Representative or Not?

A relative of mine recently suggested that I volunteer for Bikkur Cholim. I’ve heard a lot about (and directly benefited from) this organization’s work. To say their work is laudable is an egregious understatement. To say their work is incredible, remarkable, amazing, etc., fails to do it justice. How can one describe an organization that reaches out to people in need, that sends representatives to hospitals to guide people through endless, confounding lists of  doctors and treatments, that purchased a $5,000 generator so a child on life support could live at home? There are no words to describe what you will see in these testimonials.

The founder of Bikkur Cholim is a Chareidi man. Most of the men who work for Bikkur Cholim are Chareidim. So are the women. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of Chareidi men and women who engage daily in the most profound acts of kindness. So my question is this: There are hundreds of Chareidim in an organization like Bikkur Cholim, yet one Chareidi (if he deserves to be categorized as such) man spits on a girl, and we’re up in arms condemning the entire Chareidi world, Weltanschauung, and way of life. Why? The “spitter” was wrong, but is it right to consider him representative of Chareidi societies and his actions/attitude products of their ideologies? Why is one man more representative of a group than hundreds? Could our designation of the “spitter” as the prototypical Chareidi say more about our biases than it does about theirs?

Bikkur Cholim helps everyone, regardless of their level of religious observance. Only one of the testimonials was given by a man who looks Chareidi (and I do not know that he is). The men and women of Bikkur Cholim spend day and night helping people who are not shomer Shabbos simply because they’re Jews. Do they seem like the type of people who would spit on a young girl because her dress does not conform to their religious standards? Do they seem like the type of people who would preach such ideas or encourage such behavior? If not, why are we denouncing them for an offense they did not commit?

One comment on “Representative or Not?

  1. Princess Lea says:

    That’s what annoys me. People are demanding that the chareido community leaders should speak out against these mishigganas, but why is it their responsibility more than any other Jew’s? We all know, including the chareidim, that these fringe nutters are just that: nutters. They don’t have to be loudly banned for anyone to know that they do not represent Judaism.

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