Posted on | July 8, 2009 | By Steve Brizel | 33 Comments
The Jewish Week ( “JW”) caters to LW MO and gives some token space to Chabad. It has long had no use for the RW MO world and only negatives for the Charedi world and now seems as if its role on Middle East affairs is ala ultra left. Like it or not, one learns precious little about Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim from the JW despite the fact that the MO and Charedi world are Federation beneficiaries. Instead, JW readers are treated to a “pluralistic” version of a Dvar Torah, and a veritable bombardment of coverage re scandals in the Charedi world, etc, as if that was the only news about that those communities and the RW MO world that are worth the reader’s attention and that by omission of such coverage, such scandals do not exist in the heterodox world.
Even on issues affecting Israel, the JW is aping the NY Times to tell us that we should avoid criticizing a new far left group called J Street, and that we should side with an administration that is forfeiting American sovereignty so that we can fit into the “league of nations” and imposing a dictated settlement on Israel
Jewish Action and Tradition have long held the potential to serve the MO public but suffer from a few flaws of their own. JA is published seasonally and by the time a new issue is rolled out, a current issue is old news. The articles and letters in JA are always worth reading and do not avoid hashkafic or halachic controversies and JA’s archives are almost all available to the extent that the same are posted on line. JA has some excellent columnists and one sees a wide range of content of a high quality on a great range of subjects and much news about the OU and NCSY, etc. It is a far better read than the NCYI Viewpoint which IMO is a house organ with an occasional article of interest.
Tradition focuses on wnat it deems to be the intellectual issues facing MO at the expense of what is happening in the MO street. At times, Tradition strikes me as the ultimate example of the ivory tower like existence of some prominent MO thinkers. IMO, its web presence is better than it was, but the content is uneven except for the columns of R JD Bleich and R D SZ Leiman.
The RJJ Journal always has articles on important halachic issues by promiment and up and coming Talmidie Chachamim. Chaikirah strikes me as a very important and recent addition with a very committed and intellectually honest approach to issues of Halacha, Hashkafa and Jewish History as well as a great letters section.
Like it or not, while the Yated offers coverage of the Charedi yeshiva world and even respectful coverage of RIETS RY, which one never finds in the JW, one never sees or views women as spiritual personae who are known teachers of Tanach, etc or even spouses of honorees in the Yated, Hamodia ( which AFAIK is edited by a woman) or Mishpacha. Given the fact that Chinuch HaBanos involves very different issues than Chinuch HaBanim, I wonder why there is no Roundtable consisting of some of the wonderful educators and administrators of girls schools.
The Jewish Press and such papers as the Five Towns Jewish News offer a far more wide ranging view of the MO and Charedi world than Yated,which is obviously and almost totally Lakewood/Litvishe in orientation, Hamodia, which is Chasidishe or Mishpacha, which is Charedi lite and which tries to cover the Litvishe and Chasidishe worlds. In all of the Charedi publications, there are some excellent columnists and writers who are powerful advocates for their POV, who I respect as unapologetic proud Torah observant Jews and Talmidie Chachamim, even when I differ with their POV on a hashkafic or halachic issue. One can sense an attempt within the Charedi media to attract RW MO readers by offering editorials and columns that would at times attract RW MO and RZ readers such as their coverage of the massacre at Mercaz HaRav.
FWIW, many of the columnists, and the letters columns in the Charedi media, especially the Yated, offer a fairly good window into some of the halachic, hashkafic and sociological issues facing their communities. The Chinuch Roundtable and R Yakov Horowitz are two excellent examples. The Yated, in contrast to all of the other papers, also features a weekly interview with Malcolm Hoenlein. However, none of the Charedi media really make an effort to understand and distinguish between LW MO and what I would call a committed MO that looks to the RIETS RY for its halachic and hashkafic guidance.
On Arevim, there was a recent thread about the purported suspension of publication by the JO. IMO, whether the same is permanent or temporary is irrelevant because the JO”s role has been supplanted by Yated, Hamodia and Mishpacha and even the Charedi papers in Lashon HaKodesh, which publish on a weekly basis, thus filling and possibly replacing the need for the JO, especially when such JO columnists as R Jonathan Rosenblum and R A Shafran are available via email . FWIW, I find the Yated and Mishpacha far easier to digest than the JO, especially since I let my JO subscription expire after its infamous coverage of the Petirah of RYBS.
None of the Jewish media that purport to cover the Torah world offer the reader a review of recently published sefarim, articles in halachic journals or English Judaica on a regular basis. In view of the absolute flood of new sefarim, journals and English Judaica, IMO, such a column which R S Y Zevin ZTL wrote on a regular basis and which was compiled and is out of print, is long overdue for anyone who considers themselves a discriminating purchaser of sefarim and Emglish Judaica. Such a column, which could only be written by a Talmid Chacham with the broadest of shoulders, would go a long way in evaluating the merits of new sefarim and whether they add to the study and understanding of Torah. What passes for the same are essentially a few critical reviews in JA ,Tradition or the TuM Journal, but IMO, we need such a review on a far more wide ranging and steady basis.
JW – Jewish Week
MO – Modern Orthodox
LW – Left Wing
RW – Right Wing
JA – Jewish Action
OU – Orthodox Union
NCSY – National Conference of Synagogue Youth
NCYI – National Council of Young Israel
RIETS – Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary
AFAIK – As Far As I Know
RZ – Religious Zionists
RY – Rosh Yeshiva
FWIW – For What It’s Worth
RYBS – Rav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik
JO – Jewish Observer
IMO – In My Opinion
ZTL – Zecher Tzaddik L’Vrocha