Saturday, January 26, 2008

Stop Snitchin' - Jewish style

Stop Snitchin' is a separatist cultural/racial ethic usually associated with urban underclass blacks. Portraying the police and even the entire surrounding culture as an enemy is one reason crime is so difficult to control in cities. Apparently it has always been a strong ethic in Jewish communities as well; as this article from the Jewish Daily Forward reveals.

Case of Informant Reverberates Through L.A.'s Orthodox Community
By Rebecca Spence Wed. Jan 23, 2008

Los Angeles - The scandal that has emerged since a Hasidic rebbe and others were charged late last month with defrauding the federal government of tax dollars has caused shock waves beyond Hasidic circles, with even Modern Orthodox rabbis addressing the issue in impassioned sermons.

The pressure was particularly great at the 900-family Modern Orthodox Beth Jacob Congregation, in Beverly Hills, where the government's chief informant in the case, Robert Kasirer, is a member. Rabbi Steven Weil delivered a sermon January 11, causing what must have been an awkward juxtaposition for many congregants: The prayer books they were using were donated by the Kasirers and emblazoned with their name. Indeed, the question of Kasirer as the FBI witness who turned state's evidence against the Hasidic rebbe in exchange for a lighter sentence on previous fraud charges stemming from his health care business seems to be weighing most heavily on people's minds, according to Los Angeles rabbis interviewed by the Forward.

In traditional Jewish law, if a Jew reports another Jew to the government, he is deemed a moser, and in some interpretations, a moser's actions are punishable by death. The issue of mesira, or informing, has prompted a round of collective soul-searching in segments of Los Angeles's Jewish community.

People are very shell-shocked about the whole thing on many levels," said Rabbi Daniel Korobkin, a West Coast representative of the Orthodox Union. "Number one, that our neighbors and friends are implicated, and number two, that an act of mesira on this level was perpetrated by one of our own."

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