Friday, July 31, 2009

Turnaround in the Charedi community?

Have the scandals of the past few weeks - including the riots in Jerusalem, the arrest of the NJ rabbis on allegations of money laundering, etc - been a wake-up call in some parts of the Charedi community?

On Tuesday, for example, the Charedi community in New York held a public symposium on business ethics, in response to the money-laundering scandal:

The most surprising moment of the night came at the very beginning, when the Grand Rabbi of the Spinka sect, Naftali Tzi Weisz, at right, took the stage for an unscheduled appearance. Weisz was arrested in a separate money-laundering case in 2007, and just last week he pleaded guilty, reportedly accepting a jail term. Before heading off to serve that term, Weisz delivered an obviously emotional mea culpa for his wrong-doings, first in Yiddish and then in awkwardly translated English.

“Unfortunately we have to admit in public that things happened that were not supposed to happen,” Weisz told the men in attendance (women were not invited to the forum). “We must have to express our wish that these matters will never happen — we have to commit that in the future this will never happen again.”

Weisz spoke in great detail about the compliance program that the Spinka board has entered with the government and he said, “Our community, baruch hashem, is not lacking in smart experienced lawyers and accountants that are willing to teach the tzibur [community], how to conduct their communal affairs in a manner that is in compliance with the law in all respects.”

See, as well, this report on Vos Iz Neias - a very popular aggregator of news from the frum world - on an Israeli Charedi man arrested this week on suspicion of smuggling drugs (in Heathrow, as it happens).

What is interesting here are the comments on the post - almost uniformally condemning the arrested man, and asking whether he deserves help from the community, which, according to the report, is "trying to secure his release".

Are these the seeds of a new era of accountability in the Charedi world?

Let's hope so.

No comments: