I was struck by the story Mobius posted yesterday regarding a well known Rabbi resorting to violence in order to make a point about how he felt Jews should act. It made me think about the relationship between our current political situation and our everyday behavior. In that light, this strange chat transcript seemed particularly eerie.
Let me give you some background. Many years ago, when I was a teenager living in Calgary, I was very involved in NCSY, and I used to participate in these weekly chats moderated by NCSY staff. Through the magic of the Wayback Machine I came across a chat transcript that NCSY had proudly displayed on their site in December of 1998. The topic of the week was, â€œThe Connection Between the Jewish People and Israel,â€ and mixed in with advisers giving Kahanist rants is a surreal account of high school rebbe pushing a student through a glass window. Yes, according to how it is presented here, the kid probably deserved a little punishment, and maybe even a nice kick in the tush, but what is frightening is how almost everyone in this chat is nonplussed by a high school teacher physically assaulting a student.
Cast of characters:
- Nachum1 â€“ A Kahanist NCSY adviser
- Alw â€“ a NCSYer from Texas. I made her acquaintance through this chat, and today she is a good friend of mine
- Roger â€“ A national NCSY administrator, and the coordinator of the chat room
- Advisor_aaron â€“ Another NCSY adviser
- Erwos – A slightly younger NCSYer from Silver Spring
- Valerie – A National NCSY officer from LA
Everyone else, I either donâ€™t know or donâ€™t remember. And me, where am I? Well, I had to miss the weekly chat. I was taking my Spring Break in Vancouver and Seattle, and that night in particular, April 1, 1997, I was sitting in a café in Vancouver getting ready for an Allen Ginsberg poetry reading. After a half hour of sitting around, we got the word that the master had canceled. It turns out Mr. Ginsberg, zâ€l, was sick – he passed away a few days later.