It’s not okay that an article was published a few issues ago about the “African American community.” It is inappropriate and culturally incompetent to make generalizations and assumptions about a community, especially one that’s not your own. African Americans and blacks are perfectly capable of making their own decisions and opinions; they should not be told to “give Trump a chance.” Why are they being singled out? The examples of how Trump is actually favorable towards blacks are deficient and do not erase other things he’s said that are indicative of his attitudes. This is a woefully invalidating stance to have towards a community. If anyone would say to us, “Hey, Jews, why don’t you just give the Palestinians a chance?” we would take great offense.
Dear Rabbi Schonfeld:
I read with interest your article in the February 3 issue of the Queens Jewish Link. Like you, I was excited and a supporter of the paper when it first began. Flatbush, The Five Towns, and even my hometown of Portland, Oregon, each has a Jewish paper, so now Queens too would have a voice for the community. The beauty of Queens is that it is made up of a melting pot of various cultures and hashkafos of frum Yiddishkeit, and as such I agree that the paper needs to represent everyone within “the spirit of Torah bounds.” I don’t envy your job and am surprised that is strong enough for what I’m sure you have to go through as rabbinic advisor of the paper. I appreciate your invitation to write in to the editor and hence am taking this opportunity to give feedback on your recent article along the same lines as the letters I have written to the QJL in the past.
I applaud your ability to publicly admit that things have slipped through the cracks and have been published when they shouldn’t have, and that you are “not always comfortable with what the paper publishes.” I commend you for not shying away from the responsibilities of Rabbinic Advisor, even though your reputation may suffer because of it. Because of your openness, I would like to bring to your attention something that pained me greatly in this week’s column and discuss my issues with it.
This is not the first time you have written about chareidi-type newspapers and other publications not printing pictures of women. I can see that you take issue with these publications. You even point out that The Jewish Observer, while some may deny it, have in the past printed pictures in order to support your claim that this is not a positive practice. As a woman, one might think that I would have an issue with it as well, looking as if we are second-class citizens or something. I myself see nothing wrong with printing pictures of rebbetzins, etc. It’s not for me to even speculate why these papers do what they do, but I do know that they consult with da’as Torah and have the haskamos of g’dolei Yisrael, which is good enough for me to accept their position. I personally do not take offense, nor do I feel that I am missing anything by not seeing a picture, although it might be nice to. As you pointed out in the next to last paragraph of your column, “mistakes occur.” Perhaps these publications would rather print nothing than have mistakes occur. We live in very different times than the now defunct Jewish Observer, and society’s sense of propriety has quite deteriorated from previous generations.
I subscribed to such a publication, and the one thing I can say about the “chareidi-type publications” is that although they may not show pictures of women, not only are they inclusive of all factions of Orthodoxy from Modern Orthodox to chareidi/chasidish in a positive manner (they even printed an article on Dana Reeves, the wife of the actor Christopher Reeves, when she passed away), they also write commendable things about non-Jews as well. As a yeshivish person (and I have written this to the QJL several times), I feel that the paper has denigrated my personal hashkafic beliefs and that of the group I identify with. We comprise a nice percentage of the Queens community, and publishing opinions on matters that are anti-yeshivish practices (especially when we follow g’dolei Yisrael) is not only hurtful and goes against g’dolei Yisrael, but may constitute lashon ha’ra as well. For the last many, many years, I regularly attend a weekly sh’miras ha’lashon shiur as well as learning on my own. We have gone through sefer Chofetz Chaim numerous times with various m’farshim. There is machlokes on some piskei din, but what has been agreed upon by all and emphasized time and again is that there must be a toeles to criticize. One can state his or her position in a positive manner with supporting sources. But it is not correct to denigrate other valid opinions. As far as I could see, there is no toeles in the article, since the points mentioned to support your premise could have been made without the reference to chareidi papers and their practices of women’s photographs. Hocheiach Tochiach would also not apply, as these publications would not change their practices due to your article, no matter how many people you get on your side.
I am a person who believes in “live and let live” (unless contrary to the Torah. And even then, I try to give the benefit of the doubt). “Judge not lest ye be judged.” I have no doubt that you meant well in using the example you did in the article. I do not envy your position in being the rabbinic advisor and getting it from all sides, but I would ask that before publishing articles in the paper, you or whoever the editors are (as I realize that you can’t possibly have the time to proofread everything), read the articles, not only for grammatical and spelling errors, but for toeles and whether it is putting down others in our community. There are ayin panim L’Torah. You are entitled to your opinions, just as am I, but I would never profess to say I am correct for reading papers that don’t print pictures and you are wrong for believing in printing pictures of women, because we are both upholding Hashem’s Torah in our own ways and within the confines of halachah.
With every best wish for hatzlachah and fewer aspirin moments,
Your recent issue (February 2) featured an opinion piece, “The Flaw in a Necessary Ban.” While everyone is entitled to his opinion, to feature this article on your front page, prominently displayed beneath the word “Jewish” for anyone to walk by and see, forms an instant association between “necessary ban” and the Jewish people as a whole.
The fact is that many, if not most, do not approve of this ban, certainly not in its incomplete and flawed form, still allowing entry to problematic countries, and both the author – a rabbi and lawyer – and editor should have used more sensitivity in displaying this article. At the very least, “opinion” could have been more clearly stated beside, rather than beneath, the headline.
(Appropriately, this was in the same issue as Rav Schonfeld’s piece, inviting us to reach out and be heard, should we disagree with something in the paper. Personal matters prevented me from doing so this past week, and I am writing now, instead.)
Emotions are deeply felt and raw, as our family is reeling from the deaths in this past month of January, of both my beloved mother-in-law and father-in-law, Esther and Sidney Mochan. They were blessed to be married for 69 years. After my dear mother-in-law was nifteres, we never told my father-in-law the news of her death. We are certain however, that his n’shamah was aching for her, yearned for her, and felt her loss, for he was niftar two and a half weeks later. They are both greatly missed by their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren, who loved them dearly. We are comforted in knowing that they will be together again…exactly where they both would surely want to be. Their six-year-old great-grandson Koby, when told of both their deaths, responded by saying, “Now they can be married and together in shamayim!”
After my mother-in-law’s death, the family was beginning the process of cleaning out their apartment. My father-in-law at this time was hospitalized, and other living arrangements were being made for him upon his discharge. My in-laws loved Eretz Yisrael, had a time-share apartment in Jerusalem, and made many trips there throughout the course of their lives. It had been many years since their last visit, as they were physically unable to go. While we were going through their belongings, a family member was looking through one of their dresser drawers and found my in-laws’ passports. He opened up each of the passports, and we were all shaken when he read that ironically the expiration date on both their passports was in January 2017 – the exact month and year of their recent passing.
It is demonstrated to us time and time again that in G-d’s world there are no coincidences or mistakes. As we travel through the journey of our lives, it is G-d’s plan that is unfolding before us. Although deep down we all believe that Hashem is in control of our lives, sometimes we are struggling through emotionally painful, challenging, and difficult times, and need some clarity – perhaps a gentle nudge, a reality check. Ein od milvado. May the special n’shamos of Esther bas Moshe Eliezer HaKohen, and Isser ben Nisan HaLevi have an aliyah, and their memories be a blessing. May they each be a meilitz yosher for the family, and for all of k’lal Yisrael.
Esther N. Mochan
Kew Gardens Hills
I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to Rabbi Blokh from the Chabad of Rego Park.
My sister’s mother-in-law, Molly Naider a”h, passed away and we had a funeral on Sunday. My wife Atara called numerous rabbis in the area to help arrange a minyan. Her mother-in-law lived in Park City in Rego Park. It is very difficult to find parking in the area and there is also a limited number of men to make a minyan.
We are so thankful to Rabbi Blokh of the Chabad of Rego Park for taking on this responsibility so my brother-in-law and his brother could have a minyan for Minchah and Maariv after the funeral.
We were also zoche to hear Rabbi Blokh’s pearls of wisdom in his learning of mishnayos between Minchah and Maariv. We learned Mikvaos and I learned the connection between a needle (a needle is used to connect two garments) being toveled in a mikvah and the departed (connecting to the next world).
Thank you again, Rabbi Blokh.