Photo Credit: Jewish Press

Size Distortions

I’d like to respond to the Dating Decoded column in last week’s paper, “A Weighty Matter” (Jan. 6).


First, I’d like to commend Mrs. Halberstam on her response.

Second, I’d like to point out that the letter writer didn’t make so much sense. He said he didn’t want to date anyone fat, and the reason is that he takes his health seriously.

I’m stumped. For starters, how fat exactly? There’s a whole range of fat. A size 16? A size 10? 86th percentile on the BMI? Does he know what size means?

Then he says the reason he doesn’t want to date a fat girl is because he’s so health conscious. Does that mean that every fat person is unhealthy? Seems like that’s what he is implying. Because you can have a fat person who eats well and exercises daily and has better cholesterol and health prospects than the anorexic girl who skips all of her meals but looks amazing in that dress.

Of course, I’m using extreme examples here, but this is the reason why disordered eating and disordered body image are raging in the community – Because this skinny healthy guy doesn’t want a fat girl. I’m surprised he didn’t say he doesn’t want anyone ugly. I guess because that has nothing to do with “health.” Yeah, he needs to change his attitude. Eating clean won’t help him there.

Ahuva Lamm
Fair Lawn, N.J.


We Should Have It So Good

Don’t shed any tears for “Limitations On Outside Income Almost Sinks Legislative Pay Raise” (Marc Gronich, December 29). State employees earn between $28,000 to $102,500, averaging $54,500. They have to show up for work full-time year around. No time to hold down a second job. Contrast this with the recent pay raise of $32,000 for members of the State Legislature. This raised their annual base pay from $110,000 to $142,000. Adding insult to injury, they earn double to triple what the average constituent does for a part-time job. The legislature was only in session for 62 days between January 5 to June 4, 2022. They found the time to return for one day to vote themselves a pay raise. No time to deal with modifications to recent bail reform laws, which have had an impact on growing crime. They also have day-to-day meal accounts along with reimbursement for overnight hotel, travel to and from Albany, and other perks ordinary citizens can only dream about. Legislative sessions run Tuesday to Thursday; most weeks Albany is closed. This affords many the opportunity to hold down a second part-time job practicing law or some other profession.

Members voluntarily run for public office fully aware of the hours and perks. If they don’t like the compensation, they can resign today. Try working for a living like your constituents do. There are millions of New Yorkers who are just as qualified and would love to hold your office.

Larry Penner
Great Neck, N.Y.


Modern Orthodoxy’s Demise Greatly Exaggerated

Judging from Avi Ciment’s and Ben Shapiro’s dolorous articles, one would conclude that Modern Orthodoxy is a goses (on its last legs.) I strongly disagree. Kudos to Michael Klein for beautifully articulating a very viable approach to Modern Orthodoxy. He acknowledges the primacy of Torah and mitzvot, but posits that those in the Modern camp don’t shun the outside world; rather, we embrace it. To that end, we read Shakespeare, listen to the Beatles, and so on. No less an authority that the Gemara recognizes that there’s wisdom among the nations. It behooves us to selectively gather what’s positive while sifting out the dross.

For many years, I attended a far right-wing yeshiva faithful to Rabbi Avigdor Miller’s hashkafa. I can’t tell you how many times we were reminded that Rav Moshe never looked at anything that wasn’t Torah. One day I experienced an epiphany: “I’m not Rav Moshe,” nor will I ever be. Shakespeare wrote, “To thine own self be true.” I like music, I like sports and I like to read and write. And I’m not ashamed to declare this in public. Of course, I also manage to learn about six hours a day (I generally listen to a game while learning).

Last week’s FJJ included the following question asked of Rabbi Miller, “Is it forbidden to listen to rock music?” He surprisingly answered that it wasn’t, but then added, “Of course, if you do, you’re a total meshuggeneh.” I can refute this position with another of his statements. In the Toras Avigdor Parshas Beshalach, Rabbi Miller quoted the Midrash that the Jews went through twelve channels in passing through the Yam Suf. The legendary Rav derived from this that diversity is a hallmark of Judaism. He’s absolutely right, but on the other hand, he wanted and expected us to all behave according to his rules: no TV, movies, radio, newspapers. In his mind, diversity meant wearing different types of kippot while sharing the same mindset.

We cite the famous line, “Beware of what you ask for, as you may get it.” The diyuk (inference) of Ben Shapiro and Avi Ciment’s Modern Orthodoxy-bashing is that the chareidi model is perfect. I’m quite certain that Ben Shapiro and probably Avi Ciment would not be comfortable at all in a Jewish world imagined by Rabbi Miller. Now, I’m not criticizing the chareidi world. For many thousands, it works quite well, and I hope their numbers continue to increase, but I, for one, find the Modern paradigm far more workable. Is there room for improvement? Obviously, but that’s true for all our denominations.

Dr. Yaakov Stern
Brooklyn, N.Y.


Are There Any Modern Orthodox?

Avi Ciment caused great consternation with his three-part, confused concern regarding the “Modern Orthodox” community. The real question is, “Does the Modern Orthodox community really exist?” Is there an organization, a “rebbe,” or anyone of authority that declares the correct observance of Jewish behavior? I do not think so, and so many get to write their opinions, to disagree, to argue regarding the observance of halacha.

Ciment is pained by the lack of observance of Jewish law. I wonder who observes the rules fully and completely (I observe much, and some I do not). No one has the authority to point his finger and say, you are not a true Jew. Yesterday in shul I saw two men, standing all the while the Shemoneh Esrei was being repeated by the cantor, talking and talking all the way through. These men attend shul on a regular basis. So, many of us were not raised in a real “Jewish environment” by our parents, who knew what observance was about, but, in our time did not think of educating us according to the law. So many Jews abrogated being “Jewish” observance as archaic and irrelevant.

Those who will survive being a Jew are most likely the chareidi; as for the rest of us, we shall vanish, unless this oncoming antisemitism forces us to withdraw from the gentile world and return to observance in all or some of its aspects. Some left the European cemetery after the Holocaust, remained observant, some abandoned observance, and so who are we to judge them, it is not my business. There have been many who departed the “Jewish” life, intermarried and were lost to the Jewish people, some return. The question is what, who and why is one a Jew.

Bert Zackim
New York, N.Y.


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