Bernie Madoff was bad enough. How embarrassed we were that a “member of the tribe” had schemed against so many innocent victims. Individuals and organizations lost millions. As is said in Yiddish, it was a shanda, a shame, a scandal.
And now we have Jeffrey Epstein. Madoff scammed us financially, but Epstein’s sexual escapades with underaged girls is in a totally different category, just as bad…no, even worse.
Shanda is expanded in a Yiddish expression, “a shanda fur die goyim” which means a scandal by a Jew which would make those not Jewish look at our community with disdain. Who among us doesn’t feel shame when we read about co-religionists whose deeds are as loathsome as these two?!
We are told by a Chassidic master that one weapon against the evil inclination (yetzer ha-rah) is to be enveloped in an upstanding community. What do they say? “It takes a village.” And indeed, it does. The affiliated have, of course, their share of the unsavory, the criminal, the abuser, yet you can be fairly certain that one who links him/herself to a synagogue, a church, a mosque is usually impacted for the good by their common values…usually.
I would hope that the Beth El family - it’s women, men and children - live up to Judaism’s centuries-old tradition of compassion and honesty. Hopefully relatives and friends, business associates and acquaintances will see us model what we truly represent. Our siddur (Gates of Prayer) states, “Eternal God, help us to walk with good companions…” Ken y’hi ratzon…May it be God’s will.