Thursday, August 07, 2008

Crossed Signals

When I was compiling yesterday's roundup, I was confused by a pair of posts that were written back to back on Cross-Currents and decided to discuss them separately. Jonathan Rosenblum's Think Green was an excellent post discussing, of all things, environmentalism and charedim. While noting accurately the reasons charedim (and in truth, many people) are wary of environmentalists, he still makes an excellent case for people doing their part to make the world better for the next generations.

Immediately following, however, was a post by R' Avi Shafran about The Jewish Week and charedim. While Shafran's overall thrust was fine (the Jewish Week should have a charedi on its editorial board to give a different viewpoint), his arguments were troubling in their onesidedness, particularly as he starts the article by complainging about JW editor Gary Rosenblatt by saying "issues like those Gary raises (like most issues) do have two sides."

One of the issues that troubled me was Shafran's seeming desire to have it both ways: While requesting that a supposed inclusive paper such as the Jewish Week have a charedi member to present that point of view better, he argues that the Charedi papers need to have no such thing as they make no claims of inclusiveness. While on the face this is a valid argument, the question becomes why this is true. Why can't any of the Charedi papers try to be inclusive, try to present other points of view? Why is that onus only placed on everyone else?

If one of the largest criticisms of the Charedi world is its inability to respect other viewpoints, wouldn't it make sense for them to show that in fact, this is not the case? Shafran decries being "accused of wielding influence beyond our numbers (even of being, as per Gary’s title, “All Powerful”) and of poisoning the wells of “tolerance.”" Wouldn't the best solution to this be to not demand a seat at the Jewish Week, but to show tolerance and understanding?