Sunday, November 25, 2007

On my employment at The Jewish Journal *

There have been a flurry of comments here lately attacking The "Jewish" Journal for employing a Christian to write about Judaism. The comments, which are coming from a few people, don't bother me. I have no delusions regarding my insider-outsider role in the LA Jewish community. But they warrant some clarification.

1. I was not hired to educate Jewish people about Judaism. Amy Klein, our religion editor, reports on that. I cover stories that affect the Jewish community, but often are more about Jewishness than Judaism. Think Commentary incarnate.

2. Secondly, Judaism is not a monolith. Particularly in the United States. And while I don't stake a claim to being a religious Jew, the ethnic history of the Jewish people is as much my family's story as it is for most other Jews.

3. I am not at The Jewish Journal to fulfill a Christian mission.

Because many of these comments have come from anonymous users, I have adjusted the settings to only allow comments from registered users. (Sorry, Siamang. I always appreciate your insights and hope you'll register.)

Additionally, I'd like to ask that comments remain germane to the post they are augmenting. If the business ethics of Thomas Kinkade spur you to write a nasty letter about how out of touch the JJ is with the Jewish community, please send it to letters@jewishjournal.com.

* Update: LAObserved linked to this post this morning, and when I read it I felt like I had left something out. So I sent Kevin Roderick this addendum:
One thing I probably should have added is that most people in the Jewish community are not concerned with my religious affiliation. It strikes many as a bit odd -- indeed, The Forward interviewed me about it for a Q&A this summer -- but, as a journalist would expect, most of the people I interact with are more concerned with the relevancy and accuracy of my reporting than with where I pray. For a few others, my employment has been an itchy scab.

11 comments:

The Web Guy said...
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The Web Guy said...

Good post, Brad.

I, for one, am proud to call Brad a friend and a colleague.

He is a great addition to our staff; it is because of his outstanding contributions that he's just been promoted.

Mazal tov, Mr. Senior Writer, an keep up
the good work!

And don't let these losers get you down.

[-- Dennis Wilen, Web Director, JewishJournal.com

Brad A. Greenberg said...

Thanks, Dennis. I have no misgivings about working at the JJ and, occasionally, think I add something to the Jewish community.

Brent said...

Personally, I don't see where that dude gets off. While I've got my biases, as a former colleague, I think you're an excellent, observant writer that any community would benefit from having cover it.

jewboy said...

"Secondly, Judaism is not a monolith. Particularly in the United States. And while I don't stake a claim to being a religious Jew, the ethnic history of the Jewish people is as much my family's story as it is for most other Jews".

And that's why BG shouldn't be employed by the "Jewish" Journal - his family history as a Jew ended when he became a Christian; he's not a religious Jew, and he's not a Jew. It doesn't matter how bad or good he is as writer, employing BG tells the Jewish community he is one of ours - but he isn't, any more than the Jews for J are - and if you don't understand that than you really are just a "Journal" with no "Jews" attached.

Brad A. Greenberg said...
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Brad A. Greenberg said...

Jewboy,

I appreciate your opinion, but I disagree on the message my employment sends to the Jewish community. The JJ is not the first Jewish paper to use non-Jewish reporters; the LA correspondent for another major Jewish paper is Hindu, and many people who have worked in Jewish communal life have not been the children of Jacob. Furthermore, many of the founders and early leaders of the NAACP were not blacks but Jews.

Also, I'm no ignoramus about Judaism, and generally have a firmer understanding of it than many of your co-religionists. If secular Jews are still Jews, than why do you think I am no longer an "ethnic Jew?"

jewboy said...

Brad, I'd like to make one thing clear at the start, I have nothing against you as a person or a writer, for all I know you are the nicest guy around and a better person than any Jew I know.

But the biggest problem facing the Jewish community today is the "2nd holocaust" - Jews intermarrying resulting in a rapidly diminishing Jewish community. And your ethnic background is actually what creates the problem; if your name was Sam Smith and you were Hindu, I might smile at the irony of the JJ hiring you, but no problem - the fact that you have Jewish ancestry sends all the wrong signals to the community - you are not only not one of us, but you are exactly the poster child of what happens when Jews intermarry or convert. So I'm sorry, but you are no longer part of the tribe - you've opted out - and the tribal paper should not send out the devastatingly horrible message that a J for J or a formerly Jewish family can still be accepted as part of our group. Irreligious, non religious, anti religious even, yes. But you've crossed the line, you are one of those who have tried to destroy us over the milenia, quite frankly you shouldn't be here. Sorry.

Brad A. Greenberg said...

Jewboy,

Many Jewish observers have been crying gevalt about the "second holocaust" for decades. As I believe Sam Freedman writes in "Jew vs. Jew," every generation since the destruction of the Second Temple has feared that Judaism would die with them. I think a more significant threat is the disaffiliation of people my generation. I'm sure you saw the study by Steven Cohen this summer that showed that half of American Jews under 35 would not consider it a personal tragedy if Israel were destroyed.

I also want to give two more clarifications:

The Hindu reporter in LA for a major Jewish paper was, in fact, born Jewish.

Additionally, I did not "opt out," as you say. My parents converted when I was a child, and I was never really in.

Kate Greenberg said...
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Steven Rosenberg said...

Keep on truckin', home biscuit.