Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Like It or Leave It

I am continuously being called by friends and family to ‘fess up and finally admit that this community is controlling our lives. But I won’t. (Me? Give up? Never! Me stubborn?? Not at all…:) While it is true that there are some who have very strong opinions and tend to be vocal about it, I don’t for a moment agree that they intimidate the rest of us. That might be their intentions, and there might indeed be those that are intimidated. But that is not the general rule.

Those that read whatever they want to read, or wear what they wanna wear etc. truly have no need to fear being reprimanded or dismissed(?!?) from this community. If anyone has heard of a story of someone being told to move out of Williamsburg, be so kind and let us know.

The one’s that do leave are the ones who don’t want the Chasidic kind of life for themselves at all! Whether their family welcomes them back into their homes varies on an individual basis, and it wouldn’t be fair to generalize.

What I am trying to say, is what I have said so many times before. Contentment is up to us. We have the options of living our lives comfortably and the opportunity to raise our children as we see fit - to be happy, healthy, intelligent and moral adults. If for whatever reason you behave in a way that is offensive to the ‘frummer’ part of the community – which is most certainly the more dominant part, don’t expect them to embrace or admire what you have done. You can ask not to be condemned – but you can’t expect to be condoned. You can even ask to accepted, but you can’t expect to be understood.

The majority of those that live in Williamsburg chose to live here because it is a tight-knit community that shares their ideals. In light of that, it would be immensely foolish as well as childish for someone to complain that the community still insists on admiring and preferring that which it always did.

91 Comments:

At November 10, 2005 12:21 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

Sheitel,

Correct me please if my assumptions are wrong.

It seems to me that you are out to prove, a) Hella Winston lacks perspective in understanding our uniqueness. b) we are not cut of from this world, not by force and certainly not by our own choice. People still have the ability to do what most Americans can, as long as it doesn’t conflict with Halacha.

So far, am I right?

 
At November 10, 2005 12:48 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Well Shtreimel, you’re close.

A – Absolutely. Despite her impressive attempts to ‘infiltrate’ and get to know us on a personal level, being that Hella Winston didn’t grow up with these ideals, they are ultimately foreign to her, and she inevitably will have difficulty in respect to her ‘perspective’. I don’t know if I would categorize it necessarily as uniqueness. It is difficult for her to perceive the value we place on religious practice, being that she doesn’t really ‘believe’. It is likely too that she had difficultly understanding the need for community, perhaps because she never experienced it herself. She no doubt finds our respect and focus on family life, religious study etc. hard to identify with.

So yes, I would say that studying a particular lifestyle doesn’t necessarily give one the perspective and the ability to actually understand it.

As for B – you are only halfway correct. I do not claim that we are not separated from the greater majority of the world. At the same time, I do not believe there is force involved in the separation. Yet their most certainly is personal choice involved. And some choose a more drastic form of separation.

Choice is our God given right, and our personal duty. Choosing right over wrong, while a personal prerogative, it still is something worthy of our respect

Yet regard to the second part of B, I most definitely believe that we all have the choice to do whatever we please. With or without regard to Halacha. Each of us can choose to live a life as we see fit. To expect others to understand that choice, especially when the ‘others’ are parents (or function in some other position of authority) isn’t truly fair. [I plan to discuss this aspect in detail at a later date.] We can ask them to accept, but we can’t expect them to respect.

Logical enough?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:01 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

I have to apologize, but I don’t quite understand. You are claiming that we are indeed cut of from the outside world, but it is each and everyone’s choice.

So if someone chooses to be Mechalel Shabbos he or she will still be accepted in their families?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Despite her impressive attempts to ‘infiltrate’ and get to know us on a personal level, being that Hella Winston didn’t grow up with these ideals, they are ultimately foreign to her, and she inevitably will have difficulty in respect to her ‘perspective’.

You are right Shietel. Hella is not MOT, but I am. Frankly speaking, I relate to her perspective on our clan way more than I do to your pseudo-intellectual drivel.
What exactly is the point you are trying to make? That they are not actually kicking your but out of town for not conforming? They sure the hell would if they would run this country.
You keep on avoiding the question and I wonder why.
Are you ok with your kids discussing the movies they watch in class?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:05 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

That is ultimately up to the respective family.

Hey, you apparently laid some sort of foundation - hoping I will agree to it, and subsequently shoot myself in the foot. I don't know where you were intending to go with it, but you don't seem to be going as far as you thought you would be able to.

Guess what? I am starting to enjoy your obsession with logic.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:08 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

As for point A:
Hella does not need to identify with her subjects anymore than I need to identify with a serial killer. We know evil when we see it. The fact that I can't relate to Jeffrey Dahmer or to Ted Bundy doesn't mean that I am unable to declare them or their actions as evil. Therefore, even if hella can't relate to the happenings in the Frum world, she still can see the inherint evil in a community that hurts others.
With a 145 IQ you are in denial.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:09 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Anon - being that I don't have kids in school it would be presumptuous of me to assume how I might act in a few years from now.

But yes, I never had difficulty discussing movies with my friends, mostly because they too would read or watch what I did. (And I most definitely did address this, and am not avoiding any questions.)

 
At November 10, 2005 1:13 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Really Mod? Would that be your take in regard to racism and homophobia?

Not that many years ago segregation was considered the norm, and homosexuals were considered 'repugnant'. At this point our social mores have evolved and we are more accepting. Does that not mean that our ability to declare something as 'evil' is greatly inherent on how it is perceived at the time?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:22 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

But yes, I never had difficulty discussing movies with my friends, mostly because they too would read or watch what I did.

Really.
If that is the case, I guess that perhaps Hella is more in touch with our way of life than you are. I am from Willy too, and most of my neighbors would not let their kids play with yours.
Sheitel, I'm beginning to suspect you might be an imposter. True, they can not get rid of you same way they can't get rid of the "artisten." But you are a shande and bishe to our legacy.
Talk about ecceptance.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:26 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

I haven't read the book yet. As far as i know she wasn't objective with her research. I would rather have an open minded Chussid do the research and write a book.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:28 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

anon - My kids play with other kids, as do my cousins, my friends kids, and my neices and nephews. People choose who they want to associate with, and I choose those that share my interests.

You jump from accusing me of being an imposter to claiming that I am a shande. Nice segue. Yet I find it difficult to follow your reasoning.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ever heard of satire, sheitel?

 
At November 10, 2005 1:30 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

I’m obsessed with the truth – logic if fallible is truths main enemy.

Try not to assume anything about my direction. I’m trying to point out to people who can relate to critical thinking not only on IQ tests but in reality too. I openly say that I am open to change and will admit to anything that seems to be the truth. I hope that you can say the same too.

As to your first point, which is intertwined with the second point too:

When in your view could one comfortably say that they do indeed understand us, suppose that she become a BT how long until she gains perspective? At what point did you get perspective? (I’m sure that you were not born with it.)

From my experience I can say that people from the” outside” have asked me questions that stimulated much needed perspective I would otherwise not have had. My point is that when you have someone from the outside who studied this particular issue, talked to people who are intellectually honest, and who gave her some perspective, she is knowledgeable enough to write an ingenuous report. Keep in mind that she never assumes anything; she relates her experience with people who had and have trouble with what you call “their respective parents” who chose to deny them their freedom.

The author spoke to people who were tortured mentally by the community at large (I hate to use the term ‘community’ since it is never used within the community - if you know what I mean, but for the lack of another term I’ll use it too). they told him what their experiences were and this is what she tells in her book. I have seen her debating people, and never did she say that this is scientific, but, she did not find even ONE disenchanted Hassid who did it openly without repercussions from the community and family. I highly doubt that you know one too; however, it is definitely not the norm, and the norm is what she is talking about.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:33 PM, Anonymous krazmech said...

Chusid, being that you are the self- proclaimed king of all the open-minded chasidim, why don't you write a book? In fact, you can teem up with sheitel. I'm sure your wife wouldn't mind.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:51 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

So according to you we should not judge Jeffery Dahmer becuase we can not identify with his perspective???

 
At November 10, 2005 1:52 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

Hey Kratzmech,

Thanks for the great idea. Maybe i should write a book. You know as well as i do that it will be very juicy. As far as a coauthor, thanks for the suggestion, but i don't need sheitel i already have in mind a very good editor.

 
At November 10, 2005 1:53 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Regarding perspective. I am strongly of the belief that one’s perspective of oneself is ever evolving. As long as one bothers to engage in thought, his ability to reevaluate what he had come to accept will give him a deeper understanding.

To say that one can attain perspective by the means you described, is akin to saying that I can understand what a rape victim went through just because I have researched and observed and spoken to rape victims over a period of time. No, I can never know what it feels like to be in those shoes, just like I can never have the proper perspective on what it must be like to be black, or Chinese or of the opposite sex.

While we ourselves can attain a deeper understanding into our own psyche – is no way proof that others too can ever get as close.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:05 PM, Anonymous krazmech said...

why not? You guy's can have a 3some

 
At November 10, 2005 2:05 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

No I never said we can gain perspective. I said if we don't have the personal experience that we can still describe the phenomenon. We may not know what a rape feels like or what's it feels like to be a rapist but we can KNOW that rape is a problem to say the least.
Obviously Hella did not live the Hassidic life. According to you any information she gathers will automatically be flawed. (BTW I think she is less biased than you but anyways) If she reports about rape her facts are wrong???
She gave facts not opinions such as education deprivation, psycological maladjustments, and domestic abuse (to name a few and please don't tell me domestic abuse is ok because goyim do the same I really don't care if you want to be on that level).

 
At November 10, 2005 2:19 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

Because Ms. Winston perceived our lives as strange, regardless of many 'facts' she states - her personally bias will show.

I am certain that you have heard of identical pieces of information repeated by opposing parties, and even if they state simple fact you can detect how little or how much they think of the topic they are discussing.

Not that she was exceptionally biased. And I will wholeheartedly agree that as an insider I too would have strong biases, but to say that she can portray us accurately is unreasonable.

Cold science might.
Her book is way too warm, and too human. While that is a good thing, it also colors the picture - in many shades... Not just black and white. Thus 'her slip is showing'.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:24 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"Not that she was exceptionally biased. And I will wholeheartedly agree that as an insider I too would have strong biases, but to say that she can portray us accurately is unreasonable."
SO I should trust you to give an accurate picture?? Her bias is a problem but your is OK??
You don't color the picture???
And what about the facts I mentioned? Are they false???

 
At November 10, 2005 2:31 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

I am not saying that I am without bias. What I am saying is that if the outside world wants the inside scoop – getting it from an outsider would make that ‘scoop’ insufficient.

By all means, all of what you addressed can and do sometimes occur within the community. Dominant? Most definitely not.

Problems occur all over, and we a society are far – very far – from perfect. We’ve got lofty ideals, and high hopes – yet they don’t always translate into real life how we wish they would. Does that mean that the entire system is faulty? By far not.

To plagiarize myself:
For the most part we are a community of well meaning, yet ultimately human beings. With faults like everyone else.
We are a sensation only because of who we are, what we stand for - and the fact that we sometimes forget that.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shietel, I as an insider agrees with most of what she asserts.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:37 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"I am saying is that if the outside world wants the inside scoop – getting it from an outsider would make that ‘scoop’ insufficient."
she got the scoop from insiders that was the whole point it came from people who lived it not those who observed it. they reported the facts.

"yet they don’t always translate into real life how we wish they would. Does that mean that the entire system is faulty? By far not."
Why not? In the name of the Torah people are behaving with cruelty???
She did a better job displaying the flaws in the system than you do showing that the system works.
It is a system that does not work and she shows why.

 
At November 10, 2005 2:52 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

>>they reported the facts<< - They 'told' her. SHE reported the facts. The report was ultimately colored by her preconceived notions.

>>"Does that mean that the entire system is faulty? By far not."
Why not? In the name of the Torah people are behaving with cruelty???<<

The SYSTEM isn't faulty. Their are POEPLE misbehaving due to their ERRONEOUS interpretation of the Torah.

>>It is a system that does not work and she shows why.<<
She must be truly omnipotent, if she can understand and explain and CORRECT a system that she came to know a short time ago. Even more so, it is a system that she doesn't claim for once that it needs fixing. She simply reported how it reflected on some lives, while others seem to go on living contently.

Did you even read the book??

 
At November 10, 2005 3:13 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"they reported the facts<< - They 'told' her. SHE reported the facts. The report was ultimately colored by her preconceived notions."
What preconcieved notions? The insiders reported their stories and also FACTs like the ones I mentioned that you claimed where not common.

"The SYSTEM isn't faulty. Their are POEPLE misbehaving due to their ERRONEOUS interpretation of the Torah."
I thought they got their interpetations from the system where else did they study the
Torah (I am not talking about the JTS guy in the book).

Of course I read the book it is my opinion (after reading her book and being in the hood) not hers that the system is seriously flawed and needs major corrections.
(you are a good example of the flaws because you perform a "cover up")

 
At November 11, 2005 11:07 AM, Anonymous have fun said...

Congratulations on your new blog. Thanks for helping Ms. Winston open the debate on a topic that has been, and still is taboo in our community. The very fact that you as a strong defender of the community and its values has to write under an alias “Shaitle”. That is standing proof. I have not read the book you are referring to, but truthfully I don’t have to read it, I live it every day. I am surprised that a person like yourself, who appears to be highly intelligent, would write the thing that you do. You are either being deliberately dishonest or oddly naïve.
I will try my best to make my point based on my own experienced; unlike Ms Winston I am an insider and therefore believe have the right perspective. Being a grad of the famous UTA Academy you will have to forgive me for my grammar and spelling mistakes and lack of vocabulary.
Can you agree that our community is far from an open society where people not only can do what they want, but feel comfortable doing so. Had it been an open society,
· You wouldn’t be blogging under “Shaitle” and he wouldn’t be blogging under “Shtriemel”.
· Women wouldn’t be yelled at for pushing a carriage on Shabbos
· No one would protest outside a grocery store for selling a frum news paper like Hamodia
· Shutting down a music store for selling music by Jewish artists

Obviously they don’t believe in the theory that you have a “choice” not to go in and buy. The
Only true choice that’s available is to get the #*^& out! When you’re married with a family and settled that choice is as much of choice as committing suicide.
The only honest defense is to say, this is how we live and want to live and whoever doesn’t like it can get the #*^& out! “As much as we can argue weather it’s right or wrong, this is the only truth, to claim otherwise is as I said before is, deliberately dishonest or oddly naïve, or maybe, just maybe you’re the “outsider.”

 
At November 11, 2005 11:32 AM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

Shaitel,
It seems that by now we are agreeing to the root of the discussion. You understand that every person has biases towards himself and that it could sometimes impair one’s own senses. So when writing a book about the Chassidic ‘rebels’ it would be of necessity to have someone who is not part of the community, not as a frummie neither as a rebel, to write something unbiased. Hella who is neither, made a great effort not to get personal views, good or bad, but try to report the facts. You claim that she “perceived our lives as strange”, I wonder where in the book you saw that, I would think that she perceives us as different.

I can understand your view though. Being that you are admittedly biased and that perhaps you perceive people different from you as ‘strange’ it is this thinking of YOURS that effectuates your views of the rest of us. Some of us CAN be unbiased and most of us view people who are not like us as different not as strange.

The other point that you try to bring out the whole time that the book misrepresents the facts and that we are not living in closed ghetto walls, cut of from the outside and mingle not with popular culture or higher education and if someone wants to leave he or she will have a torturous time doing so.

When I first started reading your blog I couldn’t fathom how someone who lives in Williamsburg could deny that doing the things you proclaimed as doing is not the norm, considered bummy, and might even lead to the expulsion of your kids from school in extreme cases. My conclusion was then, that you are an imposter who got offended by Hella’s works – maybe even a Lubavitcher, and that you are trying to discredit her by saying thongs you have absolutely no idea of.

Maybe I was wrong. I can now think of many different reasons why one would act out like this. Perhaps you know the truth too but were troubled by the fact that Hella’s ‘airing the dirty laundry to the public’. Trouble is that there are so many of people the same as you (on the outside) who read blogs and participate in discussions who will come out with the truth regardless of what you claim. On an extreme note, perhaps you live in an illusion that life is bliss, one can watch movies – albeit putting blockbuster’s bag in another black shopping bag so no one should see, you can have license and drive when nobody sees - which is never. Maybe you even have a TV at home and your neighbors are oblivious to it – otherwise your kids will be pretty bored after school. Neither one of these thoughts are complimentary.

 
At November 11, 2005 12:04 PM, Blogger shlomohamelech said...

Sheitel, I agree with you and I tell me if I got it right.

1. Every community has a right to set standards, expect people to abide by them, and enforce them by means that are leagl. You be made to feel uncomfortable so you should leave.
2. Parents do not have an "obligation" to accept their children any way they want to be and neither have children the "right" to expect it from them, more than a parent can expect or has a "right" to expect it from their children.
3. Most of those teenagers who cannot conform to the community standards are not the ones who are looking for knowledge, but rather those who cannot (or their freinds) control their sex drive which comes with the hormonal changes of the teenage years. Almost none of them go on to become a doctor, lawyer, architect, engineer, artist, scientist or even get a minimal degree.
4. Nobody has a "right" to expect the community to accept s/him in whatever shape or form s/he wants to act or behave.

Hella Winston did not put into her book this side of the story, therfore she is not balanced. I haven't read her book but this what I gather from Sheitel.

I will disgree with Sheitel one thing, and that is the fact that there is some sort of police. However, they only pursue those guys who are influencing others. I havn't seen any one who just left the community or even if he lives in the community but doesn't present a moral hazard to others, who has been bothered by anyone.

Again, you don't have a right that your children should attend any school you want. This is the US. In old Europe we had the Reform movement trying to impose their version of Judaism on everyone. In the US everyone has a right to practice thier own way, if you want it you way, open a school and other community services in your version. This is what brought Judaism to its knees in 19th and early 20th centuries.

Modern, you are comparing apples to oranges. A serial killer has to be put away without regard to the motives and history behind him. The reason is simple: to protect the public. The question at trial is not why he did it, but if he did it. If he is the killer he has to be punished. Now to the type of punishment, this where you want to understand why he did it. At trial we don't decide if he is evil or not, we dcide if he broke the law or not. If a person did something that was not against the law at the time, even it's now, he cannot be prosecuted. Why? Because the qestion is if he broke the law or not.

If Hella wants to decide on an act that its evil she must first set a moral ground and compare it to it. In the US there are no moral grounds, what was moral 50 years ago is no longer moral today and vice versa. This is true to every society, including ours.

I have lot more to write but I can't due to time constraints.

 
At November 11, 2005 12:59 PM, Anonymous Hella Winston said...

As the author of Unchosen, I fee I have to respond to certain things that have been said here. For one, I never used the term "evil" to describe anyone or anything in the book. This is Sheitel's word, not mine. Second, if you read the book (which I think is only fair of me to ask if you are going to comment on it) you will see that the people profiled in it are NOT teens who cannot control their sex drives, but serious people who are questioning. Some of these people have been able to maintain relatiohships with family and friends, while others have not been so fortunate. Several have gone on to college and others are working to become stable enough to do so. I will not deny that there are some who get into drugs or drinking, but this is rarely what motivates them to engage with the larger society. Indeed, drinking and drug use are often means of coping with the emotional issues that result from living with such internal conflict. That said, I am very happy that people are discussing these issues and hope we can continue to do so in a productive way.

 
At November 11, 2005 1:33 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"Modern, you are comparing apples to oranges. A serial killer has to be put away without regard to the motives and history behind him. The reason is simple: to protect the public. The question at trial is not why he did it, but if he did it. If he is the killer he has to be punished. Now to the type of punishment, this where you want to understand why he did it. At trial we don't decide if he is evil or not, we dcide if he broke the law or not. If a person did something that was not against the law at the time, even it's now, he cannot be prosecuted. Why? Because the qestion is if he broke the law or not."

You made my point. Like the killer we must deciede if the community engages in corruption and other evils that I mentioned. And it is a public safety issue. Just ask anyone who has been victemized and they will tell you. Look, I don't need to know why I need to know what. That is what occurs in the community. And a community that protects child molesters does not protect children. And I don't care what the excuse is this behavior is wrong.

 
At November 11, 2005 1:34 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

King,
I missed our old debates, thank God for Sheitel…

Point 1,2 and 4 are of course valid points but have nothing to do with the book.

Hella Winston did not write about how the Muslim side to this story which according to you is unbalanced because it does not recognize that everyone has the obligation to accept Mohamed as a true and last prophet regardless of what their parents believe. She did not include countless other views of different groups. It does not render her book unbalanced.

As to your third point, it is exactly this that the book is saying to the contrary. People leave not only for the rampant sexual orgies and promiscuity that are so common out there (I have no idea where your info is coming from, the frier and goyim are perhaps less obsessed with sex than we are), but for the freedom that they want to enjoy. Freedom of constrictions they don’t believe in to begin with. It is the lack of their English and secular studies that limits their ability to get a proper degree. Footsteps was created to help in this very issue. This is widely discussed in the book

Never did she claim that anything is evil, although she has every right to. She portrayed us as a warm and embracing community with maybe a touch too warm, a tad too embracive. Perhaps you should buy the book before commenting and not write a critique based on a critique – not really a sensible thing to do. The author will be at the main branch of the BPL this Sunday, you will be able to get an autographed book if you so want, and maybe even talk to the author.

Mod was saying, and forgive me here if I misrepresent you Mod, that we do not need to be serial killer to be able to write a book about it. If my facts are indeed correct, Ann Rule has never murdered a soul.

To discus the book, it would be nice if one can bring direct quotes and discuss its validity. Talking about the book in general, especially by some who haven’t read it at all is meaningless – never mind, chutzpah.

 
At November 11, 2005 1:55 PM, Blogger Shtreimel said...

King,
“In the US there are no moral grounds, what was moral 50 years ago is no longer moral today and vice versa. This is true to every society, including ours”

Morals are universal. The fact that 2000 years ago it was widely accepted as moral to enslave people by force does not make it moral – not even for them.

 
At November 11, 2005 2:32 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

I know that it is only fair to read a book before judging it, as you can never judge a book by its cover. Nonetheless based on knowledge how the research of the book was conducted, including reading some reviews of the book, i feel comfortable enough to criticize the book, its premise and the author.

I am not denying the fact that there is a problem in the so called hemisher community. One has to read my blog and see my rantings and ravings. The problem i have is with these - so called - rebels. They will leave the fold at all costs - even if it will harm their kids - and have the audacity to justify their actions by saying that they are constraint by the community and its restrictions. That's a farce and a lie. One can be happy and content and enjoy life as a full fledged "chasidisher chanyokter yingerman / frou". However if one is trying to have fun by desecrating the higest morals that almost every society holds sacred even atheists, like being an adulterer, yes that chussid will have a hard time. It is only natural a chussid who acts in that shameful manner will blame George Washington first, before blaming himself.

I am highly doubtful that the author of the book bothered at all, to do some research on these content chassidm who are the majority. I wont go as far as accusing her of intentionally not pursuing that angle so the book should be as titillating as it is, but i have my reservations.

 
At November 11, 2005 2:39 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

You should still read the book.
Its a well written balanced book that if you read her introduction and conclusion, you will see that she addresses your concerns. Specifically, and I am paraphrasing her book gives a voice to those who have previously been left out of literature. she tells us that there are books that deal with the angle you describe.
In short: Read the book. Until you do that you are talking out of yuor tuchus.

 
At November 11, 2005 3:01 PM, Anonymous Poncho said...

Nonetheless based on knowledge how the research of the book was conducted, including reading some reviews of the book, i feel comfortable enough to criticize the book
And how exactly did you get this inside scoop of how the research was conducted?
Try telling the NY Times that you would like to become their food critic based on your knowledge of preparing the food and based on the Post’s critique.

 
At November 11, 2005 3:18 PM, Anonymous Hella Winston said...

AAC--I can only reiterate what I and others have said on this blog: that you really have no business criticizing something you have not read. Perhaps you don't like the idea of the book, which is another story, and that we can debate and discuss. If you read it, however, you will discover that the people portrayed are NOT leaving the fold at all costs, but are struggling very hard to maintain important relationships with parents and children and friends. Not causing harm to others is a huge concern to everyone I interviewed. Of course one can, as you say, "be happy and content and enjoy life as a full fledged "chasidisher chanyokter yingerman / frou". I don't deny this and indeed state very clearly in the introduction that I met MANY hasidim who are content with their lives. However, because those I met who are not content might be a minority is not, in my opinion, a reason to ignore their experiences. I never claim that they are representative of the community as a whole. I wish that you would at least try to show me the respect of reading what I have written before casting aspirsions on my motives and my methods. I would hope I wold do the same for you.

 
At November 11, 2005 4:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Yiddishe Mame welcome back. this blog is way more fun!

 
At November 12, 2005 8:47 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please take the time to read the following:

http://www.thejewishweek.com/news/newscontent.php3?artid=11646

 
At November 12, 2005 6:17 PM, Anonymous youareaskingforit said...

One can be happy and content and enjoy life as a full fledged "chasidisher chanyokter yingerman / frou". However if one is trying to have fun by desecrating the higest morals that almost every society holds sacred even atheists, like being an adulterer, yes that chussid will have a hard.

The difference between the "adulterer" and the "chasidisher chanyokter yingerman" is, that the latter will "only" make out with his lover, and then pride himself in having withstood the test.
Talk about distinction.

 
At November 12, 2005 9:58 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

Hella said

" I wish that you would at least try to show me the respect of reading what I have written before casting aspirsions on my motives and my methods. I would hope I wold do the same for you."

Hella, if it is you indeed posting here, i am pleasantly surprised at you making that claim, as you didn't do the same to me, and i have the emails to prove it.

 
At November 12, 2005 10:19 PM, Anonymous Hella Winston said...

AAC--I was not going to that raise that publicly, but since you did, I will. You contacted me and asked to get together with me. You also asked for a copy of my book, which I told you I didn't have (it had not yet been published). I told you I would be happy to meet with you, and I still stand by that. Then, as I recall, you also indicated that you wanted to bring several other bloggers/friends along to the meeting to show me the "other side" or some such thing. That was also fine with me. In fact, it was my impression that you would be in touch with me to arranage a meeting, which never happened. All that said, I do not see how your criticizing a book you did not read is in any way equivalent to anything I "did" to you. Please explain.

 
At November 12, 2005 10:41 PM, Blogger Also A Chussid said...

Hella,

I just sent you privately an email. I am puzzled at this last comment of yours as it is not the truth. You can email me back privately. If you wont then i must conclude that this is indeed not you posting here.

 
At November 12, 2005 10:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am pleasantly surprised at you making that claim

And your def. of “pleasantly surprised” is what exactly?

 
At November 13, 2005 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

chussid, i am not sure why you sound like you object to what is in the book because you have discussed many of the same issues on your blog. i would think you would be a fan of the book.

 
At November 13, 2005 1:40 AM, Anonymous Also A Chussid said...

you are right i didnt used the right word. How would you described being suprised in an amused way. "amusedly suprised" LOL

 
At November 13, 2005 4:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I might “described” it amusedly surprised

 
At November 15, 2005 11:18 AM, Blogger shlomohamelech said...

Shtreimel, first I am sorry, I don't have much time to respond. I will stay on point.

I was just summarizing Sheitel. I wrote that I havn't read the book and I write based on what I read here.

As to no. 3, I don't know in which community you live in, but those bums that I know, surely follow no. 3. Not all of them, but most of them.

As to them not knowing the language and therefore they can't go to college. I have had many class mates who couldn't speak a complete sentence in English, and I they were in my class. Don't ask me how, because I was wandering too. If they would really wanted to go to college they wouldn't need an organization to help them. I come from the same chaider and I was admitted to college without a problem. I had to study before applying but I got those books from the library.

About the evil thing, it was MC who mentioned it.

"The fact that 2000 years ago it was widely accepted as moral to enslave people by force does not make it moral – not even for them." You proved my point.

I don't know where the Muslims come into the picture. Are we talking about Muslim youth? If she is writing a book about people who claim to be betrayed by the community, she should talk about the community that those people betrayed.

 
At November 15, 2005 11:27 AM, Blogger shlomohamelech said...

Shtrimel, I forgot my conclusion. If you agree with 1,2 and 4, then the book is of no value. Just show me one person who left the community who was tracked down and somehow physically or emotionally harmed. Those who leave the community are like forgotton. Within two years people don't even know that name. Nobody cares.

As to your notion "the frier and goyim are perhaps less obsessed with sex than we are" I didn't know that all the sex on tv and movies are made for us. Maybe I was missing something.

 
At November 15, 2005 10:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"If you agree with 1,2 and 4, then the book is of no value"

Why the book agrees with you too. Shouldn't you read it first? You're making a fool of yourself.

Shtriemel

 
At November 16, 2005 5:58 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

I purchased this book as soon as it was released and stayed up late reading it. Ever watched a movie which felt like it was going to become interesting in a second, only to suddenly realise that the end credits were rolling, and the expected interesting bit never materialised?

This book is just like that.

Furthermore, it dwells quite a bit on the story of a rebel who has some mental health issues, clearly not your run of the mill rebel, and not at all representative of the other rebels out there. The book doesn’t contain much real insight into the minds of Chassidic youngsters who are “going off”. Being one such “rebel” myself (albeit in secret) I could have written a better book.

It doesn’t live up to it’s promise. Don’t buy it. Sorry lurking author.

Read our blogs instead, they’re free, and they’re more interesting. :)

 
At November 18, 2005 12:06 AM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

so go ahead and write it then! and maybe use your real name. take a risk, or would that mean you had mental health issues?

 
At November 18, 2005 4:44 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

A blog is one thing, but to write an entire book, and still earn a living and remain anonymous. Impossible.

And were I to expose myself and my family to the certainty of being the talk of town and being ostracised, then yes, I would have mental health issues.

 
At November 18, 2005 8:59 AM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"Being one such “rebel” myself (albeit in secret) I could have written a better book"

1) A secret rebel is not much of a rebel.

2) You proved that you are not a free person in your community because you are afraid to speak up lest you will have mental health issues.

3) probably the book shook you up. Well think about it. Maybe there are things you just don't want to confront right now.

 
At November 18, 2005 4:05 PM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

so frummer, now you might see why the character in the book has "mental health issues." he was dealing with the exact situation you describe you would be in, too. maybe now you can feel some compassion?

 
At November 20, 2005 6:20 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

I have compassion, sure I have.

I am not sure how much his mental problems came about as a result of the pressure he was put under after he rebelled, yet still attempted to remain within the framework he was familiar with, and where he knew he would be safe. To me it seems that he acted rather crazy from the outset.

What did he think? That he would cut off his beard and peyos and could walk out into the "big bad world" and they would all embrace him and take care of him??

That and some other puzzleing parts of his story indicated to me that the person described clearly had some "mental issues" before he "went off".

 
At November 20, 2005 12:01 PM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

i think the character seems to be very naive, that is true. but the term "mental problems" just souds very negative to me, like he is crazy. i would say he sounds like he was suffering a lot and maybe he is odd to begin with but the situation certainly did not help him, and the fact that everyone seemed so nervous to get him help for fear other people would find out.

 
At November 21, 2005 4:40 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

And all that caused him to end up in hospital???

Come on, there was something wrong with him from the outset. That is why he acted strange and did stupid things at the begining. He is not indicative of your usual rebel.

This guy had issues.

 
At November 21, 2005 4:42 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

Ha!

I've just read the latest post. It seems that I'm not the only one with the above view.

 
At November 21, 2005 10:48 AM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

of course he had issues, but so what. perhaps his issues had to do with the community pressure, however. and even if he did have issues, it does not necessarily make his leaving the community any less justified.

 
At November 21, 2005 12:56 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

Maybe his issues were a result of a community that systematically traumatizes people. That said there is a need for reform in order to change the occurance of those who suffer psycologicaly.
According to frummer's logic, suicide bombers would be a result of THEIR own issues as opposed to their COMMUNITES influence.
Would you condone arab communities for their role in terror by claiming those individuals had mental problems?
I did not think so.
So, why the double standard???

 
At November 21, 2005 1:04 PM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

By issues, I mean mental ones.

Are you saying that their screws fall out because of the mental pressures?

How come mine and many of my friends haven't fallen out then?

Now you are talking about whether the way chassidim treat dissenters has a part to play in pressures faced by them. Of course it does. But it will usually be those who are not on the bright side who will do the crazy deeds as described in her book.

The one with a little sense, will grin and bear it. OK not grin, but they have to put up. They've no other choice!!!!!

 
At November 21, 2005 2:03 PM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

"How come mine and many of my friends haven't fallen out then?"

It sounds to me like you are suffering psycological distress albeit not to the same degree as others.

"The one with a little sense, will grin and bear it. OK not grin, but they have to put up. They've no other choice!!!!! "

Putting up with this comes with a price. Usually one's self-esteem drops as a result.
You should consider that

 
At November 21, 2005 2:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the concept around unchosen is correct, there is a problem in our community, as there is in any insulated society. The smae problems existed in pre war times aswell. but the books hero Yossi has a history of menatl problems nothing doing with his liking or disliking the frum community, known to all that know him. this issue is a true problem in society and could have been written about the true rebels the ones that do all the things written in that book and on the outside still stay chassidish and look frum

 
At November 21, 2005 5:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

people who stay chassidish and look frum on the outside and do all sorts of other things are hardly rebels. i think hypocrite is a better word. A rebel is defined as someone who refuses to conform to codes or conventions of society. A hypocrite is somebody who gives a false appearance of having admirable principles, beliefs or feelings.

 
At November 21, 2005 7:04 PM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

"It sounds to me like you are suffering psycological distress albeit not to the same degree as others."

I agree. Living a lie is tough. I've made no secret of it on my blog.

"A hypocrite is somebody who gives a false appearance of having admirable principles, beliefs or feelings."

You are nitpicking. What difference does it make which word you use to describe them? There are far more of them than the few "open rebels", and they are the ones who are moulding our future generations.

They are the real story, not the few nutters who come out into the open and are lost forever, having no effect whatsoever on the future of Chassidishkeit.

 
At November 21, 2005 7:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

not nitpicking. there is a big difference between doing something openly or presenting oneself dishonestly. it's a difference in character. what i wonder is how these hypocrites will change anything if they are all too afraid to come out and stand up. maybe those who leave will wake up the others to change.

 
At November 21, 2005 8:39 PM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

"maybe those who leave will wake up the others to change."

No. As has already been pointed out, those who leave often have something wrong with their minds or do irrational things. Nobody will learn anything from them.

Those who are too afraid to stand up, are afraid becuase of how they will be looked at should they dare let people hear their true feelings. Now THAT IS true, and that is a problem with the Chassidshkeit of today.

Us Hypocrites HAVE NO CHOICE but to act in the way we do. We have to live with these people, and our kids have to have a school to go to.

 
At November 21, 2005 9:16 PM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

how many people who leave do irrational things? most of those i know of do ok. what about malkie schwartz? is she doing something irrational? are the people going to her programs irrational? maybe if all of the hypocrites banded together you could make some change--start a social movement. stand up for yourselves and see things get better. why doesn't this ocurr to anyone in the chassidish velt. there is power in numbers!

 
At November 22, 2005 4:32 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

You are obviously not Chassidic. Had you been, you would have known that any deviance from the so called norm is frowned upon, and with their bushy eyebrows and long scruffy beards, the frowns of those in charge are scary. We cannot group together and change things. We would be banned!

It's no good standing there pontificating as to our rights and wrongs and our wrangles and tangles if you don't understand how Chassidish society runs, if you don't live among us.

In response to your question, I do not recall exactly what her circumstances were, but if she left her family behind, then yes, that is an irrational thing to do.

Sadly, there is a story to be told about Chassidic rebels both secret and open, but the author focused on the wrong subjects. That cannot be disputed.

 
At November 22, 2005 5:34 AM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

there were many in the book who were wearing the garb and remaining in the community (the guy who has that place outside the community, for example, or the bloggers, or the man who goes to jts). but to say that to leave the community is irrational implies a very strange definition of rationality. people can weigh pros and cons and for some it is more rational to leave a life they cannot live (thereby preventing suicide, depression, etc.) than to stay and be a faker. each person makes his or her own calculation as to what is rational.

 
At November 22, 2005 7:07 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

Irrational is to leave a wife and kids behind, and to go out into the world completly on ones own, cutting off all family ties in the process.

Yes, irrational.

 
At November 22, 2005 8:08 AM, Anonymous queensmaidel said...

this is NOT irrational. first of all, there are those who do it who find ways to keep contact with their families. it can be done. i know examples of this personally. second, non frum people go out into the world on their own all the time (move to new cities, countries, etc. look at all the immigrants who come here seeking a better life. are they irrational?). rationality refers to using reason and this can be a well reasoned decision. is it scary? yes. difficult? for sure. does one need to be very strong to do successfully? of course. but it is not irrational.

 
At November 22, 2005 9:17 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

We can argue about this for the next 793 years.

Heimishe people who leave the flock will be ostracised. The mothers wont want the kids to know that Tatty is a Shaigetz. His parents and siblings will probably disown him for the very same reason.

You are being more than a little unrealistic here.

 
At November 22, 2005 9:22 AM, Blogger modern chassidish said...

Frummer you are controled by the community and your point that it there are consequences to leaving noone disagrees. Our point is that to stay maybe far worse than leaving (at least in the long run).
So, which do you think us worse and why?

 
At November 22, 2005 9:24 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

real social change comes only when people are brave enough to take risks and challenge the status quo. the failure to stand up to injustice is what allowed hitler to get away with murdering 6 million jews. obviously this is an extreme analogy, but something to think about.

 
At November 22, 2005 11:25 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

Modern Chassidish

“Our point is that to stay maybe far worse than leaving (at least in the long run).”

I don’t recall that question arising before. It’s a tough one. I toyed with the idea of leaving everything, but considering the extreme ramifications of such a move, decided to stay put, and plod on, yes, miserably.

I am lucky enough to have started to come to terms with my situation, and am accepting that being a Yid does not have to mean that I have to be a Chossid, despite my dress. That’s as far as I’m prepared to go with details of my life.

Having been stuck between the rock of frumkeit and the hard place of the world out there, I know what it feels like to be trapped. But, in the long run, I believe that the rock of Yiddishkeit offers more than the “hard place” out there.

I wonder if Chassidim have more of a problem with people “going off” than other types of Jews?

“real social change comes only when people are brave enough to take risks and challenge the status quo.”

And where should I my kids be educated? At home? Be realistic.

 
At November 22, 2005 11:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

there is a larger jewish world out there that would be happy to educate your kids. there are excellent modern yeshivas that teach jewish and secular subjects. you are not trapped.

 
At November 22, 2005 11:48 AM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

You have to understand that what you are suggesting involves uprooting one's entire family to another district.

And how about those whose wives aren't on the same wavelength as them?

 
At November 22, 2005 11:57 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, i am not at all claiming this would be easy. but it is possible and will only become more so if more people begin to do it. soon enough you could have schools for people "on the same wavelength." it is possible. not, as i said, easy, but possible. this is how all great things start--as dreams.

 
At November 22, 2005 11:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as for wives not thinking the same way, i think people need to be more open during the shidduch process, and also within their marriages. the worst is to have to live being afraid of your own spouse. not good for parents and not good for children.

 
At November 22, 2005 12:20 PM, Blogger Frummer????? said...

"i think people need to be more open during the shidduch process"

I could not agree with you more!

We are taking Chassidus apart, bit by bit! :)

 
At November 24, 2005 6:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sheitel
You are extremely shmool kepic narrow minded you should rather chitchat with the yentas

 
At November 28, 2005 2:58 PM, Blogger Totally Content said...

To the last anon - thanks for your heartfelt remark!

It's been confirmed that those that aren't capable of coming up with an intellectual basis for their opinions resort to insults.

And I've also heard that one should never argue with a fool. He'll drag you down to his level - and then beat you with his experience.

 
At December 01, 2005 6:27 PM, Anonymous fffff said...

HEY SHITEL WASN THE GUY WHO LEARND CHABAD WITH BUCHERIM KICKED OUT OF WILLI
I GUESS YOU WERE TOO YOUNG TO REMEMBER THIS
WASN Y.L. WEINGARTEN ALMOST DEATH DUE TO THE OIFTIERS FAR YIDISHKEIT
(OH ITS WRONG RIGHT?) WHERE WERE THE RABANIM THEN
AGAIN THE FACT IS THERE IS NO CHOICE SAY WHAT YOU WANT
I CAN GO ON FOR YEARS HOW MANNY SHKUTZEREIN IT HAPPEND IN YOUR BEUTIFULL WILLI THAT FREE LAND OF YOURS
AND LETS NOT CONFUSE OUR SELFS WE ARE NOT TALKIN HERE OF PPL WHO WERE NOT TORAH OBSERVERS AND TRIED TO FARCHAPEN OUR CHILDERN NO THEY WERE JUST NOT "SATMAR"
NOT THE PPL NOR THE RABANIM ARE GOOD HERE EVERY THING IS CURROPT IF YOU HAVE HALF A BRAIN YOU CANT MISS IT
IM OUT

.

 
At December 11, 2005 7:24 PM, Blogger Sol. said...

Well everyone I'm impressed and sad that we even have to discuses our personal issues on the public web where any anti-Semite can make fun of our internal problems. And the main focus is to resolve the problems with chuchma and true knowledge of real hashkafa. I think that we do have to keep on changing the tactics of chinuch. The yetzer hora also keeps on changing as we all know. But indefinite we are to change the attitude we had from the war to now. Parents are to be more educated with Jewish issues and children are allowed to ask any type of questions on Judaism there is no fear - in Judaism everything has a true answer.

 
At December 26, 2005 11:36 PM, Blogger Bas Melech said...

"Hella Winston" wrote:

"you will see that the people profiled in it are NOT teens who cannot control their sex drives, but serious people who are questioning"

Ummm, I did read the book. I don't think a young man who is clearly mentally ill (Yossi - you took him to the psych ward yourself) can be called a serious questioner. No, when you consider the fact that he wanted to make up a T-shirt proclaiming that he would f*** anything, I think the evidence more clearly points to mental instability rather than serious questioning or even uncontrolled urges.

In fact, none of the examples cited could be called serious questioners. Most are people who suffered severely from abnormal situations (sexual abuse, physical abuse, etc.) and who ran away from their pain - as anyone else might do in that situation, be it from Fairbanks, Alaska, or Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

The only example that comes close to being a "serious questioner" is "Yitzchak." Despite the fact that you make it seem like he became an atheist, in fact he continued to be quite religious but just more modern. You made it sound like a scandal.

And I'm not counting Malka here, as anyone who REALLY knows these communities knows that Crown Heights and Williamsburg just cannot be compared. This is another example of poor fieldwork. These are COMPLETELY different cultures. Imagine an anthropologist writing a paper in which the Maasai and the Bantu were regarded more or less as the same culture, just because both have something in common (tribes in Africa).

The most surprising thing I found in the book is the fact that such an unscientific piece of work was accepted for a Ph.D. anywhere - though at CUNY, I guess I shouldn't expect Ivy League standards.

 
At December 27, 2005 10:03 AM, Blogger Bas Melech said...

Dear "Hella" (and I hope it's really you):

One more thing. Citing five or so examples without placing them within the context of statistics is worthless. Had you cited a study - or for that matter conducted one yourself, as most doctoral students do - and found that in fact a significant portion of the hasidic population find their culture stifling and/or rebel in some way or other, then the examples you cited would have informed your statistics.

But five or so people without any context is statistically insignificant. It would be like my describing, in gory detail, the inner lives of five murderers in France and then expecting that this somehow describes French culture. Well, it would, if it turned out that a significant portion of the french population were murders or fought murderous tendencies. But do they? That would be a necessary component of my research, if I planned to pass my work off as significant.

The closest thing to a statistic that I found in your book was that someone told you he knew about 50 people off the derech. So not only is this number anecdotal, but even if it could be proven, what percent of the population does that represent? Do you know what the hasidic population even is? (I would expect thatas a sociologist studying teh community, you would have SOME statistics.)

Did you in fact conduct any surverys? Or did you cite other surveys or sociological findings? No, you were thrilled with the prospect of writing an expose. But that's all it is, an expose - not even of a community, but of a few unfortunate individuals. Maybe if you attain a professorship somewhere you can actually begin to conduct real research, because this is just drivel.

 
At December 28, 2005 2:15 AM, Blogger upstategal said...

while scrolling down and reading all the posts I went from anger to "yeah..". Most impressive was frummer and I cannot help but be impressed that in our heimisher community there are some that write as well as you do! and bas malech, I didnt read the book but I get the picture. You make some very good points. I laugh and cry at the good and bad found within the Satmar community. and guess what? there's the same discord in every community. I've spoken with many different people, (business trips take us to different jewish communities within the United States.) Chabad in Nevada have issues with their youth. Young Israel in other states have issues with their Rabbis. You find these ALL OVER!on different levels. The grass only LOOKS greener on the other side. When you're on the other side- it's, NO, thank you, I'd rather be Satmar and Chasidish. I must admit- with less restrictions, a little more open mindedness, a little bit of that and a pinch of this... just the way I like it. (no such thing, anywhere...)

 
At December 29, 2005 3:01 AM, Blogger InterestedJew said...

If bas melech knew how to read carefully, he would have understood that this book is NOT a dissertation (I heard the author state this openly in an interview and the same has been printed in a variety of places). For the dissertation (and the book), she interviewed, I believe, over 70 people (I think this number appears in the book). Additionally, if he knew anything about research methodology he would understand the justifications for qualitative methdology. As for his claim that none of the characters in the book is a serious questioner, I would only say that a person can act from emotion, can exhibit signs of anxiety and depression, and even erratic behavior, and still be a SERIOUS questioner. These are not mutually exclusive ontological conditions. Characterizing someone as a serious questioner is not, after all, meant to be a description of his or her demeanor. The way I read it, everyone portrayed in the book had very serious questions and doubts indeed--both about the truth of the religion and about the Hasidic way of life. That the manner in which some of these people expressed and dealt with their questions and doubts does not fit bas melech's narrow definition of "seriousness" is reflective of his clearly very limited understanding of human motivation and behavior. It seems he has internalized the frum world's tendency to discredit anyone who cannot "control" his or her emotions as mentally impaired. My guess is that he considers himself a "serious" questioner and is terrified of being associated with those he would label as mentally ill.

 
At December 29, 2005 5:03 PM, Blogger Bas Melech said...

interestedjew, since you commented on my suposedly "internalizing the frum world's perspective," I will assume you were raised frum. That being the case, you should know that BAS Melech means DAUGHTER of the King. So speaking of internalizing frum assumptions, you disregarded my claim to be BAS Melech and decided I must be male - referring to me left and right as "he" - for only a man can be an intellectual and assert himself, right? Before you tell me what my assumptions are, examine your own.

P.S. I'm female.

 

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