I spent the last three days vacationing in Newport, Ri with my wife Adina. One of the major winter attractions are three of the dozen mansions built by late 19th-century millionaires. The Breakers, the Elms and Marble House are estates that would rival anything you could find on MTV’s Cribs, and these were “Summer Cottages” used only 2-3 months per year.
One of the remarkable things about these buildings is the structural and architectural efforts that were taken to keep the servants (at least 30 per home) away from the residents and their guests. In the Breakers, special hallways were created for the servants to refill closets with clean clothing without having to enter the bedrooms themselves. The staff in these homes were meant to be as invisible as humanly possible.
This practice of silencing people continues today. We see it with groups that are deemed unwanted or not important enough to be able to express themselves. This is something that happens in every country, every city and every community. There is always someone trying to keep someone else quiet. Unfortunately, the Jewish community is no different.
The Jewish community has tried to pretend certain things didn’t exist within its confines. Brooklyn Rabbis molest children with little consequence because the community leadership is unwilling to bring in secular authorities. It took many years for domestic abuse cases to be dealt with in the Orthodox community. Today, we have homosexual Orthodox Jews who do not have an entirely safe environment in which to be open and honest about who they are. There has been an effort to keep people from publicly expressing themselves as individuals, and to vilify those who do as activists aimed at bringing down Torah Judaism and its values.
Thankfully, the 21st century is nothing like the 19th century. We don’t have the same limitations in our free society that allowed people to be suppressed and ignored for centuries. The infrastructure we operate within is called the Internet. It is designed to allow for equality and openness of personal and communal expression. It’s our opportunity to jump through the formality, and engage directly with the Lord of the Manor.
Despite the efforts that are taken to silence people wherever they are, whoever they are and whatever their cause may be, they are not the servants in this new world. They will not be silenced.
Be seen; be heard.