Sunday, June 26, 2016

Aish Issues Apology for Controversial Meme, FB Users Still Angered

  On Friday, June 24, 2016, right before Shabbat in Israel, ultra-orthodox kiruv group Aish HaTorah's Facebook page posted an internet meme that quickly spread to 160 shares and a multitude of comments chastising them for their insensitivity over the 25 hours that was unable to monitor their Facebook page. The story was picked up by internet sites including Frum Watch and The Friendly Atheist during the hours that Aish's page lacked supervision. Aish has since removed the meme and issued an apology stating: apologizes for the graphic that was posted before Shabbat. The meaning of the Talmudic quote was meant to inspire people NOT to remain silent in the face of evil. Given the photo and lack of context, we regret posting something that contained an alternative offensive meaning. It was not our intention; we goofed.
  While many were quick to forgive the massive, well-funded international organization for their "goof," others were less than thrilled with their apology. Commenter Miriam Lichter wrote:  "I'm sorry but saying we goofed is not a sincere apology. This picture obviously was a trigger for many women who experienced something awful in their lives and the word 'goofed' minimizes and trivializes their experiences. Try for something a little more sincere."
  Others shared her sentiments.

  Lisa Klayman Blonder, who had commented several hours before Ms. Lichter, stated "I don't think saying you goofed on a mistake as huge as the one you posted on Friday is an apology. Goofed is for a tiny insignificant error, you error on Friday was much larger than that!" 
  It seems obvious that Aish just wants this fiasco to go away. Commenter Yardena Winegust asked Aish "Also, why don't you mention what message you accidentally conveyed?" did not post a reply.
  Controversy erupted again when Yehuda R. Rabinowitz suggested that Aish have 24/7/365 monitoring of their site, and that anything less is irresponsible. While one commenter dismissed the error because of Sabbath observance,
Facebook user Mona Boeger explained that "Arutz Sheva is also Orthodox but has people in diffrrent (sic) countries run the web site during Shabbat because of the time difference, Aish is large enough to do the same. People were triggered by this photo, some probably revictimized. Sorry, they need to be more responsible!" Sexual abuse survivor Olivia Bender responded:
I was revictimized by that photo. I saw it commented to please take it down. I went and cried in my room and remembered the gag around my mouth. Trying to scream and it coming out muffled sob.... my comment was an excuse for them yes. But i prayed about it. I know that they have the best intentions. And they didn't mean it the way it came off. They also apologized. I expect no person, no company to be perfect. But they were sweet to apologize. Because i didnt even get that much from the people that hurt me in the first place. Im sorry if this was a bit much for you. But you just don't know. Walking in forgiveness and understanding that sometimes its better to just forget. Especially when you actually got an apology.
While Ms. Bender may be quick to forgive, she cannot possibly speak for everyone.
  Aish HaTorah is an outreach group that seeks to recruit young people to ultra-orthodox observance and can be found on college campuses and in areas with young professionals. Because they deal with non-orthodox people on a regular basis, they have a certain level of responsibility to be
aware of not just the goings-on in the frum world, but the complexities of the non-orthodox world. They dropped the ball on this one, making people question just how much this organization actually cares for its followers and potential followers. Gone are the days when potential BTs (baalei teshuvah/returnees to observance) can simply be wooed with the local kiruv rabbi's knowledge of baseball players or rock music. Like the Jewish parable that discusses the results of the spread of gossip in terms of the impossible task of trying to gather the scattered feathers of a ripped feather bed, Aish will never be able to gather all of the feathers of pain that their irresponsible posting has caused.
(Click on images to enlarge.)

Updated with the following comment photos. Some of the comments defending Aish are very disturbing and seem to be from Aish supporters.


  1. Have they lost their minds? They ganged up on an already traumatized abused woman. What is wrong with those people?


  2. I am triggered by them being triggered, which then triggers them again. When will this madness stop. This is maslow's hierarchy of needs gone wrong

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