Two At The Times
Kiddush Hashem happens – even in the New York Times. David Brooks’ appreciation of the Orthodox community will be talked about this Shabbos. So will the heart-wrenching translation of the letter of thanks that Nachman Glauber a”h wrote to his parents on the day of his chasuna. (Nachman was killed earlier this week by a hit-an-run driver, along with his wife, on the way to a prenatal exam.)
The appearance of both pieces was not a random occurrence. Both pieces took savvy people who think about kiddush Hashem proactively, as perhaps we all should. Rabbi Meir Soloveitchik took David Brooks on a tour of Pomegranate in Flatbush, and made sure to provide the proper context and significance to what Brooks observed. The Glauber letter was submitted to the Times, and submitted to a more-than-friendly address there – Joe Berger. Someone in Williamsburg (my guess is R Niederman, who is a pro) understood the potential of scoring a point about what the Torah tells us about kids and hakoras hatov for parents, and knew where in the Times to go with it.
BH we have some people who do more than put out fires of scandal. They understand the ability HKBH has given us in this country to put Him in a good light – and they use it!
I am glad that you wrote this. Both articles are a welcome edition to the negative press we often read.
There is one differnece between the articles.
The story about Nachman Glauber’s letter elicted 46 comments to date 45 positive.
The Pomegrant story drw 408 comments to date 20 postive 388 negtaive.
Why the differnce?
1. The only good orthodox Jew is a dead one. (antisemitism)
2. Orthodox Jews as individuals can be fine and upstanding people , it is the collective that is the problem.
3. The last sentence of David Brooks article claiming that orthodox Jews are self-confident about owning the future only confirmed the outsiders’ the perception about Orthodoxy’s smugness and arrogant triumphalism.
I was impressed with the article(s), but very distressed by the comments that Brooks received. i am curious what others think and what we might surmise.
Why do you say “even in the New York Times”?
For me, the focus of all this is not on what gentiles think of Orthodox Jews, nor of any demographics, but rather that terrible tragedy in which that couple, along with their developing first child, were all murdered by that drunk driver, who, from what I understand, had been let out of jail prematurely. What strikes me about all this, is how a person can live his or her whole life thinking all the right thoughts, saying all the right things, and living life according to G-d’s Law, with such deep respect for one’s parents to kind of cap it all off, but then in a single instant, can have all of that permanently wiped away by the forces of evil and irresponsibility. Life can be so tragic, that it often seems to ultimately be absurd.
Today’s Times features an article on the Orthodox alternate rock world, and a review of a hummus restaurant in Englewood (glatt kosher, at that). Pesach’s in the air . . . I suppose this flurry of articles will provide secular Jews with plenty of Jewish topics to discuss at the seder . . ..
Re: dr. bill question on comments
My take on the negative comments…
1. People who comment are unrepresentative on most websites and not to be taken too seriously (irony alert).
2. We ARE deeply counter-cultural, and by saying that the “collective covenant with God is the primary reality and obedience to the laws is the primary obligation” we are explicitly attacking a the cherished, bedrock principle of individual autonomy. No one in U.S. society holds that cow more sacred than NY Times readers, of course they are not going to be happy with us. They only tolerate us at all because by not actively forcing them to give up their autonomy, we can still fit into their worldview as a legitimate “lifestyle choice” and “beautiful, traditional lifestyle.”
3. To both attack the dominant sacred cow of a culture and remain respected, you have to act with a very high degree of kidush Hashem (where we’re not holding). And even if you ARE Avraham Avinu (who was the consummate counter-cultural revolutionary), someone will probably still try and throw you in a burning furnace.
one shouldnt underplay the message of the commentors… r maryles has a commentary today on the virulent reaction noted in the Balakasphere and the secular jewish media. the Ortho-hatred , and self-loathing [ including nominally O bloggers who want all warts all the time] should emphasize that the chilul hashem actions /results are far easier to accomplish than 1000 kiddush hashem acts…. like a small candle dispelling a lot of darkness, one leitz can break hours of mussar shmuessen, and one hillul hashem can create 1000’s of enemies, foreign and domestic….
[YA – Well said. To which I would add that no community can solve its problems unless it is conscious of its strengths and talents. To this end, the issue of Klal Perspectives scheduled after the next will be devoted to inventorying the communal gifts we possess.]
The Glauber letter was very poignant. I am sorry to hear of it.
The comments on the NYT are not as one-sided as its being portrayed; there are plenty of positive ones too, so the initial glut of negativity seems to just reflect one small demographic. When word of the article spread and attracted others, many more positive comments appeared. What this shows is simply that some people like orthodox Jews, and some people dont. In other words, they are just like everybody else. Some may see this as a failing in mission, but if so, the mission is probably an impossible one.
One comment said this: “The Orthodox still have much to teach this country in terms of backing off from the worst egomaniacal strains of mainstream culture. That we do not need to approach Orthodox communities solely through analysis of scandals, with a “gotcha” mentality that soothes our own sense of spiraling moral decline.” I thought that second sentence hit the nail on the head. It captures perfectly the way so many lesser-principled people or groups try to attack people they disagree with.