Thursday, July 31, 2008

The KGB vs. the yeshivish community part I

Thank you to Moshe for giving me the idea for this post.

As a child of people who grew up in the former Soviet Union, I've been told countless number of stories on government curruption and fear of the secret service, the KGB. Then when I became frum and actually joined a frum institution -my pathetic high"school" - I realized that I was partially living the curruption my parents lived through. The similiarities between fearing the KGB and fearing your HS principal are not-few. The frum world is a mini corrupt government and we willingly adhere to the rules. For the next few weeks, every Thursday, I'll be posting comparisons of the KGB run society to the frummy run society.

Enjoy! :)

Part 1 --> The inability to express oneself.

In the former Soviet Union the KGB was everywhere. Not necessarily actual trained KGB spies, but regular citizens who spied. These people constantly ratted out their friends and neighbors. If one was heard saying something against the government, it was possible that they'd be killed, imprisoned or sent to Siberia. If someone were caught doing anything not approved by the KGB or the psycho in charge, they'd constantly fear death.

While in the frum community saying something against the klal doesn't lead to death, the risk of being overheard is grave. For example if one talks about how stupid certain people are, or about how messed up the yeshivish system is, it is VERY much considered to be bad for shidduchim. If you get the wrong shidduch, you can't get into the right social circles, and then your kids can't get into the right schools and camps and you're as good as dead when it comes to anything in the community.

I had a friend who wasn't frum at all. She was in my school (the main program not the BT program) because her parents wanted her to be in a yeshiva. One day she and her older sister were kissing their boyfriends in their building lobby (NOT in uniform). A Rabbi that lived in her building, who knew my school principal, took a picture of them and then showed it to my principal. They were not allowed to come back to school the following year.

If you reread my post on HS being a brainwashing factory, you'd realize that the spy network is alive and well in the frum community. Two girls were expelled because they were caught in Florida wearing bikini's. So, basically expressing oneself is prohibited in the frum community, just as much as in the former Soviet Union.

42 comments:

Child Ish Behavior said...

One thing is missing with this comparison though. People choose the school and community they wish to be part of. If you don't like the community you could always find another, If you didn't like the KGB they would send you to Siberia. It's not like anyone forced the girls to make out in the hallway and go to a school that disapproves of such practices.

Moshe said...

Most of tristate is like this. There's not much of a choice. After living here and having friends and family, it's very hard to move somewhere else. And moving somewhere else may as well be moving to Siberia so the comparison still stands.
The girls' parents should've taught that rabbi that the old saying still stands, snitches get stitches.

Jessica said...

"Most of the tristate is like this." -- There are other places to live than NY or right near NY.

DYS said...

FS,

Interesting.

I think it's fair to draw an analogy to the KGB. But I hope you're not saying that you think your high school is anywhere near as bad as the soviet union was.

David said...

"A Rabbi that lived in her building, who knew my school principal, took a picture of them and then showed it to my principal."

I'll bet they both kept copies.

Moshe said...

"...for the archives" (Fifth Element)

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: If you grow up with the convenience of having 50 kosher restuarants to choose from on any given day (in your neighborhood alone) and the convenience to travel throughout the entire city on no more than $4, And no worrying about parking and car-keys, you're not going to want to move out very quickly.

I'm a city girl. When nights get too quiet I can't sleep. I went to my moms friends house in NJ and I couldn't help but notice how theres literally NOTHING to do but hang out at wal-mart and go to the movies, which you have to drive too -I dont drive-

Its not so easy to just pick up and leave. I am really spoiled by the pleasures and conveniences of the city.

DYS: yes, its an extreme comparison. But if the crazy frummies continue on getting more power (and their power has obviously been increasing) we're not going to be far off. they're already big brothering us. Soon we'll be getting telescreens.

Ophir said...

Frum Skeptic- The UES and UWS of Manhattan are much more modern and still in the city. You can move there. I'm sure there is more going on at night also (bar scene).

frumskeptic said...

Ophir: thanx, but I'm not into bar scenes.

And I have this weirdo closeness with my parents. And I like my shul. I don't think i'll be moving out of my neighborhood (in brooklyn) anytime soon.

Jessica said...

frumskeptic - yes, but moshe had said that there's not much of a choice. You do have a choice to either live in NY or not live in NY and you made the choice to live in NY.

Ophir said...

FS- I'm just letting you know there are options out there. There is also a modern community in Brooklyn. Why would you want to stay in Brooklyn? What is nice about that place? Such a pain to get to and lots of traffic. You eventually have to leave the nest. You should go to a seminary in Israel for a year. I think it might be good for you religiously. Be a madricha in a modern orthodox seminary.

Moshe said...

Dude, the more you comment, the more suicidal you sound.

Ophir said...

dude- what the hell are you talking about? where you offended by my brooklyn comment? What the heck sounded suicidal about that?

Moshe said...

After that last comment, FS is the one you should be worried about. ;-)

Anonymous said...

You should go to a seminary in Israel for a year. I think it might be good for you religiously.
***********************************
Right, and become a religious fanatic. Thats all they turn out there.

Moshe said...

Intro to MIS? What do you do there, look at the pretty computers and learn how to turn them on? ;-)

Ophir said...

You guys missed the sentence after that which said she should be a madricha in a modern orthodox seminary. It's called selective reading. Do they not teach how to read in Yeshivish schools?

Ophir said...

Moshe- "After that last comment, FS is the one you should be worried about. ;-)" What are you talking about? What comment and why should i be worried about FS?

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: In the former soviet union you had the choice to live the cities (the places the KGB actually spied the most) people didn't do it. It was rather inconvenient to do so. If you wanted opportunity you stayed behind in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kiev and hid your life from the government. Or else you were stuck in even crappier conditions than you began in.

I'm spoiled. I like the opportunity of having a million things to do with maybe an hour or two of travel at most, for $4.

Its technically a choice, but I'd literally need to completely change my lifestyle, something I'm not willing to do. Especially since at teh end of the day all those small towns outside of NY end up sending their singles to date here. What would be the point of escaping NY and then Id have to send my kids away to date here. Let them atleast know what they're getting themselves into.

frumskeptic said...

ophir: I'm part of the MO community here. I live in a decent neighborhood (not to many frummies, B"H). Just that the frummies rule.

Also, i don't join frum things. I'm not gonna be a madrecha or go to seminary or do anything of the sort. NO more institutionalized frum places for me. I got the heck out of HS ASAP for a reason, and it wasn't so i could return to a seminary.

lol...i'm gonna get nightmares thinking about seminary now... lol

Ophir said...

Frum Skeptic- I know the word seminary sounds scary but two things. One- if you are a madricha you aren't boxed in. Two- do u know any girls that went to a MO seminary in Israel? Are any of them "crazy" in your terms?
It just seems you have a lot of anger towards the yeshivish world. You got to let that anger go, because otherwise it will only hurt you. I understand it may be justified, but it does not accomplish anything. I agree with you on many points but (it just seems like) there is just so much anger behind it. I was just trying to help. I mean this in the most sincere way.

frumskeptic said...

Ophir: I'm not really angry. I have my moments. Usually I just blog about it and feel better.

My mom said since the blog I calmed down. So it works. But I need to be angry on some of hte posts, because that anger is coming out of me, into the post.

I'm not an angry person. Impatient, yes. Angry, not really.

Ophir said...

Frum Skeptic- Just making sure. Then it is a good thing you are blogging. I really enjoy them. I actually look forward to a new one every night and the comments that come afterward. Gives me something interesting to read at work. lol

frumskeptic said...

Ophir: Glad to know you like the posts. :)

Thank you for reading :-)

DYS said...

When I told people I was moving out of NY, they said "Oh, you mean to Teaneck?" When I said Ohio, they looked at me like I'm nuts and then asked where I would eat. Duh, my kitchen. Best kosher food in town. Actually we do have a bagel place. And there's a rumor we might be getting a falafel & shwarma place soon! But people in NY still think we live on a farm. We have 3 shuls, a mikvah & an eruv, but many NY-ers can't imagine that any of that exists outside NY and a few other very big cities.

Moshe said...

Well...if you look on the map, everywhere outside tristate it says "here there be dragons"
honest

How much is meat and chicken in Ohio?

DYS said...

What would be the point of escaping NY and then Id have to send my kids away to date here. Let them atleast know what they're getting themselves into.

Modern Orthodoxy in Brooklyn is just a slightly more liberal appendage of the yeshivish community there, not its own thing. Case in point, your statement above. This is the way the "modern" community in Brooklyn has trained you to think. Why would you be "sending" your kids anywhere to date? They'll grow up and make their own dating choices. Only the yeshivish community and it's appendages think about "sending" their kids to date. The kids may very likely go to NY or other big cities to date, but if they have to be sent, like they're children with playdates, then they're not ready.

DYS said...

Actually, the local Kroger supermarket here in Columbus has a pretty big kosher section and there's a kosher meat counter under the vaad ho'ir. The price of meat isn't too bad - I would say only a tiny bit more expensive than in NY and more than offset by the massively lower costs of living in all other respects.

Jessica said...

fs - As for the dating thing, while there are many people who go to NY to date, none of my non-NY friends are married to New Yorkers. None of them even met their husbands in NY. I understand it's not easy to just pack up and leave, but haven't you ever heard the saying that the best things in life don't come easily? You'd be surprised going to a different town (and I don't mean some place in NJ). I'm from the midwest, people are a lot nicer here. The adjustment is made a lot easier when you have people helping you out. And here, strangers actually offer to help people out. Also, have you ever been out of NY for more than a week? You can't really predict how something will be until you've tried it.

The Babysitter said...

Frum Skeptic: There's a difference though. I'm not going to judge anyone, only the actions. What the girls from your HS did was so to speak "wrong" for your school. By the KGB, the KGB were the ones doing the wrong thing by killing and stuff.
The U.S. has spies too, spies are important to give over information that can help protect you. It's for your benefit.
Here the school wants to make sure the girls are all the way the school feels is right, what they stand for, and they don't want other girls getting corrupted from the "unfitting" girls.
It's not like the school is going to take those pictures and put them in magazines and shame the people because of it, hopefully the school with shred the pictures afterwords.

frumskeptic said...

DYS and Jessica: I'm very glad that out of town works out for you. I AM a city girl. I've been in Boston (I have relatives there), and Boston is a major city, I was bored out of my mind. There were very few 24 hour stores, the amount of kosher restuarants were few (ONE block) and the prices were ridiculous.

I'm a city person. I've been on vacation in the country. Upstate, in super touristy areas for entire summers. There was nothing to do after 9.

I was born and raised in the city, thats just how i am. I like the city. Nice people scare me. I feel like they all have agenda's. I like hte fact that I have no idea who lives on my block, I like the anonymity. It makes me happy. I can live a nice peaceful life without having to be bothered by people.

I know it sounds mean, but its how I am. Its not a solution for me to move out of here. I'd have a nervous breakdown. I like the rush here. I like the impatient people. I like that when I meet people I konw at a supermarket they're in a rush and I don't have to discuss my entire life story with them. I have freidns who hate the city, and I'd support them if they choose to leave, But its just not the place for me to leave it.

frumskeptic said...

"Why would you be "sending" your kids anywhere to date? They'll grow up and make their own dating choices. Only the yeshivish community and it's appendages think about "sending" their kids to date. The kids may very likely go to NY or other big cities to date, but if they have to be sent, like they're children with playdates, then they're not ready."

Obviously i literally wouldn't be sending them. BUt I was raised by russian people. My grandma's dowry was that she lived in Moscow. It was known that people outside of major cities married people from cities. Its just how it was done. There were more people as well as more opportunities in cities. This is specifically one of those things that wasn't ingrained in me by frummies, rather my psycho family.

frumskeptic said...

Babysitter: When people are spying to defend their country from terrorists and other dangers, thats one thing, but when the KGB had spies for the stupidest things, and made people live in fear, thats totally another. You cannot compare the spying between the US and the KGB. The KGB didn't allow people to have religion, listen to certain raadio stations, talk about money and other crazy things. There was absolutely NO justification for over half the spying.

Similarly, spying on your students is not justified. If they're not in uniform they're not giving your school a bad name. Its wrong. That girl had every right to have a BF and kiss him or w/e as long as she didn't have her schools logo all over. and theres no justifying random spying either. Its ridiculous that girls fear going out on certain avenues AFTER school hours. Its absolutly insane.

The Babysitter said...

Right so I was saying the KGB's spying isn't a good thing.

Well if she felt what she was doing was right then she wouldn't fear being spied on. The reason she didn't like being spied on was because she knew she was doing something "wrong". She still valued the school's opinion if she didn't want the spies reporting it to the school.

Moshe said...

No, she feared being spied on because she was afraid of getting kicked out.

frumskeptic said...

what moshe said.

IF she thought she was doing something wrong, she wouldn't be dumb enough to do it in public. She'd get a room.

Moshe said...

Yeshivish community spies ;-)

The Babysitter said...

So if she knew the school would kick her out for it then she wouldn't do it in a public place either. She knew it was "worthy" of being kicked out material. That shows she thinks the school has a problem with it.

I mean its not like she was caught wearing socks instead of tights, if it was something like that then I'd say the school is being ridiculous and all. But here its something bigger. It's going against being shomer, which is something important.

frumskeptic said...

I don't think she knew she could get kicked it. Its not worth it.

I started acting out in HS when I already knew I was given permission to graduate early. 'Coure my acting out wasn't making out with guys. but still.

ANyway. violating shomer, as "bad" as that may be by some authorites is not reason to kick your student out. She wasn't making out in uniform.

Jessica said...

fs - "I can live a nice peaceful life without having to be bothered by people." Doesn't seem like you're living a peaceful life with a lack of bothersome people based on your posts.

Anonymous said...

"When I said Ohio, they looked at me like I'm nuts and then asked where I would eat"

Heh. At least they didn't "correct" you and say (in a snooty tone) "It's pronounced Iowa"

Ichabod Chrain

abandoning eden said...

fs- I thought the same way you did, but was suprised to find out that NYC isn't the only city in america! I live in a pretty big city (2 million people), and there is tons of stuff to do, and we also have very cheap public transit ($1.45 to take the bus or train).