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Shunning Those We Love
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An open letter to those who are ostracizing my castmate and friend Yitzi:

There has been a lot of controversy about this show, and much of it is about Yitzi.  He is a "local boy gone bad" in the eyes of many of our viewers.  He is the kid who went to the local Young Israel school, who went to yeshiva, who grew up and married an amazing observant woman, and who has 2 gorgeous Jewish daughters.  Now he is a learned Jew who has made a conscious decision to observe shabbos and kashrut in his home for the sake of his wife, but on his own time he is admittedly not running for Ortho Jew of the Year.  He has his reasons, and I won't argue his points here.  

Since he started appearing on this show, he has endured phone calls from community members accusing him of publicly desecrating G-d's name.  He has been confronted by tearful family members.  He has received hate mail. It hasn't been easy on anyone.  It certainly has not been easy on his wife, who shares the concerns of those who confront Yitzi, but she has been supportive of his participation on the show nonetheless.

Some say that to love and support Yitzi while he "works through his issues" is tantamount to condoning breaking shabbos, kashrut, and all other halacha.  I say that shouting Yitzi down is an act of conditional love on the part of those close to him.  You do what I want you to do, and you are good in my eyes.  You don't do what I want you to do, and you are a disappointment deserving of my scorn.

 I think that the best way to sell Jewish observance is to make it look BETTER than the alternatives, rather than to ostracize those who do not observe.  The answer to someone who doesn't observe is to love them, show them the beauty in observance wherever possible, and invite them to come back if they ever want to, as those doors never close.  Also, when Orthodox community members shun those who do not fit in, they are creating a situation where coming back is cause for humiliation... there should be NO barriers to re-entry.  NONE.

Shouting down Yitzi is unkind.  It's not painting a rosy picture of being Orthodox to me, or anyone else who isn't observant.  And it doesn't work.

Just my 2 cents.  Time to help the kids play bath time with the Barbies.  Yeah, occasionally I play with my kids!  Arg- too late.  I hear a scuffle between the twins brewing in the next room.