Does the LA Jewish Journal Treat the Orthodox as Deplorables?

Danielle Berrin, described as a senior writer for the Los Angeles Jewish Journal, had only words of praise for Rabbi Simcha Krauss, founder of the International Beit Din (IBD) and scorn for the Rabbinical Council of California (RCC) which alerted its members to R. Krauss’ unorthodox halachic decisions in finding solutions for agunos, “chained” women victimized by abusive husbands who will not give them a get. [Disclosure: I am a member of the RCC.]

Berrin casts Krauss in the role of a champion of “progressivism;” accepts his assertion that he has the “backing of Charedi rabbis in Israel” – although he cannot name a single one; and accepts Krauss’ contention that his methodology includes nothing new. Why the resistance to his kindly offer of assistance to agunos? The “hushed subtext of this internecine conflict has everything to do with the rights and roles of women in Orthodox Judaism.”

The one thing Berrin did not do is consider the halachic basis for objection to Krauss’ findings. In fact, Berrin made no attempt to hear the other side at all. She made no attempt to reach anyone at the RCC before writing about its motivation.

Had she done so, she would have learned how other rabbis who also champion the cause of agunos nonetheless see no merit to Krauss’ arguments in some of his published decisions. She would have found out that the RCC acted entirely responsibly, because any woman who remarries with a heter from the IBD will almost certainly find that heter rejected by vast majority of the Orthodox world – Modern Orthodox, yeshiva, and Chassidic. Almost certainly, she will be regarded as someone still entangled in her first marriage, with all that this means about entering a new marriage, or bringing children into the world through any other spouse.

To disregard the plight of agunos is irresponsible, and Rabbi Krauss deserves credit for his extraordinary concern. But it is also irresponsible not to alert consumers to faulty products do not work and are dangerous to use. The pushback against the IBD also deserves credit.

Berrin, however, treats the traditional Orthodox as deplorables who need not be consulted.

You would think that by now, journalists might have learned a lesson about what happens when you marginalize the deplorables.

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28 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    Most journalists in the secular Jewish media are either very ignorant or hostile to Orthodoxy other than Chabad or YCT and its leaders and supporters.Such persons lack awareness of the RCA PNA and the work of ORA

    • dr.bill says:

      i strongly support the RCA prenup and ORA, but I do not assume that those on the left (or right) are unaware.  they might simply view them as inadequate (some/many on the left) or anti-halakhic (some/many on the right.)

    • Reb Yid says:

      Please.  The RCA prenup was very well covered in the general Jewish media when it was developed.  I got married around this general timeframe and we used that prenup, and that was how I became aware of it.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        The far left acts as if the prenuptial agreement either doesn’t exist and that they wish that the Torah did not require that a get be given based upon the free will of the husband as well as ignoring the work of ORA

  2. lacosta says:

    The Jewish Journal is a far left , both politically and religiously, publication [with the occaisional throw-the-dog-a-bone, like Dennis Prager].  one reads it assiduously to find the latest assaults on O judaism.  It would be even worse if one of the proprieters wasn’t nominally O.

    Said columnist was famous recently for outing a Haaretz bigwig who assaulted her…


  3. a yid says:

    Is it at all possible for any kind of constructive dialogue to occur where the Jews of the “Jewish Journal” consider reshaping their views of the Orthodox world?   Their overbearing self-righteousness only pushes the Jewish community into more fraction.  Ah, but they are so “right”, so “justified” and so “necessary” in today’s world.  Please.  There is something wrong when a publication called “The Jewish Journal” of a major metropolitan area only presents a Leftist agenda couched in “we care so much” language.  It is pretty much the mouthpiece of the “Reform” and “Conservative” movements in Judaism. The former created as a secular rebellion and the second as a half-way response to the former; both only 100 to 140 years old. This against a 4,000 year history.  Something is wrong. It’s not at the point of Maccabees vs Hellenists but to some of us it appears to be heading in that direction. Let’s not do that,shall we?  No, the Orthodox don’t accept “Reform and Conservative” movements; but they do accept Jews!   Perhaps any recognition of the Orthodox in this publication jeopardizes their existence?  All I know is that the antipathy needs to stop.

    • mb says:

      Actually, Reform is 200 years old, not much younger than the Chassidic movement. Ultra Orthodoxy is younger still.

      • Ridiculous, Martin. Everyone knows that Moshe Rabbenu wore a shtreimel!

        More seriously, the labels may be new. The degree of overlap with what came before makes Orthodoxy the oldest group out there. We don’t have to go along with the games of the academic world. Measuring by fealty to essential parts of the life style and thinking of what came before, we are still closest, and the others are the newbie reformers

      • mb says:

        I’m mb, not martin. You outed me!

        You know I’m not disputing the authenticity or antiquity of OJ. But things do change, albeit slowly. As you well know, Chassidism was simply shocking, as was a glimpse of stocking, in olden days. (Ask your wife if you have no idea of the reference!) Glad you are posting again

      • Bob Miller says:

        “Anything Goes” is today’s major moral problem.

      • dr.bill says:

        you are altogether too flip(pant).  academics do not argue if current orthodoxy as opposed to reform are the successors to traditional judaism of old.  the question is whether modern orthodoxy or chareidi orthodoxy is more continuous with traditional judaism.   that is a historical question that require competency in historical analysis to approach.

      • Steve Brizel says:

        Define “traditional Judaism”‘ in terms of practice and what is expected from its adherents in terms of their practices and hashkafic commitments

      • DF says:

        The chief way to distinguish old from new is by intent. The Reform movement, as its name suggests, was specifically created to replace the old model. Chassidus too, saw itself as something new, though the early chassidim grounded their fresh approach in the past, believing their emphasis on prayer to be mere החזרת עטרה ליושנה.  (To be sure, some in Reform also saw themselves as grounded  in the deep Biblical past, but not to the same extent as the Chassidim.)

        Charedism, by whatever name you call it,  is a little different. There is no founder of Charedism, officially or otherwise, no Moses Mendelson, no Besh”t. (Or, for another point of comparison, no Herzl.)  It developed gradually and organically. You can look to key figures in its growth, like RA Kotler and the Chazon Ish, but the yeshivah-centric milieu was already well under way when they came on the scene. They were just the best known messengers to extend it to the new territories of Israel and Postwar America. So while I don’t view the academic approach to this question as gamesmanship, and think there is much to be said for the view of charedism as a new species, on the whole I would come down on the side of Rabbi Adlerstein.

      • dr.bill says:

        i also do not know of academics who ascribe a particular founder, although its beginning is often placed about 30 years after the Chatam Sofer, and some of his views have become rallying cries.  it is at least interesting that he also used his oft quoted bon mot to oppose shiurim that in our day are associated with CI.

      • mb says:

        “Ridiculous, Martin. Everyone knows that Moshe Rabbenu wore a shtreimel!”

        My pet hate is revisionism! He wore canonicals.

      • No way you are going to turn him into a stick-in-the-mud Brit. Hey, look how he played with Paroh! Clearly, he had a sense of humor. Face it.
        He wore a shtreimel. And maybe flip-flops

      • Bob Miller says:

        The Primordial Serpent is really, really old, but we reject its ideology all the same.

        If the specific ideological approach of today’s “Chareidism” was invented last night, it would still deserve careful evaluation based on its merits, not on the hostile propaganda aimed at it.

  4. DF says:

    Good for you to push back. Gone are the days when men who bought ink by the barrel could bully people at will. The world of journalism is having a hard time coming to grips with this brave new world, but they will eventually adjust. (Not that they will start reporting on conservatives fairly; rather, the pretense of objectivity will very soon be formally and officially dropped, and they will just revert to the openly “partisan press” model always in use prior to the 20th century. The beginning of the end of the “objective press” experiment began with Watergate, and ended – mark the date down, historians – with what happened today, 1/11/17. )

    In any event, over on the other coast the Jewish Week learned last year it could not push around a certain highly-regarded orthodox rabbi when that rabbi pushed back twice as hard on his own platform. It has since stopped trying to bully him. I applaud you for doing the same, and encourage you to use this pulpit for the same and similar causes.

  5. Steve Brizel says:

    I think that it is a fair assessment of the secular Jewish media that Orthodoxy except for Chabad and YCT and their supporters are either  approached with a hostile or a profoundly ignorant POV as to Torah observant Judaism in America in 2017.

  6. dr.bill says:

    i strongly agree that get zikui, something i heard Rabbi Krauss debate with Rabbi Wieder, has limited use.  I have not heard of cases where he used the technique about which he created so much debate and criticism.

    in my mind, those wanting to relitigate its use in the kind of situation where it has strong arguments for its validity, and overturn a get issued a few years ago by the tzefat BD, independant of r. krauss, deserve more attention than they have received.

  7. Moshe says:

    Keep in mind:

    1) The JJ is a throwaway, a freebie subsidized heavily by the LA federation, which is a “shanda” in itself

    If they would charge for the paper the readership would likely decline by 90%

    2) The primary editor, Rob Eshman, a progressive liberal leftist, is the husband of a reform Rabbi

    3) More importantly

    their entire liberal world is crashing down with the recent crushing defeat of their beloved “can do no wrong” candidate, Hillary

    they need to juistify their existence to their liberal secular readers


  8. mb says:

    La Costa wrote,

    “Said columnist was famous recently for outing a Haaretz bigwig who assaulted her…”

    Sounds like you are criticising her for that.


  9. Raymond says:

    For several decades now, I have had nearly total contempt for the Jewish Journal, so much so that I call it the anti-Jewish Journal.  I have heard some of my fellow Orthodox Jews call it far worse names than that, and deservedly so.  When I get hold of that weekly newspaper, I look to read what Dennis Prager and David Suissa has to say, as well those too infrequent weeks when they allow an Orthodox Rabbi to write a column about the weekly Torah portion.  I ignore the rest of that newspaper.

    Having said that, I have to wonder why it is that the Orthodox Jewish community does not do anything about this.  Of course I do not mean shutting down the Jewish Journal or even seeking to become a bigger part of it.  Rather, I am suggesting that the religious community forms its own weekly Jewish newspaper.  New York has what I consider to be the best weekly newspaper of all, namely the Jewish Press.  Here in Los Angeles, we used to have the B’nai Brith Messenger.  The religious Jewish community here in Los Angeles has grown since those days, so it would seem like it is time that such a weekly Jewish newspaper targeting a more traditional Jewish audience should be revived.

    • DF says:

      See if Joe Bobker will bring back the LAJT from his NY base. Though I will miss the article of the late Chaim Bermant.

    • lacosta says:

      LA has  a free haredi oriented every 2 wk news/advertorial publication called  Jewish Home that’s in front of shuls every couple weeks

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    The NY area has numerous such publications as well as Yated and Hamodia for those of us who view the secular Jewish media as depicting an anti Torah perspective on a constant basis

  11. Bob Miller says:

    This will go on until the Jewish “deplorables” in the US show the same public spirit of defiance as the political “deplorables.”

  12. Steve Brizel says:

    What we should emphasize is that MO in its schools should not seek to avoid emphasizing the contents of Parshiyos Acharei Mos and Kedoshim in instilling a sense of Kabalas Ol and Avodas HaShem in its student bodies

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