When Silence is Deafening

Two weeks ago, we published in these pages a call entitled “Speaking Up for Our Rights,” in which we stated that precisely because we live in a society that claims that individuals and minorities have the right to live in accordance with their own values and not have interference with their way of life, we should be granted the same.

We noted that the official policies of local, state, and federal governments have begun to reflect a new radical reality, creating a very real danger to our community. This danger now exists well beyond the political arena; and now threatens both our physical safety as well as our ability to live a Torah life. We stressed that it would be gross negligence on our part if we would remain silent when our religious liberties — as well as safety — are threatened by such outrageous regulations and called on those who seek to represent our community to do all they possibly can to counter these efforts in every way possible.

The silence that we have experienced the past two weeks is deafening.

To add insult to injury, the City Council overwhelmingly approved a bill on Tuesday that would require all single-occupant restrooms to remove signs indicating whether they are for “men” and “women.”

It is most regrettable, that while two councilmembers voted against the legislation, neither of them were representatives of areas heavily populated by Orthodox Jews, but Republicans from Staten Island.

While the law itself seems innocuous enough, it is imperative that we recognize that it isn’t merely what it says in fine print, but what is behind this newest assault on the longstanding norms of society. This bill is only the latest in a long series of successful efforts to blur the lines that define decency and eradicate the last vestiges of morality from American culture.

We cannot remain indifferent, and cannot possibly remain silent when our ability to live Torah lives is being threatened. We must make it clear to our elected representatives, as well as the askanim who represent our community in governmental circles, that battling for our religious liberties is an essential part of our mandate. n

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