You may remember that in February, I communicated with you about a particular post to the Sisterhood blog that I found inaccurate and unfair. Please be aware that I did not hear back from Ms. Birkner, but in any case, I think that there is a more endemic problem.
According to Ami Magazine, you claimed on behalf of the Forward that “we are not hostile. We are fair in our reporting and appropriately critical in our editorials.” You further claim in this week’s Podcast that your editorial about the Chassidic poor that you attempted to be “compassionate.” [My bad editing; obviously the intent was “regarding your editorial…” –YM]
You apparently did not discuss the issue with any of the many community representatives or assistance organizations, merely racking up Chassidic poverty to a lack of secular education and devotion to Torah and Talmud. In so doing, you omitted a simple analysis of the income necessary to support a large family, and how that compares to what a typical wage-earner brings home. Whereas the US median salary may be adequate for a family with 1.2 children (and a pet or two), a family of 5.8 children finds itself below the poverty line at the same income level. And with that many children, it is unrealistic to expect both parents to work full-time.
Why should those children be considered “undeserving” by any standard? And that is before considering the cost of a Jewish education, which is mandatory for any family that values Jewish continuity (and does not wallow in self-delusion about the mechanisms of same).
Your editorial was only one of four articles discussing the Orthodox which I found in a single three-day period, and all of them appeared, at least to me, to be biased against our community — and in at least two instances distorted the truth. I posted the following on Thursday: http://www.cross-currents.com/archives/2012/06/21/even-for-the-forward/.
Since then, the Forward has sent me:
- An article about Lipa’s bizarre video. Indeed, it is bizarre; no argument there. [Actually, there was a second article, too. –YM]
- The second article in two weeks about the same organization for ex-Charedim, this one depicting a soccer game as fulfilling a dream for those leaving the “ultra-Orthodox” community. [I recall the dean of a yeshiva, from an outstanding Chassidic line, dropping in a layup. It wasn’t hard for him, as he’s quite tall.]
- The claim that Yossi Gestetner’s resignation as NYGOP’s outreach liason to the Orthodox community indicates a “rocky start” to the entirety of GOP Orthodox Outreach — when the appointment itself wasn’t apparently even worthy of mention.
- Another Sisterhood blog entry, this one about how halacha requires unusual practices in the bedroom to help with fertility issues. The fact that the Sisterhood chose to dwell on such an obscure topic might be perplexing, but the previous five Sisterhood posts tagged “Orthodox” concerned sex, (homo)sex(uality), gitten/Jewish divorce, sex, and, uh, sex. They do seem a wee bit preoccupied, don’t you think?
The Orthodox (and traditional Judaism itself) are depicted as both odd and antiquated, with the most positive coverage given to those who have left the community and organizations which have parted company with Orthodox spokespersons. It seems difficult to imagine the reader of all of these articles concurring with your description of the reporting as “fair,” or even saying that it lacks hostility to our community. Indeed, in yet another article, your veteran columnist JJ Goldberg characterized the projected scenario in which NY Jewry becomes predominantly Orthodox/Chassidic as, in effect, “apocalyptic.”