We at The Jewish Link have long tried hard to be perceived as staying solidly in the “muddled middle” of our community on tricky issues involving halacha and mesorah. We often like to think that we represent the “mainstream” or “consensus” views in these areas, while recognizing that there may be those on the right and left who would disagree with us. That’s not to say we don’t print our own firmly held opinions; generally they have been expressed and respected without further comment. However, last week, that balance was threatened temporarily.
In our paper last week we printed an “Editor’s Notebook” column by our editor and associate publisher Elizabeth Kratz that both reported on news about the RCBC’s changing by-laws about women rabbis and offered her opinion on the proceedings.
While Elizabeth has published similar pieces occasionally over the past five years, expressing the identical viewpoint, we note that this time a number of members of our community expressed that they felt personally attacked or offended by her piece. Because of Elizabeth’s position in our paper, many of our readers conflated Elizabeth’s views with the official views of the paper. Some told us that the official stance and position of The Jewish Link was somehow slanted against the Netivot Shalom community and even against Rabbi Nati Helfgot. Some people angrily expressed this on social media in ways that surprised, disappointed and, quite frankly, shocked us.
We read comments by neighbors, acquaintances and erstwhile friends denouncing The Jewish Link as “utter trash,” “drivel” and “garbage.” This was a relatively new experience for us as a paper. It was clear that Elizabeth’s column had touched a raw nerve.
We want to take this opportunity to set the record straight and restate for our readership that our paper—which prides itself on showcasing the incredible dynamism and growth of our burgeoning community—values all views and all of our readers. We apologize to anyone who felt marginalized.
It was our view that Elizabeth’s opinion was expressed respectfully. We want our readers who feel strongly on this issue to know that we respect and value your opinions; while some community members told us they were offended by Elizabeth’s article appearing in our paper, just as many communicated that they liked it and agreed with it.
We have printed as many respectful letters on the topic as our pages have space for. Going forward, we ask and hope that all views expressed in our paper are respected, even if they are disagreed with. Our editors and publishers live in our community and hold opinions, just like every other member of our community.
With this in mind, we hope to maintain our position as a valued and welcome addition to your homes on Shabbat for many years to come.