Dear Mrs. Bluth,
I must admit I have been a closet reader of your entertaining column for many years, never once believing that the sordid and contrived letters and stories you showcase each week about infidelities, sexual deviances and corruption are anything but figments of a fertile imagination for entertainment purposes. You can imagine my shock and chagrin when I overheard my daughter and two of her classmates discussing a letter recently featured in your column, about the young girl who defied her parents by staying friendly with a non-religious neighbor and attending a party with her that had a tragic outcome.
Mrs. Bluth, these are fifteen-year-old girls who obviously believe these letters are true! My daughter and her friends were actually debating the virtues of your response and whether or not the girl should have heeded her mother’s warning to break off the friendship. This motivated me to write this letter.
Perhaps you don’t realize that it is not just adults who read your column but youngsters and teenagers as well. These kids are impressionable and naive and the stuff you print can have a terrible impact on them. When I confronted my daughter about this, I was floored to learn that practically all the girls she knows read your column and accept your words as truth. When I told her that all those letters and stories were contrived, make-believe tales, she told me I was wrong, the proof being that one of her friends had written in about her home-life issues and that you responded with information that has helped her cope. Nothing I said could sway her belief that what she read in your column was anything but the truth. I think you owe it to her to set the record straight, come clean and reveal the truth.
Thank you first for being an avid reader of this “entertaining” column and for writing in about your concerns. It may interest you to know that this column highlights real life stories of people who exist in the Jewish world. So I thank you as well for giving me the chance to address any other “doubting Thomases,” and rest assured there have been many, who have raised the very same question about the validity of this column. Every letter, story and phone call is 100% true. I would love to let you look through my many e-mails, phone records and file cabinet chock filled with them, however, my vow of confidentiality forbids this. So you’ll just have to take my word for it. Or you can go back to secretly reading them for entertainment value.
I am saddened that you could find pleasure in reading even a “contrived” letter from an abused wife, a victimized and bullied child or a tormented husband. Where is your heart? These are real people who use this forum as a way of reaching out for help. The substance abuser, gambler and the petty thief, those suffering with eating disorders, questioning their personal orientation and those in the shidduch crisis, have all found a place here to voice their fears, pain and concern. Here is where we learn to be more compassionate with each other and how to better deal with adversity. Life is a hard row to hoe for many people in unfortunate circumstances. Look around you and see the lonely and forgotten elderly, the poor and hungry who rummage through garbage cans in the late night hours, and the women with nowhere to live after being left homeless and penniless by a divorce. They exist below the surface of our lives, hiding their pain and shame so that no one sees, trying to maintain what little dignity is left to them. And this is the place they pour out their sadness, frustration and pain.
And please remember: there is no way to stop anyone of any age from reading. If you stop your daughter from reading it at home, she will just read it at a friend’s.
I and this wonderful publication are extremely proud of and grateful for the assistance, resources and education we provide to those in need and the public in general, helping to create a heightened awareness of ahavas Yisroel.Rachel Bluth