Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Goy, Frei, Curious?

The comments on my Money Matters post contained a few complaints. Some commenters rightly grumbled about my neglecting to include non-Jews in my invitation to donate ("frum or frei, chareidi or chasidic, misnagid or Mis-nagid"). Kyaroko wanted to know why shiksas weren't included (which made me wonder what's alliterative with "shiksa." Answer: "shaigetz" ;-).) This raises a very valuable point: DovBear probably has the highest non-Orthodox and non-Jewish readership of any Orthodox blog.

Yated Ne'eman's web site boasts that it's "a window into the chareidi world." Yated's web site is as much a window into the chareidi world as the PR department is a window into a corporation's world. You can get some info from them, but only as the company/community wants to be seen, not as it really is. A truer online window into the community is its blogs. Instead of press releases, blogs are more like sitting in the company's cafeteria, hearing what the employees are talking about. You get a much richer and more realistic view, something Yated can't countenance.

Some Orthodox Jews think their actions and words can still go unnoticed. Some Orthodox leaders are still surprised when their "minor" talks become the source of major online controversy. Offensive "local" pashkevil are posted to for all to see. Some Orthodox bigots still talk of saying things about non-Jews "behind their backs" in an era of ubiquitous recording and communication. They're chuckling behind their homemade ghetto walls while satellites zip overhead. DovBear's under no such illusions, and his diverse readership is a direct result of that forward thinking, the realization that transparency is here whether you like it or not.

For every outsider who shudders at Rabbi Shafran's latest repugnant statement, there's DovBear doing his contrarian best to offer an alternative view. For every extremist defending Israel's every action no matter what, there's DovBear showing that one can criticise Israel and still be a philosemite. In a generation where Orthodoxy's lamented slide to the right continues its embarrassing descent, DovBear's a little tugboat pulling with all his might to the left. When newspapers are full of stories of Orthodox Jews acting unethically, superstitiously, or racist, there's DovBear showing that Orthodox Jews are not all unethical, superstitious or racist. DovBear has, through his thousands of posts, shown The Outside World a side of Orthodox Judaism that they can respect and admire, and they've responded by engaging.

So welcome y'all to the DovBear show. All are invited and encouraged to participate in his cause, and he wouldn't have it any other way.

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