Benzion Dunner's inquest is a wake-up call for the Charedi community


By Miriam Shaviv
August 6, 2008
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So Benzion Dunner, a pillar of Charedi society, had cocaine in his system when he died, according to his inquest. Whatever next?

The temptation for the Charedi community will be to suppress this genuinely shocking story, internally, altogether. But since it has been widely reported in the national press this may prove impossible.

And a good thing, too.

Benzion Dunner was not some kid smoking dope behind a bicycle shed, who can be dismissed as a “problem child” unrepresentative of the Charedi community. He was the best, the brightest, the kindest, the frummest, the richest, the most generous of his group. If a man of his calibre was taking drugs - and knew where to find them - you can sure there are many others. And while there is no suggestion he had a regular drug habit, are we really to believe that he had only ever tried it once – to celebrate Purim, the day before he died? Cocaine is a highly addictive Class A drug which is not for beginners – or anyone.

Last week, 200 Charedim chased an American rabbi down a street in Stamford Hill, because he campaigned against Charedi pedophiles. It is high time the community recognised that it is not immune to the addiction problems and social ills of the secular world. Because without admitting the problems, it has no chance of dealing with them.

If the tragedy of Benzion Dunner is not treated as a serious wake-up call, what will be?

COMMENTS

joemillis

Wed, 08/06/2008 - 19:48

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>>Because without admitting the problems, it has no chance of dealing with them.<<

Fat chance. It's always someone else's fault for those who revel in victimhood, as the charedi leadership so often does. In that they are much like the Palestinians. I'd be interested to see how The Jewish Tribune, Hamodia, or Yated Neeman report this, if at all.


Helen Feld

Wed, 08/06/2008 - 21:55

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Don't hold your breath waiting for any of the Charedi press to discuss this coroner's report. Most adults will hear about it, but younger people will be spared the awkward details. British Charedim don't revel in victimhood or blame others for our problems. We're not that much like the Palestinians, aside from the fact that Palestinian is a word invented to describe Jewish settlers to distinguish them from Arabs who also lived in Palestine.

rach

Wed, 08/06/2008 - 23:03

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None of the problems in the jewish community are worse than jewhating jews like yourself. In the week that we mourn the destruction of both our temples and pray to G-d to bring the redemption, how dare you allow yourself to judge a man who is no longer with us . And such a wonderful man too , who put bread on many a family s table. Have you considered the pain that you are putting his family through when they read your opinions about a man you didnt even know. You should feel a very strong urge to apologise to his family. Furthermore, the JC , as a newspaper supposed to be representing the Jewish community, SHOULD MOST DEFINATELY feel the need to rally rould its own and leave it to the secular papers to be reporting this. A report in any Jewish newspaper is onlyh going to cause pain to the family. NO GOOD CAN COME OUT OF IT. May we all learn to have more compassion for the feelings of our fellow jews and merit the true redemption speedily in our days

frumjew

Thu, 08/07/2008 - 04:51

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frumjew

Thu, 08/07/2008 - 04:51

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Harpo

Thu, 08/07/2008 - 07:16

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Miriam, Kol Hakavod on posting your views. I wholeheartedly disagree with Rach's opinion. The coroner has found that Benzion Dunner lost his life and endangered the lives of his family by the reckless act of taking cocaine, which in turn affected his driving. If the one thing his death has done is to highlight the dangers of such behaviour, then bringing it to the forefront of our consciousness may help save Jewish and non-Jewish lives in the future. This has nothing whatsoever to do with Jews hating one another and it is the Jewish Chronicle's duty towards the community to highlight the problem. That the secular press has also reported the story only reinforces how totally wrong his actions were, irrespective of how much money he donated to worthy causes.

saraj

Thu, 08/07/2008 - 14:18

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amazing, I have read so many different articles in all different newspapers and the accompying comments, and no surprises the comments with the jewish chronicle are the most anti religious,and anti jewish, i find it incredable that people who are not religious think they know so much about the religious people, and feel they have to right to critizise and put down the true torah way of life, the way of life that will keep judiasm going forever. Why does the Jewish Chronicle feel the need to vent all its guilt feelings on not living life the torah way and be so 'anti' frum Taking Cocaine is a terrible thing, but put that in to context, how many non religious people take cocaine on a regular basis?? not just very rare, Benzy had so much stress in his life, and did so much good, why ignore all of that? the frum world knows there is a problem with drugs, we know that what affect the secular world affect the religious world, but what people like the self hating jews of the JC dont realise is, that the reason it is so shocking to everyone to read something like this, is that Thank G-d the problem is still so tiny compared to the outside world, i dont think the secular world can compare the scale of the problem. As jews do you not feel any responsibilty to 'live and let live' and respect people no matter how they live?? only the JC prints anti frum articles week after week, none of the religious newspapers feel the need to put down, and degrade people who are not religous, rather they write about good things, things which make a person proud, the good deeds a person does, like Benzy dunner and the happiness not the constant critizim of others. Have some respect for Benzy's family, Im sure his wife and children are going through enough without you people just adding to their grief. I would like to see any other cocaine users doing as much good and kindness as Benzy did, as i say i am not excusing him taking the drug its a terrible thing to do, but look at both sides, and stop using this to bash the frum.

jewishboy1010

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 02:31

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in response to helen feld's comment i would like to say the following; i am a teenager in the charedi community and since this report has been published in the national newspapers, we (the teenage population) have been talking about it, and no we have not be shielded by the community. i would like to say the following: after reading all the articles in the national newspapers (times, daily mail, telegraph etc) i would like to say that the comment on one of the websites is quite possible - what if his drink was spiked ?? we dont know; all we know is what the coroner has found - there is no cctv to show if he "snorted" it or if his drink was spiked (let us not forget that many drinks get poured on purim) who kows someone might have had a grudge agianst him we all dont know. so lets have the benifit of the doubt and not come to such desicion straight away. finally, the telegraph reported the following and i quote: "" The clinical forensic toxicologist did not measure the exact amount of cocaine in his blood and urine but said it was "well below" toxic levels.""

JustMe

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 08:54

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I think it worth pointing out that cocaine is found in a number of pain killers. Although not in general use in the UK, COCAINE HYDROCHLORIDE for treating various mouth conditions is legally available in other countries. I note that the amounts found were only small - this could possibly suggest that something like this was used (as opposed to addiction use leading to significant levels of cocaine in the body). How would he have obtained such medication? The number of people involved with Rabbi Dunner and their countries of origin may have resulted in a visitor suggesting that he use their "wonderful" medicine to help with a mouth problem or the like. Obviously I do not know what really happened - but knowing the life style of such people makes drug addiction very unlikely (and because of the life style leaving very little time to get away with snorting or similar addiction).

joemillis

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 09:13

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>>i would like to say that the comment on one of the websites is quite possible - what if his drink was spiked ?? we dont know; all we know is what the coroner has found - there is no cctv to show if he "snorted" it or if his drink was spiked (let us not forget that many drinks get poured on purim) who kows someone might have had a grudge agianst him we all dont know. so lets have the benifit of the doubt and not come to such desicion straight away. finally, the telegraph reported the following and i quote: "" The clinical forensic toxicologist did not measure the exact amount of cocaine in his blood and urine but said it was "well below" toxic levels."" <<

Comme L'hab.... Someone else is to blame


anom

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 09:36

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i think the writer of this article has so much to answer for.miriam shaviv has used this oppurtunity to slam the chareidim.she obviously has absoloutely no feelings or sensitivity towards others. how can anybody even fathem the pain this special family are going through already. for someone to use mr dunners death as an oppurtunity to vent their own hate feelings toward frum people shows a rotten character and perhaps this writer should find somewhere else to make your money and not on other GOOD peoples pain!!

P

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 14:39

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I am scratching my head trying to see a single"self-hating" or 'anti-chareidi' word or phrase in the original comment, which seems to me a perfectly fair and reasonable piece..... unless you think, as many of the commenters seem to, that it is forbidden to comment on concerns in the Orthodox community. I don't recall anyone protesting that all sorts of people spoke to the media when the tragedy happened, including whoever it was who proclaimed the "2m to charity at one sitting" - a highly dubious 'fact', and not one that showed the deceased or his community in a particularly desirable light, either. So -- cocaine consumption is there in the heart of baalebatish haredi Golders Green. Shhh! Shhh! Don't talk about it. Everything is perfect. We have no problems.

gg123456

Fri, 08/08/2008 - 14:48

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I am a member of the frum community and it is just so pathetic every time anyone reports something that could in any way be deemed the slightest bit critical of anyone or anything frum, the frum community automatically jumps up and down claiming anti frum bias. Its ridiculous. Its so beyond ridiculous to call Ms. Shaviv a jew-hater because she points out that there are problems that need to be addressed in Commenters here have accused Ms. Shaviv of putting down the religious community and putting down Mr. Dunner. These accusations are ridiculous. Ms. Shaviv said many nice things about Mr. Dunner- for example that he was "the best, the brightest, the kindest, the frummest, the richest, the most generous..." Hardly the words of a jew hater or a frum hater. I take issue with Ms. Shaviv's assumption that Mr. Dunner could not have only used cocaine on one occasion. Maybe he did - maybe he didnt. No one has any way of knowing and to assume that he had used it before in my opinion is baseless and unprofesional speculation. I think it is entirely possible that Mr. Dunner did not knowingly ingest cocaine. Euqally, I find it possible that he took cocaine on a regular basis. No one will ever know. Similarly- Ms. Shaviv is quite correct to be incensed that "Last week, 200 Charedim chased an American rabbi down a street in Stamford Hill, because he campaigned against Charedi pedophiles". I am incesed and any human being should be incensed. Anyone trying to protect kids from pedophiles should be lauded- not chased down streets. In sum, I thought Ms. Shaviv's article was generally well writtten, respectful and showed no evidence of bias against the frum community and as a member of that community, I think it is so ridiculous that many frum readers are incapable of reading anything the slightest bit critical of anything/anyone frum (regardless of how complimentary the article might also be of the frum community) without jumping up and down and hurling insults and accusations at the writer. Shame on you Saraj and Rach.

james

Tue, 08/12/2008 - 19:46

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who actually loses out from the jewish chronicle reporting this? R' Dunner's children !!! - just so the jewish chronicle can sell a few extra copies!No one else- Can the editor stop and think?? please stop with this. I do not care to know any more information about this.... what is gained by discussing and publicising this? - NOTHING I will no longer buy the Jewish Chronicle!!! - if all they can do is do this......

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