You may have seen the provocative title and gotten triggered. You may have thought, “how can the author dump on the Shluchim — people who sacrifice tremendously for their fellow Jews?” Please hear me out.
Each year when the Kinus rolls around, I am filled with contradictory thoughts.
On one hand, if not for the Shluchim who exposed my parents to Yiddishkeit, I would be just another American Jew ignorant of his heritage. And for this I am tremendously grateful. In fact, this was one of the reasons that — at one point in my life — I wanted to become a Shliach.
On the other hand, seeing the Shluchim also reminds me how being Chabad has damaged me and my family; a reminder that the Shluchim who influenced my parents sold them a “bill of goods” about Chabad. They were taught that Crown Heights was this utopian island in NYC, a place where right won over might; a place where — instead of the financial guldene medina described by immigrant Jews — the streets themselves cried out ein od milvado! Who wouldn’t want to join such a community?!
Consequently, all they wanted to do was to fit in and become accepted by this community of saints. Interaction with secular relatives had to be curtailed. They felt that their children would be best served by becoming full-throated Lubavitchers. Mind you, my parents are normal people, educated and put-together. But they bought this propaganda hook, line, and sinker and fully believed that their investment would pay off.
Growing up, I felt the same way. With time, however, the sunny picture began to become clouded by reality. You know, reality is weird thing; as much as you try to suppress it, it inevitably resurfaces. I found out about abuse, crime, and hypocrisy. I realized that my Oholei Torah education wasn’t going to serve me well as a human being and as an employee. Most importantly, it finally became clear to me that my peers would never fully accept me, that I would always be labeled the “BT kid.”
So, when I see you Rabbi X walking the streets of Crown Heights, I feel resentment. You lied to my parents about what the community they were entering, and made me — their child — feel like I belong nowhere — not in the Chabad world, not in the secular world. I know that my family isn’t the one that has been negatively impacted by you, and I also know that you are not alone among your colleagues. This is part of Chabad’s DNA. You believe that you save souls, but in reality you destroy them and their offspring. You and your fellow Shluchim are charlatans.