Abandoning Paradise

Agudah’s new HQ

Last week Agudas Yisroel took a cue from none other than the prestigious Partido Comunista de Cuba. Five years ago in the vaunted halls of Edificio del Comit? Central, the Cuban leadership called a monumental assembly to discuss the troubling trend of Cubans deserting the Paradise of Communism abandoning their heritage to wallow in the lowly Earthly temptations of South Miami.? Communist critics at the time (who lived outside Cuba, of course) ridiculed the event: how could they ever tackle the issue of desertion of the bliss of communism without actually soliciting the opinions of those who left?! After all, they can teach us something about South Florida and why people are flocking there. But the Partido Comunista wanted nothing to do with it. Absurd! They cried. How much sense could those people have if they willfully abandoned the greatest paradise on Earth?! And for what?! To compromise their integrity and convictions for the materialistic civilization of the Western World?!

The Ultra-Orthodox community has found an ideological comrade in the Cuban nation; they both eschew internet access for the common cattle and are both afraid of technological advances. There is speculation that this partnership was formed during Agudas Yisroel?s negotiations with the Cuban government for the release of Alan Gross, the Jewish American contractor who was jailed in Cuba for bringing internet technology into the country. Cubas bold action to keep its people in darkness engendered admiration on the part of Agudah leadership, which is working towards the same goal.

In any case, in a few weeks? time the Agudas Yisroel, the Partido Comunista de El Juda?smo del Tora, will be convening their own assembly to try and plumb the logic of the tens of thousands who have given flight to embrace the Western World abandoning their heritage for the promise of a better life across the shores of what these deserters call ignorance. Is it possible for this group of highly insular Jews to honestly understand and comprehend what compelled these myriads to leave and live a better life in a more open-minded and enlightened world? The jury is out, but so are the protests. Many believe this endeavor is futile palliation at best and a cover up for the problems at the core of Judaism at worst.