The Sharer of Secrets

Anonymous Blog Cracks Window Into Hasidic Community

Kanya's meditations on Hasidic determinism are typical of the acerbic commentary. "What's fated to happen is fated," the blogger writes. "So fire escapes are something that people have in mind only when the inspectors come, cleanliness is such a priority that hepatitis is a frequent guest and often an inhabitant in our communities, and lice are more common for us than for the plagued Egyptians."

Another anonymous blog called Yoshev Al Hageder is written in Hebrew by an Israeli who claims to be an ordained Hasidic rabbi. Among other confessions, he writes that he does not believe in God or the Torah.

Yeedel's frustration with his tradition is linked with its financial fallout. One entry skewers Israel-based Rabbi Arye Leib Steinman, who encourages poverty for Hasidim because it has always produced better scholarship. The rabbi recently turned down a donation of $100 million that would have gone toward vocational training for Orthodox men, explaining that a life of limited means was a "garden of Eden." Yeedel blogged about reading the news, "I couldn't believe my eyes!

Illustration: Shane Harrison
Illustration: Shane Harrison

"Countless young [Hasidic] men will tell you that . . . they find life in poverty unbearable," Yeedel continued. "But they have no choice. A friend of mine . . . would tell me often that he finds absolutely no satisfaction in what he's doing [studying the Torah]. 'Why don't you go get a job?' I would ask. 'I can't read, write, or speak English. What kind of prospects do I have?' "

Like these Hasidic blogs, other weblogs have appeared that use the medium as an anonymous forum to voice and vent. Yarak's Ring, hosted by Invisiblog, is a diary of a woman's abusive relationships. Another, Daneb, details the author's secret crush.

For Yeedel, as for these other anony- bloggers, there is evident relief and even some thrill in expressing pent-up ideas. "I enjoy giving people a glimpse into this world," he says.

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