With a heavy heart and firm resolve, I would like to use this forum to publicly repudiate the actions of those in the Boro Park community who shamed Jews worldwide yesterday with their lawless and violent actions.
As a Torah Jew, I am obligated to judge people l’kaf zechus (favorably). With that in mind, and considering the fact that I was not there to witness these protests firsthand, perhaps I should listen to those in our community who defend or excuse the actions of the protesters by pointing out that there were allegations of police brutality that sparked the protests.
However, there is no set of circumstances that permit the torching of a police car and the setting of fires in this malchus shel chesed (benevolent country). These criminal acts are a dark stain on our community and constitute a disgrace of Hashem’s Torah. And I firmly believe that those who perpetrate these actions are ‘rodfim’ who are putting all of us in danger.
L’man Hashem; haven’t we learned anything at all from history? Aren’t we afraid of creating needless animosity among our neighbors? We have been given a privilege that was denied our grandparents for two thousand years. It is one that we should accept as the gift that it is, not endanger it with acts of hooliganism.
Instead of reactive comments from people defending the protestors, or suggesting that these are the actions of a few individuals, I would like to see universal and broad-based condemnation of these actions from responsible community leaders, rabbonim and heads of schools. I plan on speaking about this matter in my Friday dvar Torah to my talmidim. I hope that many others will do the same.
I strongly believe that all parents should speak to their children about this matter at their dinner and Shabbos tables. Our children are watching our response to this very public chilul Hashem. Very carefully.
There are hundreds of amazing acts of selflessness and Kiddush Hashem in our community on a daily basis. However, these beautiful messages are being snuffed out by the negative actions of a few. In this 24-hour news cycle and Internet blog world we cannot allow the misguided youth who commit violence to speak for us.
May Hashem grant us wisdom in these troubling times.
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Menahel, Yeshiva Darchei Noam of Monsey
Director, Project Y.E.S.