Two very different landmark events in black-Jewish relations took place in 1991, one tragic and one thrilling. Twenty years later, the repercussions are still being felt.
On Aug. 19, 1991, a car accident in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn launched a perfect storm of violence, transforming a longstanding resentment among some blacks of Jews in general and neighborhood chasidim in particular into three days of rage and riots that some historians have called the worst case of anti-Semitism in American history.
The 20th century saw many attempts to refashion the nature of human beings: Communism, eugenics, social Darwinism and others. Each resulted in catastrophe and tragedy. Much of the literature of totalitarianism — “1984,” “Brave New World,” “Darkness at Noon” — chronicles the horror of “perfecting” people or society.
I found Gary Rosenblatt’s column, “Is it ‘Anti-Orthodox’ To Seek A Safer Community?” (Aug. 5), both eloquent and a bit generalized. There is Orthodox and then there is Orthodox.
I doubt that The Jewish Week receives much criticism of being “anti-Orthodox” from mainstream institutions like Yeshiva University, Young Israel or the Orthodox Union. The literary finger wagging seems consistently from the right-wing segment of this community.
Hella Winston’s lead story covering the horrific Leiby Kletzky murder was so over-the-top offensive that I did not feel compelled to write (“Tragedy In Borough Park Puts Shomrim Under Scrutiny,” July 22).
Surely a paper with your integrity would print a retraction and an apology by the next week. But the following week’s edition bore no such apology. Where is your compassion? Where is your sensitivity? Where is your proof substantiating the outlandish claims in the article?
In his chagrin at my criticism in Ami Magazine of Jewish Week reportage, Gary Rosenblatt deftly changes the subject, to “the role of a community newspaper… to expose” wrongdoing (“Is It ‘Anti-Orthodox’ To Seek A Safer Community?” Aug. 5).
It was really surprising to see the photograph with COJECO name on the front page of the Aug. 5 issue (“Young Russian Jews In Assimilation Bind”) and the caption: “Young Russian Jews wear orange while older community members wear traditional white and blue.” The truth is that this year for the first time all Russian Jewish grass-roots organizations decided to march together in support of Israel as one contingent — young and old, religious and secular, Sephardi and Ashkenazi.
I read with much interest Ben Sales’ article (“Young Russian Jews In Assimilation Bind, Aug. 5), which contains some valuable observations. However, the community it discusses is way more complex and richly textured than suggested by this article and similar commentaries that often set up two ill-defined groups against each other (“young” vs. “old”) and then generalize about them on the basis of anecdotal evidence.
We had a death in the family last month, and we are all full of sorrow. Strictly speaking, Barry Weinstein was not a member of my family. He was my son-in-law’s father, connected to my husband and me only through our daughter’s marriage. But that “only” speaks volumes. Once a marriage takes place, the couple’s parents share things with each other that they don’t share with anyone else, including their closest friends.
Along with the sweltering summer heat, many of us wish that the “Israel conversation” would simply disappear. But it’s wishful thinking to expect this discussion to take a vacation. And for those of us who love Israel, it’s hardly the right approach.
Several months ago, Chancellor Arnold Eisen of the Jewish Theological Seminary called for American Jews to do a better job of talking with one another about Israel, “Appreciating, And Learning To Talk About, Israel” (Jewish Week, May 3).
Young Families, Singles Flocking to Upper East Side; ‘The Memory Is In Their Taste Buds’: The Lure of Sephardic Food; Safra Synagogue Rabbi’s Growing Empire; Sephardic And Egalitarian at B’nai Jeshurun; Giving Voice to Sephardic Music.