I am very fond of my TV, and I have always remained loyal to Law & Order. You can imagine my shock when it was canceled, but I hope the new spin-off, Law & Order: LA will survive. I have a thing for Alfred Molina (he can play anything! Anything, I tell you!)
The most recent episode, entitled Reseda, has the detectives attempting to locate a suspect, which eventually points them to a gold dealer. The character is wearing a large velvet kapul and tzitzis down to his knees. They strong arm him into assisting with a sting to apprehend the suspect by threatening to charge him with the fraud he is obviously committing. The following scene has Mr. Molina comfortably donning a kapul and tzitzis, posing as the dealer's nephew (I had seen him play Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof on Broadway, so this is not his first time playing Jew).
My point here is not my L&O fetish, my hope for the future of television, or Alfred Molina. My point is that the writers felt perfectly within their rights to pose the dealer as a religious Jew that of course commits fraud, an accusation which he does not bother to deny. Nor will I blame the writers as being fabisiner anteh-semit.
If the newspapers regularly report of the guilt of observant Jews with financial shtick, why should I hold a bunch of TV writers to task? It is not unheard of to come across a black hatter who has served time.
I have heard on numerous occasions how theft is one of the worst sins a Jew can commit, as it is one of loudest declarations that God doesn't exist. If a Jew believes that everything he is supposed to receive is from God, and that no matter what he does that amount will not change, then how can he steal? What would it gain?
If (and I mean "if") there are thieves amongst us, then it would be one or two misdirected individuals. But that it has come to a point that tzitzis = thief? If anything, a kapul should be associated with a strong desire to do, whether publicly or privately, the right thing.
We are no longer in countries that garnished our income without impunity; we are no longer being taxed unjustly by venomous overlords; we are now in a land that permits us to practice our religion without terror and persecution. Is this how we show our hakoras hatov? Is this how we show our relief at finding a safe haven after millenia of torture and unrest?
Is this how the media can present us?