The Jewish Week’s “Haredi Problem”

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In a recent column, “Haredim: Underdogs or All-Powerful?”, the New York Jewish Week’s editor, Gary Rosenblatt, writes of a complaint he received from a reader, Chaim, about the paper’s coverage of, and commentary on, the haredi world. Gary, whom I have known for many years and consider a friend, defends his paper and explains how, among other things, the rise of the haredi community’s influence in Israel (citing its insistence on high conversion standards and “avoidance of army service”), its rejection of ideological Zionism and its support for the observance of Shmitta are all deserving of criticism.

I cannot speak for Chaim. But I think the real “haredi problem” at the Jewish Week is the dearth of haredi voices in its pages.

Because issues like those Gary raises (like most issues) do have two sides.

A strong case can be made that loosening conversion standards in Israel would have a devastating impact on whether any Israeli convert is regarded as Jewish by a sizable part of the Jewish community. And it is not hard, once the issue is fully explained, to come to realize that most haredim in Israel who choose full-time Torah-study are not trying to “avoid” army service but to serve the Jewish people (and, perforce, the cause of Israel’s security) in a spiritual way – the way they sincerely believe counts most. Or to understand how a Jew can disagree with the ideology of Zionism yet be fully committed (more so, perhaps, than some card-carrying Zionists) to the security and growth of the State of Israel. And even Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, the guiding light of the non-haredi Israeli Orthodox community, pined for the day when the law of leaving Jewish-owned fields fallow every seventh year might be observed as it was intended.

Yet all too often, only one side of each of those issues, and others, is regularly presented in the pages of some Jewish papers, including the Jewish Week. They tend to report and comment approvingly on any effort aimed at relaxing the Jewish bond to established halacha or to time-honored religious norms and convictions. Those who choose to hew to a more traditional Jewish path are commonly portrayed as obstacles to be overcome; their stances, as things to be “fought” or “undermined,” according to those chosen for quotation or offered column space. We haredim are accused of wielding influence beyond our numbers (even of being, as per Gary’s title, “All Powerful”) and of poisoning the wells of “tolerance.” (Sometimes I think the haredim have become the Jews’ Jews.)

There are a good number of haredi writers in English these days, each entirely capable of presenting haredi points of view for readers’ consideration. But none of them appear as regular columnists in the Jewish Week, and it is a very rare occasion for a haredi Jew’s byline to grace any of the paper’s op-ed offerings.

A newspaper, to be sure, is entitled to an editorial stance. But a paper aiming to serve the entire Jewish community best fulfils its mission by offering a variety of perspectives. Even the New York Times sees fit to include politically conservative columnists on its op-ed page.

Gary might reply that, well, haredi papers don’t exactly include non-haredi, and certainly not non-Orthodox, points of view. That is true. But haredi papers are very open about their mandate, which is entirely limited to providing the haredi community with news it needs and haredi views of current events. They are not, for better or worse, intended as forums for the broader Jewish community, and make no such claim.

I don’t think the Jewish Week sees itself in similarly constricted terms, as a paper promoting only the views of one or two parts of the Jewish community. As a Jewish Federation-supported paper, it is expected to cover and present the views of the entire community. And haredim are part of it.

Gary admits that “stereotypes abound” on both sides of the demographic divide in Israel, and he is right. But, in my experience, despite strong haredi feelings about non-traditional theologies and practices, the sort of personal anger and even animosity that is regularly aimed at haredim (and duly reproduced by the Jewish Week and some others) is not commonly expressed by haredim toward other Jews. All it takes is a little websurfing among haredi and other Jewish sites and blogs (especially their “comments” sections) to see that what ill will there is among the various sectors of the Jewish people tends to flow largely in one direction.

Some of that animus, sadly, seems hard-wired into some hearts, a tragedy of our time. But I wonder if some of it might result from the dearth of haredi points of view in important media outlets like the Jewish Week. Gary writes that he hopes to lunch with Chaim at some point, and that he will do his “best to hear him.” What he may hear is the pain of a Jew whose community is not only regularly portrayed negatively in some Jewish media but denied an effective opportunity to defend its perspectives. Should that conversation lead to a decision by Jewish Week’s editor and board of directors to consider the inclusion of a haredi viewpoint, what a wonderful gift that would be to the Jewish world – all of it.

© 2008 AM ECHAD RESOURCES

[Rabbi Shafran is director of public affairs for Agudath Israel of America.]

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39 Responses

  1. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    In response to Ori’s comment #36, is the purpsoe of the Jewish Week to inform and provide a forum for high level presentation of various Jewish POV’s? Or is it merely to present that which some groups of Jews think they find interesting? Much as I disdain that “intermarried column” and much as I believe that the paper should bot run it, I cannot deny that I have been informed by it, and that it has presented issues to me from an angle I never considered. I’m certain that some heterodox readers of the Jewish Week would respond similarly to a regular column from a chareidi writer.

  2. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “It is not inconsistent for a group of Jews to want its fair and accurate share of attention in a general publication, while the group also wants to continue its own internal, more focused publications.”

    Bob,

    To make the case for consistency, I would also emphasize “fair and accurate” as a requirement for the “internal, more focused” publications. One can be internally focused, but still be fair in discussing opposition. Certainly, for example, to criticize a person or an institution, without allowing them to respond in the same pages(I’m not disagreeing that there is in such cases what to strongly critique) is not “fair”, according to accepted journalistic protocol.

    For the record, I think that the major American charedi publications make efforts to be fair, accurate, and not alienate other Jews, although one can take issue with how specific issues have been handled over the years.

  3. Bob Miller says:

    Every Jewish news publication has some basic purpose, which it ought to declare. Some are broad surveys of news and views, while others are specialized as to audience and content. If a publication claims to cover the range of newsworthy things Jews are doing and saying, its content should reflect that. It is not inconsistent for a group of Jews to want its fair and accurate share of attention in a general publication, while the group also wants to continue its own internal, more focused publications.

  4. Ori says:

    Daniel Schwartz: If the Jewish week gives spce on a regular basis to a representative of the intermarried segment of the community, ir does so because they are part of the Jewiish community, or should be integreated as such. Chareidim, who are part of the community deserve no less.

    Ori: Depends on how you define community. In practical terms, it depends on what Jewish activities you do.

    People going to the average Heterodox synagogue are a lot more likely to encounter intermarried Jews than they are to encounter Charedim. Not because we are more involved, but because we are involved where they are. At the basic everyday level (religious services and education), Orthodox Jews have to have separate institutions.

    This probably means that the average Jewish Week reader encounters intermarried Jews (the kind that wants to stay involved with the Jewish community, not the kind whose Judaism is a technicality) a lot more often than Charedim. Therefore, the concerns of intermarried Jews are more likely to interest such a reader than those of Charedim.

    BTW, why are people concerned about others respecting their decisions? All that we truly need is for others to respect the fact that they are our decisions to make. Modern Jewish communities aren’t Shtetls, where moving would be a major hassle. They’re voluntary associations. If the people of a certain community don’t like how I choose to live my life, I am free to leave and find (or found if there is none available) something else.

  5. Daniel Schwartz says:

    I was surprised and dismayed by the apparent lack of sensitivity toward intermarried couples displayed by Daniel B. Schwartz in his comment (#27). No doubt there are intermarried couples out there that read the comments on this site, and I am sure many of them find Mr. Schrawtz’s comment offensive. Hardly an example of “tolerance born of real respect”!

    Comment by Chaim Wolfson — August 7, 2008 @ 2:40 pm

    R E S P O N S E:

    I made two points in my post. First that as a far as the Jewish week is concerned, Chareidism should be treated the same as the intermarrieds. If the Jewish week gives spce on a regular basis to a representative of the intermarried segment of the community, ir does so because they are part of the Jewiish community, or should be integreated as such. Chareidim, who are part of the community deserve no less. My second point was a bit of editorialising on my part that intermarried people are not a positive force in the Jewish community. I suppose that could be considered disrespectful. But I’m not the Jewish Week.

  6. Daniel Schwartz says:

    Ori: Any sincerely held belief about what people should do implies a rejection of other points of view. I believe that slavery is wrong, therefore I have to believe that slave owners act immorally. I can have respect for individuals who owned slaves, such as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. I cannot have respect for Virginian society in the late 1700s.

    Daniel: That may very well be the reason for chareidi ambivalence or antipathy for heterodoxy. But the reason does not derogate from the phenomenon

  7. Chaim Wolfson says:

    I was surprised and dismayed by the apparent lack of sensitivity toward intermarried couples displayed by Daniel B. Schwartz in his comment (#27). No doubt there are intermarried couples out there that read the comments on this site, and I am sure many of them find Mr. Schrawtz’s comment offensive. Hardly an example of “tolerance born of real respect”!

  8. sima ir kodesh says:

    “Federation has been anti-Orthodox (with a few exceptions here and there) since its inception. It was created as an alternative Jewish identity, an alternative to Torah — call it “Philanthropism.” All of the Federation-sponsored papers I am familiar with are anti-Orthodox (not just anti-charedi)”.
    Toby, you sound very angry. My husband’s family lives in the Midwest and the Torah Day Schools in those cities receive a large grant annually from the Federations, this covers a huge amount of the budget.
    Love, hate, hate, love, between orthodox and non is alot more complicated than just how the media writes it up. On a personal basis, people who respect each other get along.

  9. Ori says:

    Daniel B. Schwartz: Principles like pluralism and tolerance for divergent points of view (and I don’t mean begrudging recognition of them, but rather tolerance born of real respect) have little if any place in the chareidi weltanschaung.

    Ori: Any sincerely held belief about what people should do implies a rejection of other points of view. I believe that slavery is wrong, therefore I have to believe that slave owners act immorally. I can have respect for individuals who owned slaves, such as George Washington or Thomas Jefferson. I cannot have respect for Virginian society in the late 1700s.

    Similarly, Charedim believe that it is morally wrong for a Jew to violate Halacha, for example by being intermarried (as I am). They can respect me individually, and as far as I can tell, I am respected here. They cannot respect the beliefs that led me to intermarry, or that allow me to stay with my wonderful wife without requiring her to convert according to Halacha.

    It would be unreasonable of me to expect anything beyond a begrudging recognition of my right to hold non-Halachic views.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    The Charedi world in NY have long been Federation benefiiciaries with respect to their schools, transportation issues and summer camps. Look at any dinner journal of any mosad for proof of this fact. In Baltimore, R H Neuberger ZTL was on the board of the Federation and accomplished a great deal for the entire Jewish community. I think that receipt of funds implies a responsibility to step up and ask why the JW’s coverage of your community is so negative. One can easily compare the JW with Charedi media inasmuch at the present only certain POVs are tolerated within each type of publication.

  11. Ori says:

    Would it be better if the newspaper were to be renamed “Heterodox Jewish Week” and make its biases clearer?

  12. YM says:

    I think this is very pertinent, as the issue of Sinas Chinam in on all of our minds. What is sinah that is chinam? In my view, it is any hatred that doesn’t help bring about Hashem’s will in the world.

    One way to look at the issue is that since, bdi’eved, anything that happens is ratzon Hashem, therefore any* hatred is chinam, or ‘senseless’. Just like anger, hatred is a manifestation of rebellion against Hashem, since we are rejecting Hashems hashgafa (pratis and klallis) for the world.

    On the other hand, I suppose that one can hate evil and doers of evil. Just because ratzon Hashem is done doesn’t mean the purpetrators aren’t culpable.

    Perhaps the standard should be effectiveness. When does our hatred cause any positive outcome or result? Somehow I don’t think our sages would say the ends justify the means.

    I am reading the new biography of Rav Shlomo Friefeld ztz’l, the Rosh Yeshiva of Shor Yoshuv. He was a beacon of love and was able to affect much positive change in individuals because of his love. Shouldn’t he be our role model?

    *virtually any

  13. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I think it’s fair to say that chareidi concern and involvement in the general Jewish community is limited to that which serves chareidi interests, be they financial or “social.” Principles like pluralism and tolerance for divergent points of view (and I don’t mean begrudging recognition of them, but rather tolerance born of real respect) have little if any place in the chareidi weltanschaung. At the same though, let’s remember that the Jewish Week runs a regular column by an intermarried Jewish woman, which addresses issues relelvant to intermarried Jews, in a clear attempt to make them part of the mainstream Jewish community. Is it that outrageous for them to run a regular column addressing chareidi issues? After all, when all is said and done, chareidim stay Jewish and contribute far more to Jewish life (both good and bad) than to intermarrieds.

  14. Yossi Gordon says:

    Look at this week’s news, as an example.

    If I talk about the drunk yeshiva boy stealing, driving, and crashing on Shabbos, and the British baal-tzedaka on cocaine, and or the several indicted talmidei chachomim with their Ponzi-schemes and mortgage fraud, I’m an anti-charedi, because I should have only written about the wonderful work of the bikur cholim.

    Wake up, fellow charedim! Despite the kol koreh of the gedolim, the greatest danger facing the Orthodox world is NOT cell phones with SMS, it’s the substituting of glatt, cholov Yisroel, and the like for the 10 commandments! Let’s return to good old-fashioned values, and stop the nonsense, like censorship of what we don’t want to hear.

  15. Naftali Zvi says:

    “YNET reports that Rabbi Yuval Sherlow(a RZ talmid chacham and rosh yeshiva) is not allowed to speak at a conference because of Chareidi opposition. I think this illustrates the problem quite well.”

    I checked the link to YNET and:

    It does not say that he was “not allowed to speak” but that his presentation was cancelled. Though it may be a logical assumption to equate “cancelled” with “not allowed” this assessment cannot be made until it is verified why it was cancelled. Thereupon all that YNET says is – “It became known to us that this was due to Chareidi pressure”. YNET offers no source for their assessment, nor do they quote any representative of the hospital, nor do they claim that they even attempted to contact any official of the conference for a statement or explanation.
    The only thing that looks clear to me is that no chareidi was allowed to contribute to YNET’s report.

    Yes, indeed, it does illustrate the problem quite well. It illustrates that people who consider themselves “openminded” get their input on Chareidi relations from the “reliable information” that comes from such bastions of objective reporting such as YNET and swallow it whole.

  16. AC says:

    While the official position of the haredi community (represented by Rabbi Shafran) may be one of respect and love for all Jews, one need only read the comments at places like theyeshivaworld.com to see how poorly this has trickled down to the individuals who identify with that community. I’ve seen everything but tolerance from many of the postings on that site – for unaffiliated, Reform, and Conservative Jews and, perhaps even more disturbing, even for Modern Orthodox ones.

    That said, I agree with Rabbi Shafran’s overall point that The Jewish Week is slanted to the left.

  17. Noam says:

    YNET reports that Rabbi Yuval Sherlow(a RZ talmid chacham and rosh yeshiva) is not allowed to speak at a conference because of Chareidi opposition. I think this illustrates the problem quite well.

    http://www.ynet.co.il/articles/0,7340,L-3577085,00.html

  18. Baruch Horowitz says:

    *Editor: Please publish this final, revised, comment, and delete the previous two.

    “Some of that animus, sadly, seems hard-wired into some hearts, a tragedy of our time.”

    If one digs deeper, animus towards charedi policies may come because of other reasons, such as fear. There may be no complete solution to the underlying issues, but it would be best for someone who sees something negative in any charedi policy to turn inward, contemplating why the specific issue personally affects him(and if so, dealing with it), rather than turning outward and projecting animus or engaging in mockery.

  19. Abe says:

    It is only 3 weeks ago that the Daf Yomi finished Sotah. The Gemarah discussed those who did not go out to war and I don’t seem to recall those that were in the Bais Hamedrash.

    Eretz Yisroel is in a constant state of war, which requires the people to be ever viligant.

    The Gemarah states that those who were not going to the battle field were required to maintain the roads and provide the food for the army. Today’s army also requires vehicles, planes, electronic instruments and the like.

    I do not undersrand, al pi halacha, those learning should not be required to assist iin the time of war. Since it cannot be done without have appropriate skills, should we not be training our Bochurim and Avreichim with these skills?

  20. YM says:

    Well done, Rabbi Shafran. I hope they follow up on your suggestion.

  21. zadok says:

    One who thinks outside the Charedi box could point out the reason that the Charedim are so hated may be due to their “attrocious” behavior and the reason this hatred is not rerurned is because the non-Charedim sct decently.

    Years ago I would of been inclined to believe that.But after years of seeing the bottomless (unreturned)hatred of chareidim on the blogworld, I no longer do.And there is just a limit as to how many social problems can be blamed exlusuvly on Kollel/insularity.

    Uncomfortable as it to say, it seems like a lot of Charedei hatred is just stemming from an inferiorty complex, and in some cases classic ‘Sinas Am Ha’aratzim L’Talmidey Chachomom’.

  22. HESHY BULMAN says:

    How tempting to think that if Chareidim were only to be given the opportunity to put forth a Torah viewpoint in a Conservative/Reform or Secular Jewish forum that we would all be better understood. How simply to be demonstrated as well,it would seem, that rather than view our non-Orthodox brethren with contempt and derision, we look upon them with sympathy and compassion. Ah, but there’s the rub! The non-Orthodox layman, having been misled into believing that “Rabbinic Judaism” from ancient times has been all political, cannot possibly be convinced by even the most eloquent and well-reasoned article of anything more than that a particular Chareidi writer is perhaps less fanatical and obtuse than all the others. The Chareidi world as a whole cannot possibly be better understood until such time as the false notions concerning “Torah SheB’al Peh” have been eradicated. As to the non-Orthodox leadership, the very sympathy and compassion espoused in Chareidi journals for our “misguided brethren” is far more damaging to their self esteem than any vitriol that they may direct towards Chareidim. In fact, they seem to make no distinction between, say, the de-legitimatization of Conservative conversions and the outright declaration that they will all go to Hell or that their children are all Mamzeirim. So, tempting as it is to try to have our say in general Jewish journals, I fear that this can only be counter-productive. Our points will not be made, our Ahavas Yisroel will not be perceived, and we will have, ipso facto, granted a certain legitimacy to invalid streams of Judaism.

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    *Editor: Please publish this second, revised, comment where I included a parenthetical statement about the limitations of free speech*

    “Some of that animus, sadly, seems hard-wired into some hearts, a tragedy of our time.”

    If one digs deeper, animus towards charedi policies may come from fear(eg, any move away from personal autonomy may have a ripple effect), or from a perception of being illegitimatized. There may be no complete solution to the underlying issues, but it would be best for someone who sees something negative in any charedi policy to turn inward, contemplating why the specific issue personally affects him, rather than turning outward and projecting animus or engaging in mockery.

    “A newspaper, to be sure, is entitled to an editorial stance. But a paper aiming to serve the entire Jewish community best fulfils its mission by offering a variety of perspectives”

    It would be to the benefit of the Jewish Week and its readership to include the most traditional Jewish viewpoint in its paper. From a journalistic standpoint, the Jewish Week editorial policy should certainly include the charedi viewpoint in the spirit of the “power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market”, and “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death for your right to say it”(what the Jewish perspective on the limitations of free speech is a separate issue, not applicable here). Also, it might find that the letters to the editor section and other columns will become more interesting as a result of the additional thought stimulated by inclusion of the charedi perspective.

  24. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Some of that animus, sadly, seems hard-wired into some hearts, a tragedy of our time.”

    If one digs deeper, animus towards charedi policies may come from fear(eg, any move away from personal autonomy may have a ripple effect), or from a perception of being illegitimatized. There may be no complete solution to the underlying issues, but it would be best for someone who sees something negative in any charedi policy to turn inward, contemplating why the specific issue personally affects him, rather than turning outward and projecting animus or engaging in mockery.

    “A newspaper, to be sure, is entitled to an editorial stance. But a paper aiming to serve the entire Jewish community best fulfils its mission by offering a variety of perspectives”

    It would be to the benefit of the Jewish Week and its readership to include the most traditional Jewish viewpoint in its paper. From a journalistic standpoint, the editorial policy should embrace the “power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market”, and “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death for your right to say it”. Also, it might find that the letters to the editor section and other columns becoming more interesting as a result of the additional thought stimulated by inclusion of the charedi perspective.

  25. ClooJew says:

    I believe if presented with the right (Right?) columnist, Mr. Rosenblatt would agree to publish.

    However, such a journalist would, lulei demistafina, need to position himself (or herself) as a thoughtful instructor of Torah principles, and not a knee-jerk defender of Chareidi misbehavior (even, perhaps, when a defense is warranted).

    So while this columnist could, for example, explain the ger revocation controversy, he would probably be wise to step away from the Postville controversy.

  26. Dr. E says:

    Although Rabbi Shafran writes a reasonable article with some good points, I do quibble with his statement:

    “But haredi papers are very open about their mandate, which is entirely limited to providing the haredi community with news it needs and haredi views of current events. They are not, for better or worse, intended as forums for the broader Jewish community, and make no such claim.”

    For the most part, Chareidi papers rarely use that label to identify or define themselves as such. Implicitly and explicitly, they claim to speak for “Torah Jewry” and not a Chareidi subset. So, while they may not claim to speak on behalf of the broader Jewish community, there is the implication that they have the monopoly on Torah Judaism and can therefore make exclusivist claims and Takanos. The very term “Daas Torah” is a manifestation of this and de facto anyone who does not subscribe to Daas Torah is a subpar Torah Jew in its opinion columns and what gets covered in the publication. Given the fact that to become and remain a member of the Daas Torah club requires meeting certain criteria which are confounded with politics that are not openly discussed, it seems that their mandate blurs lines that Rabbi Shafran would like to portray as clear.

  27. Ben-David says:

    How about if the Haredim set an example for their backsliding brethren – by letting a religious Zionist Rabbi write a column for Yated Ne’eman?

    Not only are non-haredi voices not published in haredi papers, but the haredi press regularly strips the Rabbinical titles of non-haredi Orthodox Rabbis – to the point of calling well-known sages by their last names.

    Respect cuts both ways.

  28. Toby Katz says:

    “As a Jewish Federation-supported paper, it is expected to cover and present the views of the entire community. And haredim are part of it.”

    “If Hareidim supported the Federations financially, participated in their public works, and affiliated with them socially, perhaps they could lay claim to being part of the Federation community here in the US.”

    Comment by rejewvenator — August 1, 2008 @ 10:30 am

    —–
    Charedim in America do all of those things — certainly where I live (in Florida) they do. They give money to Federation, participate in their programs, affiliate with them socially. They do the same in Chicago and LA and in many other cities, too.

    A fat lot of good it does. They are hated and excoriated no matter what they do.

    As for the portrayal of Israeli charedim in the media — well, naturally people living in Jerusalem and Bnai Brak (charedi and non-charedi) don’t give financial support to Federation. Who would expect them to? So are the principles of fairness and objective reporting to be discarded because people living in Israel don’t give money to an American institution?

    For my own part, as a Hirschian and a believer in Torah Im Derech Eretz, I would far rather see the Orthodox community NOT have anything to do with Federation. Yet I know that my opinion is very much a minority opinion even among charedim — most of whom do try to cooperate with and get along with Federation.

    Federation has been anti-Orthodox (with a few exceptions here and there) since its inception. It was created as an alternative Jewish identity, an alternative to Torah — call it “Philanthropism.” All of the Federation-sponsored papers I am familiar with are anti-Orthodox (not just anti-charedi).

    Orthodox Jews are always so relieved and so happy when they throw us a bone and say something nice about us in a Federation paper. We are always trying to be nice and trying to be loved, but people whose very self-identity is “NOT Orthodox” are not going to love us, face it! This unrequited love that so many Orthodox Jews have for Federation and the media is so, so sad and poignant….

  29. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that the Jewish Week should do something about its coverage about all sectors of Torah Judaism that the present editor finds nothing favorable to mention either in his editorials, news and the op ed pieces. One can read the JW for weeks on end and see nothing about how Jewish continuity is lived, namely in the sectors that the editor disdains printing anything favorable about, as opposed to those sectors that are prominently and favorably featured.

  30. cvmay says:

    I think the real “haredi problem” at the Jewish Week is the dearth of haredi voices in its pages. Because issues like those Gary raises (like most issues) do have two sides.***********************
    There are an abundant of Jewish media to partake of whether online, in print or via radio waves. The majority of Jewish newspapers have a particular POINT OF VIEW (or hashgafa)dictated by a Rabbinic board or Founding Committee and directed by the Editor and hired writers. Why should the Jewish Week/Gary Rosenblatt be the exception to the rule?
    I have encountered incidences when writing ‘Letters to Editor’ to Torah(?)newspapers, receiving a “no go” due to my POV that is different than the one expounded by the editor and board.

  31. Yossi Gordon says:

    Can I point out the obvious catch-22 in requesting any frum person to be a newspaper correspondent?

    By definition, a newspaper article writer must submit his writing in a timely fashion. Yet, if a frum person slips by even a single word, he’ll risk being vilified a la Rabbis Slifkin & Kaminetzky.

    Put the two together, and you have the case: Unless you are a full-time paid employee with a lot of time and immediate access to Rabbonim, you daren’t risk writing for the frum community. Hence the entire representation of the Orthodox world is left to the few people like Shafran, Rosenbloom, et al who are financed by organizations to do that.

    Until the Orthodox community learns to stop eating it’s own for minuscule slips, you have to be beyond caring to take the risk of writing even innocuous articles.

  32. Ron Coleman says:

    The problem, rejewnenator, is that while the Jewish Week may be supported by the Federations, it hardly purports only to represent the Federations’ views. It’s called the “Jewish Week,” not the “Federation Week.” The editorial stance, as Rabbi Shafran says, purports to be objective and broad-based. If Gary Rosenblatt sees it your way, however — that the Jewish Week does not even pretend objectivity unless it gets paid off by the subjects of its reporting — I would love to read him say it. As of right now, though, it says this:

    The Jewish Week, an independent community newspaper, is recognized widely as the largest and most respected Jewish newspaper in America. . . . In seeking to build and strengthen Jewish community while championing an aggressive and independent press, we are supportive of, but not beholden to, the organized Jewish community. Our first loyalty is to the truth.

  33. Baruch Pelta says:

    “attrocious” behavior
    i.e. the famous Jewish Observer “obituary” for the Rav.

  34. L Oberstein says:

    I know Gary Rosenblatt from the years he was the editor of the Baltimore Jewish Times. He is one of the best Jewish journalists around. Both in Baltimore and now in New York, he makes the paper worth reading, not boring, like so much else out there. He definately has a bias for Avi Weiss and Very Modern Orthodoxy and it is clear as can be. He has issues with those to the right of him and he makes no effort to hide it. This affects how he portrays issues and which he chooses to portray. That being said, he does a good job by the standards of his profession and there aren’t many like him.
    This in no way says that I agree with him, just that I like to read it.

  35. Noam says:

    Rabbi Shafran is right that the issues have two sides. Unfortunately, he does not accurately identify the crucial issues. He writes

    “Those who choose to hew to a more traditional Jewish path are commonly portrayed as obstacles to be overcome.”

    However, this claim to the traditional path needs to be examined much more carefully. Is the traditional path really a rejection of Zionism? Do the Torah, Tanach, and talmud reject Zionism? Or, is this just a reflection of the last few hundred years of history, and the true Jewish traditionalists are those who are in favor of Jewish sovreignty in the land of Israel?

    Does our Tradition mandate a total abandonment of jobs and security in favor of full time learning? The talmud and poskim hold a different view.

    Are the criteria for conversion those that are stated in the Gemara in yevamot(47a-b) and the Rambam, or the much more strict(and new) criteria that have been put forth in the last 150 years?

    Does the Torah demand that we strengthen our enemies or starve in order to observe shmitta, or does it allow legal ways to observe shmitta but still not starve?

    The bottom line is that while the Chareidim may claim that they are “traditional”, a very cogent arguement can and should be made that they are not the sole heirs of our long Halachic tradtion, that modern orthodoxy/religious zionism have just as strong if not a stronger link to our mesora.

    The unhappiness with Chareidim occurs when they insist that the MO/RZ view has no validity(as in forcing their view of shmitta, invalidating conversions, proclaiming as heresy any view that the world is more than 6000 years old, making women sit in the back of the bus, etc.) It happens when they use their influence and power to deny other orthodox Jews the right to follow Halacha, just because it doesn’t have the Chareidi stamp of approval.

    Rabbi Shafran also mentions hate. I will have to search the newspapers, but I dont recall seeing any MO/RZ Jews beating up Chareidim, throwing bleach on them, tossing rocks, or otherwise assaulting them because they don’t abide by MO/RZ views of halacha.

    What is needed is not a chareidi voice on the Jewish Week. What is needed is a bit of Chareidi introspection on what is valid halacha and what is not. On what is Ahavat Yisrael, and what is sinat Yisrael. And finally, what is needed is a realization on the part of the Chareidim that Modern Orthodoxy/Religious Zionism is not, as one Chareidi Rosh Yeshiva once put it, ‘the new Reform.’ That just because we disagree on Halacha does not mean that we are heretics, and that the MO/RZ view has halachic validity.

  36. The Contarian says:

    Rabbi Shafran defends the Charedim in Israel by pointing out that they bear less animosity toward their opponents than vice versa.

    Unfortunately, Rabbi Shafran does not have a non-Charedi chavrusa t0 bounce his arguments off.

    One who thinks outside the Charedi box could point out the reason that the Charedim are so hated may be due to their “attrocious” behavior and the reason this hatred is not rerurned is because the non-Charedim sct decently.

  37. G says:

    it is expected to cover and present the views of the entire community. And haredim are part of it.

    That is the $64,000 question. Are they indeed part of the greater community? Both from the persepctive of those not in that camp and, perhaps more importantly, from those who are in that camp.

  38. rejewvenator says:

    “As a Jewish Federation-supported paper, it is expected to cover and present the views of the entire community. And haredim are part of it.”

    If Hareidim supported the Federations financially, participated in their public works, and affiliated with them socially, perhaps they could lay claim to being part of the Federation community here in the US. If you want to be an isolationist community, it is a bit presumptuous to insist on inclusion from others.