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Orthodox or Not, All Jews Are Fellows

Alana Newhouse’s Roman Vishniac article inspires a rabbi’s timely sentiment

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Of all of the responses I’ve received to my recent article on Roman Vishniac, none will stay with me longer than the one that came over the transom this morning. In a beautifully written installment of his weekly column, Rabbi Avi Shafran of Agudath Israel of America perceived what was, at least for me, the heart of the story:

Many Jews who define themselves as non-Orthodox or unaffiliated tend to view those who consider their Jewishness paramount as relics, either amusing or threatening, depending on the day and circumstance. And all too many Orthodox Jews, especially those of us in the more insular haredi world, can be oblivious to the large mass of our distant relatives beyond the physical and conceptual ghettos we inhabit. And when we do think of them, we often see them essentially as objects of “outreach.” A laudable goal, to be sure, born of the desire to share something precious, but qualitatively removed from the deeper recognition that they are worthy of our concern and love as fellow Jews even if they never choose to live like us.

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

The Elephant and the Jewish Community [Matzav]

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Raed Kami says:

I am grateful to ms Newhouse for exposing Vishniack as a holocaust peddling fraud, in all places like the New York Times. When the Iranian government tried to have a legitimate discussion on the veracity of the so called holocaust, it received a lot of opprobrium. I guess we need to rely on jews questioning the so called holocaust. If a mass murder of jews occurred in Europe, it is because they provoked it, just like they are provoking the world today with the ongoing genocide of the Palestinian people

Reading 101 says:

Raed Kami, keep your hatred to yourself. I’m not quite sure how you read Newhouse’s piece as “exposing VISHNIAC as a holocaust peddling fraud.” The point of the story was not that he was perpetrating a fraud or distorting history. Nobody questions that his photos are real. And, further, his photos are not about the Holocaust but rather about the world that the Nazis destroyed. Nowehere in her article does Newhouse come close to questioning the veracity of the holocaust. Rather, the story is about the fact that Vishinac highlighted certain aspects of his works (i.e. poverty and religious life) and neglected the more cosmopolitan and perhaps more assimilated Jews that he also photographed. Newhouse bemoans his failure to give a fuller picture of the world that was destroyed. She does not accuse him of fabricating the holocaust. Indeed, any self-respecting reporter could not do so in the face of overwhelming evidence that Jews were massacred across Europe because of the kind of bias and anti-semitism that you espouse in your comment. Look inward. And I suggest perhaps you re-read the article, and you will realize that your own hatred and bias have caused you to engage in a wildly distorted and anti-semitic reading completely unmoored from the article itself.

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Orthodox or Not, All Jews Are Fellows

Alana Newhouse’s Roman Vishniac article inspires a rabbi’s timely sentiment

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