view counter
The Anti-Internet Rally: Broken Truths
Sat, 05/19/2012 - 20:00

This is why the Internet asifa (the large-scale rally, planned by haredim against the Internet, which took place on Sunday night at Citi Field) is important for K’lal Yisroel: because a wholesome lie is better than any broken truth; because denial must be protected at all costs; because ignorance is sacred in a world whose existence depends on it.

And this is why it is important that we be there too: because we hold the broken truth, the one we experienced firsthand when our rabbis, teachers, and leaders ripped their own lie piece by piece, life by life, in front of our eyes, and then intimidated, threatened, brutalized and suppressed any victim or witness who dared speak out, warning that they would destroy us and our broken truth if we did not accept their lie.

The Internet is an enormous threat to the ultra-Orthodox world for the same reason it is a threat in Syria, Iran and Russia; a population that is aware is a population difficult to control. They say that they must fight the Internet for it brings moral decay. What they do not say, even to themselves, is that they must fight the Internet so they can conceal moral decay. That the only thing they fear more than the outside corruption the Internet brought inside, is the inside corruption the Internet has revealed to the outside.

The Internet is terrifying to the rabbis perhaps because of porn, perhaps because it exposes youth to foreign ideas. But even more importantly, because it enables open dialogue and an honesty they cannot afford if they are to survive as a community, the community they insist they are; pure, innocent, and above their own frailties. And if a few children must be sacrificed for this wholesome lie, then so be it. It is better than any broken truth.

In the last few years, the Internet has served as a crucial tool for victims of sexual abuse. It is through blogs and online discussions that many victims first realized they are not alone, that this is a communal problem. The silence that has kept victims in such utter isolation, unable to connect with others, has been broken by the anonymity and connectivity of the Internet. It was there victims could finally speak honestly without fear. It was there they could hear of so many similar experiences, and reach out to other victims. The Internet played a large role in tapping at the wall of denial, and for the communal authorities this was a dangerous thing.

Denial is a terrible thing to lose. We know. For many victims it takes years to face their own traumas, to break away from the security and warmth of a well taught lie. But no one knows like we do that it is never technology that corrupts man, but man that corrupts technology. Because decades before there was the Internet or computers, there was sexual molestation and the worst forms of moral decay. We were there when it happened, when men who did not have access to the Internet turned into beasts, groping, fondling and raping boys and girls half their size and strength, then terrorizing them into silence.

On Sunday night we stood outside Citi Field with our cardboard signs. There were thousands of Orthodox men walking past us. Some looked quickly away, some laughed in pity, some wished they were standing with us. We’ll stand for the first time as a united voice, in public, telling them that we are no longer afraid; that we, who have seen the darkest parts of their world, will never be silenced again; that we will make as big a Chillul Hashem [desecration of God’s name] as we need to, and for as long as we need to, because there are basic morals and there are cultural traditions and for too long the ultra-Orthodox world has confused one for the other.

The Citi Field rally, which drew some 40,000 haredim, is so important to the community because it is another form of denial, another excuse rabbis can point to. It allows them to avoid confronting the most dangerous enemy of all: themselves. The Internet does not molest, only people do; they always have. But if they can just persist on blaming internal problems on evil outside forces, they can continue to remain blind to what they refuse to see: themselves. And that is why we were at at Citi Field, because this is the broken truth.

Judy Braun is the author of “Hush.”



asifa, Chilul Hashem, Citi Field, Internet, Klal Yisrael

Our Newsletters, Your Inbox


The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Comment Guidelines

The Jewish Week feels comments create a valuable conversation and wants to feature your thoughts on our website. To make everyone feel welcome, we won't publish comments that are profane, irrelevant, promotional or make personal attacks.


When a person is killed between two cities, the Torah demands that the elders of the two cities exclaim in public, "Yadenu Lo Shafch Et Hadam Hazeh" (Our hands did not spill this blood), as part of what is know as the Egla Arufa ceremony. It is a way to make the elders take responsibility. I wonder as to the children that have been molested, how many of the pious Rabbis could have in clear conscience exclaimed out loud and in public"Yadenu Lo Shafch Et Hadam Hazeh" with respect to these children who had their lives destroyed.
If we stand back and do not protest and criticize our "Gedolim" many of whom are looking very small lately, can we look in the mirror and exclaim "Yadenu Lo Shafch Et Hadam Hazeh". I see no Halachic difference between a Rabbi who is an accomplice to the crime of rape or molestation by his silence and encouragement of others not to report crimes to a Rabbi that encourages his followers to break other major tenets of Halacha. Both should be shunned and punished. "Ubarta Harah Mkerbecha"

It's a shame that this talented op-ed writer deems it necessary to distort the over-arching message from Sunday evening's mass charedi gathering. In a different article appearing on this website, Ari Goldman, who can hardly be categorized as a charedi, provides an accurate itemization of the event organizer's goals. There was no mention of undermining or silencing young charedi victims of sexual violence. While certain internet blogs definitely contributed to bringing the matter of charedi mishandling of sexual violence against the young to the fore, it is now time to offer these victims both enhanced law enforcement reporting opportunities and advanced therapeutic options. Discussions on internet chat boards and limited blog posts are no longer suffice.

1. there are enough lectures on shas available on the internet to keep one busy 24 hours a day for the rest of his life, in as much as more than 50 hours of torah lectures are added every day.

2. the internet is like water; it is what you do with it. You can drink it or you can drown in it. But it's still water

3. The Ultra-ultra-Orthodox thought they could keep European Jews from emigrating to America - because they'd lose control over them. Instead, Jews came to the US without their rabbis who stayed home, and a generation of Am-Ha'arartzim was created.

4. They then opposed Jewish emigration to pre-WWII Palestine - opposing Zionism; and the result was that kibbutzim and moshavim were built without a rabbi - something unheard of in pre-war Europe.

5. They didn't want to take a lead in the '70s and '80s in the fight for Soviet Jewry; they couldn't abide by the thought that non-observant Jews were actually doing something worthwhile.

6. They have avoided confronting the issues of the changing status of women in society; it would undermine the rhetoric they sell to their yeshivah buchrim that Torah is for men alone.

7. And now, they refuse to accept the fact that the internet and all other forms of digital communication are part of everyday life; and they can't be turned back.


In terms of threats to the holiness of Jewish homes, I'd put child molestation much higher than unfiltered internet.

Zev, Unfortunately many of the "gedolim" who supported or spoke at the rally are the protectors of these horrible and known abusers. And yea its twisted because the real chillul hashem is not made by the people who are forced to shout from the rooftops and make a scene in order to call attention to these crimes and the criminals who committed them but rather the people who protect them and silence the victims. Chillul Hashem is not only defined by our behaviors while in the presence of the secular or the "goyish" world. It is rather about failing to sanctify G-d's name, perverting it or desecrating it in any situation, even when among "frum" Jews. The biggest chillul hashem are the cover-ups by alleged community leaders and "gedolim" acting ostensibly le'shem shamaim, but more likely out of greed and honer.
Back to the asifa, the only nice thing I have to say is that its amazing to see a gathering so many frum yidden in one place even if its for the wrong reason.

good for you if you went out and protested. I really feel for the children in this community who are suffering at the hands of these con-men.

Yesterday in Denver I was able to be part of the internet assifa because of a hookup our synagogue had prearranged for here in Colorado.I can personally attest to the fact that it was a tremendous kiddish hashem.It was a serious attempt to deal with a serous problem that our gedolim say is threatening the holiness of our jewish homes.I empathize with all of my jewish brothers and sisters who have suffered abuse.However two wrongs do not make a right.It is never a mitzvah to make a chillul hashem.Ms Braun I urge you to apologize for both your blanket condemnatoin of charedi rabbis and your refusal to acknowledge that many thousands of jews are doing a mitzvah when they take seriously the threat the internet is posing to the jewish home.I think I did a mitzvah when I had a filter installaled on this computer so pornographic sites could not be accessed.Do you disagree?

Wow, This is a pathetic article. Very well written... but seriously twisted. Yes, the problem you raise is a serious problem. No one is denying that. However, do bear in mind that an unfiltered internet is also a serious problem. All they were really telling you to do is to put a filter on your computer. No one is really expecting you to toss the internet in the garbage. Is that really the end of the world?