Sometimes I get like Don Quixote; I just have to battle those windmills. I can’t help myself bullies get me so angry. That’s why I went off on the Five Towns Vaad or the Laurie Richter’s Co-op, and even Pam Greenbaum’s lawsuit against Orthomom. Please allow me to re-present one more. Two weeks ago I published a piece from my friend Professor Asher J. Matathias. Asher was upset that the Jewish Star a local paper in his area decided that they would cover only the Orthodox community in their area. Other Jews would be ignored. They say its a financial decision but I am at a loss to understand why an Orthodox butcher for example, would not buy an ad in a paper that covered other denominations also. Especially since this is one of the few papers that is already considered by the Orthodox community as one of theirs.
Like Asher, I feel that there is too much fighting amongst the flavors of Judaism. Our leaders and our press should work on building bridges instead of burning them. The Star story was also covered in the Jewish Week and Asher was one of many people who were interviewed as part of the coverage.
Since then Asher got a call from a Star “reporter” who misrepresented the nature of their conversation and he ended up getting royally blasted in the next issue, Mostly for going outside the “community”
I invite the Star (and any of you who missed it) to read an old post of mine on the subject of Jewish Unity American Jews: Can’t We all Just Get Along?
And I invite the rest of you to read Asher’s account (below) of what’s been going on since the Jewish Week Published his opinion. Its just another reason to suspect the quality of journalism coming out of the Jewish Star.
A Star That Shines For Some Shines For None
Arriving for Minha and Arvit worship services at Young Israel of Woodmere, I was thrust the just-published issue of The Jewish Star, and to my astonishment discovered that my e-mail reporting on the non-productive conversation with its owner — on how the weekly became an organ for the exclusive dissemination of news of the Orthodox communities of the South Shore — was transformed to “fabrication.” (The full article may be accessed in the following link, or by contacting me:
Perhaps, it was naive of me, but I took reporter Paul Shapiro’s call to me for on the record comment to be a gesture towards reconciliation, even an offer to write for the newspaper — an overdue attempt to reach out and give a neglected segment a forum, an opportunity to broaden the narrow, myopic, coverage of the Richner publications. Instead, there is a front-page hatchet job authored as a “staff report.”
For years, I have labored with others in the vineyards to forge understanding, cooperation, even a modicum of affection among the branches of Judaism, serving the umbrella organizations that is welcoming to all Jews: the Five Towns Jewish Council, and for decades, president of this area’s Lodge of B’nai B’rith. (The latter organization’s Bulletin is a most sought-after read for the catholic approach of Jewish news.) More, rabbis of every stripe have been generous in commending those efforts, periodically visiting, with Anna, their congregations to imbibe of their wisdom and to hear familiar liturgical melodies chanted by their talented cantors.
My electronic contacts are extensive and varied, and I am often requested, even abroad, to have correspondents placed on my e-mail list. The churned pieces are sent to supporters and opponents of my views in an effort to encourage dialogue, and gain new perspectives. It is remarkable that in the current controversy, there have been exactly three negative reactions: two from individuals who see avarice as good, the bottom line, i.e. dollars, must be satisfied; and one rabbi, heretofore thought of more discreet and temperate writing this unsigned note, followed by my terse response:
Calling the Jewish Week to further create more Machlokes (sic) in the Jewish Community was disgraceful on your part. The Orthodox Rabbis never made such a ludicrous demand as you allege. You are acting in a most irresponsible and it is you who is the divisive force in this case. Shame on you!
Quite obviously, I completely disagree with both your premise and conclusion … the shame, and there is plenty to be spread around, resides elsewhere, rabbi …
Last week’s edition of The Jewish Week contained a brief mention of my initiative — extensively concentrating on non-Orthodox rabbis and a prominent president of a local Conservative synagogue, putt off by their exclusion from coverage in The Jewish Star — and my turn to it was motivated by the inevitable frustration that emerges from the realization that a great injustice, a disservice, really, is being perpetrated by the monopolistic, monolithic practices of the Richner weeklies.
Both, staff writer Stewart Ain, and publisher Gary Rosenblatt of The Jewish Week — affiliated with United Jewish Appeal (emphasis mine) — are congratulated for the courage to confront this sensitive issue head on. An Orthodox Jew, Gary is a frequent moderator and presenter in matters of Jewish concern (memory serves me to recall a session in the Five Towns and another at the Park East Synagogue, where he held a discussion with Nobel Laureate Elie Weisel), and his immensely stewardship while covering the news of all Jews, can be the paradigm to emulate by the presently hapless leadership of The Jewish Star!
My natural optimism, coming from a family who survived the Shoa, steadily contributing to the commonweal in the New World, our in blessed America, makes me assert the affirmative in Rodney King’s paean “Can’t we all just get along?” Firstly, let the Richner family acknowledge its divisive eclecticism, perpetrating a disservice to the Orthodox community, and the Jewish people at large, when it adopted its present policy of exclusion; then, with a masthead revamped, our vaunted South Shore can symbolically commence the immense, but not overwhelming, project to repair its fractured institutions — starting with our prize-winning Lawrence Public School District, and the need to reform the Vaad of the Five Towns and Rockaway. Surely, this is a truism: no commercial enterprise can long flourish when it stands on the rubble of a shattered Jewish kehila; division shall not affect conquest!
As we approach another Shabbat, Parasha Teruma (displaying a congruence of self-esteem between our inner and outer selves), may people of good will reflect deeply, and, from the pulpit, the business counter, and in our home salons express both revulsion at the current state of affairs, and determination to have at long last a Jewish Star that will shine for all! Shabbat shalom.
Sincerely, and with fraternal affection,