Friday, August 25, 2006

Why we ALL detest Cross-Currents No 1054

by XGH

It’s quite amazing. Even though we here often have our own (sometimes quite angry) debates, there is one thing that unites us all: We all absolutely detest Cross-Currents. Even Chardal (at least in my metaphysical reality). CC is uniformly smug, condescending, spiteful, sarcastic, narrow minded and generally paints an awful picture of Orthodoxy. This is doubly ironic, since the entire raison d’etre of Cross Currents is to try and present a broad minded, sensitive face to the outside world. In their own words:

“Through reading Cross-Currents, we hope that you will become aware of diverse views representing a traditional Jewish perspective”

Diverse views? What, you mean from Centrist Chareidi to LW Chareidi? They go on to write:

“Any impressions you may have had of the Orthodox as being monolithic or humorless should rapidly be dispelled”

Yeah, with all those snarky, sarcastic comments in every CC post, they’re certainly not humorless. Snarky? Yes. Sarcastic? Yes. But humorless, I guess not.

The latest hysterical outburst comes from Avi Shafran, on the subject of KOE appointing a woman leader. Even though we have already had a sarcastic, snarky Menken article on this very subject, apparently the non-humorless folks at CC are still seething with frustration at this. The latest post writes the following:

“Whether Conservative, “halachic” or “post-denominational” (we Orthodox, one imagines, must be “pre-denominational”), KOE’s practices, halachically defensible or not, are of negligible concern to either the haredi or centrist segments of the Orthodox world – which comprise the vast majority of Orthodox Jews. “

Really? I assume that by ‘Centrist’ the author means ‘Modern Orthodox’. (Is there some reason the author couldn’t write Modern Orthodox? Very strange.) But why is a Hareidi site claiming that KOE and women’s roles therein are of negligible concern? On the contrary, the moves at the far left of MO are of extreme concern to the RW MO, and are of extreme interest in Centrist MO, hence all the hysterical articles on the subject, with the RW desperately claiming that there’s nothing here folks, move along, move along, with the opposite side saying this is the start of something big. The more they protest that there’s nothing doing here, the more it makes me think that there is very definitely something doing here.

Clearly, there is nothing black or white about appointing a woman in a leadership role, even in a shul. There's no clear Halachah against it, it's a matter of social policy. And it's always these kind of issues which get the RW so worked up, because all they can do is scream hysterically 'You're a kofer, you're not Orthodox, you're Conservative!' (Kinda like the way I scream at DovBear sometimes).

Some people accuse me of hypocricy. They say my old blog, and this blog too, are constantly snarky and sarcastic. That’s maybe true, but then we’re not claiming to be Rabbis trying to present Orthodoxy to the outside world in the best light possible. Most of the CC posters seem to be fairly decent well respected people in real life, (most but not all), however when they get on CC they just get nasty. I think there must be something about blogging, it turns even the nicest people into obnoxious jerks. (Yes, me too).

Ironically, reading Cross-Currents just makes ME want to shout out 'I'm not Orthodox, and nor do I want to be!'. Yuch.

I think we need a new Cross-Currents. One that IS actually broad minded, one that DOES actually paint a good picture of Orthodoxy, and one that isn't staffed by a bunch of obnoxious jerks (when blogging) continually denigrating every branch of Judaism which isn't exactly like their own.

DB's two cents:
Along with showing the world how easy-going and mirthful the Orthodox are, Yakov Mencken says that Cross Currents was created to answer to the anti-Heredi media. If that's so, he's failing miserably. I mean, how does going out of your way to bash modern and irreligious Jews improve the public image of Judaism? How does giving Toby Katz a platform where she can blame every evil in the whole wide world on secular Jews helps to innoculate us from media critiscm? Creating a blog that echoes and imitates everything that thinking people hate about conservative talk radio is suppose to rehabilitate our public image? Please

Anyway, I think Yaakov must inhabit an alternate universe. I read the papers, and watch the news, and by my lights the haredim are treated with kid gloves for fear of offending. Where are haredim bashed? He's being needlessly paranoid.

The terribly sad thing about the Cross Currents expreiment is that it could have been a good and useful site, had it lived up to its stated ideals. Unfortunatly, many of the posters are too cowardly to tackle legitimate issues (remember the deplorable way they handled Slifkin and the Boro Park riots?) and by giving voice to both Toby Katz and his own worst demons, Yaakov Mencken has created something that, unfortunately, justifies anti-Orthodox bigotry, rather than combating it.

[Hey DB, I can't guest blog if you're gonna modify my posts!]
[Sorry, but the post was titled why we ALL hate Cross Currents, so I thought I'd pile on. Perhaps Akiva, or MoChassid, or maybe Krum, would like to add their 2 cents, too?]


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