealing, there is this sick resort to violence and pure Mafia tactics that befits gangsters and not so-called "rebbes" whe never take real action to stop it because, hey, guess what, they are the the ones who "bless" it!

    Such a sad state of affairs it is mamash sickening!

    1. Why should you care RAP?Do you live in Williamsburg? If that is the way they want to live that is their business. And most smart people know that not everything printed in the NYT is accurate and that they have a bias against Charidim as do you .Unless it is about your mystery exception,Rabbenu Feivel,Zichono LeVaracha.

  2. It's as if the leaders have despaired of convincing people by normal persuasion. This brutal approach is the reverse of Chassidus.

  3. Community members need anti-squads to keep these squads off their back. The Wild East.


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