Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Disappointed At The Jewish Press

As you are all aware, a number of J-bloggers called upon the Jewish Press last week to condemn the way that Rabbi Dr. Twerski was blackmailed into resigning from Dov Hikind's task force. Well, they did condemn it... sort on. Here's the response:

The Jewish Press joins our columnist Rabbi Yakov Horowitz and others in condemning the shabby treatment Rabbi Dr. Benzion Twerski received from some self-appointed guardians of the faith over his participation in an anti-abuse task force geared toward the Orthodox community.

Dr. Twerski is a serious, thoughtful and highly talented individual and has much to offer in the way of dealing with child abuse in our community. Those truly committed to the interests of our community should be thinking of ways to get him to spend more time on our problems rather than less.

Although there is no way to guarantee that the sort of thing to which Dr. Twerski was subjected will not recur, we do believe it is as important for Assemblyman Dov Hikind and the others involved in the new task force to spend time reaching out to the community for support and cooperation as it is to highlight the nature of the problem.

There must be clarification of the centrality of halacha to the project, the primacy of due process protections, the involvement of a broad spectrum of people to evaluate complaints and, overall, the momentous contributions a project like this can make to the well-being of our community.

Shabby treatment??! Shabby treatment is what happens when someone snubs you and doesn't say Good Shabbos. Shabby treatment is when your neighbor chooses to ignore your simcha which you invited him to and he doesn't even say Mazel Tov. This wasn't shabby treatment -- it was blackmail. It was a threat to the social (and possibly physical) well being of his family. That's well beyond "shabby treatment." Calling that "shabby treatment" is like calling a gunshot wound a "boo boo."

The response as a whole is tepid at best. Where is the outrage that there are people who actively looking out for the child molesters' best interests? Where is the condemnation of the very fact that there are those who think it's fine and dandy to threaten someone's family because they don't agree with you on a social issue?

I am truly disappointed in the Editorial Board of the Jewish Press. I expected a much stronger response. I'll give them credit for running Rabbi Horowitz's articles on the subject, but I expected that they themselves would see clear to the issue of protecting children from monsters in our midst.

The Wolf


Anonymous said...

They seem to be admonishing Hikind as well.

Anonymous said...

What exactly did you want them to say? That it shouldn't have happened? They said that. They said that people need to work with Hikind and the task force and that this is an issue that has to be addresed in a serious halachic and professinal manner.

What is wrong with that? You wanted them to scream and yell? That's the old Jewish Press. I think they said what they needed to say in a dignified professional manner.

There is also another article by Rabbi Horowitz this week.

Anonymous said...

Come on! I really think you're loking to complain here. Even Rabbi Twerski has backed off some of the statements he'd made earlier about threats. Now he says it was some pressure on his children. So what's wrong with the JP referring to the way he was treatred as "shabby"? There were no physical threats or actions against Rabbi Twerski. But whatever was said to him, it made him reconsider his membership on this task force, and that's not a good thing for the frum community. And that seems to be exactly what the editorial was saying.

Orthonomics said...

That is a lukewarm response.

Anonymous said...

A somewhat tepid response,true,but then,again,they're probably afraid that the same people who threatened Rabbi Twerski, will come after.This could ,in turn, force their children and children's children into Shiduchim with people who went to college.

Nice Jewish Guy said...

It's simple" they didn't want to risk alienating advertisers who may have been involved. It's money. It's always money.

SuperRaizy said...

I was kind of disappointed too, but not really surprised. The Jewish Press tries to appeal to as many readers as possible (just like most newspapers do) and I don't think that they want to get too deeply into this uncomfortable issue.

Anonymous said...

Years ago I would have never thought I'd be defending the Jewish Press, but the paper was bad then and is actually quite good now.
To Aaron From L.A.: You say they (the people at the Jewish Press) are worried they'll to have to make shidduchim for their kids with people who went to college? It's obvious you're confusing The Jewish Press with some haredi newspaper. The hashkafa of the Jewish Press is not at all anti-college and many of their regular writers are college professors. You just sound stupid writing something like that. As for the claim that the editorial was lukewarm, I don't know what people expect. It's a newspaper with a wide readership, not a fired-up blog with a couple hundred readers. The editorial came out against the intimidation that led to Twerski's resignation. It supports Hikind's task force and hopes Hikind will be able to calm the fears of those opposed to it. For heaven's sake, Hikind writes a column for the Jewish Press in which he first announced the formation of the task force. And Rabbi Yakov Horowitz is also a columnist for the paper and he's been the one haredi figure willing to take on the extremists. And still people want to criticize the Jewish Press. Amazing.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who reads the Jewish Press on a regular basis should immediately realize that this editorial fits the mold of most that appear in each issue: wordy, indirect, lengthy in duration, and often cloying. I happen to like the paper, but their many of their editorials would likely earn a "C" in a college journalism class. Thankfully the paper is not known for its strong editorials (nor its rather buffoonish editorial cartoons) which are at best, not what anyone would call "influential".

Nonetheless, you're right about the use of the work "shabby". But that is the word that comes to mind when reviewing much of what is written on the JP editorial pages.

Anonymous said...

Fred, you obviously did not read the editorial. "Wordy"? "Lengthy in duration"? It was four paragraphs!!! Indirect? They condemned the treatment of Twerski and supported Hikind's efforts, with the only caveat being that he try to educate the community on the necessity for the task force. What is "indirect" about that? I have to agree with commentor Steven Glassberg above -- so much of the criticism directed at the JP has little or no basis in fact. It's amusing that you made the comment about college journalism, because I taught at a well-regarded j-school for more than thirty years and find the Jewish press editorials to be well-written and well-argued. But maybe you know better than me. If you can point to any specifics to back your claim, I'd really love to be enlightened.

Anonymous said...

Steven Glassberg: Calm down.Anyone who reads what I write knows that part of what I say is always in jest.I usually make my point in the first sentence or so.The last person who took me completely seriously had been potty-trained at gunpoint.Relax and enjoy the upcoming Yom Tov.I sincerely regret having burned your bagels.

Commenter Abbi said...

All I can think of of Adam Sandler's Chanuka song where he says "not too shabby!".

I agree with you Wolf. This was a crap response. And now Twersky's backtracking?

Does nobody care about the welfare of children? I hate to sound cliche but this is truly a case of "What about the children?!"

I don't see anybody worried about "the centrality of Halacha" when they make inane bans on music, concerts, cell phones, and other shtus.

The whole situation is truly sickening and this editorial is just one more layer nausea.

Anonymous said...


Sorry, but I fail to see your point; I did read the editorial, and I was not impressed at that time, nor am I vis-a-vis your comments. The thrust of the JP editorial was downright wimpy. The actual facts and circumstances attendant to Rabbi Twerski resigning from his position do not amount to "shabby" treatment; they were disgusting examples of many religious Jews who are actively trying to protect child molesters. These people are animals- call them for what they are.

Anyone who follows this blog, or any similar to it know damn well what the true story is. The man was treated like a piece of garbage and the well being of his family jeopardized because of an appointment to a task force on child sexual abuse. This is unbelievable! A disgrace! Or worse! And the best the JP can come up with is "shabby". Seems to me that poor writing is indicative of poor thinking.

I think the Wolf's critique of the JP calling this travesty "shabby" was spot on- and I agree that the editorial board of the JP should have been stronger and far more direct. Again, this is a frequent problem with many of the JP editorials. OK, so perhaps my comment about the editorials being wordy or overly lengthy was not applicable to the one under discussion, but most of them fit this mold. They ramble incessantly and often lose their focus. And this often indicates poor writing skills. That is my opinion. But realize that I was only commenting on the JP's editorials, not the paper itself (which I purchase almost every week). I agree that much criticism of the paper is unfounded and unfair.

Regarding your apparent need to advertise your academic background and flaunt your experience as a teacher in a journalism school: I hope this makes you feel a whole lot better about yourself; I'm positive readers of this blog are truly enlightened knowing someone with your credentials is out there somewhere. And your little rejoinder: "But maybe you know better than me."... was snide, arrogant, and dismissive. Have a great day and a great new year, and keep smiling.