Bintel Blog

The Jewish Press Leans (a Little Bit) Left for a Change

By Daniel Treiman

  • Print
  • Share Share

The Jewish Press, the nationally distributed, Brooklyn-based Orthodox weekly, can be counted on to lean pretty far to the right when it comes to both politics and religion. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised by a pair of remarkably progressive (by contemporary Orthodox standards) opinion articles on two hot-button religious controversies that were published last week by The Jewish Press.

The first was an article titled “What Price Kashrus?” by Steve K. Walz. The article appears, of course, in the wake of the controversy raging over labor practices at the Agriprocessors plant in Postville, Iowa, the nation’s largest kosher meat plant. Although Walz doesn’t explicitly reference that controversy, it seems a safe bet that it wasn’t far from his mind when he wrote the following: “Kashrus isn’t just about performing a ritual act. Otherwise the act itself is hollow or empty. The ritual must be performed in a humane manner, by people who act in a civilized manner, to both two-legged and four-legged beings.”

Meanwhile, in an essay titled “Love The Convert,” Rabbi Eliezer Melamed wades into the ongoing controversy over conversion standards. These controversies, of course, recently reached a fever pitch after an Israeli rabbinic court called into question the validity of conversions that had been performed by the Orthodox head of Israel’s conversion authority, in part because it deemed one of his past converts to now be insufficiently observant.

Melamed, however, doesn’t seem to be particularly sympathetic to the notion of revoking a convert’s Jewishness ex post facto. “Just as a Jew who does not yet observe all of the commandments of the Torah is nonetheless considered Jewish, so a convert who subsequently neglects the Torah remains Jewish,” he writes.

Melamed also weighs in on the side of Orthodox liberals on the question of what constitutes a valid commitment to Jewish observance for a potential convert. While many in the Orthodox world insist that a convert must agree in advance to observe all the commandments, others take a more lenient approach. For his part, Melamed notes that many Orthodox authorities hold that a prospective convert can be accepted if that person “is prepared in principle to accept upon himself the yoke of the Torah and its commandments” — even if that person “believes that from time to time he will have to transgress some of the commandments.”

UPDATE: A commenter named Helen writes:

Actually, the Jewish Press has been holding down the fort as a centrist Orthodox, religious Zionist paper while much of Brooklyn Orthodox Jewry has been moving ever rightward. Compared to the other religious papers out there the Jewish Press is quite sane. Their weekly Arts page deals with topics other Orthodox publications wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole, and ditto for the Jewish Press’s coverage of such topics as abuse in the Orthodox community, gay husbands forced to marry unsuspecting women because of community pressure to conform, etc.

I thought it was important to highlight this comment, since it suggests that I didn’t do justice to all the nuances of the subject. I will add, however, that The Jewish Press’s editorial line has, in fact, been pretty friendly to Agriprocessors and not particularly friendly toward efforts to facilitate the conversion of Russian immigrants in Israel.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: The Jewish Press, Kashrut, Conversion

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.


Comments
Helen Tue. Jun 3, 2008

Actually, the Jewish Press has been holding down the fort as a centrist Orthodox, religious Zionist paper while much of Brooklyn Orthodox Jewry has been moving ever rightward. Compared to the other religious papers out there the Jewish Press is quite sane. Their weekly Arts page deals with topics other Orthodox publications wouldn't touch with a ten foot pole, and ditto for the Jewish Press's coverage of such topics as abuse in the Orthodox community, gay husbands forced to marry unsuspecting women because of community pressure to conform, etc.




Find us on Facebook!
  • What does the Israel-Hamas war look like through Haredi eyes?
  • Was Israel really shocked to find there are networks of tunnels under Gaza?
  • “Going to Berlin, I had a sense of something waiting there for me. I was searching for something and felt I could unlock it by walking the streets where my grandfather walked and where my father grew up.”
  • How can 3 contradictory theories of Yiddish co-exist? Share this with Yiddish lovers!
  • "We must answer truthfully: Has a drop of all this bloodshed really helped bring us to a better place?”
  • "There are two roads. We have repeatedly taken the one more traveled, and that has made all the difference." Dahlia Scheindlin looks at the roots of Israel's conflict with Gaza.
  • Shalom, Cooperstown! Cooperstown Jewish mayor Jeff Katz and Jeff Idelson, director of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, work together to oversee induction weekend.
  • A boost for morale, if not morals.
  • Mixed marriages in Israel are tough in times of peace. So, how do you maintain a family bubble in the midst of war? http://jd.fo/f4VeG
  • Despite the escalating violence in Israel, more and more Jews are leaving their homes in Alaska to make aliyah: http://jd.fo/g4SIa
  • The Workmen's Circle is hosting New York’s first Jewish street fair on Sunday. Bring on the nouveau deli!
  • Novelist Sayed Kashua finds it hard to write about the heartbreak of Gaza from the plush confines of Debra Winger's Manhattan pad. Tough to argue with that, whichever side of the conflict you are on.
  • "I’ve never bought illegal drugs, but I imagine a small-time drug deal to feel a bit like buying hummus underground in Brooklyn."
  • We try to show things that get less exposed to the public here. We don’t look to document things that are nice or that people would like. We don’t try to show this place as a beautiful place.”
  • A new Gallup poll shows that only 25% of Americans under 35 support the war in #Gaza. Does this statistic worry you?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.