Monday, March 17, 2008

A Little (Air) Plane Speaking

Members of Klal have frequently opened their daily newspapers and have been faced with articles in which frum Jews are portrayed in a negative manner. Certainly the reporting about Israel is lopsided, with a "look what the Jews are doing to the poor Arabs" slant. Those outside of Klal don't understand our customs and those reporting don't bother to try and find out. Anti-semitism is in print, however loosely some attempt is made to make it seem otherwise. Many of the things reported are totally skewed; facts are left out or are presented in such a way that puts our practices in a negative manner.

And then there is what we do to ourselves. A recent letter to the Yated in the Readers Write section was from a frum Jew complaining about the public behavior of a group of frum young married women on a Jet Blue flight from Ft. Lauderdale to New York. The behavior was called a Chillul Hashem and I agree with the writer.

In a nutshell, the women and their young children boarded the plane and refused to sit down unless they could be seated together. Their akshonos caused the plane to be 1/2 hour late in leaving. One stewardess left the plane because she refused to serve "those people." These women, clearly vacationing without their husbands, allowed their young children to scream and run around the plane for the whole flight. They stood up and yelled to each other over the heads of other passengers, and carried on as if they were the only ones on the plane. One woman, having changed a baby's dirty diaper in the restroom, left the diaper on the counter for someone else to take care of. The next passenger to use the restroom showed this to a stewardess and another brouhaha ensued.

The writer of the letter cringed at the picture the public was getting of frum Jews. I'm cringing along with her. Had this been a case of only one young woman on the plane perhaps it could have been explained away by us as one person who perhaps had never been taught any manners. But six? Something else going on there.

If the letter is accurate in describing what went on in the plane, what you have is a case of institutionalized bad behavior. What you have is a group of young married women who most likely were taught in their schools that they are heads and tails above anyone outside of their own world. What they weren't taught is how to behave in that outside world, how to get along with other people. Having been anointed as "bnos Yisroel" there is no need for them to deal with others in a considerate manner; such others are beneath their consideration. Such young women were most likely told not to go out into the secular world; if they work, they work in the institutions of Klal. They shop in stores owned by frum Jews. They socialize only with each other. Anything outside of their narrow purview is not deserving of respect.

But they knew enough about that outside world to know that Florida in the winter time is a good place to vacation. They knew enough to book a plane reservation. And here is what else I'll surmise. They either knew about how seats are assigned on an airplane and had already been told at the check in desk by the gate that they could not sit together and didn't care, or they didn't know and didn't care about the rules either. Any one else with even a speck of manners, being told that they could not all sit together, would have gone to their seats and that would have been the end of it. Not these women.

There are any number of young married women who would not have caused this chillul Hashem. Somewhere along the line they have been taught by their parents or learned from their own experience that common courtesy extends to everyone. Someone will have taught them that when a frum person goes out in public they are representing Klal to the outside world, like it or not. Someone will have taught them manners. And then there is the group on the plane.

When the institutions of Klal preach a party line that inculcates in the listeners the idea that they are better than everyone else, that they have no reason to learn the rules about the outside world, that those not of their belief system are unworthy of their efforts then we have a real problem. There were all kinds of people on that plane. And every one of those people carried away with them a picture of what frumkeit is that is skewed. And when they landed and were heading home and someone asked them "How was your trip?" you can just imagine how they described the plane ride.

I am appalled that my good name has been smeared by these young married women. I am appalled that all the positive midos that I know schools teach seem to be reserved only for each other. I am appalled because some other young married woman traveling with children and who is obviously frum is going to be looked at with suspicion and with disgust based solely on the behavior of this group.

I am appalled but I am not surprised. To the rest of the world I look frum Jewish: long skirt, covered hair. But when I have had occasion to go shopping in the venues in the "ghetto" areas of Brooklyn, I clearly stand out as not from the neighborhood. And the behavior exhibited on that plane can be seen towards me as well. Standing in line to pay for a purchase, two young women went to shoulder in in front of me. When I objected one said to the other "Vos tit zie du?"--what is she doing here? Only their "own kind" belong apparently.

I won't even raise the question of what these women were doing in Ft. Lauderdale of all places during the beginning of winter break for the colleges here in the states. I won't even begin to question why 6 young married women were vacationing without their husbands. I won't begin to question what their behavior must have looked like to the Floridians that week. What I will question is just what kind of a job our schools are doing if these are examples of the students being graduated.

As I said before, one obnoxious woman is bad enough, but that could just be her. But six? That is indicative of a larger problem. This kind of chillul Hashem Klal can do without.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for not saying that it is all young frum women who behave this way. And yeah I have seen this behavior before. They taught us in high school to deal properly with all people but at the same time they told us that the outside world is prost and that we should not consider these people on our madrega. They taught us to stand up when the menahel came into the room but not to say good morning to the people who cleaned the school. Despite my school's objections my parents sent me to college, not Touro, and I work in the outside world. so does my husband. So much of what I was taught in school turns out to be not so true. The non Jews in my office aren't any better or any worse then I am. They're just people. I think you are right in calling this a chillul hashem.

Anonymous said...

A chillul Hashem yes but I don't think this can all be blamed on the schools. Where were the parents? Not everything that a person learns is supposed to be taught in school. Parents are the ones who are supposed to teach their children about how to behave. A little strange that six sets of parents should have done such a bad job but then people become friends with other people who are like them.

Anonymous said...

Clearly a group of spoiled rotten young women who have probably been told the world revolves around them for their whole life. Think the posting may be correct that 6 together is just too much of a coincidence for this to be the only spoiled girls to be out there accidentally in one place. What do they all have in common? Probably their schooling and their upbringing.

Anonymous said...

The frum woman who wrote the letter to the Yated about what happened, chastising her 'sisters', should be praised, and the Yated should be credited for printing it. Those girls need serious teshuvoh. I wonder though, if they read the Yated. I have serious doubts. If they read any newspaper. So how to reach them then? Maybe the letter should be more widely circulated and then it would have a better chance of reaching them ?

"The behavior was called a Chillul Hashem"

It was called a "colossal and overwhelming chillul Hashem", not just the standard, garden variety, whatever that is. Like a five-star chillul Hashem x 6.

I think we can safely assume that the perpetrators were not kollel wives, by the way. I doubt they were young Chassidic wives either. It sounds rather like some young 'heimishe veiblech' (whatever that means), with working husbands. The type that are not really deeply Chassidic, Yeshivish or Modern Orthodox. Rather, betwixt and between, and seriously lacking.

Either way, leaves a terrible taste.

Anonymous said...

I'm more confused by how these married women were taking a trip during the middle part of December. It's not a vacation time from yeshivas or from public schools and businesses. No legal holiday then. And six of them going away without any husbands? I once went out of town overnight to a cousin's out of town wedding but taking a vacation without my husband is not what we do. In fact I don't know anyone who would do this, never mind a whole group who would do this. It can't have been a wedding because why were the kids along? Whole situation is puzzling.

Anonymous said...

My wife cannot stand going to the mall between where we live and a major charedi community because she is looked down upon by the charedim who realize she is not part of them, but stereotyped as charedi (in terms of looking only for the most fashionable and expensive styles) by those who work at the mall since they do not understand the subtleties in Orthodox women hair-coverings.

Anonymous said...

Just a reader - it happened a few weeks ago, not in December.

Orthonomics said...

I'm sure these girls with babies were quite spoiled as girls pre-babies.

This chillul Hashem is certainly part of a large problem. I'm still waiting to read about the "Parenting Crisis" in the Yated because that is what a whole lot of the stuff we get to read about and witness is related too. But, instead we get weekly installments of the shidduch crisis. (Sorry, I'm in somewhat bad mood after dealing with some spoiled brats recently. Ugh!).

Anonymous said...

They are lucky they didn't get arrested when they walked off the plane. Actually I'm somewhat surprised that they weren't. Others have been arrested for such antics.

If they don't do teshuvoh and try it again, they may find themselves spending time in cells.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if every one of these young women would have been well behaved on her own but put her together with 5others and a sort of mob mentality sets in. They think there's safety and strength in numbers and, however incorrectly, don't even notice the affect they have on the other people around them.

Orthonomics said...

If married women are still suffering from the mob mentality than the bigger issue is extended childhood/adolescence. One would think the mob mentality would have ceased by a certain point in life.

Lion of Zion said...

i'm not surprised at all at these mothers. ever go to a kosher restaurant?

"But when I have had occasion to go shopping in the venues in the "ghetto" areas of Brooklyn"

my wife's family lives in boro park. not religious (but yiddish speaking) and they get this all the time.

Bas~Melech said...

I don't think you can possibly put the blame on the schools. All Jewish girls schools that I've seen have strong character education programs (most boys schools don't, and somehow most boys seem to mentch out eventually.)

People find it hard to believe just how much influence parents' attitudes have. I wasn't entirely convinced myself until I took up teaching -- after all, kids spend the majority of their waking hours in school and with friends. But if the parents are giving off a bad attitude in the few hours they see their kids each day (or even week), the teachers are fighting a losing battle.

I've noticed that certain midos seem to run in families, even when all the kids have different personalities. What you see at home really sticks and will only be changed with a lot of effort and learning, and only if the person is truly committed.

G said...

"I think we can safely assume that the perpetrators were not kollel wives, by the way. I doubt they were young Chassidic wives either. It sounds rather like some young 'heimishe veiblech' (whatever that means), with working husbands. The type that are not really deeply Chassidic, Yeshivish or Modern Orthodox. Rather, betwixt and between, and seriously lacking."

::sigh::One step forward...two steps back.

Anonymous said...

I think that the behavior of the six cretins is rooted in a combination of bad parenting, dysfunctional community standards, and poor midos promulgated by their schooling.

My wife is a part time gym teacher at a frum girls school. She’s a frum lady who covers her hair, but is clearly not of the black hat/chareidi/kollel “veldt”. The rebbetzins who run the place treat her like an interloper and most of the students (10-12 year old girls) are about as obnoxious and toxic as can be imagined. The poor midos shown by the girls is simply a reflection of the lessons they’ve learned from their mentors: Anyone who is not “one of us” is beneath us. If that’s the way they treat fellow shomer Shabbos yids it’s hardly surprising that they treat all goyim with even less respect.

And lest anyone think this type of behavior is only exhibited by women, I’ve seen the same conduct exhibited by boys in the local black hat yeshiva. We used to host the pirche Shabbos groups when my boys were younger. We finally stopped because the boys behaved like animals as soon as the rabbis were out of sight. They disrespected their group leaders and each other. As the only male adult in the vicinity, I had to stick around and periodically come out and restore order. That and spend an hour sweeping up the food residue they invariably dumped on my living room floor.

And to those who are wondering what they were doing going to S. Florida without their husbands: My guess is you’re seeing a more expensive version of what usually goes on in the Catskills during the summer. The wives and the kids going to the “summer cabin” during the week, and the husbands show up for the weekends. I doubt they were going to South Beach to join the college spring break crowd.

Gila said...

Wow--I am horrified.

Not to mention profoundly embarrassed. And I am not even observant--just Jewish.

Of course, they could have been Israeli. Behavior is rather typical for that.