Who has the monopoly over “separatism”?
Lire cet article en français "Qui détient le monopole du “séparatisme” ?"
I wrote this as an open-letter to the editor of the Outremont Express (July 20, 2011).
In a letter in the Outremont Express (07-06-11), Mariclaude Ouimet, writes: “Let’s not forget that the Hasidim are ultra-Orthodox, and follow strict rules of life with a strong commitment to social separatism.” She then goes on to explain how we teach our children not to interact with the rest of society, how we have built separate schools, separate kosher butchers and fish stores.
Reading her words, it becomes clear that the underlying issues of the conflict is not about what the Hassidim do, but rather who we are. All other issues just emerge from that, from our being outsiders – “les autres” – who stubbornly refuse to integrate. That justifies the labeling of everything we do as “illegal” – and if it’s not illegal yet, well, then, by-laws should quickly be drafted in order to make it illegal. And then comes the best part: One goes to the media and trumpets the Hasidim’s disregard the laws.
A few questions for M. Ouimet about separatism:
Who more than the Quebecois know how important preserving a culture is?
Who more than Quebecois understand the importance of “strict rules” to enforce a “holy tongue”?
Who more than the Quebecois understand the value of teaching children how they are distinct in their own way?
Isn’t Jewish culture – which predates that of the Quebecois by thousands of years – worth preserving? Do you expect us to “integrate” and just abandon our religion?
We respect your culture, we aren’t demanding that anyone change their way of life. Why can’t you you respect our choice to preserve our heritage?
Yes, there are real issues about parking, noise and traffic. But only when you begin to see us not as malicious outsiders but neighbors will you come to understand that the issues are simply the natural outcome of a young and energetic community nestled in between an older and more established one. And when that happens, we will surely be able to work out all issues through understanding and dialogue.
And of course we Hasidim need to start doing a better job explaining ourselves
An Outremont HasidFollow @OutremontHassid