Sunday, July 13, 2008

Disgracing My Religion

One of the most cynical uses of religion in Israel is the "fashionable" wardrobe addition of a kippa -- on the heads of criminals.

People that never before wore a kippa are suddenly wearing kippot on their way to courthouses for pre-trial hearings, during testimony, before sentencing, in jail, or anywhere possible they believe they can persuade people that they are "religious, do-gooders" deserving of leniency for being religious or that they aren't guilty in the first place.

Let's take the 17 year old youngster at our left. He is accused (and has admitted to) stabbing and killing attorney Anat Plinner 2 years ago at her home in Ramat Hasharon in April 2006, in front of her young children.

In all the pictures of him in the media that I've seen till now, he is always bare-headed. (see picture below on the right). However, today in court the youth decided to don a kippa, and vent at reporters outside the court prior to the hearing. His rants included rather foul language, swearing at the reporters, throwing a microphone in their direction and telling them to "get out of here." The suspect then said he was "sorry," before being hushed by his lawyer.

Luckily for the kippa-wearing community, the Plinner family are no fools. They became enraged at the suspect's religious appearance and shouted "don't shame our religion," as the suspect left the court.
"For two years, detectives were left without a lead in the case, until they arrested a boy for stealing a moped. A DNA sample taken from the suspect matched fingerprints taken by forensic officers from the murder scene. Police launched a major undercover investigation, which resulted in the suspect's arrest.

After initially denying the killing, the youth confessed, providing police with details that proved he was at the scene during the murder. He later reenacted the slaying outside of Plinner's home, wearing a hooded sweatshirt and a baseball cap.(JPost)"
Hiding behind religion in Israel is nothing new. Convicts have grown tzitzis and kippot overnight...newly added beards and black hats have been added to "frumify" the seedier members of society. Unfortunately, the vast majority of these people are not returning to the fold of religious Judaism, but cynically looking for clemency.

In a similar vein, in the days of the Bible people attempted to hold on to the corners of the mizbeach -- the holy alter as a method of refuge from the law.
Exodus/Shmot Chapter 21: 14: And if a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from Mine altar, that he may die.

The Book of Kings/Sefer Melachim, Chapter 1: 50 And Adonijah feared because of Solomon; and he arose, and went, and caught hold on the horns of the altar. 51 And it was told Solomon, saying: 'Behold, Adonijah feareth king Solomon; for, lo, he hath laid hold on the horns of the altar, saying: Let king Solomon swear unto me first of all that he will not slay his servant with the sword.' 52 And Solomon said: 'If he shall show himself a worthy man, there shall not a hair of him fall to the earth; but if wickedness be found in him, he shall die.' 53 So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and prostrated himself before king Solomon; and Solomon said unto him: 'Go to thy house.'
Back then it was for refuge, and the expression has even been incorporated into modern Hebrew. "לאחוז בקרנות המזבח" To hold on to the corners of the mizbeach translates in today's terms, to cynically use a political, military, or Jewish spin as a means of circumventing justice.

Picture Credits:
Top picture, Ynet
Second Picture Channel 2.

Wherever I am, my blog turns towards Eretz Yisrael טובה הארץ מאד מאד


yitz said...

like Avrum Burg who persisted on wearing a kippah even when eating treif and spouting anti-Israel views. Thank G-d he has left the country

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Yitz: Are you sure he publicly ate treif?!

Fern Chasida said...

while this is disturbing i find it much worse when the orthodox (or chareidi) commit crimes and parade into court in full regalia. somehow nobody thinks of the incredible chillul hashem it is when that happens.

Rafi G. said...

so much fluff to such a simple story! I got right to the point in my post.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Rafi: Ah yes, tanach is fluff.

That explains the RBS mentality in a nutshell ;-)

Anonymous said...

Don't convicts turn to religion when in the joint/

Commenter Abbi said...

I think they see the light in jail because they get better accomadations that way.

Anonymous said...

I was so angry when I saw the pictures of this kid suddenly donning a kipah. I actually disagree with Fern and Gila. Perhaps I'm more disappointed when I hear about chareidim who have committed crimes, they don't try to pretend they're something they're not in order to escape prosecution. I think that criminals' cynical use of a religious symbol is disgusting, that all they are succeeding in doing is making a mockery of Judaism. It's outrageous, and shows just how morally and ethically bereft these individuals really are.

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Liza: I have to be happy that people are offended by this kid putting on a kippa -- imagine if people weren't offended!

I admit its sad to see Chareidi and Religious criminals, but realistically, no one's perfect. Despite the lofty morality and ethics that accompany religious Judaism, people fall, people sin and people commit crimes.

On a slightly related topic; some times outside of Israel I have had to go with client/customers to non-Kosher restaurants. Though I never eat any of the food there, while in the restaurant I either remove my kippa or wear a cap.

Yochanan: There are some criminals who have become religious while in jail.

YB: I'm moderating your comment (sorry), not because of the content, but of the language (sorry). My kids read the blog, and I try to keep the language clean. Please keep commenting!!!

Jameel @ The Muqata said...

Posted on behalf of YB:

Anonymous said...

Drives me up the wall, literally shouting at the TV when I see it. And you 'moderated' the kids language Jameel.

I won't.

Here's another evil disgrace to the race playing at being religious while in court

Yellow Boy

Anonymous said...

Fairy Nuff.

Your Blog, your call.

However, sometimes 'naughty' words are the most appropriate.


Jameel @ The Muqata said...

YB: I could understand your position for adults.

Though not for kids, because they lack the judgment in when/how to use them.

If kids hear (or read) naughty words, they are bound to repeat them. The naughtier the word, the more they are bound to repeat it, and always in the worst/most embarrassing situation possible.

Anonymous said...

Jameel, You're so right about the naughty words! I'm trying to eradicate one of them from my four year-old son's vocabulary, and it hasn't been easy, because Israelis say it a lot. Ideally, he'll have forgotten all about it by the time my parents arrive for a visit in the fall. Realistically, he'll remember not to say it in their presence, for fear of upsetting them (and who wants to purposely upset Grandma and Grandpa?!).

And you're also right about no one being perfect, I just couldn't figure out a way to weave that into my earlier comment.

Lion of Zion said...

i remember when PM barak use you know which word (repeatedly) in a CNN interview.


"because Israelis say it a lot"

can it be that bad then?

The back of the hill said...

While I am willing to give many people the benefit of doubt, the phrase that automatically comes to mind when a person dons a kippah is da lifnei mi ata omed.
Is it in this case believable? Does he actually acknowledge before whom he stands?
The other phrase that comes to mind, davka in these situations, is 'false advertising'. Along with several other phrases and unprintable turns of phrase.

Miriam said...

Hi Jameel,

I'm jumping in kinda late, but I think some people are trying to hide those who aren't frum but 'not well in the head' in that community too.

yitz said...

Yes Jameel,
I and another shomer shabos person, saw him go in with a kippah on his head, together with other MKs to a restaurant in Nachlat Shiva which not only did noot have a teudat kashrut but was famous for selling "basar Lavan" , even if he ate a salad it was from a treif plate and not truma'd and maaser'd etc. Did we see him eat chazer? no! but it is a Chilul Hashem for a Jew wearing a kippah let alone one whose is a public figure, to enter such a place
He is a disgrace to his father a"h who was a yodeah sefer and shomer torah Umitzvos

Anonymous said...

Yitz, I'm certainly no fan of A. Burg; and I agree he became hometz ben yayin. But remember he grew up wearing a kipah. I don't think he ever put it on cynically. It is somehow how a part of his overall personal sense of self, even if a minimal part. When I visited friends in then-new Nataf years ago, we ate seudah shlishit by him. As much as he strayed further and further away, his personal roots very much include that kipah.

Not so these cynical people who put it on thinking only that they will fool someone for their own benefit.

Yet even there, I can see a tzad z'chut. I would often see hevra with a kipah that looked a little unnatural, doing business in ways that didn't seem right to me. Yet the kipah was, from their childhood culture, a sign of respectability. A respectability that they wanted, whether for real or as 'cover'. (Sorry, no pun intended.) There was an awareness, even while doing wrong, that mesorah was related to respectability. This was usually not by Ashkenzim, btw, who simply had little respect for mesorah once they turned their back on it. Burg might be a bit different there; I don't know. Certainly I suspect his respected father turns over in his grave...

Ephraim said...

Out of curiosity, how do fingerprints match DNA? Do they clone the guy and then take his fingerprints?

Anonymous said...

"But remember he grew up wearing a kipah."

Did his parents surgically attach it?

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