Saturday, July 27, 2019

"The Price of Truth," Book Discussion, Part I

1) "The Price of Truth: A true story of child sexual abuse in the Orthodox Jewish world -- and one girl's courage to survive and heal." (2019)…
2) Many of us cannot buy the book. Genendy's blog goes back to 2013 and is available online here.
3) I am experiencing the emotions of a child even attempting to write this, so please bear with me. Like I am mortally afraid.
4) This is important to point out because in the Jewish world, and particularly in the Orthodox Jewish world, rabbis are revered figures. They are sacred cows.
5) I feel the terror that I felt as a child when that rabbi messed with me, and then he told everyone that I was a troublemaker and a slut, and I was nine. He saw me and my father one day, and he grinned at me, a terrifying grin, and children's parents warned them away from me.
6) When I was five I saw a painting of my great-grandfather, Reb Dovid Garfinkel, in the living room of my grandparents' house in Monticello, New York. Reb Dovid was a revered rabbi and I saw the picture and thought that he was God.
7) My mother's side of the family (Reb Dovid was my mother's father's father) does not engage in "God-talk". They find it Christian-like, I think; they believe in studying Torah and the Torah above all. Torah and mitzvos, it keeps you out of trouble.
8) When I was a teenager and I was talking about God as I always do (like the pastor Joel Osteen, I think of God in a very personal way, it's hard to explain this but many of you seem to feel the same way) my grandfather (RIP) threw me out of the house. It was Passover I think.
9) My grandfather called me a "God talker"
10) Genendy, who wrote this memoir, comes from this lineage, which is Litvish (Lithuanian), and you need to understand a little bit more about it for the book to make sense.
11) This is Shabtai Tzvi (you would know his movement as the Sabbateans).

12) He came to power as a religious figure after the the Khmelnytsky uprising of the mid-1600s. To vastly oversimplify, the peasants blamed the Jews for being money collectors for wealthy land owners. The scale of the massacres cannot be easily conveyed.…
13) Again to vastly oversimplify, the wealthy collected taxes from the peasants with Jews as the physical intermediary. At a certain point, one of these men tried to force Bogdan Khmelnytsky out of his house; this ultimately moved him to lead a rebellion.

14) I kind of want to leave the religious element out of this, except to point out what historians have universally pointed out, that the Jews were only the visible manifestation of an oppression that came from others. 

Didn't matter.
15) By the way, this is Ukraine.
16) "Before the Khmelnytsky uprising, magnates had sold and leased certain privileges to arendators, many of whom were Jewish, who earned money from the collections they made for the magnates by receiving a percentage of an estate's revenue."…
17) "By not supervising their estates directly, the magnates left it to the leaseholders and collectors to become objects of hatred to the oppressed and long-suffering peasants."
18) "Khmelnytsky [who studied with the Jesuits] told the people that the Poles had sold them as slaves 'into the hands of the accursed Jews.'"
19) "With this as their battle cry, Cossacks and the peasantry massacred numerous Jewish and Polish-Lithuanian townsfolk, as well as szlachta during the years 1648–1649." (szlachta = Polish nobles)
20) "Wherever they found the szlachta, royal officials or Jews, they [Cossacks] killed them all, sparing neither women nor children.'"

("Yeven Mezulah," Nathan ben Moses Hannover, cited in Anna Reid, "Borderland: A Journey Through the History of Ukraine," 2000, p. 35.)
21) "They pillaged the estates of the Jews and nobles, burned churches and killed their priests, leaving nothing whole."
22) "It was a rare individual in those days who had not soaked his hands in blood."
23) I know that this is a lot of runup, and it is hard to understand why I am providing it, but stay with me.
25) They shoot for hours and hours. They shoot before they go into the hotel and they shoot in the hotel. They are pigs and dogs, the lowest of subhuman filth, and what they are doing has nothing to do with Allah.

26) The police are slow in responding, perhaps the bloodthirst here is incomprehensible to a normal human being.

In an upsetting moment, this woman, who scorns God, says the shahada (she declares her faith in Islam) only to save herself. But she has to.

27) From a certain perspective, the history of humanity is the story of people killing other people as a means of elevating themselves. They want to be as powerful as God.
28) When an individual is victimized by such animals, their entire psyche is shattered. 

When a people is collectively victimized, their collective consciousness is never normal again.
29) We do not have accurate figures on the number of people killed. We do know that the massacres are a central trauma for the Jewish people. Not only because of the fact of the killings, but because of what they made the Jews do.…
30) "Stories about massacre victims who had been buried alive, cut to pieces, or forced to kill one another spread throughout Europe and beyond. These stories filled many with despair."
31) In those days, there was no such thing as "Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist..." Jews. You were either observant or not observant. You had faith or you were an apostate.
32) The murderers forced the Jews to become the lowest of the low themselves, and as such they "proved" that faith is meaningless and worthless.

There is no greater trauma to a Jew.
33) To condense many things down so we can move forward, the massacres left the Jews very desperate and lost. As such they embraced a man who claimed to be the messiah - Shabtai Tzvi. 

34) A complicating factor in the Shabtai Tzvi story was the growing interest in Kabbalah, which was previously considered off limits to all but a very few.
35) Tzvi was not a good man, he was an evil man, but he had many people fooled through the use of a hanger-on as well as a lot of gobbledygook.

He also had bipolar disorder.…
36) In the end he converted to Islam. But his cult continued, and was characterized by "coexistence of sexual abstinence and profligate rites of illicit sexuality...a characteristic feature of Sabbateanism from the start." 

37) Since time is lacking, I will just tell you that the evils of Sabbateanism led to a counter-reaction, a protective reaction, among religious Jews, which led to other counter-reactions.
38) Tzvi was fully condemned.…
39) There was a focus on keeping women out of the public eye due to the fact that they are very tempting and were a key element in Tzvi's apostasy. (I do not have a link at this time; there are many links in anti-Semitic sources)
40) There was a tectonic shift toward focusing on the Torah, and avoiding mystical forms of relationship to God, because the perversion of Kabbalah led so many astray.
41) The counter-reaction to the overfocus on Torah was the Hasidic movement, which spoke to Jews who could not live in the yeshiva (religious school) and study all day; who either lacked the money or the capability.
42) The Hasidic movement was fringe, though; the dominant reaction was Torah, Torah, Torah and the veneration of the yeshiva and the rabbis.
43) In "Hotel Mumbai" they said - "The Guest is God" - in the world of the yeshiva, the rabbi was God.

This is a form of idol worship.

Part 1 of this thread ends here; Part II will examine how this translates into the phenomenon of child sex trafficking among this subculture.

By Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. All opinions are the author's own. Public domain.