After my last post went Shalom Tzvi level viral (as defined by the odds in which someone shared it with my grandparents), lots of people emerged from the woodwork. And they had a lot to say, being people and all.
They wanted me to know that they were happy for me, that they’d known I’d come around, that they were glad to see I was finally over it, had healed myself, and recognized that Aish wasn’t so bad after all.
Also, do I still live in Toronto and let’s catch up sometime.
I did not take this well. It is clear to me that people will use my current post to whitewash some of the older stuff I’ve said. This, even though the gist of everything I’ve said until now still stands and my detailed criticism of the Kiruv movement, Orthodox Judaism, and religion in general, still stands.
In sharing my own personal healing, a transformation from emotional pain to just intellectual criticism, a lot of the punch will get lost. With less ‘fuck you’’s, my points will be just intellectual musings and debates, and we all have plenty of those on the internet.
I also didn’t appreciate only hearing from people when I was supposedly doing well. (As an aside, you can’t always tell how well I’m doing by what I write about. Stay tuned for an upcoming post on suicide.)
I can understand some of the places this can come from – people may have thought I was angry at them in particular, even though this was largely untrue. And people often don’t feel comfortable around the messiness of raw emotions – anger and grief. We don’t quite know what to say when paying condolences, and the more tragic the situation the less the clichés in our back pocket can serve us.
So here are some things I’d like to say:
The fact that I have healed in no way absolves you of your responsibilities towards the thousands you have hurt. The ruined marriages, the stifled psyches, the falsehoods and the whitewashing, these are all real and you played a part in it. It’s as basic as Richard Dawkin’s point that there is no such thing as a religious child – there are only your opinions indoctrinated into an unsuspecting human.
This is happening around us all the time, and while Aish has millions of dollars to prop up its image, I am one dude with a keyboard making a point. Even if Aish is a mixture of good and bad, as my last article concurs, there is still a lot more garbage that goes unmentioned in the day to day narrative.
I am also grateful to the few individuals who stood by me throughout it all. A few key people (one of them is a Rabbi) did not give a shit about the fact that I was covered in emotional shit and stuck around, doggedly, persistently, regardless of what I said or did. These are the people who stand out in my mind, if not as better friends, at least as more emotionally capable ones. Their support of me then meant much more than the hand clapping I’m receiving now.
A part of me did not want to write this. “Why shit on the parade?” it asks. “You’re finally on people’s good side again, don’t you want people to like you? Don’t you want people to see you as someone who adds positivity to the world, who will support your future projects to do good (Tikun Olam, bitches)?”
To which I reply, I most definitely do want everyone to like me. But I didn’t get this far by always saying the right thing that I or everyone else wanted to hear.
No matter what I say or do, some people still seem to think that I’m the shit. When I’m dating, 90% of women don’t notice I exist and 10% are crazy about me. I would like to keep throwing mud at walls, western and otherwise, and let stick what may.