Friday, September 25, 2009

Who is Alex Fein?

Thank you to all who sent us some personal background material re Alex Fein. Very interesting stuff indeed which we would be more than happy to publish. But at the moment these would only be classified as 'allegations' - and we prefer to do the responsible thing and await appropriate verification.

On the other hand, maybe Fein, who seems to be following this blog, is prepared to do the right thing - by her readers and the Jewish community in general - and reveal all voluntarily. No doubt she comprehends what we are alluding to. If not, here is a hint given by Fein herself to a journalist from the Sunday Age:

The Return of the Sensible Jew
TOM HYLAND - August 23, 2009

The blogger, Alex Fein, says she has been surprised by the level of intolerance to debate within the Jewish community. .....The Sensible Jew is a blog set up in May to stimulate debate among Melbourne Jews about what its author perceives to be failings of Jewish community leaders. Until recently, it, too, has been anonymous..... and she's outed herself: she is Alex Fein, 34, ....

She says her initial decision to remain anonymous and then to temporarily close the blog are linked to serious and sensitive family issues....Ms Fein says her own decision to initially remain anonymous, and then to temporarily silence the Sensible Jew, had nothing to do with fear of intimidation - at least not in Australia, and not within the Jewish community. Instead, a family member was concerned that the safety of relatives living overseas could be jeopardised if Ms Fein was publicly identified with a blog related to Jewish issues. Ms Fein won't go into details of what she says are sensitive family issues, but the relatives are non-Jews, living in the Muslim Middle East. If her blog was ever a danger to them - something Ms Fein doubts - the danger has now passed....

I am sure all of us who have seen Fein's writings and statements would welcome further details about those "relatives..non-Jews, living in the Muslim Middle East". And if and how such relatives impact upon her views regarding matters pertaining to Jews and Israel.

A pertinent comment by Sensible Shikse":

"...Neither of those things would normally be relevant to an argument, and pointing them out might be derided as a "personal attack". However, Fein's ongoing demands for "transparency" does ring a little empty when she comments on certain issues and doesn't disclose her own background to them. As they are such an obvious trump card apropos her credibility, I suspect they are the reason she originally cowered behind a pseudonym until it was impossible to do so..."

Over to you, Alex Fein.


  1. If you had any shame at all you would crawl out into the light from underneath your table at your farbrengen and reveal your own identity for scrutiny.

    This is a real low point for this site.

  2. You are striking a new low here ... there is nothing good that can possibly come out of such an "expose".

  3. This is ridiculous loshen hora!
    Firstly this reads as a personal and juvenile vendetta of some kind, secondly this is rich considering your previous post where you alleged to be disgusted at the AJN for trying to dredge up shmutz on another individual.
    And thirdly, that Erev Yom Kippur you should resort to the worst kind of Sinat Chinam in an attempt to devalue Ms Fein's opinion.
    I read both blogs, and although she criticises the leadership, she does not engage in the sort of character assasination that you have now embarked on.
    Shame on you!
    If you have a problem with Ms Fein perhaps it would give you more credibility to criticize her opinions, her reasoning or even her sentence structure. But her personal life, whether public knowledge or not, should have no bearing on the validity of her opinions or identity as a Jew.

    And your personal judgement of her Erev Yom Kippur is nothing less than shameful.

  4. David, I know you well and that is why I am totally surprised at your comment.
    You truly don't think that there is an essential obligation to disclose key and relevant background information about persons who constantly criticize and pass judgment on our communal organizations and leadership?

  5. Reply to Anonymous 3:23

    And your name is...?

  6. Reply to Anonymous 11:32

    What in our post is "ridiculous" and what "loshen hora" are you referring to?

  7. Sorry.

    I don't think anybody actually took pleasure in blowing the lid on this girl, and nobody is enjoying it now. But it had to be done for the greater good. It all comes down to credibility.
    Fein has been a darling of the antisemitic Age newspaper and done little benefit to the Community. The fact she effectively removed herself from it, is absolutely legitimate commentary even if it strikes some people as unsavoury.

    It is also directly relevant to "AJN Watch" who (considering her Mother was a staffer there) were fully aware of this issue, and have chosen to prop up her blog, rather than asking the hard questions.

    Unfortunately, as long as we shrug and say "oh well" to intermarriage, we are doomed. Once upon a time, people would sit shiva for a child who married out. Or they'd be cut off when they started dating a non-Jew, in an attempt to prevent the inevitable. And that wasn't pleasant either. But in our 'enlightened' present, look where it's got us. Or better yet, look to America, where non-Jewish girls specifically put themselves on J-Date in order to land a nice Jewish boy, and our community is decimated.

    It is time that the unpleasant was said, and let's make no mistake, Fein brought it on herself. She meddled in the affairs of dragons. What did she expect? If you went in to politics and used to sleep with hookers, you probably wouldn't put yourself on a moral crusader's ticket.

    In Fein's case, she's been lecturing the Community leadership on being unrepresentative, when she has divorced herself from the mainstream.

    As for her 'confession', it would seem she has 'jumped before she was pushed' and will no doubt claim victimhood. Despite having well and truly attacked, abused and defamed people she has never met.

  8. My further thoughts are summed up in the below post I placed on her site, and which may, or may not end up being approved by her.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    September 26, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    What makes their latest post so special is that they feel they have stumbled upon some extremely hot, breaking news.

    Well, it’s certainly the first time you have mentioned something pretty damned relevant to your “Jewish Identity”.

    Indeed, by marrying a non-Jew (and dare I say it, a Muslim at that) you have well and truly placed yourself at the outer fringe of the Jewish Community. So I have to ask, when you kvetch that you aren’t “represented” by the mainstream, exactly why does that surprise you?

    Antony Loewenstein is the same, having removed himself from the Community, under no duress to do so, and then wondered why he is stuck on the fringe.

    It’s a simple case of “look at me” syndrome, so often demonstrated by people on the extreme fringe. Oh, and by the way, the whole marrying a Muslim thing isn’t even the best bit. Care to share a bit more about your past, that might shed some light on your views? Hmmm???

    As AJN Watch is written by one or more anonymous cowards, they don’t make any concrete revelations because they clearly fear legal retribution and, I suppose, exposure.

    Hypocrite much? You were posting anonymously as “Sensible Jew”, and it’s now pretty obvious why. It had nothing at all to do with your Husband’s safety, and everything to do with you. The mainstream Jewish Community doesn’t need lectures on Jewish identity and Jewish continuity from people who marry out. Sorry. Your only possible contribution might be as a case study in what not to do.

    You knew full well there would be an issue of credibility. But as far as anonymity goes, kindly spare other bloggers the sanctimonious lecture. You started it.

    Most Jews are smart enough not to be repelled by someone’s ethnicity or religion.

    A straw man argument. That people don’t have an issue with a rather nice sounding Muslim, doesn’t mean they wouldn’t have an issue with intermarriage, which in time is numerically as big a threat to the Jewish people as the Shoah.

    Your Muslim husband (and any other non-Jew who marries a Jew) has done nothing wrong. You have.

    As for “legal retribution”, give me a break. Have you been getting advice from “Wolfie” and his crack legal team? So far, you’ve had a massive spray and started throwing threats around. Who’s really the one with a problem here? I think you need a Bex and a good lie down.

    What really disappoints me, is that you haven’t devoted more of your energy to fixing what’s wrong in the Muslim world, rather than the local Jewish Community. Suffice it to say, neither you nor Antony Loewenstein are on the receiving ends of any Fatwas, no matter how many Jews you upset.

    P.S. If you’re wondering why I’m posting this from an anonymous email address, it should be obvious. Having disclosed Michael Burd’s private details (given to you in good faith), it is clear that you have no ethics and your claim that email addresses “will not be published” is a lie.

    You are also aware that you’ve censored a large number of my comments to your blog. So do what you want with this one, but note that it will be published widely elsewhere given your past choice to adopt the Loewenstein approach to dealing with critics.

    I hope you have plenty to think about over Yom Kippur. And in advance, I beg your forgiveness for any hurt or discomfort I have caused you. Please understand, you brought all this on by attacking and condemning people who have done nothing wrong, other than have a different political view to yourself. Worse, you have put yourself on a pedestal, demanding transparency and accountability from them, all the while being completely opaque and intellectually dishonest yourself.

    Nobody in the Community holds a grudge and you can start again in the new year.

  9. Alex Fein set up her blog site to attack Pro Zionist Jews , main stream Jews their leaders and representatives and all along she has been hiding her Islamic connection.
    I wonder if she will go running to TOm HYland at The AGe as she usually does with this story to further put shit on the local Jewish community and further promote her self which she loves.
    Perhaps Fein should concentrate on placing the local Muslim community and their leaders and representatives under her microscope or is he afraid of her life if she does.

    Similar to Loewenstein, Salbe,Slezak Brull and all the other Jewish community critics we have never seen Fein at any Jewish functions or events, never see her name mentioned in any involvement in any Jewish communal affairs , apart from the fact she may have been born Jewish she has a chutzpah to be a critic of the Jewish community.

  10. Anash,

    I believe in playing the ball, not the man (or woman). I disagree with a plenty of what Alex says, and at the same time respect her right to say it. This is not a "public's right to know", it's a pure slur and a personal attack. In addition, it has almost nothing to do with the AJN!

    As you know me well, you are most welcome to discuss this issue with me directly and personally.

  11. whats 'ridiculous' is the fact that only one post ago you castigated the AJN for trying to dredge up shmutz on Rav Garfunkel, and you insist on attempting to dredge up shmutz on Ms Fein.

    What is Loshen Hora about it is, it acheives nothing positive for any members of Ms Fein's family, and puts people in an unpleasant predicament. (I suspect that is entirely your intention.)

    You read like a pashkevil in Meah Shearim.
    Mean spirited and Nasty.

    You forget your Ahavas Yisroel.

    I hope that are able to Daven with genuine Kavana tomorrow.

    Gmar V'chasima Tova

  12. David with due respect it is totally naive to believe Feins Islamic connection has no relevance or should be ignored considering her anti Israel and anti Jewish obsession . Anash has a valid point.

    Time to get off the fence mate...

  13. Anon, I doubt that there are any lashan hara issues when referring to someone who has married out of faith (unless they have publicly repented). Additionally where there is an issue of "to'eles" (positive purpose) LH is usually permissible. The to'eles in this case being that public knowledge of Ms Fein's ex-marriage may cast a different aspect to her views

  14. I cant believe it, Yom Kippur is barely behind us you sit here looking for loopholes in halacha and in Ms Fein's behaviour to justify your sinas chinam.
    No compassion, no chesed, not a single kind word. Just revenge, nastiness and self serving negativity. Why dont you discuss something positive.

    Our enemies must be relishing reading the content of this site and laughing at how fragmented the Jewish People are.

    Once again, Gmar Tov.

    I am done with this site and its need to incite and justify Sinas Chinam.

  15. What I wrote was halacha - not 'a loophole in halacha'.

    Sorry to upset you. That wasn't my aim at all.

    I wish you a gmar chasima tova and a sweet new year and a year that you will judge people who live by halacha at least as well as you do for those who don't.

  16. As people continue to mistake Alex's secular Jewish sentiments with anti-semitism, I would like for you to take a minute and reflect on our community here in Melbourne. How many people follow Halacha in anyway to a great extent? How many people only go to Shule on the high holidays and the occaisional shabbat?

    It is pathetic that just because someone has married someone out of the faith (god forbid a Muslim because as you can see how much people in our community hate those, just look at some of the responses) that it devalidates their opinion. As someone who hasn't yet married out, but is still secular in belief and agree's with Alex on most issues, how do you think I came upon my beliefs?

    Oh, and I hate to break it to some of the commentators on this thread, but Alex actually isn't "anti-Israel" or "anti-zionist" perhaps if you read some of her work, you'll find that she supports Israel, but not everything about it. The only people that would call her anti-israel are people who haven't really read her works or at least understood them correctly.

  17. Edan If you believe Feins constant attacks on the Jewish community and her bagging this community in the very anti- Israel Fairfax press is a good thing or positive in any way for Jews then I give up.

  18. I'm not sure her "Zionism" is in question. She hasn't (to my knowledge) really said much about Israel to begin with. However the rest of her politics certainly is. She's had *plenty* to say about local lay-leadership and politics, all the while not disclosing her own, very, very relevant background on these matters.

    David Werdiger, it's a popular Leftist defence to deride all criticism as "ad hominem" and "playing the man". However sometimes, a person's background is directly relevant to their credibility, whether or not it's comfortable reporting on it.

    As an extreme but rather obvious example, nobody would have any problem bringing up a priest's history of paedophilia were he entering into a public debate on child protection.

    You are (and should be) judged by your actions, word and deed. You are defending the indefensible.

    1) Fein has demanded greater "transparency" and "accountability", all the while being neither transparent nor accountable herself.

    2) Fein is a hypocrite. She posted anonymously until it was too hard to stay anonymous, and has since attacked others for anonymity (even though they have never tried to adopt a moral pedestal as she has).

    3) She has actively undermined the Community, by ringing media outlets (60 Minutes) and slagging off the Communal leadership, and shilling herself to the antisemitic Age newspaper, all the while deriding elected communal leadership. She may not like it (any more than I like the elected leadership of the country or state) but that doesn't change matters. She's simply dragging the Community through the Mud, and has a bald Chutzpah to accuse others of doing so, when she is accountable to absolutely nobody.

    3) Like it or not, she married out. I don't care how religious you are (I'm not) - but I don't need someone like that, lecturing the rest of the Community on how to be more 'welcoming' to young Jews.

    4) She actively censors comments to her blog, and is ultimately no better than Antony Loewenstein in that regard. Quite rich for someone who (in shades of Loewenstein) wanted a more 'open discussion' and claimed that the AJN had a stranglehold on Communal discussion when they tend to print most of my comments, and she doesn't print any.

    5) She was unethical and quite dishonest claiming that "email addresses will not be published" when she did precisely that to Michael Burd, who provided his in good faith.

    David, you might think all of the above is "playing the man", but I think you'll find an analysis of "the man" is quite in order. You just don't have the stomach.

  19. Nick Name,

    You're the first person to accuse me of being a leftist! By your standard, one must be perfect to criticize anyone.

    It's quite disingenuous of you to post anonymously to discredit someone by name.

  20. Nick Name, you're certainly correct that bias must be impugned in an intellectual debate.

    However, bringing that bias front and centre as a reason for dismissing a person's arguments is highly unncessary and downright intellectually lazy.

    1) Fein does not lead the community. She has no need to actually be transparent or accountable. Fein would not request that a law-abiding blogger reveal their identity.

    2) Fein's attack on other's anonymity is not simply because they are posting anonymously. It's that she claims they're inciting hatespeech anonymously that's getting her worked up, as with my own self. The people behind this blog are using the cover of the internet to publish foul diatribe. You're now (very obviously) going to argue that Fein has done the same. I think you'll find that unlike this blog, Fein has played the man and not the ball. Yes, she's criticised our leaders, but has not defamed them in any way. Simply disagreed with their handling of community matters.

    3) This outmoded view is not helpful to debate. How does one "marry out" out of a religion? Are you saying that Alex Fein can no longer attend shul? (She did this Yom Kippur!) Are you saying that she cannot send her children to a Jewish day school? (She'd be well within her rights to send her children to Bialik. Why, I had a classmate at Bialik whose father was Jewish and her mother wasn't. How's that for not being married out?)

    My point is, you can choose to shun people for marrying a non-Jew, or you can accept that person into our community. A person can choose to LEAVE our community by not going to synagogue, not sending their children to a Jewish school and cutting off connection to the community. But anybody who remains an active participant in the community, is part of the community.

    Fein continues to participate, and so it is not her actually "marrying out" of hte community, but rather it is your own bigoted decision to shun Fein for marrying a non-Jew that leads you to your view that she has left the community. She hasn't, this is simply what your mind is convicing you to believe.

    4) Fein only censors abusive comments. David Werdiger has already attested to Fein's integrity in approving his comments, many of which argue staunchly against what Fein writes. I usually tend to agree with Fein on most manners, yet many of my comments pertaining to a troll on her blog (which is the reason why Fein now censors) did not get approved simply because they were abusive. Yes, Alex Fein even protected a troll from abuse. If that's not integrity of censorship, I don't know what is.

    5) Michael Burd took it upon himself to attack others in a shameless, bigoted manner. He got what was coming to him. There was no good faith in Burd's comments. Merely abuse.

    Your playing of the man is most certainly not in order. It is a convenient way for you to dismiss Fein's opinions, but it is neither helpful to debate, nor valid in any way, shape or form.

    If anything, it's you who doesn't have the stomach to actually rebut Fein's material head on in a civil tone. Why? Because you can't. If you were to actually go through her posts and attempt to intellectually rebut what she writes, I would bet you that you would fail.

    Go on, prove me wrong.

  21. Correction: In point 1), I meant to say "Fein has played the ball and not the man". I'm a bit tired, several hours of Fluid Mechanics deteriorates my thinking a bit!

  22. Daniel, one cannotuse Bialik as an example in these type of debates.
    If you know anything about that fine college you would know that they are EXTREMELY tolerant up that way.

  23. And why can't you use Bialik as an example? You will find in that school some of the most profoundly intellectual Jewish minds housed there. I would like to see anyone spar with Michael Cohen on a Judaic issue and win. I'm yet to see the day. He nurtured my brother to a perfect score in Religion and Society, teaching some of the most profound insights that Jewish pedagogy has to offer.

    In my own experience, Zvi Civins is the most remarkable Jewish Studies teacher under whom I have ever had the privilege of learning. He had his own views on a great number of Jewish matters, but inspired every student to undertake academic inquiry, leading students on a true academic pathway to distill their own Jewish viewpoint. He took every precaution to ensure that he did not not shove a cookie-cutter "this is the most accepted belief" worldview down our throats.

    I have remarked on another blog that in the same classroom, discussions between radical orthodox and the highly secular took place in the calmest of tones and each student took from it what they identified with and learned.

    And it is precisely because of that "EXTREME tolerance" which you seem to deride (though I cannot imagine why?) that so many Bialik graduates end up with a lovely set of critical thinking tools, well worth the $20k a year.

    There is a reason why Bialik has vastly dominated the VCE rankings, slipping out of the top 5 only once in the past 15 years, and it's not because we're locked in a room and forced to work. The reason about which I am talking about begins with "mutual respect", and you would do well to learn a lesson from them.

    I know that bialik offers Melton adult educational programs at night. Perhaps you would do well to enrol in one.

  24. I think there are a mix of valid and invalid criticisms of Fein being presented here by Nick Name;

    1. ideally she should have made her identity known from the start but she chose not to do this because she was concerned about the possible impact on her former husband's extended family. Taking into account that they are Iranian and noting the practices of the Khomeinist regime this is not entirely unreasonable. However, if you take exception to known figures you should yourself make yourself known.

    2. there is an element of truth to the hypocrisy charge - that is until she revealed herself and made her identity known. Those posting anonymously should demonstrate that they were engaging in respectful discourse - not engaging in personal attacks with the benefit of anonymity. This could be examined because there are probably records of the edited comments. The interesting thing to ponder is whether those who made the abusive/unfair comments would acknowledge openly with their own identity that they did so. To decline to do so indicates a certain cowardice and hypocrisy of its own.

    3. Undermining the community? By criticising its leadership and its excesses? I thought we appreciated open and frank discourse? Is our community so imperilled that we can't discuss its internal matters? So what if she calls into question the leadership and its views? They are big boys (and girls) and can handle themselves - I don't think they need anonymous bloggers to do it for them.

    3. Marrying out is a serious issue vis a vis demography etc. In saying that I don't see any examples of where this has apparently affected her writings?
    And besides, marrying a Persian isn't that bad - Esther did it!
    I think the majority of the repulsion displayed towards this is a projection of the prejudices of the person making the criticism to be honest.

    4. Censoring blog comments is merely responsible blog moderation policy - otherwise you will end up with all sorts of stuff appearing on your blog, much of it totally irrelevant to the topic at hand. This site itself moderates for language and content - and this is a positive thing. You post here so you cannot object too strongly to blog moderation/censoring or are you suggesting that AJNWatch is also in the league of Loewenstein?

    5. The Burd thing was poorly handled by Fein. No questions about it. Burd was writing some offensive comments but not enough in my opinion to merit the treatment he received. I think he did the correct thing in warning her with legal advice - if he had gone further he would himself had to have explained the content of his own comments which were somewhat offensive and would have been embarrassing for him.

    Overall, whoever the anonymous critic(s) are - they should, as they have invested so much of themselves into the issue, identify themselves. Failing that they should explain why they have taken such offence to Ms Fein's relatively obscure (and lacking in influence) writings.

  25. Anonymous,

    1. Fein isn't overly critical of the Jewish community, only of it's supposed representative leaders. Her use of the Gay and Lesbian group Aleph and the fact that they couldn't get onto the JCCV because of it being held hostage by religious groups proves that the body isn't representative and unless you are arguing that a majority of the community still hold religious prejudices against Homosexuals, then I suggest you look outisde of your own circle and see what the J-com believes.

    2. I find your insinuation that being critical of the Jewish community quiet disturbing. I think it is exactly wrong with the community. We are so agaisnt critical views that we simply shun and reject people who don't "fit in".

  26. Nice Daniel Levy - "I know that bialik offers Melton adult educational programs at night. Perhaps you would do well to enrol in one." Now there's an example of playing the ball...NOT!

  27. Oy! Did you misunderstand my comment about Bialik being tolerant!

  28. Obama will do it, I think I may have misinterpreted. It is difficult to read tone through the internet. At 1 o'clock in the morning, your comment came across as sarcastic and made me think you were mocking the Bialik teaching style. Rereading it now, I still believe that your comment contained a hint of sarcasm, but it seems to be directed elsewhere :P My apologies for the misunderstanding.

    Captain Pugwash, please direct me as to where I play the man and not the ball in that post. I summarily pointed out what I thought was some flaws in Obama will do it's logic (happy to admit that it was an error of judgment), and at the end directed him to an avenue of self-help in order to avoid repeating his mistake - which, as it appears, he did not actually make.

    I am now going to take my own advice and enrol in a reading course.

  29. Fein only censors abusive comments.

    And you know this how?

    You only have her word to take for it, which I assure you is worthless. I have posted, extremely civil questions to her, which she would have simply found uncomfortable. So they were binned.

    Why do you reckon this relatively tiny AJNwatch blog has so many comments, whereas the corresponding thread at the (widely publicised) "Sensible Jew" site has exactly 2? Both of which, are tongue baths, not robust debate.

    I also called her on her downright appalling treatment of Michael Burd (to wit, giving his private email address away to a third party who proceeded to threaten him with court action, despite having no leg whatsoever to stand on).

    Again, I was polite but she couldn't handle it. So the comment was binned. No doubt, had I posted a comment about how brave, lovely and talented she was, it would not have suffered the same fate.

    The bottom line: She demands debate, yet is too thin skinned to get into it herself. Loewenstein had the same problem - insisting people hear his views, but being too glass jawed to put up with the inevitable criticism he received when he was flat out wrong.

    I have to tell you, I've *never* had a comment censored at any of the dozens of blogs I routinely post to. And yet, by some coincidence, at Loewenstein and Fein's blogs it's the norm.

    People are free to call me whatever they want (and plenty of hardcore anti-Semites have done). I won't get all sooky and have a big cry about "personal attacks". I simply give as good as I get.

    Fein can't handle it, so my advice is: If you can't handle the heat...

  30. Then answer me this, Nick Name, why do you see people like "Morry" and "David Werdiger" etc. disagreeing in her comments section?

    I have seen countless comments posted which disagree with Fein.

    I'll post the links to some here for your reading pleasure:

    That's already 4 (FOUR) comments, in the first 10 replies of an SJ post, all of which disagree with SJ on some level, varying from outright disagreement to quibbling over certain points.

    So yes, it does seem to me like you've had a bit of sour grapes over an abusive troll post that didn't get let through.

    Please explain to me how those comments, which Ms. Fein approved, are not in direct disagreement with her views? I bet you can't.

    And then one has to return to your original argument, which clearly says that you

    1) Posted in a civil tone
    2) Disagreed with SJ

    Both tenets which are satisfied by the comment links that I posted above. So why was YOURS not approved? It does not take a genius to figure out that yes, your comments must have been abusive.

  31. Also, considering that you were only able to rebut one sentence out of my entire post, shall I assume that you have conceded the other 5 (out of 6) points?

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