Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Guest Post - from a Perth reader

We have been contacted by a Perth reader who has noticed similarities between the aims of this blog and one that originates in his city. We invited him to forward a guest post which shows that frum Jews in Perth have been pro-active in defending themselves far better than we on the Eastern board of the continent. We commend them and wish them much Hatzlacha.

Guest Post by Perth Sam

Thank you AJN Watch for accepting my offer to report from the other (and often forgotten) side of the country.Some of the problems you have with the AJN are replicated in our local publication The Maccabean. Nothing was done about it until, thank G-d, a group of bloggers here got together to expose and counter articles and writers who are Torah-unfriendly and/or disparage observant Jews. Their blog http://www.jewgleperth.com/ is worthwhile checking out - even if you do not live in WA. It includes lots of Jewish and Perth information. Amazingly, this site has a larger readership than The Maccabean, which should give hope to those behind the AJN Watch blog.

To introduce Easterners to some of the offensive material we cop, here’s a sample pack of posts and comments on JewglePerth:

Extreme insult and an utter disgrace

There is nobody from the Orthodox Jewish community that writes each week in the Maccabean about their authoritative understanding of progressive Judaism, and in the process insults, misquotes and misrepresents what its ideals stand for. There is a person from the progressive Jewish community that writes each week in the Maccabean about interpretive ideals of Orthodoxy with an unbelievable bias of hatred and vicious twisting of ideas. I have just chosen to no longer attend the Kristallnacht commemoration as this person will be a speaker, and I am embarrassed that somebody who can direct so much warped analysis and insulting commentary about my beliefs is extended the respect to represent the community publicly. Why does our harmonious and generally placid Jewish community subjected to such divisive and unfair badgering? The Maccabean has totally lost the plot. SNIP.
How are we expected to tolerate such madness? How low does the Maccabean have to get, that it now reaches the point where it can sanction the use of Kristallnacht and the Holocaust to bash down the beauty of Judaism. To the editors of the Maccabean - it is incumbent on you to apologise to the members of your community who are followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and it is incumbent on you to stop insulting our religious beliefs by printing obscenely inaccurate accounts of what Orthodox Judaism stands for. November 7th, 2008

Responses to “Extreme insult and an utter disgrace”
JJ Says: As the editors of the Maccabean are by and large all secular and reform who equally despise orthodoxy, I don’t expect any apology to be forth-coming. I suggest a complete cessation of purchasing it. Permanently. It is, after all, basically the temple newsletter.Votewith your subscription Says: JJ - Finally some common sense - Vote with your subscription. I agree.

Mordechai Says: The Perth Jewish Community would be in excess of 95 percent Orthodox affiliated The only way to put a stop to the current situation is for all lay as well as religious community leaders to meet with the Maccabean board of trustees and explain why the current situation CAN NOT be allowed to continue

Maccabean makes a mockery of Judaism

Any self respecting Jew who is a reader of the Maccabean should be outraged by the article in this weeks Did you Know column. The column notes its own disclaimer: “I too would like to alert my fellow Jews that some of the material contained in the article may differ from the belief in Torah MiTzion in the belief that the Torah was given to G-d on Mount Zion (sic) a little less than 5769 years ago. A Judaism has always accommodated various and sometimes even opposing Jewish ideas and so I feel justified in assuming mutual respect for our doctrinal differences is still a hallmark of Judaism in the 21st century”.

Maybe Judaism has accommodated various and opposing Jewish ideas. But Ken, the problem is that your ideas are not Jewish. And no, they are not mutually respected when they pollute the pages of the Maccabean masquerading as Jewish expression. Here are some of the supposed “facts of Jewish history” that Ken asks us to respect:
[My apologies, Apikorsus deleted –PS]
…The irony of some of the text about the history of Moses being sourced from Midrash, which the author probably both does not realise or does not believe in, is amusing in itself. But why should we have to put up with this continual insult of the Jewish faith? SNIP Once again, shame on the Maccabean for choosing to insult the Jewish community of Perth, and shame on Ken Arkwright for writing such provocative and uninspiring revisionist bulldust. If you are a reader of the Maccabean and agree that this content in our paper is an intolerable insult, please make sure to make the editor aware of your dissatisfaction.

Predictably Pathetic

How predictable! During this time of nine days when Jews should be unified in understanding the implications of the Temple’s destruction that the Maccabean has to publish a column that totally discredits all that the Beit Hamikdash stood for. How predictable! That this blog will pick up the matter and profile the outrageous insult that has once again been hurled at the Perth Jewish people through the very pages of their own newspaper. If you look closely at the reform liturgy, especially the German prayer books of the early 20th century, you will see that references to Jerusalem, the Temple Service (avodah) and a return to Zion were removed. Under this movement a German identity could not be transposed with a Zionist identity. The yearning of our people for the service of the Beit Hamikdash was our desire for 2000 years. The reformist Jews disowned this heritage, and to this day cannot reconcile their intellectual relationship with Jewish spirituality with the practicalities of halachic observance.But wait, there’s more! In order to satisfy their own shortcomings, they need to discredit those who still believe in the concept of the ingathering of exiles and the redemption of the Jewish people. They have to selectively misrepresent passages of Tanach without the aid of interpretive sources, and then have the chutzpah to present so-called Rabbinic contradictions from the Talmud as proof, even though they reject the virtues of Torah Shebalpeh in the first place. SNIP

The article says it all when it quotes that “Progressive Judaism never considered the Temple on Zion as the focal point for Jewish worship.” Perhaps the best compatible quote to accompany this statement is from Charles Golding who writes “The halachah is what it’s all about. Make no mistake: Reform, progressive, Conservative, Masorti, reconstructionist these man-made groups operate a pick-and-mix style halachah more akin to ”Jewish-style” food: it looks and smells like the real thing, but it isn’t. Without the halachah, it is impossible to be Jewish.”

I will spend the 9th day of Av, alongside millions of Jews around the world, contemplating the reasons why the Jewish people endure exile. I will lament over the words of the prophets, and reaffirm the centrality of the avodat Beit Hamikdash to the fulfillment of Jewish ideals, Sadly, there will be Jews in Perth who will at the same time be sitting outside with their bagels, reading the Maccabean, and completely missing the meaning of what it means to be Jewish. SNIP

On it goes

Let’s lay into the Maccabean again for printing another grossly offensive article to followers of Judaism. It gives us no pleasure to continue to badger this disgraceful display of destructive invective, but the Maccabean must be held to account for its persistence in being an anti-Jewish publication.

We can put on record that the readership of this blog exceeds the readership of the Maccabean, but we much prefer to be a blog, not a competitive form of media, nor a Maccabean watchdog. Nothing would be better for us than opening a Perth Jewish newspaper each week and reading interesting news about our community, but sadly it all gets spoilt by the insulting and inaccurate nonsense written by Ken Arkwright.

There are so many good things about this community, but the Maccabean refers to draw on the negative misrepresentation of Judaism instead.This week the article contains a subheading ”Torah spelling errors”. The reference to the Tettragrammaton, when pronounced Yud K Vav K, is described in the article as a nonsensical word. In fact the word is so holy to Jews that it is only pronounced in the Beit Hamikdash. The word is also related to the word Havayah, which means existance. The word says “Hashem is”. The Maccabean takes the word and removes everything G-dly from its meaning. SNIP

Shame on the publishers of the Maccabean for yet again delivering anti-Jewish literature into the mailboxes of Jewish homes in our city.

Responses to “On it goes”
Yisro Says: The issue is that many people have written in to the Maccabean on their persistent publication of this particular column, and the response has always been that they don’t find it a problem and won’t be changing anything. The key issue here is they present to a largely uneducated population Mr Arkwright’s fiction as fact. The average reader of the Maccabean is potentially going to come away viewing Judaism through Mr Arkwright’s eyes - and that’s a very sad sight to see, I’m sure. Ken presents Judaism as a fictious, hypocritical, non-sensical joke. A man-made concept which is largely borrowed from other religions, in particular Christianity (which he seems to hold in higher regard), despite the fact that Christianity came long after Judaism. Readers who view the Maccabean and a source of genuine information are (not counting their own naivety and lack of critical thinking) being done a massive disservice. If they would only present the column as “a Reform Judaism Opinion” or some other more appropriately named column (perhaps “I’m Insecure So I Attack Other’s Belief’s”), the complaints would stop. However they refuse to take even this minor “editorial” advice. Perhaps a real issue is that while the Maccabean may be an important news publication for Perth’s Jewry, it is largely seen as the mouthpiece of the Reform and secular communities. The Orthodox community feels maligned and marginalised by this publication and in reality, it serves to deepen divides, not bridge them.

Gedalia Says: ….This is not a campaign to shut down Ken. It is a campaign to tone down the rhetoric, and to stop the author’s deeply entrenched hatred for Orthodoxy seeping into what is presented as scholarly research. If I was to write an article that delegitimised reform, I suspect the Maccabean would not publish it. In fact, I hope they would not. However it has to work both ways. What if I was to write an article that said that all Jews have to accept Jesus as the Messiah? Would the Maccabean consider that appropriate for its readers? If not, then why is it acceptable to write that the Tetragrammon is nonsensical, the Torah is not Divine, that Judaism accepts virgin birth, or that the Ten Commandments demonstrate hypocrisy? The truth is that most Maccabean readers are so ignorant of their own tradition and religious dictum that they are not even aware of the insidious nature of these articles. Which is quite sad, because it’s not always that subtle. Do not mistake this anger from amongst the Orthodox as either intolerance or an issue of perspective vs free speech. It’s about respect for Jewish values, and the limitations of how far an interpretation can carry before it loses all semblance as a credible position expressed in the name of Judaism...


How much longer do we have to put up with our local Jewish newspaper discrediting itself and the community, by publishing material that is beyond the bounds of normative Jewish interpretation, insulting to intelligent readers, and offensive to believing Jews? The assertion that the message of the book of Ruth is that we should embrace the concept of mixed marriages is simply absurd. The inference that assimilation should be fostered is destructive. It is entirely relevant that Ruth is the descendent of a Moabite (a nation precluded from Jewish destiny) and the progenitor of the Messianic era, but for the exact opposite reasons as the ones suggested in the Maccabean. Ruth represents one of the most awesome twists in human history, teaching us the miracle of divine intervention. Ruth allows us to understand that if we show faith, despite the most seemingly infallible challenges in the world, then reward will come. It is not a theological “problem” that Ruth was a convert, as the Maccabean would have us believe. It is precisely the point. Ruth is symbolic of Jewish loyalty to Torah, paradoxical to the suggestion that she represents the idea it should be disbanded. Ruth secured her place in Jewish destiny by saying “Wherever you go I will go; wherever you lodge I will lodge. Your nation is my nation; and your G-d is my G-d.” This is the true way to react positively to changes in society. The alternative is to water-down, reinterpret, change, bastardise, and misrepresent Jewish ideas that have remained true and authentic for 4000 years. The Maccabean article talks in general terms about all religions, and advocates that religion needs to respond to changes in societal values. That response, writes the pages of the Maccabean, should be to sanction and encourage assimilation, homosexuality, or anything else that is desired in the form of a human relationship. Once again, the Maccabean has shamed its readership and contributed towards the destruction of Jewish identity in Perth.

Taking Stock

January 2009 was an interesting month for the Jewgle Perth blog. We had 5,000 different users view our site, with around 50,000 hits. By comparison, during 2008 we welcomed 30,000 people to this blog who took the time to read through our pages some 200,000 times. The surge of traffic in January was no doubt due to Israel’s Gaza incursion, and the material we published to advocate for the sad but necessary action that the Government of Israel needed to take for the sake of its citizen’s security. Thank you to all of those people who have viewed our blog, engaged in debate, and sent in feedback. These figures go to show just how more effective the online media is by comparison to the print media in this day and age. It is timely to remind our readers, many of you regular readers, and most of you local to Perth, why this blog was first established.

You can read more in the about us here http://www.jewgleperth.com/?page_id=2 , but essentially we were established to provide a medium for profiling and discussing local Jewish issues from an Orthodox perspective. We started this blog when, some years back, we were concerned that not all of the important issues were being raised, and that neither the local or national Jewish newspapers were always appropriately ‘representing’ Jewish values. On occasions the Jewish media went as far as presenting our community with content that is the very antithesis of traditional Jewish values (masked as Jewish commentary) which undermines the halachic integrity that has sustained Jewish communal life for millennia. All of this has been permitted in the supposed name of plurality, through the mechanism of intellectual dishonesty. The impact of this destruction of communal unity and dilution of Judaic interpretation is more destructive than its publishers could imagine, and represents a blight and an embarrassment to the Jews of our generation. Sadly this remains the case today. We therefore consider that one of the functions of this blog is to put forward a critical (often contrary) position that keeps our communal discussions focused on both substance and accuracy where we believe that a stand needs to be taken. SNIP.

The Jewgle blog will continue to be an advocate of traditional Jewish thought, and sadly but not apologetically, we often have to be outspoken in order to achieve this.

1 comment:

  1. thanks sam. i have lived in perth for 3 years and didn't even know of this blog.


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