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Why the Asifa is important

By Judy Brown – author of Hush

This is why the Internet Asifa is important for K’lal Yisroel: because a wholesome lie is better than any broken truth; because denial must be protected at all costs; because ignorance is sacred in a world whose existence depends on it.

And this is why it is important that we be there on Sunday: because we hold the broken truth, the one we experienced firsthand when our rebbis, teachers, and leaders ripped their own lie piece by piece, life by life, in front of our eyes, and then intimidated, threatened, brutalized and suppressed any victim or witness who dared speak out, warning that they would destroy us and our broken truth if we did not accept their lie.
The Internet is an enormous threat to the ultra-orthodox world for the same reason it is a threat in Syria, Iran and Russia; a population that is aware is a population difficult to control. They say that they must fight the Internet for it brings moral decay. What they do not say, even to themselves, is that they must fight the Internet so they can conceal moral decay. That the only thing they fear more than the outside corruption the Internet brought inside, is the inside corruption the Internet has revealed to the outside.

The Internet is terrifying to the rabbanim perhaps because of porn, perhaps because it exposes youth to foreign ideas, but even more importantly, because it enables open dialogue and an honesty they cannot afford if they are to survive as a community, the community they insist they are; pure, innocent, and above their own frailties. And if a few children must be sacrificed for this wholesome lie, then so be it. It is better than any broken truth.
In the last few years, the Internet has served as a crucial tool for victims of sexual abuse. It is through blogs and online discussions that many victims first realized they are not alone, that this is a communal problem. The silence that has kept victims in such utter isolation, unable to connect with others, has been broken by the anonymity and connectivity of the Internet. It was there victims could finally speak honestly without fear. It was there they could hear of so many similar experiences, and reach out to other victims. The Internet played a large role in tapping at the wall of denial, and for the communal authorities this was a dangerous thing.

Denial is a terrible thing to lose. We know. For many victims it takes years to face their own traumas, to break away from the security and warmth of a well taught lie. But no one knows like we do that it is never technology that corrupts man, but man that corrupts technology. Because decades before there was Internet or computers, there was sexual molestation and the worst forms of moral decay. We were there when it happened, when men who did not have access to the Internet turned into beasts, groping, fondling, and raping boys and girls half their size and strength, then terrorizing them into silence.

Tomorrow we will stand outside Citifield with our cardboard signs. There will be thousands of orthodox men walking past us. Some will look quickly away, some will laugh in pity, some will wish they were standing with us. We’ll stand for the first time as a united voice, in public, telling them that we are no longer afraid; that we, who have seen the darkest parts of their world, will never be silenced again; that we will make as big a ‘Chillul Hashem’ as we need to, and for as long as we need to, because there are basic morals and there are cultural traditions and for too long the ultra-orthodox world has confused one for the other.

The Citifield rally is so important to the community because it is another form of denial, another excuse they can point to. It allows them to avoid confronting the most dangerous enemy of all: themselves. The Internet does not molest, only people do; they always have. But if they can just persist on blaming internal problems on evil outside forces they can continue to remain blind to what they refuse to see: themselves. And that is why we will be there tomorrow, because this is the broken truth.

Just wanted to share,

Judy Braun, Hush

{ 75 comments… add one }
  • AztecQueen2000 May 20, 2012, 4:25 PM

    The Internet is like any other tool, from a hammer to a car–the only variable is the person using it.

    • Telz Angel May 20, 2012, 4:47 PM

      Stop trying to introduce logic to this conversation. It is irrelevant here.

      To the people attending, tools have intrinsic qualities of tumah or taharah. The internet is a tool that has the sole purpose to spread evil images and take people away from Torah. And yet with low employment in the charedi ranks, they need to figure out how to make this technology work for them. To use the talmudic expression, they have to figure out how to make a graveyard not give them tumah. They have to dip in the mikvah while holding the sheretz. They have to use the internet while rejecting it. Calling it a neutral tool works for rational secular people. The Asifa is not about rational thinking, but about a reality check — how to condemn *and* embrace tech changes. Rejecting the internet does not work anymore. And just calling it a “tool” means they have to address the real problems — that given a neutral tool, they will find a way to make it destructive.

      The population here does not consider themselves to be qualified “drivers” of this “car”. They have no effective training, and the tool provides them no safety features. To them it’s like giving regular people the keys to a tank — and hoping nothing bad happens. So your logic, while sound, is just not relevant to these people.

      • vey May 20, 2012, 10:02 PM

        were you there or are you just shooting from your hip your “logic”?

  • Nike516 May 20, 2012, 4:37 PM

    YOUNG ISRAEL OF OCEANSIDE JUST GOT THEIR 50 YOUNG COUPLE………….. YES……………….. 2,006 MORE TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Julia May 20, 2012, 6:07 PM

      Do they count those who leave? My sister and her husband are moving out of Oceanside this month.

    • Alter Cocker May 20, 2012, 8:25 PM

      what is this??????

    • michaltastik May 20, 2012, 8:48 PM

      wtf does that have to do with the post?

  • Dan May 20, 2012, 4:41 PM

    blah blah blah. My what original thought we have here. Could read the same speech on any anti religious website.

    I’m sorry you were molested, and I understand why that would turn you off from the religion of the people who molested you. Happy now?

    • Anonymous May 20, 2012, 4:59 PM

      What is wrong with you

      • Dan May 20, 2012, 5:02 PM

        Plenty of things. One of them is that I say whatever I want on the internet, which seems to sometimes make people upset, who would rather keep their heads inside their tush.

        • Alter Cocker May 20, 2012, 8:25 PM

          I guess you never stopped to consider that you might be the one with the head inside the tush…

    • SKM May 21, 2012, 9:28 PM

      1. She wasn’t herself molested.
      2. She didn’t leave the community.
      3. Worrying about temptation on the internet while engaging in widespread chillul hashem and protecting evildoers from justice is self-evidently stupid and contrary to Torah. Yes, it may not be an original thought, but it is a true one, and one which a disgusting number of supposedly “religious” Jews refuse to accept.

      • vey May 21, 2012, 11:27 PM

        Which member on the dais protects molestors?

  • Prometheus May 20, 2012, 4:50 PM

    I woke up this morning feeling like the world’s biggest yanghole for something stupid and unkind I did yesterday, but no, I am just a yanghole, not nearly the biggest .

  • robert May 20, 2012, 8:04 PM


    beautifully expressed.

  • I Think I Get It Now... May 20, 2012, 9:53 PM

    So if I dont want my children watching pornography on my computer, that means that I am somehow harboring a child molester.
    Got it now.
    Thanks for the clarification!

    • bratschegirl May 21, 2012, 11:06 PM

      Well, no, you haven’t got it. Go Google “reductio ad absurdum.”

      • vey May 21, 2012, 11:16 PM

        go google satire. Or do you only get satire when it is aimed at your peeves?

  • Alexandre Dumas May 20, 2012, 10:28 PM


  • Critic May 20, 2012, 10:44 PM

    The superbly accomplished and formidably talented Judy Brown created a well-written, highly readable book that opens peoples eyes to the realities of child abuse. That alone would be a wonderful achievement. It could have been a step towards repair, healing, prevention, and even justice. But when that same book and her above post also bashes Yiddishkeit and makes the frum way of life appear Taliban-ish, all youve accomplished is to break one thing while fixing another.

  • Yossy H May 21, 2012, 12:26 AM

    I respect this writer (Mrs Brown) way more then D Feldman. Hush is the real deal was written beautifully and called itself a novel D Feldman basically lied her way to fame.

    Also the author of Hush has a lot more legitimacy being the daughter of the owner of Hamodia.

  • stillwaiting May 21, 2012, 6:25 AM

    im a big fan of hush but dont think the interent asifa has any relevance to what she is saying.

  • reb pipik May 21, 2012, 12:44 PM

    how was the asifa judy? did you enjoy all the yiddish speeches?

  • Arnie Lustiger May 21, 2012, 3:05 PM

    Mrs. Braun:
    Your argument is a critically important counterbalance to the asifa. Having written an emotionally devastating book on child abuse, your credibility in making this argument is unimpeachable. The conversation which you have started must be continued.
    But with all due respect to Heshy, why did you choose a primarily satirical website to make your point? The venue in which you make your point detracts immeasurably from its impact.
    Could you please reprint this somewhere so an intelligent, nuanced discussion ensues (unlike the bulk of the talkbacks here so far)? The blog Torah Musings comes to mind…

    • Arnie Lustiger May 21, 2012, 3:44 PM

      Sorry for the above post: I just saw that this article was lifted (unattributed) from the Jewish Week.

  • Woodrow/Conservadox May 21, 2012, 5:31 PM

    “Important” is not a word I would use to describe the Asifa. It sounds like the ultra-right fringe of Judaism talking to each other. I guess it is a little more important than a Neturei Karta meeting, but not much.

    • Dan May 21, 2012, 7:36 PM

      Fringe? Pretty large group to call a fringe.

    • vey May 21, 2012, 11:18 PM

      How many conservadoxes out there?

  • Anonymous May 21, 2012, 11:37 PM

    I guess it is fair to say that Brown’s primitive view of yiddishkeit is due to her upbringing in the home of the head Hamodia propogandist.

  • T May 22, 2012, 11:47 PM

    This boy who was molested would possibly not be writing here now were it not for the media and Internet. Without seeing, listening, a reading about fellow survivors of all faiths, I would have felt so alone and repulsive. The Internet provided healing with learning how so many others suffered similarly. I agree that banning the Internet is akin to silencing the victims. Ban the child rapists, not the Internet used to out them.

    • T May 22, 2012, 11:48 PM

      Sorry. Typo: listening, AND reading

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