web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat (L) visits the JewishPress.com booth at The Event. And the Winners of the JewishPress.com Raffle Are…

Congratulations to all the winners of the JewishPress.com raffle at The Event



Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Anti-Orthodox Bias Inside The Eruv


But even though it might be easier to keep pretending that it doesn’t exist, it’s time once again to face the truth about a not-inconsiderable segment of American Jewry: More than a few of us are religious bigots.

How can a group that has faced prejudice for two millennia and suffered a Holocaust within our living memory harbor such feelings?

The answer is that as long as you are talking about Jewish opinion about other Jews, such sentiments always seem to bubble just beneath the surface.

This phenomenon is on display for all to see in the November issue of Philadelphia magazine in a feature by Philip Weiss, tastefully titled “Oy Vey, There Goes the Neighborhood.”

The neighborhoods in question are Lower Merion and Bala Cynwyd, once the heart of the traditionally WASPish and prosperous Main Line suburbs of Philadelphia. While large numbers of upwardly mobile Jews have been a fixture in the area for generations, the problem, at least for some quoted by Weiss, is that the last two decades have seen an influx of Orthodox Jews into the area.

The event that precipitated the growth of the Orthodox community there was the creation of an eruv, which enabled Jews to carry objects or push baby-strollers outside their homes on the Sabbath and holidays. Along with all the other requirements for an observant lifestyle, like readily available kosher food, schools and synagogues, an eruv is an indicator of an Orthodox-friendly neighborhood.

So what’s the problem? According to Weiss, seculars “are put off by the fundamentalism and narrowness of the Orthodox Jews.” Even worse, Weiss says that these secular and presumably politically liberal Jews worry that the Orthodox are “diminishing an enlightened community importing a culture of narrow-minded fundamentalism.”

One reason for this sentiment is a function of the Orthodox community’s tendency toward greater political conservatism. Another, he points out, is the nature of Orthodox religious belief, which has led to what Weiss calls a degree of “evangelism” about Sabbath observance and lighting candles on Friday nights.

This “Jewishizing of Lower Merion,” as Weiss puts it, has put secular Jewish teeth on edge. Even worse, he writes, is the fact that the Orthodox have views about gender relations, homosexuality and sexual morality that clash with the beliefs of those who embrace the popular culture of our day.

Weiss says that he found no one who would express such sentiments on the record (other than himself and his editor Larry Platt, who wrote in a separate editor’s note that he and his wife like to drive down a major street in the avenue on Shabbat and play a game they call “Spot the Jew” whenever they spy the Orthodox on their way to shul), so he is forced to merely quote people, like a friend of his mother’s, anonymously. This is a major journalistic failing, and would normally speak to either the flimsy nature of the thesis that Weiss is seeking to illustrate or to his laziness.

But lack of reliable sources notwithstanding, I’m prepared to accept his thesis that this hostility is real. One need only read Samuel G. Friedman’s Jew vs. Jew, the Columbia University journalism professor’s 2000 study of several varieties of intra-communal Jewish conflict in the United States, to see that such sentiments are hardly rare.

The pattern is a common one. In the case of Lower Merion, as Weiss puts it, the new Orthodox arrivals “altered the character of a liberal suburb.”

He writes of non-observant Jews sitting in a non-kosher, “Jewish-style” restaurant on the Sabbath, viewing flocks of the observant walk past them on their way to shul. The implication is that the diners are somehow threatened by the shul-goers.

It seems the Orthodox presence isn’t a form of diversity that an otherwise liberal community would extol. Why? Because the shul-goers are viewed in some way as a challenge to the seculars, who feel that their own way of life is threatened by the Judaism proliferating around them.

The notion of educated, sophisticated and even affluent Jews embracing an Orthodox lifestyle with all it entails is profoundly disturbing to those who saw assimilation into the mainstream as the main goal of American Jewry.

Indeed, Weiss’s mother’s friend seems a convenient symbol of a generation that views a vibrant Orthodoxy as frightening specifically because it seems to place the disintegration of her own family’s Jewish identity (none of her grandchildren are Jewish) in a less than flattering light.

About the Author: Jonathan S. Tobin is senior online editor of Commentary magazine and chief political blogger at www.commentarymagazine.com, where this first appeared. He can be reached via e-mail at jtobin@commentarymagazine.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Anti-Orthodox Bias Inside The Eruv”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Along the Israel-Syrian border.
Jihadist Threat Rising on Israel’s Northern Border
Latest Indepth Stories
0.5-Shekel-hatasham-RJP

The War projects to lower Israel’s 2014 GDP 0.5% but will have little influence on foreign investors

The_United_Nations_Building

It is in the nature of the Nations of the World to be hostile towards the Jewish People.

champions

Hamas and Islamic Jihad are actually fighting to “liberate Jerusalem and all Palestine.”

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz reviewing maps on the Golan Heights.

The bad news is that ISIS and Al Qaeda are on the Syrian Golan. The good news is that every terrorist in Syria is killing each other.

The congregants, Ethiopians spanning generations, were beaming with joy and pride.

The withdrawal from the Gaza Strip nine years ago did not enhance Israel’s security.

How does a soldier from a religious home fall in love with a soldier from a non- religious kibbutz?

In 19th century entire ancient Jewish communities fled Palestine to escape brutal Muslim authorities

Responsibility lies with both the UN and Hamas, and better commitments should have been demanded from both parties in the ceasefire.

But the world is forever challenging our Jewish principle and our practices.

If this is how we play the game, we will lose. By that I mean we will lose everything.

Reportedly, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates have formed a bloc that seeks to counter Islamist influence in the Middle East.

One wonders how the IDF could be expected to so quickly determine the facts.

While there is no formula that will work for everyone, there are some strategies that if followed carefully and consistently can help our children – and us – gain the most from the upcoming school year.

More Articles from Jonathan S. Tobin
Bomb Shelter

One of the key talking points by apologists for Hamas in the current conflict is that it isn’t fair that Israelis under fire have bomb shelters while Palestinians in Gaza don’t have any. Among other factors, the lack of shelters accounts in part for the differences in casualty figures between the two peoples. But somehow […]

Jonathan S. Tobin is Senior Online Editor of Commentary magazine.

How will all this end? Hamas seems to think it will be Netanyahu who will blink first.

Nothing short of a stroke that will decapitate the leadership of this group will convince the Arabs that Hamas has made a mistake.

Z STREET will have the ability to compel IRS officials to testify as to their practices and produce all records.

“Death of Klinghoffer” opera frames the issue as Israel’s existence being the real crime.

Palestinian leaders claim the kidnapping is an Israeli hoax or the act of Jewish criminals rather than terrorists.

If Peres has outlasted some of his critics and is still considered popular, he cannot outrun history.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/anti-orthodox-bias-inside-the-eruv/2006/11/15/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: