Offended by cartoon

Offended by cartoon

Every week I read your paper, to which I’ve never subscribed, and end up left with feelings ranging from anger to sadness. As an Orthodox Jew who strongly believes in maintaining the traditions that have allowed our people to survive 2,000 years of this dark galut, I am guaranteed to find something in your paper that makes me sick to my stomach. I need look no further than your “Noshes” page where you often glorify supposedly Jewish celebrities even though they are the products of Jewish fathers and gentile mothers. News flash: Whether you like it or not, halacha, as defined by the Torah and sages far wiser than you, me, or any rabbi of this generation, established long ago that being Jewish is something that is determined by the mother, not the father. I would think you would embrace such a concept since it is a prime example of where women have one up over men. Nevertheless, I understand that you are trying to get a large portion of your readership that may be otherwise disenfranchised from mainstream Judaism to embrace it by showing them some really cool people that are Hebrews just like them!

I could go on and on about how your paper supports a wide variety of changes to traditional Judaism that, as an Orthodox Jew, I find abhorrent, but I will not waste my time doing so.

What particularly offended me last week was the cartoon depicting the poor “non-Orthodox Israeli” Jews that are shackled by the overbearing laws of the ultra-Orthodox. The laws regarding who is a Jew, conversion, and marriage are some of the only barriers that we have as a people to maintain our identity. If we ease up on those, then we become diluted. You may argue that it will help strengthen us by increasing our numbers, but what good are numbers if they are comprised of people of questionable halachic background? Of course, I don’t expect you to understand or embrace that argument as traditional halacha seems to have no impact on how the editorial staff of your paper chooses to lead their “Jewish” lives.

I find it ironic that this cartoon appeared in the issue that arrived on Pesach (Passover to you). Our sages teach us that the Jews of Egypt had to be taken out of bondage at that exact time since they had sunken to the last possible level of impurity prior to the point of no return. Our sages also teach us that the Messiah will come either when the Jews of this galut have reached a level of such greatness that they earn the right to be redeemed or that they have grown so impure that they must be redeemed lest they be lost forever. I submit to you that it is not the non-Orthodox Jews of Israel that are being held back by the ultra-Orthodox. In fact, it is the Orthodox that are being dragged down by yet another attempt to change the laws by which we have been commanded to lead our lives. My only hope is that we are soon able to merit the redemption by our Moshiach because we have earned it, not because we slid too far down the slippery slope of changing the very basics of what makes us who we are. I read your paper every week so that I can keep tabs on which one it will be.