So we’ve been getting a lot of letters lately, some of them clearly part of an organized, or semi-organized campaign. (I say that because they arrived at roughly the same time, making roughly the same arguments, using roughly the same phrases, and containing roughly the same number of spelling and grammatical errors.) Some of these letters (the non-coordinated ones, mostly) have been in support of the Jewish Voice for not being afraid to uncover the more deplorable goings on within our own community, regardless of whether or not those implicated are persons of power or esteem. Others have decried us for “lashon hara” against “our rabbis,” and furthermore have accused us of libel (though they have thus far failed to provide any evidence of the latter).
Ironically, it seems the charge is being led by a representative of Jews for Morality, whose latest missive can be seen below this editorial. But you see, we too are Jews for morality. When we see immoral acts being committed in our community, we publicly rebuke them (or at least, report on them), and we don’t care who they are, where they receive their smicha, or how dedicated and unquestioning their followers are.
It used to be that an individual’s own sense of shame could be a powerful deterrent from immoral behavior. Simply knowing that a particular action was wrong, and that by doing it they would bring dishonor upon themselves and their community, this used to be enough. We’re hoping that, even in this brazen generation, the fear of having their deeds held to public scrutiny will accomplish what shame alone no longer does.
Frankly, we’re amazed how much effort people are putting towards getting us to censor ourselves. Respected members of our community find themselves entangled in cases of fraud, illicit commercial activity, or worse, but what really makes you indignant is that it appears in the Jewish news?!
News flash: We’re a newspaper. If all you want is a clever d’var Torah or two, and announcements of who’s getting engaged, married, or bar/bat mitzvahed, then there are plenty of publications in this country (and in New York particularly) that will cater to your needs. If, however, you’re seeking actual news –that includes what’s happening in our local Jewish community, around the country, and around the world, good and bad, and all from a Jewish perspective, well, that’s what we’re here for. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll also find some wonderful divrei Torah within our pages, a community calendar, and announcements of local interest (for our readers in New York, New Jersey, and Florida). But we are first and foremost a newspaper. We report the news, and we don’t apologize for that.
Save your indignation for those who truly deserve it. It’s the criminals among us who shame our community, not those who shed light on their deeds.
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(The following letter was received last week, and inspired the editorial above -ed.)
Thank you for addressing the issue of negative articlesa bout rabbis, that may cause a Chillul Hashem. I would like to respond to some of the letters.
My letter did not mention ‘Lashon Hara’ even once, yet curiously, Shelomo (Alfassa) addresses, “Harangues of alleged Lashon Hara”. [Editor’s note: While the phrase “lashon hara” does not appear in Rabbi Friedman’s letter, the concept is strongly implied, as evinced by the fact that several letters we received the following week emphasized their agreement with Rabbi Friedman that “Lashon Hara” and libel against Jewish leaders have no place in a Jewish publication. We respectfully disagree with the accusations of “lashon hara,” and emphatically reject the implication that the Jewish Voice has printed any libelous stories.] In any event, he should see Hafes Haim 2:3 (Rambam Daios 7:5) who says, firstly, that public knowledge may be repeated only incidentally but not with the intention of publicizing it. Secondly, it may be said, only in the place where it is already known, and thirdly, without adding to it. If everybody knows about an event and there is nothing to add, it wouldn’t be printed in a newspaper.
On the Subject of Jews for Morality, even if they do make a Chilul Hashem as Avi (Sanders) suggests (and to which I absolutely disagree) it still does not justify additional Chilul Hashem. I will consider Avi’s comments and invite him to share any other criticism of JFM, with me.
It is shocking that one with a Jewish heart would casually print allegations against respected rabbis and be able to live with himself. If one loves Hashem one loves His people and wants the image of Jewish leaders to be respected. A claim of, “my capacity as a journalist” is not a justification to besmirch one’s people.
I see these writers are men of action. I welcome them to join our group. We would like to hear their constructive criticism.. Together we can do more to honor Hashem’s name.
Jews for Morality