Ignoring the basic rules of journalism, newspapers and other media gave Deborah Feldman a free ride. They happily provided her with a platform from which to attack a whole religion, without offering the other side a chance to respond. Her controversial, senseless accusations went completely unchallenged. (Someone would expect that a reporter would at least sneak into Williamsburg with a hidden camera to investigate if, for instance, girls are not allowed into restaurants or if a curfew-for-girls is in effect during night hours.) Some of her claims would have been exposed as false with a simple Google search, but the drive-by media, driven by an anti-religious agenda, didn't do this either. (We have to point out that there were some exceptions, though, and we are waiting for the results.)
Luckily, we didn't sit still. Some great Jewish writers came out to defend their religion against the onslaught of attacks. We are proud to present you the list of articles, collected from around the web:
1. A Vindication Of Chassidim With Conviction Of Eternal Judaism
VIN News op-ed by Hasidic attorney Ruchie (Rachel) Freier
As I watched in disbelief, as Feldman disparaged Torah observance on the Barbara Walters Show, and observed her interact artificially with people at the bookstore, I was convinced that not only did she have literary aptitude but that she had theatrical skill as well. How else could she deceive so many people by distorting our values and making a mockery of us? In her book she writes of an incident when she feigned seeing a mouse in class, causing her classmates to shriek in horror. She writes “What an actress I am. A white face and trembling hands to go with my scream. To think what I can do with a skill such as this – the ability to convince others of emotions I don’t really feel! It is a thrilling thought.” (pg 23).
2. “Unorthodox” Belongs in the Fiction Section
Algemeiner op-ed By Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg
Who would have guessed that Anti-Semitism could lurk in the allegedly autobiographical words of a young Jewish woman? But they have, in ‘Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots’, the memoir of Deborah Feldman, with stories she tells about growing up as a Satmar Hasid.
I don’t think that Feldman meant to create this monster, yet the intentions, for good or bad cannot stop the destruction this creation is causing. Many in our community say we should let it slide, to ignore it because it will go away in a few weeks and is not worth giving a platform to. I vehemently disagree. I think if we don’t address this lie we are no better than Ms. Feldman because we are allowing the lie to spread.
If we allow a New York Times bestseller filled with half-truths, untruths and outright lies to be the uncontested representation of the truth of our lifestyle and a butchery of Halacha (Jewish law), we are doing ourselves a disservice of the highest proportions. Joseph Goebbels, The Nazi minister of propaganda, used to repeat Hitler’s “Big Lie,” which paraphrased over time simply says, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it.”
3. Dear Deborah Feldman . . .
By Rabbi Yaakov Rosenblatt
I have read more profound books by women who rejected secular culture, seeing its lifestyle as hedonistic, Godless, and disrespectful of their feminine dignity. They saw in secular culture a society that defines the perfect body as the perfect virtue, the undress of female as art, the augmented female figure as the appropriate trophy on the arm of the rich and famous. They chose Chassidic Judaism instead.
But their books weren't featured on The View. Their stories weren't penned in newspapers across the globe. They didn't receive a call back from Simon and Schuster. I wonder why you think that might be.