On 'The War on Entertainment'
Several weeks back a columnist in The Jewish Tribune (the UK's indigenous orthodox Jewish weekly) penned a piece, that for the first time ever I could agree with. He noted that the orthodox community now considered all non-totally religious entertainment as something to keep away from. Something to protect the children from. As an illustration he talked about the annul Zeirim show that he used to act in. This was an all 'kosher veyoisher' play and even Rabbonim would attend (something I did not know). No play has been put on for the last twenty years, the reason being the radicalisation of the potential market. To be economically viable such shows need people on seats; and people do not come to these things any more. Bearing in mind the massive growth of the orthodox community in London this is quite an achievement!
Many people have hailed the piece as courageous and the breaking of new ground. Some of the British blogs have posted about it most notably The Shaigetz. (By the way Mr Shaigetz your style is becoming less and less accessible. Soon we will all need a degree in English lit to be able to understand your prose!)
Two London stories, both occurring subsequent to the said article, confirms that the warrriors of turbo charged conservatism have not lost any of their strength. The first concerns a Stamford-Hill kosher grocery store that had opened on the long winter Motzoei Shabossios for the past twenty years. A couple of weeks ago the storeowner announced that he was not going to do so any longer. His Rebber had called him to say that he should keep the shop closed. Motzei Shabbos is after all a continuation of the real thing. One doesn't want to spoil it by mundane activities like shopping. Admittedly a small story, but in our context, I think, a relevant one.
The second is a very big story with enormous implications. You can read about it on the Stamford-Hill based blog, Frummer. Make sure you read the comments as one of the main protagonists (Meilech Landau) has commented informatively several times.
Basically a talented chassidesher (bobover) man organised a Yiddish language play to be held in a hall over Channukah. The important thing to bear in mind is this; the play was to be for children and in Yiddish, the story chosen carefully, for a chassidisher audience. Mixed seating doesn't even come into question, and due to language barriers guaranteed to attract only Yiddish speakers, so no chance of mixing with and heaven-forbid learning from 'modernerz'.
Last week the Jewish Tribune (Thursday evening) announced it, but by Friday the play had been pulled. Several menahalim (headmasters) of chadorim banned their pupils from attending. Once one menhael does so, so do all the others and soon it was apparent that the show would be a 'box-office' flop. The play's organiser realising he would be left with an enormous bill cut his losses and cancelled.
This is an even bigger story because it involves children. Many had had purchased tickets and are now more than disappointed. It certainly will be the big discussion point amongst children this Chanukah. What message will they take from this saga? Some won't care; for some it will be another reason why they will grow up disillusioned and live lives in a manner that dosen't reflect their upbringing; and for some this will be a lesson in an extremism that they will advance even further when they reach their mid-teens.