Fixing Rips by Tightening the Threads Will Make the Whole Garment Unravel

…or at least I hope so!

The metaphor of the garment title is the ultra-Orthodox community. The rising visibility of XO individuals, communities, organizations, and activists is considered a tear in the fabric of the community – a tear that, if not fixed, will rip the community apart, will cause many more teenagers and adults to leave, will threaten the stability of the community.

But when you repair a rip in a garment, you need to use needle and new thread. You need to pierce the fabric, and it can be painful. You need to rearrange some pieces, if the seams no longer match up after the damage has been done.

You can’t just take the dangling threads and pull them tighter – because then the thread will pull and eventually the whole garment will unravel.

And yet, in response to the “tear” of the fabric of the ultra-Orthodox community, the leaders are unwilling to take a needle, to use new thread, to pierce the fabric of established norms in perhaps painful processes. They refuse to address issues that cause these “tears,” like abuse, lack of education, child marriages, racism, sexism, lack of opportunity, forced conformity, etc.

Instead, they grasp these dangling threads and try to pull them tighter, to close the gaping hole in the fabric of the community by ignoring the rip and pretending the jagged edges still fit together. They pull tighter, they make the garment smaller – they institute more and more restrictions on the community in the hopes or preventing more rips.

But their methods only do more damage to the fabric of the community, because it is not a real fix. A real fix requires piercing the fabric, requires rearranging the pieces, requires new thread. Until the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox world are willing to entertain this idea, to critically examine their communities and critically think about how to fix them, they will “fix” nothing and only hurt themselves more.

I’m fine with it, if the community crumbles. But my heart aches for the individuals who will suffer while the threads are pulled near to choking before the whole thing unravels.

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