I hate labels and the is especially true when it comes to Judaism and more specifically when it comes to Orthodox Judaism. In his post today Harry Maryles touches on some of these issues. He received an email from an anonymous “Charedi personality” bemoaning this kind of behavior. Here is what I think is the main takeaway quote:
In his view there is a near absence of Yir’as Shomayim and Ahavas Hashem that begins in our G-d free zones in yeshivas and girls’ schools, and continues throughout the lifespan where the ‘Frum’ are focused only on the chitzoniyus (translation - what can be seen from the outside -ab).
In many ways this is true. Look at the way yeshiva boys dress once they become Bar Mitzvah, they all wear a black hat, white shirt, and dark-colored pants. It almost seems that there is no individuality allowed. I’m going to go “old man yells at clouds” for a moment and say that this wasn’t always the way things were. When I was in yeshiva for high school (and even post high school) we all wore colored shirts and were allowed to wear different colored slacks as well. Now when I see boys who attend my high school or post high school yeshiva they are all in the same "uniform".
The focus on the outer trappings goes even further. I showed my daughter’s class list to someone and they noticed I have an apartment number on our address. It was suggested to me that I get rid of the address on the class list because it won’t look good when it comes time for her to start dating. The reason was if we have an apartment number in the address it looks like we don’t have money!
The community writ large needs to get back to the basics Avodas Hashem (serving G-d); and we need to realize there are many ways to serve Hashem. Once we realize that we can then begin to respect the differences and create the harmony that is longed for.