2007-09-21 / Editorial/Opinion

From the Editor's Desk

One More Thing On Orthodox Jewry
Commentary By Howard Schwach

Just a reminder, before I start writing this week,, that "From The Editor's Desk" is the opinion of the writer and the writer only. Even though I am the editor of The Wave, this opinion does not necessarily reflect the belief of the owners of the paper or its publisher.

Meyer Fertig, the publisher and editor in-chief of the Jewish Star, a paper aimed towards the Orthodox Jewish community would make a good double play partner with the infamous Nazi leaders of World War II.

After reading an editorial that was obviously penned by Fertig in the August 24 issue of his paper, it is clear that he believes in the concept of the "master race."

Of course, the Nazi leadership thought that Arians were the master race. Fertig thinks that it's the Jews who fill that bill.

He believes that the Orthodox Jewish community has to remain separate from the rest of the population in order to maintain their "gene pool," because they have bred so many famous scientists and others who have helped civilization prosper.

Don't believe me? Does talk about "gene polls" make you as nervous as it makes me?

Read below.

In thatAugust 24 issue of his paper, which is published in Garden City and widely circulated in the Five Towns, Fertig wrote an editorial called, "And One More Thing,"

It was a second response to a column I had written earlier that month in this space calling the separation of any community from the mainstream anathema to Democracy.

I don't have to justify what I wrote on that occasion. The Orthodox can either believe it or not - it makes no difference to me. Many people, including secular Jews, have told me that it is about time that somebody told the truth about that community.

I don't want to dilute Fertig's words, because they speak of racism and elitism so deep that nothing I could write would illuminate them.

To set the editorial up, I would only say that I wrote, "Since the Orthodox have their own stores, their own courts, their own community groups, their own schools, their own newspapers, their proliferation leads to a separation that in untenable in the modern world."

So, from Fertig's editorial commenting on that statement:

"[Schwach] is so mistaken. We would argue that, in fact, it is our separation that has helped make the world tenable.

"First, a word about public schools. We think they're great. What a concept: children from different cultures and places of origin brought together to learn to celebrate and tolerate both their similarities and their differences. What better method could thee be to create new Americans? We're all for it. Except for one thing. With apologies to Mr. Schwach, we - particularly the Orthodox - are stewards of a tradition and a way of life even older than Democracy, itself. Not everyone is willing to bear that responsibility, but some are.

"And that, of course, is why we have our own schools. Much has been made recently about the importance of Jewish education to Jewish survival. But this is not a new discovery.

"How else could we reliably pass along our timeless message and ancient tradition to the next generation, the future stewards of that tradition and way of life

"… While the majority of Torah study, and a great deal of service to G-d, is performed by Torah-observant Jews, certainly assimilated, secular Jews perform good deeds and among the most visible of the good deeds performed in our world today is the plethora of research and scientific development that benefits all mankind, and so much of that work is carried out by MOT - members of the tribe.

"Some of these brilliant, accomplished Jewish people could possibly be further from authentic Judaism in thought and in practice, but if you were to look back at their family trees, you'd almost certainly discover that they're not so far removed, after all. A generation or two, at most three, from Orthodox ancestors.

"…The natural byproduct of the Jew's method of sustaining Judaism, which is to maintain a distance from the general population, is the unique consistency in characteristics that Jews share, which in many cases is high intelligence, curiosity and a passion for learning, passed along from one generation to the next.

:…And, it happened because our ancestors, like the Orthodox today, maintain enough distance from the wider world to ensure that our stewardship or our Torah and our tradition can continue.

"Our separation, in great part, makes modern life tenable.

"In other words, like Mr. Schwach, even the most secular Jewish scientist, owes a debt to his ancestors who, throughout the ages, fought to sustain the traditions of Judaism through education, keeping the community unified by separation. In other words, for securing him a safe, separate spot in the gene pool."

So much for Fertig.

Let's get this straight.

What he is saying is truly a racist rant.

Jews are great only because they have isolated themselves from the rest of humanity to keep a "safe spot in the gene pool."

Doesn't that sound like the Nazi gang?

We love public education, he says, but it's not for us, because we're special and we have to maintain that specialness for the sake of the rest of the world, so that we can have Nobel Prize winners and other brilliant people who will then do great things for the rest of you!

That is what Fertig is saying, and that's what's wrong with the Orthodox dogma in the first place.

They say:

Democracy is great, but we can't be a part of it because we have a special role to fulfill.

Public schools are great, but our kids can't mix with non-Orthodox because we have a special role and because mixing will somehow lead to the ruination of a very special and important gene pool.

A few years ago, there was an incident between students of the yeshiva on Beach 129 Street and a number of Irish girls who live in Belle Harbor.

At least two of the Jewish students were arrested.

The then-priest at St. Francis de Sales, Monsignor Geraghty, tried to arrange a sit-down between the young people of both communities.

He was turned down flat by the Rabbi who ran the Yeshiva because his boys could not even be in the same room as the Catholics, particularly the Catholic girls.

He blamed tradition. I say that most traditions are made to be broken when they no longer make sense.

Community stores are great, but we won't use them unless they adhere to all of our special rules. And, by the way, if you own a restaurant, you'll have to pay through the nose to insure that we'll come to your restaurant.

Certainly, there are great differences between the Nazis and the Orthodox community. Jews do not attempt to wipe out other religions, they do not go around destroying stores owned by people who do not obey their rules, although there are some reports of members of the Orthodox community driving others out of business for not obeying "the rules."

This column will once again touch off a firestorm of controversy.

It is probably true that few people in Rockaway read the Jewish Star and that I am stirring things up again by answering it in this spot.

Words such as the ones that Fertig wrote in his paper, however, need to be addressed, wherever they come from.

That is what Democracy is all about and the Orthodox can't opt out of Democracy except to use it for their community's own aggrandizement.

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