Editorial: Our Own Worst Enemy

(Wednesday, June 17th, 2009)

ywe1.jpgAcheinu Bais Yisroel,

As many of you already know, a horrible chillul Hashem was brought to light on the front pages of many major New York newspaper publications last week. These articles outlined the “special” treatment some of our Jewish brethren receive in incarceration through the tremendous efforts of an extremely well intentioned frum chaplain and others at a lower Manhattan holding facility known as “The Tombs”.

It is there that between 50 and 60 of our brothers are held as they await trial for various alleged financial crimes.

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Through years of hard work and political maneuvering by many, they have been able to shield these individuals from countless unknown potential atrocities should they have been held with other hardened criminals at Riker’s Island. This “shmirah” came to a screeching halt last week through the actions of a thoughtless and selfish Jew as he “maasered” on an inmate who aligns himself with an opposing faction of the community.

The inmate had arranged to have his son’s Bar Mitzvah celebration in the jail where he was being held. This information was subsequently leaked to the press at which time they had to act on the information. And act on it they did. What a travesty!

This has caused an obvious chillul Hashem of the highest magnitude and has put the orthodox community at large and all frum inmates, once again, under great and unwarranted scrutiny. It has had a tremendous ripple effect and has left in its wake the evisceration of years of mesiras nefesh and infrastructure that has been built for inmates past, present, and future.

We all know how important the mitzvah of Pidyan Shvui’im is and it is not our place to judge another Jew. That is a job for Hakodosh Baruch Hu alone. Our job is to make sure that we do all we can to facilitate these individuals and their families in their time of need to the best of our ability. No one would condone any of their alleged behavior and some may agree or disagree with the considerations they may have received until this point, but no one would disagree that we must stand by our fellow Jews and help in any way we can. Unfortunately, that was all lost and a lesson that will come at a severe price. Who knows what will, Lo Aleinu, await these prisoners as they get shipped off to Riker’s Island. Their potential mistreatment is beyond our comprehension as they will be in the company of the worst criminals in our state.

Does someone really believe a good thing was done here? Is this what our Torah teaches us? The anti-semitism this has caused will be on their head and only death can be m’chaper the chillul Hashem. We, as Jews, must think long and hard of the far reaching ramifications of our actions.

Was the Mesirah truly worth it!?!

(Shmuel Shenker – YWN)

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23 Comments

  1. akuperma says:

    Anyone imprisoned in the Tombs, or Riker Island is either serving a sentence for a minor offense (a misdemeanor, not a felony), or is someone who the American legal system assumes is innocent (and they often are) but is incarcerated because they are awaiting trial and for some reason can’t post bail. Serious criminals are sent to state-run prisons upstate.

    Indeed, from the facts in various papers, it isn’t clear if the person who made the simcha was ever guilty of being anything other than being an accessory to someone’s else crimes (which is a minor offense).

    While a little modesty would help, here as elsewhere, arranging for a simcha for someone incarcerated is quite reasonable. The goyim would say we are “preserving community ties”. Many religious groups work with inmates, and it is normally considered a good thing. While the number of frum Jews incarcerated is negligible (and even when frei Jews are counted, the numbers are miniscule compared to 70 years ago), assisting them is a worthy cause.

    We need a bit better public relations. We should probably work with the goyim as well. And we should make sure that being poor doesn’t matter in our community when it comes to community support.
    But it is a kiddush ha-shem that our comunity supports our brothers who have the misfortune of being incarcerated.

  2. zamilenger says:

    Reb Shmuel, Why don’t u take off the silk gloves and call a spade a spade.

    THE ONE WHO SENT THAT ANNONYMOUS LETTER TO THE CORRECTIONS DEPT. (See today’s Village Voice. BTW I don’t read it, it’s posted on a very popular Israeli blog I don’t wanna mention here.) IS PROST IN PUSHIT A CLASSICAL MUSSIR. I have not doubt, YESH DIN V’YESH DAYNE B’YISROEL. I would not wish to be in that MUSSER’S shoes.

    We’ve come full circle; MEHARSAYICH IMACHRIVAYICH M’MEICH YETZEII!

  3. ffb says:

    We all know the king of chesed in our times Reb Arye Leib Glanz to be a thoroughly caring, determined and responsible loyal servant of the public. He rightly enjoyed a reputation as one of the greatest humanitarian and Ish hachesed figure in our city, whose caring, kindness and generosity was extended to the most needy and vulnerable members of society – irrespective of race, religion, creed or color.

    For upward of 30 years, the king of chesed Reb Arye Leib Glanz has worked tirelessly to enhance public safety, overseen charitable efforts to provide food and other assistance to the indigent and emergency medical care to New Yorkers, and ministered to the needs of the hospitalized and incarcerated.

    Let’s hope and pray that the Mosrim will have a quick mapoleh and the King of Chesed Reb Arye Leib Glanz will continue with his Maasim Tovim for klal yisroel, AMEN

  4. orthinsider says:

    I agree that if someone “maasered” on him it’s despicable.But how do we know it wasn’t someone in the correction system that may have been jealous of him and tipped off the press

  5. elicpa says:

    Was the bar mitzvah worth it? Was the engagement party worth it?
    Is it halachically required to have a band and sixty people by a bar mitzvah?

  6. elicpa says:

    Mesirah has been around since the days of Moshe Rabbeinu in Mitzrayim. Do we have to give them material to be moser on?

  7. ywncritic says:

    Dear YWN,

    How can you make such a chillul hashem and say it was one of our brothers who “maasered” him? do you have any proof that it was a mesirah by yidden??

    Here is what the NY Times wrote last Friday:
    “Several officials suggested that the disclosures stemmed from a complex web of power struggles within the department, as senior officials sought to maneuver after an announcement by Commissioner Martin F. Horn that he was leaving the agency.”

    So how did you come up with the conclusion that it was a messirah by yidden??

  8. AnashWB says:

    As a person who worked a lot of time with our Saar HuAskunam Harav Arye Leib Glantz Shlita, I can tell u one thing: he did whatever he could to make it earlier for a Yid!!! & when I’m talking about a Yid I mean each & every single one! No matter Chasidish, Yeshivish, Litvish etc. & never came up the issue “he’s not on my party”!!! I’ll make it very clear, didn’t make any differents if that guy is a Aroiny, Zaly, Pupa’ner, Klauzenberg’er Viznitzer etc. When ever it was “help for a Yid” involved he is the 1st address!!!
    Now, I spoke to him, he’s not pointing fingers on ANYONE! (Even he might know something & doesn’t wanna share it).
    One thing I can tell u: a Rachmunas on ALL Yiddisha Kinder! Even Yiden not in prison! His official job was Chaplain of the NYC Dep. Of Corrections. But he did everything! Yes! Everything in the world to help a Yid! (I think I don’t even have to explain).

    Regarding the Bar Mitzvah scandal, he felt that the only way to lift up a little bit that Tzibrochana Yid. & didn’t even think twice that it might cost his job! He never has this things in mind, a Toiva for a Yid is the number 1 priority by him! (& btw the Goiyam also draws several party’s there like this [not Bar Mitzvah's... But party's])

    R’ Arya Leib we’re proud with you! Ashraichu Shanitfastoo Al Dvar Mitzvah!!!

  9. A23 says:

    Critic,
    I don’t think that anyone connected to this bar mitzvah would have known that Shwekey performed there except for a frum Jew.

  10. 26 estates says:

    #8 see comment #2

  11. zamilenger says:

    #6, Halachically, is that MUSIR a UDOM HAMAZIK or SHOIR HAMZIK?

  12. nochamol says:

    From what the papers are reporting, there is no evidence to believe the anonymous letter was from a Jewish source. Rather, it appears to be someone from within the prison system.
    But I don’t disagree with the basic thought that we are our own worst enemy. It’s as if we never miss an opportunity to give the goyishe world a reason to hate us.
    Why can’t we see what we look like in the eyes of others and how that will affect all of us in the long run?
    Why aren’t we smart enough to realize that the prisons are full of people who were positive that “they’ll never catch me”. (Or catch me again!)

  13. mbd says:

    “Achein nodah hadavar”

  14. JayMatt19 says:

    #10, All would know who came in with the equipment. ID would have been needed to be shown and security would have been needed to be cleared. Not far fetched to claim a guard was the one ratting.

  15. elicpa says:

    #12, not sure what your point is but lechora the moser is an odom hamazik no matter how he behaves.

  16. 26 estates says:

    I also have the Zchus to know Reb Arye and what he does. Someone very dear to me needed his services and he is a lifesaver. Nothing less then a true life saver. If C”V any Yid would spend even 1 night in Rikers they would be scared for life (literally). it is impossible to fully understand and appreciate the Gadlus of this person unless you were directly helped by him. If you never were in jail or never were involved with someone in jail it is simply wrong for you to comment on this post. You know why? Because YOU HAVE NO IDEA!!!!!!!

    Reb Arye is a bright man who knows his trade and knows his boundaries. He makes life and death decisions every day with inmates all over the place. DON’T JUDGE HIM!. It is not fair and you can’t possibly know the pressure he is under. He always has a smile and he gets things done.

    What is amazing is that not only does he care about the well being of a Yid in prison, he cares for the entire family. He gets to know them, comes to their Simchos, calls them to make sure they are ok, helps arrange for visits, he becomes their family and their connection.

    Why this happened to him nobody will know but every Yid in the DOC system is suffering today because he can no longer take care of them.

    Try this – every day for just a week eat a bowl of dry cereal with Cholov Stam milk, have a small coffee (warm only) and an apple for breakfast. For lunch eat an orange, a can of tuna (plain – no mayo or anything)and a cup of juice. For supper have 2 slices of white bread with 2 pieces of vacum packed Turkey roll, a cup of juice and a fruit. THATS IT! Nothing else! oh and also, make sure only to use plastic utensils.

    Can you do that for a week? How about a month? A year? how about 3 years? SAME THING EVERY SINGLE DAY WITHOUT A CHANGE…..

    You can’t do it. you know you can’t. well, our fellow Yidden in prison (whether they belong there or not) this is their diet provided to them. Nothing else. Stop for a moment now and let that sink in…………..

    Reb Arye is a LIFESAVER. He brings them real food. He brings them love. He lifts their spirits. He reminds them they are human. He tells them how things are going at home. He makes them smile when they would rather be dead. He talks in learning with them. He does everything humanly possible to make them feel even a little better even if it for just a few minutes.

    Rabbosai – this is a tragedy for Klal Yisroel that this man can no longer do what he does so well. Don’t write anything negative about him. Don’t judge his decision making and don’t think for a second that you would have done anything different. Only he knows what the real truth is and only he was able to make that decisions he made and only he had the right to do that. The rest of us should be quiet and realize that it is because of Tzadikim like Reb Arye that we have the Zchusim in Klal Yisroel.

    Let us all Daven that somehow Reb Arye is able to get back to doing what he has done so well for so many.

  17. the lady next door says:

    its ironic how some people say ‘ the proofs’ which were written in the papers when it is known that newspapers are not organs of the truth. the job of a yid is to be dan l’kaf zechus, even in the extreme, and also to be happy for another person, in yiddish we call it to ‘fargin’, in pirkei avos its called ‘ayin tov’
    and don’t forget, we never want to be in another man’s shoes. a moiser is not part of ‘amisecha’

  18. Avreich Man says:

    This is really a sad story. And a very useful warning.

    A friend of mine in government would always say, ‘never write anything you don’t want to see on the front page of the newspaper tomorrow morning.’

    Nowadays we all have to be extra careful and always imagine that every thing we do and say is going to get spread out for public consumption. No more secrets.

  19. fedup11210 says:

    26 estates:

    There’s a famous saying: Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time.

  20. H Frechter says:

    R’ Shmuel,
    While no doubt well intended, your editorial misses the point completely. If indeed it was a fellow Jew who maasered on what occurred, that would, of course, be an example of “Our Own Worst Enemy”.

    However, in this instance, the true example of “Our Own Worst Enemy” was the monumental stupidity of holding the event at the lock up in the first place, where any number of people, Jew or gentile may have leaked the information.

    While I applaud the efforts and mesiras nefesh of this and other well intentioned prison chaplins who constantly try to find ways to ease the burdens of our bretheren behind bars (be they guilty or not), the long term success of those efforts is dependant on secrecy, and operating behind the scenes, and “under the radar”. However, the recent event at “The Tombs” seems to have had everything but neon lights and pre-arranged press coverage. That the event would become public knowledge was virtually guaranteed by the sheer scope (including the number of outside “guests”), and the consequences thus far, with no doubt more to come througout the prison system, a virtual certainty.

    I have no idea of what crime the “ba’al simcha” is accused of having committed, nor whether he is guilty of that which he is accused, but this is not about him, or his desire to be part of his family’s simcha. It is about the chilul Hashem which has resulted from a truly reckless abandonment of even a modicum of prudence and caution, which will no doubt result in putting this and all other Jewish prison chaplins under a microscope, making it far more difficult than ever for them to act on behalf of our bretheren in their charge. THAT is being “Our Own Worst Enemy”.

  21. TNT says:

    Whether or not it was a yid that was Moser is totally irrelevant. It was not the moser that made the chilul hashem and it’s not the moser that now “ruined it” for any and all other yidden in a local prison. The chilul hashem would never have happened if these yidden weren’t in prison in the first place. If you want to make sure that you’re there to celebrate a simcha with your family, don’t do anything that will get you arrested and possibly sent to prison and you won’t have that problem. I know, I know, all the yidden in prison are all innocent and just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging anyone and I’m not saying I’m an angel, but on the other hand I don’t have law enforcement investigating me for anything (at least not that I know of). We’re not talking about “lying” on tax returns here. We’re talking about yidden charged or convicted of criminal offenses. R’ Glanz may be a tzaddik and only have one interest at heart and that is to make it easy on our fellow yidden in jail. That’s very admirable of him and he definitley deserves a big yasher koach. However, he too crossed the line. He too should have known that by arranging such a “lavish” bar mitzvah in prison he would be drawing attention and anyone with an axe to grind or a jealous guard or prisoner could report it and it would blow the lid off. We all know how the locval media loves to report on stuff like this (especially because it’s very rare to have these things come up about yidden). Also, there’s no doubt that the “offical” approvals only came about because people were shmeared. Was it all worth it? Was having Shwekey perform worth ruining all the good that R’ Glanz was able to accomplish? What was the baal simchah thinking? What message could he possibly be giving over to his son making this bar mitzvah while in prison. The bar mitzvah boy would have been alot better off if he had a normal bar mitzvah where his father couldn’t attend and would understand that there are consequences to be paid if you do things that are wrong and illegal. Perhaps if people felt embarassed by being sent to prison they’d keep a low profile and not think that they’re above the law and could do whatever they want. That’s what caused this chilul hashem.

  22. 26 estates says:

    #22 – True! Does this apply to the person arrested and awaiting trial who is not guilty? Should he be raped by the Chayos in prison? Should he be subjected to inhumane treatment by other prisoners? Have you ever even visited any person behind bars?

    If you have then you would never make such a childish comment. If you have not then now is the time. See how they treat you – as a guest / visitor then magnify that 1000 times.

    And the person who is guilty? Is this our Torah? We tell them hey do the time cause you did the crime? Or do we have an achrayus to be Nosay Ol, to feel their pain and to do what we can EVEN IF THEY ARE WRONG to help them?

  23. fedup11210 says:

    26 estates – As a dedicated Law Enforcement officer I am am not as easily hoodwinked about the innocence or guilt of a given individual. I am not trying to denigrate anything that Rabbi Glancz did while he was employed by DOC. From all accounts he went above and beyond what his job description entailed. However, I am not prone to believe that every yid that is arrested is not guilty of a crime. In this particular instance and most like it, when one becomes a fugitive by running and hiding in another country, the presumpton of innocence is severely lessened. Hence, my original comment.

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