What The Forward Publishes

When I wrote a few tweets about what happened in Baltimore, I expected a few nasty responses — but drew one from a new source, a man calling himself @HeathenHassid. I recognized his name; he was the author of a particularly vitriolic piece in The Forward, one which basically said any Chassid exposed to the secular world will inevitably abandon Chassidism (never mind that he can’t identify even one of his own siblings, who presumably are numerous and were equally exposed, who abandoned it with him).

So I responded, both because I enjoy a good debate and wanted to learn more about him. And when I pointed out to him that by leaving Chassidism for “liberal Judaism,” he was in effect boarding a sinking ship, he had this reply:

So The Forward, which refused to publish the work of Orthodox Rabbis who want to help liberal Jews to stay Jewish, was happy to publish the work of an atheist who wants all Jews to abandon being Jewish.

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8 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Unfortunately, far too much of the “mainstream Jewish media” has nothing if anything positive to say about the Torah committed community. Any positive comment therein is limited mainly, if not solely to YCT and Chabad.

  2. Reb Yid says:

    It is admirable to read that this author wishes for a vigorous debate on the issues.

    Before condemning the editorial policies of other publications, however, he might wish to first examine this site and his own blog posts where he serves as both judge and jury over who gets to contribute to the dialogue about his initial forays.

    It usually only this particular author who disallows some of my posts, even as some others do get published. Don’t let his red herring “anonymous” harangue confuse you, however.

  3. Yaakov Menken says:

    I let through “Reb Yid’s” comment not because it was appropriate, on topic, or reasonable, but because it so aptly proves my point about anonymous comments, which, of course, I’ve made previously.

    Reb Yid, who under his actual name has academic credentials (a doctorate, I think), is obviously competent to discern the difference between a journal publishing unrebutted lies and slander, vs. an implementation of comment moderation to keep discussion both civil and on-topic. So rather than indicating a need for institutional care, the comment is simply disingenuous.

    The point is that neither he nor anyone else would submit a comment quite so junior grade as the above, under his or her own name. And that lowers the quality of the journal for everyone (the reason for moderation in the first place).

    When I previously devoted a post to the issue, I concluded with the following:

    This leads me, at least for my own posts, to react to anonymous comments based upon content. If you want to share a personal story anonymously, that’s fine. And if you want to share an idea, a thought, a question, that’s probably fine as well. But if someone criticizes another opinion, a group of Jews, Gedolim, etc., much less belittles another writer or commenter, then that’s using anonymity to “troll,” shielded from the repercussions of whatever nonsense the commenter might happen to spew… and we can strive for better than that. To those who wish to do so, I have but two words of advice: don’t bother. Those are the “contributions” for which the “trash” moderation option was designed, and I believe the overall effect will benefit us if we use it more, not less.

    What Reb Yid has proven for us is that even if an anonymous comment starts off reasonably enough, the slide into trolling is far too easy. For me at least, I think this has proven why the acceptance of an anonymous comment is a bad idea in the first place.

  4. Steve Brizel says:

    It bears noting if you email either R Adlerstein or R Menken , they will respond to you about any subject, including why your posts were rejected as well as on any issue that has been discussed or might warrant discussion here.

  5. Ari Heitner says:

    Rabbi Menken, WRT Ari Mandel: please don’t feed the trolls.

    He is seriously angry, bitter, cynical. A tour in the army after growing up in Boro Park could do that. People in that much pain do not respond constructively to anything, let alone reason.

  6. Yoni says:

    Sorry, but I really don’t get what is vitriolic about that piece. For the record, although I have heard of Ari Mandel, only barely.

    The basic point of his piece is not that “any Chasid exposed to the secular world will *inevitably* abandon Chasidism”, but that it was a possibility. To quote “I think the rabbis are right. Foreign influences are highly toxic to the Orthodox mindset. Even the smallest crack in the perfectly cultivated shell can cause corrosion throughout the system.”

    I think that by and large this is him repeating what he was taught as a child (as was I); and, although snidely, agreeing with it.

    He also probably has a point. The more chasidish / charedi element of Orthodox Jewry makes no secret of the fact that the reason that they teach minimal secular studies and avoid leaving the arba koisley beis hamedrash is due, at least in part, to the wish to avoid outside influence. I don’t think that putting it as “even the smallest crack in the perfectly cultivated shell can cause corrosion throughout the system” is wide off the mark if off it at all.

  7. Eliezer says:

    Rabbi Menken,

    The frum papers also censor/are heavily selective of what they publish – just in the other direction. Of course I would hope that the ‘Forward’ would publish articles from people with a frum viewpoint (I am frum myself), but we would be wrong to claim that the Orthodox newspapers are bastions of free speech/journalism. They are often guilty of over censorship as well.

  8. Zadok says:


    I think you are missing both Ari’s and his community’s respective points.There is nothing in any example that Mandel gives that has any bearing on the truth of Torah M’Sinai or even a Chasidshe lifestyle.And there is very little in any of his examples that make someone smarter or more knowledgeable about anything important.Nonetheless he implies that someone familiar with those type of things would end up dropping OJ because those things somehow present enough of an intellectual challenge/give critical thinking skills.

    OTOH Those who tell their followers to stay away from such influences do so in the context of them being like any other self destructive behavior:Once people get involved with they get addicted and start to lose control over and rationalize their behavior.

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