Wednesday, March 3, 2010

AJN: Bar Mitzvah (or Bar Aveirah) supplement?

Readers of last week's Jewish News readers also received their annual Bar/Bat Mitzvah supplement. (As expected with the AJN, the "Bar" comes up as far more important than the "Mitzvah".)
Though sadly, we have become used to this, an outsider viewing the photographs of females in the articles and advertising may get the impression that Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are some sort of Jewish buck’s night. We have long wondered why parents allow and even encourage their young daughters to dress in provocative and immodest fashion. And the mothers portrayed obviously haven't got the faintest idea of the true meaning of a Bar Mitzvah. Even more disgusting and sacrilegious is seeing scantily clad mothers and daughters inside Shul! What's wrong with our rabbis? Why don't they draw up a "decent-dress" code for their Shuls? Most sensible and respectable people - even those who are not religious - would accept such requests with understanding. Everyone knows that they cannot enter other religion's houses of worship in crude and indecent attire. They understand that this cannot be tolerated by most other faiths. Eg, when visiting the Vatican or the temples of the Avodah Zaras in Thailand, all follow the strict dress code knowing that failure to comply will get you banned from entering. But many of the same people come dressed to Shul as if they are going to a disco or nightclubs.

So come on rabbis and Shul boards, time to lift your game. And the educators in our schools could also do their bit in improving tzeniut standards.
While the above comment is in our view a matter of great importance and needing urgent attention, it is actually a preamble to our main objection to the AJN supplement.
Browsing through its glossy pages we counted almost a dozen obviously non-Kosher establishments canvassing for the Bar-Mitzvah trade. One needn't be a Mossad agent to figure out that the lack of the word 'Kosher' in the ad is telling us that they are 'treif'. As we have posted a number of times, it is quite sick that such advertising is allowed in a so-called Jewish newspaper. (Try advertising pork products and alcohol in a Muslim publication - and see how far you’ll get. Obviously Muslim publishers have far more respect for their religion and their readers than to sell out for a few dollars.)
But even worse, in our opinion, are the many caterers who aim to deceive and mislead Jewish families by describing their menus as “Kosher-friendly" or the older version of this con - “Kosher-style”.
Both descriptions actually mean “glatt-treif”.
“Kosher-friendly” simply indicates that if you ask the treif caterer really nicely, he won’t serve ham or even shrimp at your function. Of course neveilos utreifos and basar bechalav are perfectly OK.
British Jewish newspapers - including AJN editor's former publication the London Jewish News carry a [N] symbol in all ads of non-kosher food suppliers. While this is far from ideal - at least it does give a warning sign to the baalei Simcha. The minimum that Zeddy Lawrence could do to improve the situation would be to introduce such a symbol system at the AJN.
Meanwhile AJN Watch has been informed that such advertising is completely against the law with suggestions are being made to officially complain to the authorities - against both the AJN and those advertisers - for false and misleading advertising.
A quick check of the ACCC website seems to indicate that there may indeed be a case to answer.

False claims
As well as the broad provision of the Trade Practices Act that prohibits misleading and deceptive conduct in general, there are also some specific provisions. For example, the law also says businesses must not make false claims about  the quality, style, model or history of a good or service

Advertising & marketing

Misleading & deceptive conduct

No matter how a business communicates with you—whether it is through packaging, advertising, logos, endorsements or sales pitch—you have the right to receive accurate and truthful messages about the goods and services that you buy. Find out what to do if you have been misled or deceived.

Food labelling
Food labels must accurately reflect product contents.

Help the ACCC help consumers
By helping us target illegal conduct, you can help make the market fairer for all consumers. We can take legal action for breaches of the Trade Practices Act 1974, particularly targeting conduct that is widespread, blatant, occurring across state borders or involving serious detriment to consumers.
If you think a business may be breaking the consumer protection and fair trading laws in the Trade Practices Act, you should contact our Infocentre on 1300 302 502 or by completing our online complaint form.
You can also report your concerns to the office of fair trading in your state or territory. Contact details for your local office of fair trading (sometimes called 'consumer affairs') can be found in our Consumer & business directory—search for "Government consumer protection and fair trading agencies". There is a link to the directory in the menu on the left.
Report a business if you think it may be:
• misleading or deceiving a consumer or doing something that is likely to be misleading or deceptive
• selling a product that is unsafe or does not comply with mandatory product safety or information standards.
And from Fair Trading NSW

Prohibition on misleading and deceptive conduct and false or deceptive advertising
Advertising can be a great source of information but it can also be a ploy to mislead the unsuspecting. All consumers are protected from false and misleading advertising under the Commonwealth Trade Practices Act and NSW Fair Trading Act. This means that shoppers have the legal right to receive accurate information about the products they want to purchase without being tricked.
We can only hope that activists both in Melbourne and Sydney will take appropriate steps to ensure that the Jewish News is ordered to cease and desist in promoting treif as Kosher. We presume that the offending non-Jewish caterers – who obviously wouldn’t have a clue about such matters - were advised to use this wording by the AJN advertising dept. It will be interesting to see, if this gets to the ACCC, as to who gets the fine…

Finally, where are our many Kashrut organizations? And where again are the rabbis? Why are they not screaming blue murder about treif advertising in Australia’s Jewish mouthpiece?


  1. Kosher authorities should withhold certification from caterers who advertise in the AJN. Think about it........

  2. The AJN is blatantly promoting the concept of "Kosher friendly". People who are shomer Torah and mitzvot should cancel their subscriptions - as I have done.
    Communal organisations who purport to represent Torah should also 'bite the bullet' and find another way to reach the community.
    This is an enormous travesty. The community of Mewlbourne cannot stand by and watch this happen!

  3. The Melbourne community wont and doesn't give a damn if those who are shomer Torah cancel their subscriptions to AJN or not. If you don't like what AJN prints start up your newspapers that reflect your views. See how you go getting advertising and subscriptions etc and how long the paper before the paper folds.


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