Lessons From Lanner


 I read with interest Gary Rosenblatt’s column on the 10th anniversary of The Jewish Week’s breaking of the Rabbi Baruch Lanner story (June 18).

More than 15 years ago, I was a high school senior at Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., and an active member of the NCSY youth group. It was in that capacity that once I met Rabbi Lanner, who made an appearance at the New England Region’s Spring Regional in West Hartford, Conn., I believe. 

It is true, as was noted in the column, that the organization catered primarily to the already-Orthodox day school students of New England rather than the heavier focus on public school students that NCSY has today. And it was, in my opinion, overly and overtly pressurized in its enforcement, if you will, of Orthodoxy and how there was always that “one more step” that a youngster could take towards further Orthodoxy. 

Please do not misunderstand me:  I was Orthodox then, and I remain Orthodox, albeit somewhat more relaxed, now. If it had only one effect, the Rabbi Lanner story in The Jewish Week opened my eyes to systemic and institutional injustices that remain in my community.  

Yes, every shul I have attended has fliers in the restrooms trumpeting the dangers of domestic abuse; yes, my shul has a genuine openness that engenders camaraderie; and yes, there are enough avenues of education available to my child that enable all to have a place in the community. 

But I still see instances of unfair politics being played out under the guise of religious stricture, and these instances must be rooted out and remedied. The lessons of musar [ethical instruction] are, ultimately, those of self-improvement rather than the busy-bodied improvement of others; to that effect, I start the process of tikkun olam with myself.

Thank you for your coverage of the story.

Brookline, Mass.