Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Jewish Press: A dose of reality

Since 10th grade when I mentioned The Jewish Press in class, I've been around a lot of JP-bashing.

"The Jewish Press is not our type of paper," my teacher gently reprimanded me.

Honestly, I can't remember if they covered the topics they do now in the "Family Issues" section way back when, but even so, it wasn't "our type of paper."

Well, that's too bad, since my mom's been reading it for over 30 years.

As far as I know, it's the Rachel Bluth "Agunah Chronicles," which became "Chronicles of Crises" a couple of years ago, that's been getting people hot under the collar.

People have complained that they discuss inappropriate topics. To name a few, the most memorable ones have been the porn-addicted husbands, women whose husbands are friends with other women, men who lust after other frum married women, and feel that their marriage would be more loving and fulfilled with these other women, homosexuality, and lack of a sex life.
Even Dr. Yael talked about infidelity.

Here's the deal, though: These are REAL issues that people in our community face.

There are gay frum Jews. Deal with it. (Although some might consider "gay and frum" to be an oxymoron.)

Guys cheat. Guys gamble. Women cheat. Women gamble. Women do "favors" for other "frum," married men. Guys lust after other frum married women. We're not above this. Idealists like to think we are, but we aren't.

It's 2008. Things change. Society today is much more open than it was even 30 years ago, and these people who are suffering need a forum in which to discuss their plight.

This column, I'm sure, has helped many people in need, as well as informing the public of issues that we face.

To deny that there are frum couples who cheat would be foolish and naive. To deny that frum men, even ones who look yeshivish, enjoy pornography would be unintelligent.

The letters in these columns demonstrate the realities of frum life of America 2008. If you don't like it, you don't have to read it. They don't claim to be anything they're not.

To the credit of the Jewish Press, they made it into an insert that can be easily removed from the paper before the kids get home from school.

What it comes down to is, if people disapprove of its content, they have the Yated and Hamodia which haplessly idealistic about Republicanism and Frumkeit and basically publish AP stores

Would you rather bury your head in the sand and pretend these issues don't exist?
What will that accomplish?


At 5/05/2008 7:53 AM, Anonymous Ike said...

Great post, I totally agree. I would add that the JP has a disclaimer before the "family issues" section warning adults that some content might be inappropriate for children.

At 5/05/2008 7:54 AM, Anonymous OS said...

This morning at work I had a similar conversation with a coworker. He saw a headline news story regarding a case in a Jewish day school where a teacher was convicted of molesting his students. He continued that growing up in Brooklyn [his family is Irish Catholic, but not very religious, and he grew up at the edge of Carnasie] it always seemed "when the Jewish community had a problem, they dealt with it, and then it was swept under the rug."

Yes, the Jewish Week has published exposes (i.e. the Lanner case) but I believe that it wasn't published until after pleas to the heads of NCSY and the OU to "clean house" were ignored. Is that worse than the letters that are printed weekly in the Jewish Press?

Which is worse when we make headlines on the 7am/11pm news or when we try to let our society know that we are flawed within our own papers?

At 5/05/2008 9:16 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

os-- good point. Although I don't think there's a way to keep it out of the secular media.
However, they have more power if we ignore it and sweep it under the rig and foolish pretend things don't exist.

At 5/06/2008 7:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think the inappropriate content is the #1 reason your school (as well as other Chareidim) hate the JP.

One rav told me that the paper is run without daas Torah. The Klasses may be nice people, but they do not follow the mainstream gedolim's hashkafos.

This shows up in the editorial section, and to a lesser extent, in their halachic articles.

The fact that they have photos of women - not the way the "yeshivish" do things.

This is not to say whether I agree or disagree with them. This just explains why they're anti the JP. The articles about homosexuality is not a major factor, especially now that, as you said, it's a pull-out.

At 5/07/2008 7:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On the other hand, I know someone who is rooting for Hillary this November, solely to see what Hamodia/Yated will publish in lieu of her picture.

At 5/07/2008 6:31 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

anon 7:58--it ain't worth it! Prob just the presidential seal ;)

At 5/13/2008 7:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the fierce zionism might be another turnoff.

At 5/13/2008 4:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

agree but with one qualification: the JP is typically laid around the house openly for children (9-10years olds)to read. they WILL read the sensative issues, and don't give me this pull out section BS. even if a parent does pull it out the child will find it, and/ or the pull out section will become the forbidden fruit of the JP furthering enticing youngsters to read it. i don't care if like 13-14 yrs read this content as they live in america and know about all the crap that happens. if i may, i'd like to compy and paste a letter i sent to dr. yael the day the new pull out section was introduced to the JP. she did not respond to my letter to her:
my letter was precipitated by the infamous chocolate analogy she employed to reply to a reader's letter:Editor,

This past weekend I glanced through your paper and came across the
weekly Dr. Yael Respler column. I started reading the "question"
section of it and was absolutely surprised by its content. I mentioned
this to my friend and he replied that the column was in the "pull out
section," and thus readers have the option to, as the name suggests,
pull it out, and not read it.

While I am not a prude, I think it is entirely inappropirate for a
newspaper serving families of the Jewish community to print articles
relating to sensitive marital issues. Even if parents are vigilant in
performing this newly engendered chore of pulling the "X-rated"
section, a) undoubtedly they will forget to do so one week and b)
young teens, and for that matter, young single adults, are quite
resourceful and will be able to access this now "forbidden section."

Of course teensagers and young singles have been exposed to their fair
share of adult content, and if they want to access it, the internet
and media provides them with a bevy of sources and material, but the
Jewish Press should not make it easier for them.

Furthermore, and with due respect, I would find it difficult to
believe that a "newspaper shrink," attempting to resolve complex
martial issues with so many variables, would be successful in the span
of a few paragraphs.



At 5/13/2008 5:26 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

IYH By you--yes, you raise a valid point: the forbidden fruit syndrome. Hmm. That is a concern, but, do you have another idea about how to get these issues out in the open?

On another note, I also completely agree that newspaper shrinks are ineffective. They usually tell you to seek therapy. (Duh, theirs.) It's like those "articles" about a product that say "advertisment" on top in teeny letters. Get what I mean?

At 6/17/2008 9:36 AM, Anonymous hesh said...

The JP is not liked for multiple reasons most notably the first half of the paper is devoted to pro Israel Zionist articles written by folks who are not necessarily religious.

Furthermore the JP is all accepting in that while being a right wing paper they do publish liberal articles once in a while and include all aspects of Jews, not just charedim.

Of course they want to push these issues under the rug, look how long it took for them to admit that yeshiva kids liked to do drugs and have sex. It took 40 years to admit.


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