Rethinking Our Priorities – in Galus

Avraham Weissman’s op-ed (“Rethinking Our Priorities,” Nov. 7, 2018) was very much on target. Many frum voters are not at all up-to-date on the state of morality in political New York and New Jersey. A large part of the reason is that the frum media does not keep them informed on the issues. For example, Hamodia did not ask a single question on any of these topics of any of the candidates running in this election cycle. The reason Hamodia did not do so was mentioned by Avraham Weissman himself: They obviously feel no need to bring up issues that both candidates agree upon. What is the point of educating voters as to the position of a specific candidate, if we will fare no better with his opponent?

This brings me to the point of my letter: Hamodia’s (and other frum media’s) readers have a need to understand this topic not only as voters. As Avraham Weissman and Rabbi Donn point out so eloquently, as much as we pine for the “old days” in this American galus, they don’t seem to be here any longer. I’ve had occasion to mention to frum people the fact that we are no longer a tolerated minority in New York (due to our “intolerance”), and have been met with indignation: “What do you mean? There is freedom of religion in this country!”

I regretfully inform them that the mores and attitudes toward religion of Roosevelt and Johnson — even of Clinton in the nineties or Obama in 2008 — are looked at as hopelessly out of date, bigoted, “non-inclusive” and reactionary. I humbly posit that it is the job of the frum media to keep the “rank-and-file” of our community informed of these transformations. One of the most crucial functions of the press is to apprise ordinary citizens of approaching danger. This is because they often will not “rise to the occasion” when confronted suddenly by an unprepared-for attack.

May I suggest that some in the frum media have an aversion to “alarmism”? Some seem to think that avoiding the topic may make it go away — “Why not leave it to the experts/askanim, etc.?”

I feel that we are already in a situation serious enough to warrant a sense of alarm on the part of “regular” Jews — first of all by understanding the threat. Especially since shtadlanus may not work, chalilah, and we may find ourselves living — as our ancestors did for centuries — “below the law.”

Regular, ehrliche Yidden cannot make this transformation overnight; slow-moving change cannot happen without knowledge; knowledge will not come unless the media imparts it. (Merely mentioning the topic would not suffice — I remember Hamodia counting days of an oil spill in the Caribbean on its front page — every day! Everyone, it seems, understands that topics not focused on and reiterated will be forgotten.)

Appreciative of the job you do steering between the shoals,

S. Y.