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Monday, January 06, 2014

The Stark Murder: Who Was He?

You have probably heard of the notorious New York Post headline on the story of the horrible death of Menahem Stark, "Who Didn't Want Him Dead," which angered the Jewish community at its total insensitivity and accusations (I can think of at least several people: his wife, and his children, for starters).  No matter what he did, what white-collar crimes he might have committed, nothing justifies kidnapping, possibly torturing and murdering someone-nothing!

Here are a couple of perspectives on this tragedy. He is alleged to have been a slum landlord who didn't maintain his buildings nor care about his tenants. He also was a pillar of his Satmar Hassidic community, giving tzedakah (charity) freely and helping others.  Who was Menachem Stark? How should his death be viewed? How should his life...?

I am ashamed of his behavior, if what is said about him is true. He was not living what a Jewish life is supposed to be, no matter what 'sect' he belonged to.  But I am horrified at his death. Here is a fairly balanced story in The New York Times (not a paper I generally read because of its left-wing leanings), and in the Jewish Daily Forward, Jay Michaelson's take on judging Stark as a Jew, in life as well in death. From the Forward article:

Stark’s unethical behavior toward goyim, and the Haredi community’s dismissal of it, both reflect that community’s insider/outsider, us/them dichotomy that this newspaper has reported on countless times. Of course, not every Haredi person believes that goyim have no souls, or that it’s only permissible to save the life of a non-Jew on the Sabbath if another non-Jew is watching, or that it’s better to let a child molester abuse again rather than inform the secular authorities. But many do.



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1 comment:

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