Culture, Identity, Sex & Gender

My letter to the editor of The NJ Jewish Standard

The following was crossposted to the blog at New Voices. It was also emailed to New Jersey Jewish Standard Editor Rebecca Boroson, who you can also email at [email protected]. For a little background, check out dlevy’s earlier post about the matter.
To the editor:
As a member of both the New Jersey press and the Jewish press, I am deeply disturbed by your shameful decision to apologize to “the traditional/Orthodox community” for printing a gay wedding announcement.
Your editorial of apology is an example of journalism of lowest, most cowardly order. Journalists publish corrections when they get the facts wrong–but we never apologize for it. Worse than that, you did not even apologize for factual inaccuracy. Instead, you apologized for offending someone. Get over it. We are journalists. Sometimes people get mad at us.
But I should hope that if you continue in this groveling manner, you at least have the decency to do so with some consistency. And if you do that, I have a prediction for you: Next week, you will be apologizing to the wider Jewish community for jumping at the snap of some Orthodox bullies’ fingers. You will be forced to apologize to unaffiliated, non-denominational, Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Jews for forgetting that they are the vast majority of the community.
Despite your otherwise pusillanimous handling of this journalistic catastrophe, you somehow managed the chutzpah to apologize for the “pain and consternation” you caused a few noisy homophobic readers. When can we expect your apology to the gay community for the pain and consternation you have no doubt caused them? And when can we expect you to stop running photographs of women? Some Jews find that offensive too, I hear.
Sincerely praying for the return of your journalistic chutzpah,
David A.M. Wilensky,
Features Editor, The Acorn, Drew University, Madison, NJ
Editor at Large, New Voices

11 thoughts on “My letter to the editor of The NJ Jewish Standard

  1. Here’s my letter:
    I hope the Jewish Standard will respect the liberal Jewish community, and stop printing wedding announcements that give non-Orthodox Jews “pain and consternation.”
    In particular:
    * Weddings where women are acquired like chattel
    * Weddings where women are not allowed to speak
    * Weddings that create marriages that can only be ended by the husband
    * Weddings where the woman will end up a unmarriagable because she doesn’t want to live with her abusive husband and the abusive husband doesn’t want to give her a divorce
    * Weddings where divorce matters will be decided by corrupt, misogynist rabbinic courts
    * Weddings where the marriages will end because one of the partners belatedly discovers their gay identity that had been buried under years of yeshiva repression.
    Or do non-Orthodox feelings simply not matter to the Jewish Standard?
    (You can sign on to the letter by joining the Facebook group at

  2. The Jewish Standard is a newspaper. Newspapers (contrary to popular belief) are not in the business of making news. They are in the business of MAKING MONEY.
    The Standard, in addition to being just a newspaper, is a Jewish newspaper in a part of New Jersey (Bergen County) that has a very large Orthodox population. Publishing something that antagonizes a large portion of your readership in an age where community newspapers fail all the time is STUPID. For a business (and for the human beings that comprise its staff) it makes more sense to remain open and “cowardly” than to shut down due to lack of readership and be foolishly “brave.”
    If you want to get mad at someone, get mad at the people who have a problem with same-sex marriage announcements. DO NOT get mad at a business that is trying to do its job of MAKING MONEY in an economy where it is increasingly difficult to do so.
    Before telling someone that they have done something “shameful” and “pusillanimous” you ought to consider the fact that the people working at the paper are not doing so (as I and I assume other young, rash journalists do) to build a resume or because they have lofty dreams of making a difference, but do so to make money to support their families.

  3. Judah, I have worked at one of these Jewish community newspapers in the past, and let me tell you, no one is there for the money. There are much easier and more profitable ways to earn a living.
    The majority of the paper’s income comes from ads, not from subscriptions, and the paper’s ads (for the most part) target a non-Orthodox readership. Are the Orthodox leaders who are so outraged threatening to boycott the treyf restaurants that advertise? Watch me tremble.
    Meanwhile, the paper has announced they will go back to the drawing board on their editorial policy:

  4. Judah, I’ll tell you the same thing I told you after your identical comment on the version of this post at New Voices: Journalism isn’t a career you get into for the money. You do it because you believe in it. It’s a career with its own ethics that performs a community service. Either do it, try to do it or get out.

  5. DLevy-
    Did you work at a Jewish newspaper in TEANECK where, according to the NYTimes, “There are at least 18 Orthodox synagogues in a town of 39,000.”
    Something tells a large bulk of their ads are directed at the Orthodox population because most of the population is Orthodox.

  6. Judah, I worked at a Jewish newspaper in Boston, where part of my job was to read all the Jewish newspapers from around the country. Believe me, there are not enough business that rely on the Orthodox — even in Teaneck — for this to have teeth. Especially now, given the publicity the issue has attracted, I imagine there would be replacement advertisers lining up to take the place of anyone who pulled an ad in response.

  7. And plus, “the Orthodox” are not monolithic, and there are plenty of Orthodox people — even in Teaneck — who would prefer the paper print all kinds of announcements.

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