Here is the link to Wendy Shalit’s insightful essay in the New York Times Book Review about the depiction of charedim in contemporary fiction.
I had posted it here, but concerns have been expressed by loyal readers that the Times, having tolerated this dissenting pro-charedi voice, might just be grumpy enough to complain about the piece being posted on C-C.
Wendy reveals the faux-insider phenomenon that animates much of recent mass-market fiction set in charedi society and why it seems so often hostile. Wendy talks about insiders, outsiders and outsiders who pretend to be insiders. While she mentions some notable exceptions to the witheringly hostile treatment of charedim in fiction (these exceptions being primarily the work of recent baalei tshuva), it points I think to another inside/outside phenomenon – FFBs (or, at least CFBs) are far less likely to write popular fiction. Is it narrowness? guardedness? tznius?
In any case, Wendy’s is a perspective well worth reading.
January 30, 2005
The Observant Reader
By WENDY SHALIT
JB: Daniel Pipes ventures into unknown terrain in today’s New York Sun. Gets most of it right, some of it wrong – but generally is correct that the Jewish political demographic is changing rapidly.
The Future of Judaism
BY DANIEL PIPES
January 25, 2005
Until the 18th century, there was basically only one kind of Judaism, that which is now called Orthodox. It meant living by the religion’s 613 laws, and doing so suffused Jews’ lives with their faith. Then, starting with the thinker Baruch Spinoza (1632-77) and moving briskly during the Haskala, or enlightenment, from the late 18th century, Jews developed a wide variety of alternate interpretations of their religion, most of which diminished the role of faith in their lives and led to a concomitant reduction in Jewish affiliation.
These alternatives and other developments, in particular the Holocaust, caused the ranks of the Orthodox to be reduced to a small minority. Their percentage of the total world Jewish population reached a nadir in the post-World War II era, when it declined to about 5%.
The subsequent 60 years, however, witnessed a resurgence of the Orthodox element. Continue reading → The Road Ahead
Although I am neither a lawyer nor a journalist, I’ve worked pretty extensively in and around the worlds of lawyering and journalism. A common element to both fields is the existence of specialized rules meant to facilitate each profession. These rules are known respectively as legal ethics and journalistic ethics. In my mind, however, I’ve come to think of them not as ethics all, but as hyphen-ethics or, simply -ethics. Yes, I know there aren’t hyphens in either; that’s just the way I think of them. Continue reading → On Ethics and Blogging
THE DISPUTATION: Abdicating Our Priestly Duties
By David Klinghoffer
January 21, 2005
It’s tempting to let last week’s Prince Harry Nazi-uniform episode pass from memory as a moment of meaningless comedy. Tempting but wrong, and not for the reason you may think. Continue reading → With the Author’s Permission:
Shawn Landres wrote in to criticize the piece about media silence in the face of certain Muslim countries’ rejection of Jewish/Israeli aid for tsunami victims. I thought he missed the point, so didn’t post it – but as he seems pretty agitated and commented a second time, I thought I’d throw it up here together with my reaction to see whether people think the truth lies with him, with me, with neither.
Mr. Landres writes:
Apparently I need to repeat myself. It’s not always about the Jews. It’s not always about Israel. Give me a break. This catastrophe was not about the Jews!!! It’s about the 150,000+ victims and countless survivors who are suffering unbelievably.
Why do you need to repeat yourself? You made your point, but it was beside the point of the piece – which, imho, you completely missed.
The world is interconnected – of course the tsunami is the catastrophe, but the point this guy raises in his piece is not about the tsunami. He’s talking about something else. He’s talking about Continue reading → Getting it Straight
PLEASE DAVEN FOR ESTHER MALKA BAS SARAH
I’m at the Emergency Room. I look around. Everyone should come here, I think, to remember how insignificant the imperatives of life can become in the blink of an eye. In that respect, it’s always a tsunami here.
But, incongruously, with the consciousness of vulnerability comes a vague and undeniable sense of well-being. Relative to the patients here, I feel, thank G-d, healthy and strong and young. It’s not just well-being, I’m feeling, I realize – it’s a somehat perverse feeling of superiority. I’m upright – I feel tall – and I’m dressed well, and they are in various stages of undignified undress, flimsy hospital gowns riding up to expose unhealthy, slack, bruised, ancient flesh, splayed out on gurneys, lining the halls because the rooms are full. I try to avert my eyes and discipline my thoughts.
I am here because my grandmother, Esther Malka bas Sarah, is here. Continue reading → Today, A Random Act of Kindness
A reader writes:
I always find it somewhat hypocritical when Chareidi apologists’talk critically about the “nanny state” when so much Cholov Yisroel milk is paid for with WIC…
Silly ad hominem swipe. When and how did I become a “Chareidi apologist”? I guess I’m honored on the one hand – since one man’s apologist is another’s philosopher, thinker, spokesman, representative, whatever – but flummoxed on the other, because I don’t represent anyone’s POV but my own.
Anyway, my thoughts on the subject are that there is way too much reliance on government dollars in some Charedi communities. I also think that the gov’t should stop treating our kids’ education as less valuable than anyone else’s and that parents should have complete and unfettered school choice and tuition tax credits.
This is an argument based on principles and I haven’t done the math, but I think we’d come out pretty well.
Lost in the flare-up over precisely what the Catholic paper wrote or meant to write, is the deafening silence everywhere else:
J’ACCUSE..! Isralert.com source: subscriber/commentator Mike Levine ===============================================================
I, Mike Levine, citizen of Israel and the United States, accuse you, NY Times, LA Times, Boston Globe, Denver Post, Atlanta Constitution, CNN, Times of London, and thousands of other newspapers and TV networks worldwide.
I accuse you of gross bias against, and naked hatred towards the Jewish state of Israel.
For years most of you have shown a clear bias in favor of the Arab Muslims and Palestinians, taking every opportunity to demonize Israel, the only Democracy in the Middle East, and the only Jewish state in the world.
But in the past two weeks you have raised your hatred to a new high, while your journalistic standards have fallen to new lows. While coverage of the earthquake and tsunami in Asia has been extensive, and your reporting of international fund raising and rescue efforts has been massive, you wrote hardly a word about the fact that Israel was one of the very first to offer substantial aid and send medical rescue missions to the stricken areas!
Within … Read More >>
A couple of us mixed it up a while back on the issue of intrusive government. The following is a link to a clever illustration of the confluence of commercial database and information mining and a nanny state. Of course, the organization who created it is, imho, much more of the problem than the solution – but, with that caveat, enjoy:
R. Yaakov, I’m not sure we disagreed. Of course Israel will be demonized – the point is that Israel is demonized regardless of what it does – short of overtly suicidal acts – but that such hostility has no teeth. My other point was that I thought R. Reinman’s description was in itself objectionable.
Drive them all out in a campaign of ethnic cleansing as in Kosovo? I do not see Jewish soldiers dragging Arab mothers from their homes and throwing them into trucks. And besides, NATO would probably bomb us.
R. Reinman – I take serious exception to your definitions and your conclusions regarding the situation in E”Y.
I am not advocating anything, but for purposes of analysis and discussion, let’s get some clarity –
1. There is a stark difference between “ethnic cleansing” as practiced in Kosovo – which was a campaign to kill the ethnic minority – and a campaign to transfer and separate populations – which is done commonly and quite successfully to resolve tensions between groups occupying the same space. The use of the phrase in this context is offensive, like the use of “massacre” in Jenin. Population separation and transfer was done with many many millions during the 20th Century with great success and acceptance internationally.
2. Ironic, isn’t it, that we see Jewish soldiers prepared to drag Jewish mothers out of their homes and throw them into trucks? Why don’t you object to that?
3. NATO would bomb Israel? Laughable. The US wouldn’t countenance it. … Read More >>
I couldn’t find this yet on the Internet, but I was chatting this morning with a friend in Israel and it sounded like he did a spit-take looking at the Jerusalem Post. Apparently, today’s JPost has a pic of Jimmy Carter and (former NJ gov and EPA Administrator) Christine Todd Whitman – in the area to monitor the Palestinian elections – paying their respects at Arafat’s gravesite.
I’d expect nothing
less more of Carter, but am dismayed by CTW. Not that she’d ever impressed me, but there is something fundamental that you’d expect politicians from the Northeast to get about who Arafat really was. Paying homage at his gravesite is rubbing salt in the wounds of the bereaved – including, without mentioning names, Jews from New Jersey, who’ve suffered personally and whose situation is without a doubt known to her – and lionizing a murderer of Jews.
I find this not really shocking, just sickening. Whitman’s recent knife-in-the-back book “It’s My Party,” lambastes the Bush administration that made her a Cabinet-level official and laments the dominance of conservatives in the Republican party. Continue reading → …And I’ll Cry if I Want To
R. Yitzchok’s post, specifically his recounting of Rav Avigdor Miller’s story, led me to consider once again something that I’ve pondered over the years. In my experience, people constantly and unsuccessfully use physical evidence and events to argue for or against the Divine. Post-Enlightenment, certainly, there has been a stridency about the need for external tangible evidence, but it is clear that the roots of this go far deeper – by way of illustration, tales of Avraham Avinu’s own recognition of G-d relate entirely to his deductive reasoning from observations about the working of the physical world.
And, as a corollary to this, it generally seems that moments of contemplation are triggered by physical events which illustrate the immediacy and absolute nature of the reality that we are not in control of our own existence. But those moments of clarity also are moments of confusion, because they tend to elicit emotional responses akin to panic and a desire for pattern, security, reassurance.
I think that all this says much about psychology and the need to provide explanations, but little about belief qua belief; neither its nature nor its validity. Continue reading → A Sigh of Belief
The Corner’s John Derbyshire highlights the ominous in this lighthearted feature about popular kids’ names in England…
I know, I know – C-C’s probably not the right blog for this, but it’s where I’m spending my time.
__________________________ *United Kingdom. Get used to it.
I’m not sure what the expectations for this blog are among its participants or its readers, but I think that one of the reasons I was invited might be my political involvement. There’s an issue of great political significance brewing for some time now which I’m contemplating bringing to this blog. Although the issue – the bitter partisan battles over judicial nominations – appears to me to be off the radar screen of many in the Jewish community at the grassroots level, it is very front-and-center for the groups in Washington which claim to represent us.
Some quick background:
In the last go-around, during the battle, several prominent Jewish groups under political pressure broke with their previous policies and took positions supporting or opposing (actually, it may be that the only ones who broke with their traditions actually were in opposition – we can clarify later) nominees. This time, those same groups are not waiting. They are preparing for battle, have declared that they will engage again, and the tension is almost palpable.
I view this as an issue of great significance. It is one of the central debates in Washington and touches on the role played by Jewish … Read More >>
R. Noach Weinberg famously says “Clarity or Death”…Over the years, I’ve come to see this not as a quip, not as hyperbole, but as true wisdom – an extremely precise statement of the way the world works. First I saw it in the context of Jews in Israel; then I saw it as it relates to all of Western Civilization.
I bring it up now to introduce this important piece…
In reading the last post as well as one of the comments, I guess I should clarify –
I am not interested in interfaith dialogue as an institutional concept and I don’t believe the Orthodox infrastructure or the Reform infrastructure really are either, except as posturing.
I personally am interested in learning about other faiths and their ideas and have spent lots of time doing that in various ways and with various people and think many other people are interested in doing that – it is not a function of sectarianism as much as personality and inquisitiveness and areas of interest. I like to think I’m not particularly close minded, but as one commenter suggested – I am utterly subjective in my approach to it and constantly measuring what I hear against what I believe – I’m not some objective blank canvas. To me, open-mindedness in any human being is understanding that and not conflating “belief” with “knowledge.”
I reject the idea of interfaith dialogue because I presume true dialogue in such matters implies an active interest in being changed in some way by what the “other” intends to communicate. Otherwise you are talking to hear yourself, … Read More >>
Yaakov M responds to a (Reform) reader:
Oh, and as for your statement: “Sometimes I think we really should engage in dialogue with the OU or whatever” – hear hear! You’re not the first to notice that Reform Temples are faster to dialogue with liberal Christians than with Orthodox Jews. Can you make that happen?
Seriously, now, Yaakov. I think you’re responding to a post from a reader who has many unfortunate misconceptions about “Orthodox” Jews – including the idea that we somehow believe him to be different from us in some matter relating to Jewish status.
Fine, let’s try to clear up those misconceptions.
But, are you actually contending that the “Orthodox” are breathlessly waiting for “dialogue” with Reform institutions? Not in my experience. We aren’t; nor should we be.
The differences between the faiths we embrace are enormous and real – and, ultimately, we aren’t really interested in dialogue (c’mon – not me, not you, not us – I can’t speak for them). We are persuaded that we are correct and are interested in sharing what we have with our brothers and sisters because we feel a powerful bond and affinity (yes – regardless of … Read More >>
From The Corner, earlier today…
THE FENCE [Cliff May] The new fences will be chain-link and six feet tall, topped with small spikes to “deter” those who might consider scaling them. Well, we’ll see what the International Court of Justice in The Hague has to say about this!
Oh, wait a minute, sorry. These fences are not being erected along the West Bank to protect Israeli communities from Hamas terrorists, these fences are being erected between the District of Columbia and Prince Georges County in Maryland, and they are meant to stop “criminals” from crossing from the city into the suburbs. The route the fences will block has been used as a “corridor for drug dealing.”
And, off course, drug dealers are committing crimes. Whereas suicide bombers are …how shall I put this …expressing their anger and outrage over grievances? The front page Washington Post story is here.
Yaakov – you can disagree with my calling Barry “Reform,” but I did so in deference to his preference.
Personally, I do not like the label Orthodox; I do not call myself Orthodox unless pressed to pick a label from the usual choices.
Pre-denominational Judaism…only way to go.
The same Reform reader says:
What I suspect are your beliefs aren’t “normative” in the United States nor in Israel. I won’t hold your non-normastive approach to affirming your Judaism against you. Particularly if you, although thinking that I am wrong, don’t hold my (closer to normative) approach against me.
I tried to figure out what he’s saying and I can only imagine that he thinks “normative” is a function of popularity. That idea is one I’ve seen Reform leaders articulate in various ways – “What does Judaism have to say about abortion?” “Well, 95% of mainstream Jews believe in a woman’s unconditional right to choose.” To me, that answer sounds wholly unresponsive to the question. I suppose, however, if you just believe people made the thing up from whole cloth and continue to make it up as they go along, there is some kind of argument to be made there – but then how is it a faith at all?
Judaism is Judaism. And Judaism, which has had a definition for lo these many centuries, allows for lots of diversity within clearly defined parameters. If you have the need to add a prefix to Judaism, it … Read More >>
One fairly irate reader writes (excerpt):
As a Jew affiliated with the Reform movement — I won’t pretend to speak for others — I can only say that ir you denigrate my religious practices and call them “not Jewish” then you denigrate me, also. And the basic premise of what you claim from the Reform Movement comments is true.
I first experienced this nonsense in the late 50s, coming into a second hour Hebrew High School class, together with Reform and Conservative colleagues, eating an ice cream bar picked up, on break, from the local grocery store. The teacher, an Orthodox Jew and obviously more than a little hungry, went ballistic when she saw us eating on Tannis Esther, launching a five minute tirade culminating in “You Reform Jews are Goyim!” (The injustice: of the 9 of us walking into the class eating, only two were Reform. The others were there mostly because they wanted to go to Camp Ramah that summer.)
Obviously, I wasn’t there, but somehow I doubt she actually used the word “Reform” in her summation – I suspect she called the kids “goyim” the same way our rabbeim called me and my friends “goyim” or … Read More >>
Beautiful post: identity, equality, sameness, femininity, tznius, materialism, peer-pressure, etc. All a web of intertwined issues which are involved in so many day-to-day decisions we make as individuals, but really threaten to overwhelm sensitive people when they come in the form of parenting questions. You’ve managed to impart in one post a microcosm of the almost irresistable siren song of the golden golus.
Perhaps your concern about blogging should instead give the men among us pause – maybe it is altogether better suited to femininity – in my experience, girls and women are more likely to keep journals than boys and men.
As for tznius, perhaps anonymity would have put that concern to rest (too late), but I urge you to continue – the feminine voice is so overwhelmed in society by the masculine and feminist voices that we all need it; and deep down, I think we all long for it.