Opinion: Getting Real About The Cancelled Kumzitz And Protests l Baruch Rivlin

For the past three days Lakewood has been gripped by the drama surrounding the cancelled event that was meant to provide kosher entertainment for bochurim during their bein hazmanim.

To recap what happened, a kumzitz  was planned at which bochurim would be able to relax and unwind. Included in the event was a siyum and divrei chizuk by a renowned rav.

For a select few this was unacceptable, and they ran to roshei yeshiva to spread false information about the event. Consequently, the kumzitz was cancelled, leading to a massive protest by hundreds of bochurim, with one ultimately being arrested and three others hospitalized after being pepper sprayed by police.

So, how did we get here? How on earth did we reach a point where our teens, our future, are taking to the streets to protest? It’s mind-boggling and should cause every one of us to look deep inside and consider what we have done to make something like this possible.

Regardless of the particulars of this case, there is one thing that the incident has made clear: our boys have no outlets. We live in a society that is bereft of morality, condoning of the worst kinds of behavior, and supportive of those that a short time ago would have been left to rot in society’s dustbin. Every distorted worldview and morally reprehensible behavior is now accessible to our teens at the click of a button, and it’s high time that we faced that. If we want our kids to remain pure and to stay on the right path, we must provide them with kosher outlets, because if not, the luring “outlets” of the modern technological age will grasp them. And when technology takes hold of a youngster, it rarely lets go.

I can’t speak to this particular kumzitz, but let’s be real – generally, a kumzitz is not a threat to our children or their upbringing. The same applies to many other outlets that our bochurim like to engage in. I fear that we have become accustomed to letting a few rabble-rousers ruin every possible kosher outlet for our children. While I’m sure these individuals who invariably find issues with any enjoyment a teen might have believe they are doing what is right, the fact is that they are causing irreparable harm to our children by depriving them of any and every practical and kosher outlet. By doing so, they are pushing our kids not to the bais medrash, but to smartphones (and worse) to unwind.

To expect our kids to remain at home with nothing to do and not cause any trouble is like expecting to find a unicorn in Pine Park on a chol hamoed outing. It’s not going to happen. What will happen is what we’ve seen from our teens the past two evenings – protesting and loitering around looking for a way to burn off their energy, causing a massive chilul hashem in the process.

It’s about time we as a community woke up and smelled the coffee. We’re living in 2019, not 1995. The worst inclinations are readily available to our kids. Give them something kosher to enjoy so that they may have the courage and fortitude to resist these brain-frying temptations. Stop searching for problems with activities that are completely harmless. It’s doing more damage than good.

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  1. Great write up.

    To answer your questions – the two people behind he cancelation do not have kids that are mesivta age. So they cannot relate to “Bain hazmanim boredom” etc.

    All they have is an axe to grind.

    There will be a free kumzitz tonight in Lake terrace with berry Weber. 7:30.

    • Yes, I agree – This Article is missing a very important piece. why did Reb Shmuel and or whichever Rabbonim voice against this?
      If it was “False information” given over which resulted in an imprecise answer.. Did anyone repose the question with the accurate information..?

  2. I am not disagreeing with this letter however one line gives me pause” what we have done to reach this point”. As an educator I must point out that teenagers have a mind of their own and they have to endure the consequences of their actions and their actions were wrong to protest in such a manner. not everything is the parents fault that we have to look inside us to see where we reached this point. Maybe it’s that we turned into softies always questioning ourselves and too scared to be firm with our children.

    • with educators like you is the reason why our kids fail!! the bochurim had every right to protest,what was taken away from these innocent bochurim was done for no good reasons or good intentions. i can promise you that because hundreds of bochurim stood up for themselves & protested(peacfully) the rabbonim & leaders of this town realized that something wasnt right & reassessed the situation.If the bochurim wouldn’t have protested events like this would still get shut down in the future. Im hoping The people that caused the shut down regret what they did

  3. I am only 29 and remember when Lakewoods first sit-down pizza shop opened up and the effect it had on our general Ruchniyos of our town. This event will be only bachurim but what about the next Entertainer and the next and the next? “Family and separate seating”? and it doesn’t quite end. Might I suggest a Jewish Center where Teenagers (and adults) can let out some energy in a constructive manner as many cities already have.
    Having given some thought to the manner,Meyer

  4. i think it was R Yakov Feitman spoke about this at the Agudah convention, and in mishpaha magazine. He teaches bochurim and this is what they tell him

  5. Many good points. I think the opposition was against trying to make a mitzvah out of it. There’s nothing wrong with making an event with kosher entertainment bein hazmanim for those who need it, but to go around getting haskamos & trying to get “top” or very good bachurim who wouldn’t otherwise need it to go & make siyumim etc. is what doesn’t have a place.

  6. Do us a favor, please go through Nesivei Chinuch by the Slonimer Rebbe (endorsed by every Gadol from every kreiz) before you call yourself an educator, and get back to us. Same goes for all “educators”. Thanks!

  7. Beautifully written…..

    Someone told me that he had a friend who was going to go to a sports game with three of his friends however they decided to sell their tickets because they wanted to rather go to the kumzitz which they felt was a more of a Ruchnius environment than a sports game.

    They were devastated after the Kumzitz got canceled.

  8. Baruch Hashem there is enough for a bored yeshiva bachur to do Bein Hazmanim. There are tons of organizations in Lakewood that can use the help of the bachurim (I myself volunteered for 3 different organizations since the start of Bein Hazmanim). And after all is said and done the fact is that our Roshei Yeshiva ASSURED the event and we must listen to what they say even though its not always understood! If were gonna criticize every kol korei that comes out the word of our gedolim will just become just a RECOMMENDATION and not a PSAK which is the worst thing that can happen to us.

  9. extremism is not good. regardless of intentions. if these extremists didn’t lie, we would not have gotten here. thy corrupted their mouths and made a mess. that’s how it works. It’s not the bachurim, its the liars that need to be put in their place. HARD

  10. This is not the first time!
    How many times over the years have we seen where someone runs to a Rov regarding some community issue, ane the Rov makes a decision based on those one or two yukels, instead of carefully listening out BOTH sides before rendering a decision!

  11. 100% well said.
    Kosher entertainment goes a long way and some people do not understand our generation. To the rabbis that shut down the pervious kumzitz would you rather your pure Lakewood boys go to atlantic city and hang out with hashem yirachaim who. Why are we putting our children in a situation where they want to look for alternitave entertainment?? Keeping the entertainment in house goes a long way! Lets wake up and smell the coffee, Keep your shitas to your self, and please understand what you are doing with your good concious.

    Thank you for raising awearness!

  12. All I saw was a bunch of petulant children at the end of the day this generation is more spoiled than any other generation and they are worse off than any other generation and deer for the one time they get in though they come out in mass protest it’s about time the parents of these kids where firm with them and you would have a better society

  13. Well said.
    The people who stopped this event for no reason should (moderated). And Rabbis should double check before believing some “erenste yungerman”, or signing because everyone else did. Regardless of what happened, protesting in public which because were Jewish, gets plastered on APP and NJ.com is a total chilul hashem and should be absolutely not tolerated.

    About Bochurim not being allowed to have kosher outlets, true that.
    The Mesivta Rabbeim should get over themselves about “catching bochurim who have texting”, and let the guys relax a little. Let them off campus a little, and see some civilization. Going to a gym or playing some basketball might actually do them some good.

  14. What we are missing here is daas torah.
    Bachurim were rightfully disappointed because their event was cancelled.
    Most parents would agree that this is the best kosher entertainment for bein hazemanim.
    True,the 2 ppl behind that do not have bachurim at home yet.
    But why did Rav shmuel Kaminetsky agreed to cancel it at the last minute! I’m still wondering.
    Does tonight’s make up event has the approbation of the rosh yeshiva?

  15. Ok so now the original kumzitz was canceled bec of pressure from a few ppl who misinformed the roshei yeshiva so what did the Buchrim do they went and battled the negative pressure with their own way of pressure and they succeeded even though they may have went a little too extreme they still proved a point and got what they wanted… second point by the roshei Yeshiva going against the future of Lakewood on Somthing that is totally harmless just created a movement that can protest anything that one loud person doesn’t like which could turn into a bad thing but at the end of the day they proved that they are not just sitting ducks they have minds of their own and they use them and if needed are ready to go out on the streets and protest

  16. This happens all the time. One person goes to a rov/posek and presents a shailah the way he wants the gadol go hear it.

    In this case, the event was misrepresented to the rosh yeshivas.

  17. why can the grown ups of our town take heed and protest all the never ending development going on in our town???!!! Wake up! It’s not too late!!

  18. don’t let them pull ur legs. I’m sure the organizers could have reached out to the gedolim who “”banned” the event and explain to them the truth. This may have been one big publicity stint. Now the event was much more talked about and well attended due to the whole uproar. Just saying!!

  19. A few Self serving Meraglim went ahead and spoke pure motzee shem rah against bachurei yeshiva and succeeded in convincing Rav kamunetsky and other rabbanim with a whole slew of false facts to asser something which was never neant to be assered.

  20. Having lived in lakewood 30 years i can say its not the first nor the last time some ” righteous” individuals forbid something harmless. While i strongly disagree with the with the closing of the event I am not a Rav nor a community leader. These rabbonim arent pawns that are malleable to any loony’s rant. If the whole story as we have read is true then the rav had weighed out what was being said and the most appropriate action needed. I would like to hear from the rabbis that banned the kumsitz and what was told to them. At least some clarity and not some vague second recap of what happened.

  21. Why would rabbanim decide on something without getting the full picture? It is my understanding that the ones who organized the event were never consulted by the rabbanim. If that is truly the case then who is to say that the rabbanim’s signature’s weren’t forged? There’s a famous story with the Gaavad of Yerushalayim the Minchas Yitzchak who was niftar 30 years ago. One day as he was leaving shul in the morning, he said to the person next to him something to this effect, “come let’s see what I signed on today”. The point is if this was happening over 30 years ago that people had the brazenness to forge rabbanim’s signatures why wouldn’t they do that in this day and age. Rabbanim’s signatures can be easily copied from the multitude of documents that are out there both in print and online.

    I do believe that the protests were way out of hand, yet I believe as well that our “mechanchim” have to wake up and smell the coffee. This is the reality of 2019. What worked in 1995 is not going to work anymore. In fact what worked 2 years ago will not work anymore.

  22. I seem to recall things being a little different then people are claiming. I don’t think it is about “this generation” of bochurim being any different than in the past.

    20-30 years ago, bochurim did many things during bein hazmanim. Bowling, Paint Ball, Playing arranged sports, and yes, it was common to even go to sporting events. and this wan’t just bochurimg from weaker Yeshivas who did this, it was bochurim from the top Yeshivas.

    Sure there were bochurim who learned all bein hazmanim, but that was the yechidim who were holding by it, not the Rov Am. Many bochurim would learn in the morning, and find a way to blow off steam in the afternoon. The Rosh Yeshivas gave shmuzim to try to motivate bochurim to learn bein hazmanim, but they didn’t try to control bochurim by specifically assuring any outlet they may have. The Rosh Yeshivas of the previous generation, knew their bochurim.

    Personally, I was on both sides, there were some times were I learned all bein hazmanim, other times, I needed a break. But it was never demanded of bochurim that they only learn bein hazmanim and nothing else. When you try to force someone to act on a level that they are not holding by, it is like pushing down a spring, and the natural reaction is to reject it.

    There never existed this concept of commmunal bans on bein hazmanim activity. Each R”Y new there bochurim, and if there was something to address, they would do so.

    I think talking about this generation of bochurim, as if it is some new phenomenon, is a dis-service to this generations choshuva bochurim, and it is trying to put ourselves from the previous generation on a unwarranted pedestal.

    The one thing which I do feel bad for this generation, is that they no longer have last generations Gedolai Yisroel and R’Y, chavel al di’avdan

  23. @Ira to answer your question, women in Lakewood having plenty of entertainment and outlets…

    They have at least a Dozen if not more Bais Yaakov plays…

    They have all of the frum “Moving Pictures” showings all the time….

    They have all these programs for song and dance which they practice and then perform……

    They have Art, Music, Chessed programs and classes throughout Lakewood.

    And the list goes on and on…

    Boys have the “Lakewood Extravaganza” event on Chanukah, thats all they have.

    Bachurim don’t really have to many outlets, unfortunately.

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