Saturday, November 08, 2003

Jewish Press Letter

This week's Jewish Press contains the following letter to the editor:

"Disgusted By Lack Of Derech Eretz"

During Chol Hamoed Sukkot I had the
pleasure and displeasure of attending a concert at
Brooklyn College starring Dedi, Yaakov Shwecky
and Avraham Fried. I took my 10-year-old son to
the concert as a reward for his doing so well in
school in the subject of midot. I myself wanted to
be there because I enjoy the music of all the
performers and it was so special to have them
appear together in one concert.

Well, my son sure was taught a lesson in
midot that night — one that I wish he never
learned. The concert was called for 7:30 p.m. It
started at 7:40. My son looked around the
auditorium and asked me why it was so empty. I
told him I didn`t know. It wasn’t very long before
we had our answer: From 7:45 until 9:00 people
were streaming into the auditorium. They talked
loudly among themselves, and if they happened to
spot a friend in the audience they would not hesi-
tate to stop, schmooze, and block the view of the
people sitting in their seats.

A mother with five children — two of whom
were too young to be at this concert — had the
seats directly in front of me. It took her at least ten
minutes of very loud persuading to finally get her
children to stay seated. Then she sat down — and
promptly started speaking on her cell phone. Does
the word chutzpah come to mind? When I asked
her to please stop talking on her phone, she had
the nerve to give me a dirty look.

There was precious little derech eretz on
display that evening. People kept arriving late and
blocking the view. Cell phones were ringing con-
stantly, as were walkie talkie phones. My son at
one point turned to me and asked, “Mommy, what
happened to all these people’s midot?” What was I
supposed to say to him? He learns in yeshiva about
respecting others and then he sees his fellow frum
Jews acting so disrespectfully to each other.

Do these people ever think about anyone but
themselves? Probably not, since this was not the
first (nor, I am sure, will it be the last) time I’ve
witnessed such ugly behavior.

Why is it that when I attend a public event
that draws mostly non-Jews, there is nowhere near
the level of selfish and unpleasant behavior one
encounters at frum events? Why have we reached
the point that whenever my friends and I — all
frum ourselves — plan an evening out or an
excursion somewhere with our children, the first
thing we say is, “Let’s go where there aren’t too
many frum Jews”?

And if that’s how we feel, imagine what non-
Jews and non-religious Jews think when they
behold the anti-social behavior so increasingly
prevalent among Orthodox Jews.

Aren`t these people embarrassed to act in this
manner? I know I’m embarrassed by — and for —
them. With their kippot, black hats, sheitlach,
snoods and tzitzit, they represent every religious
Jew to the rest of the world. For my and my
children`s sake, I wish they’d make a better

In the future I’ll think twice before taking my
son, who is at such an impressionable age, to a
concert or other function where there may be this
kind of behavior.
Beth Schindelman
(Via E-Mail)

“Let’s go where there aren’t too
many frum Jews” -- a sad but realistic approach to choosing Chol Hamoed entertainment.