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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Five Towns News Controversy

The NYJW covers a recent controversy in the Five Towns of whether a newspaper can target Orthodox Jews as readers:
Now, another part of the community has fallen to the Orthodox — the local Jewish weekly newspaper, the Jewish Star.

When it was first started about five years ago, the Jewish Star served the entire Jewish community, but recently began providing news exclusively for “the Orthodox communities of the south shore,” as it says on its cover. The sudden change late last year prompted charges that it is being divisive.

“The overarching principle of public policy decisions should be klal yisrael [one people],” said Rabbi Sholom Stern, spiritual leader of Temple Beth El, a Conservative congregation in Cedarhurst. “When you don’t begin with that premise, the one who withdraws is waiting for self-destruction and eventually will end up with nothing. That is the tragedy of all this. It’s lamentable.”
Such a decision, Rabbi Stern said, causes isolation, which is “not good when we have such a small Jewish community to start with. … An isolationist policy will result in more division and that results in self-destruction.”

But Mayer Fertig, the paper’s publisher and editor-in-chief, said the paper’ s change in coverage was done for “economic reasons” only. “We don’t think we are being divisive,” he said. “We are reflecting a division that is already occurring” in the community.

“The Orthodox are now the majority [in areas of the Five Towns],” Fertig added. “We are not limiting our reading. We are making it appeal to the largest segment of the community, which is Orthodox. We are not looking to disenfranchise anybody or hurt anybody’s business. The paper was not as appealing when it was broadly appealing and we have caught up to the market. Circulation has certainly increased” since the change.

...The paper’s owner, Clifford Richner, said he decided to change the paper’s focus in response to “input I received from those who are the core of our readers — and it’s not the Reform or Conservative Jews but Orthodox families. They want a newspaper in their home that deals with Jewish life from an Orthodox perspective.”

He pointed out that his family has owned another area weekly, the Nassau Herald, since 1964 and that it provides coverage “across the religious spectrum.”

The paper just won the first place prize in education coverage from Suburban Newspapers of America, Richner noted. “I have never felt there was a market for a paper geared for any particular group other than the Orthodox, who have their own institutions and schools,” he said. “If a person is a Reform or Conservative Jew here, chances are his children are attending public schools. If you are Orthodox, your kids are going to yeshiva and we need to cover it.”
My opinion? This is a bit amusing. No one takes issue with the fact that Hamodia or the Jewish Press are clearly marketed to Orthodox Jews, nor is there any suggestion that the paper is unfair to the non-Orthodox, so why the uproar? Because the paper used to be non-denominational, and now it's Orthodox? So what? Clearly, the publisher made a financial decision that a paper that was floundering under its former status might benefit from a a revamp. This would be like complaining when the owner of Toddy's, the famed Five Towns bagel store, decided to go Shomer Shabbat because he felt the store couldn't survive without the patronage of the community's changing demographic. Were there people annoyed at the fact that they could no longer get a bagel and lox on a Saturday morning? Probably. Enough of them to keep the store in business with their Saturday patronage? Obviously not. Were the non-Shomer Shabbat customers' rights violated in some way? I think we can all agree that they were not. So the question remains, why would the Jewish Week find this in any way newsworthy? To my eyes, this article does nothing but give the Star some free publicity, while proving itself to be just another in a long line of articles that document, ad nauseum, the history of a neighborhood's demographic change.

The answer might lie in this e-mail, widely sent out to local residents and elected officials by a community member last week:
Religious and Secular Sanity to Restore Essential Civility
Just a few hours ago, I had a most distasteful terse conversation with publisher Clifford Richner, one of the heirs of a distinguished family whose legacy of public service to the whole of our diverse community seems to be receding.
This controversy centers on the operations of The Jewish Star, a local sectarian offshoot in the Herald constellation, self-promoting itself on the masthead Serving the Orthodox communities of the South Shore.
Increasingly, and vehemently, people who become aware of such intentionally-inflicted wounds on Jewish unity, distance themselves in embarrassment, while feeling ashamed that such a "business model" is pursued for profit!
Other vital concerns revolving on the long-running saga of the Vaad of the 5T & Rockaway, and the perennial issues surrounding the public Lawrence School District are treated innocuously (the former), or intentionally focusing on the negative (the latter), stressing perceived neglect of maintenance, overlooking comprehensive coverage of the considerable, sustaining, widely-distributed to the general press,
news of our students'achievements: on the field, in the laboratory, in the classrooms!
Such non-reportage has become scandalous, for it being both obvious and insulting to our sophisticated population. But it was during our heated exchange that the newspaper executive blurted that it was while at a sit-down with Orthodox rabbis, several years ago, that a commercial commitment was forged for precisely the weekly that The Jewish Star has become --- explicitly receiving rabbinic assurances that no stories from Conservative sources shall appear within its pages.
Shaken, as I immediately became, I was further issued a fatwa that my name shall not again appear in any Richner publication --- instantly reminding myself of the discredited censorious Soviet system when one could become a non-person overnight --- warning me of legal action, were I to assert my First Amendment right of speech to encourage mass-rejection of his weeklies.
Already, one local rabbi who receives bulk shipment of The Jewish Star for his congregation will now cease and desist distributing the paper, after he became aware of corporate policy and the hurt that is being perpetrated to the collective Jewish heart and soul. Imagine!
Physically-imposing, this scion has been transformed and revealed to be nothing no more than a corner bully, possessed of similar intellectual acuity. (The New York Civil Liberties Union might want to hear the case.) This latest assault to our communal equilibrium is symptomatic of a series of misfortunes that have been visited on our fabled Five Towns. I beseech our Orthodox rabbis who participated in drafting the unholy agreement with the Richners to rethink their misguided initiative, repudiate it, and actively seek to bring all Jews together! Mea culpas are necessary and have been forthcoming recently, off the public stage: cornering me before a recent funeral, a prominent and most-respected spiritual leader, admitted, for example, that signing the Vaad letter was "stupid," and wishes the Talit-ban that holds stifling sway in some quarters be brought to account.
We have many miles to traverse to make our corner of the world a more welcoming, attractive, tolerant, open-hearted place to live. As in the unfortunate rabbinic call to avoid shopping at Gourmet Glatt, let there spiritual leadership to lift the miasma that engulfs us, joining together to demand fair treatment in reporting all the news from all of us. We, People of the Book, deserve no less!
Sincerely, and with fraternal affection,
Asher
Prof. Asher J. Matathias
Just to take issue with some of the points Mr. Matathias makes in his letter:

Increasingly, and vehemently, people who become aware of such intentionally-inflicted wounds on Jewish unity, distance themselves in embarrassment, while feeling ashamed that such a "business model" is pursued for profit!
Um, Mr. Matathias, should a newspaper that is run as a family business follow a business model of not operating for profit?

joining together to demand fair treatment in reporting all the news from all of us
Last I checked, Mr. Matathias, I didn't see the right to equal coverage in a local newspaper mentioned in the constitution or any of its amendments. Should we expect Catholics to demand equal coverage in the Jewish Star next? Perhaps Muslims should get a fair shake?

The bottom line is that the premise here, that a for-profit newspaper should somehow have a responsibility to cover news that is of interest to every member of a community is just wrong. A newspaper, like any other business, has a right to make business decisions that keep it from going under. Are the residents of the community who feel themselves to be in the ignored minority unhappy with that? Perhaps. They can choose to read or not read the Jewish Star as they see fit. Or perhaps Mr, Matathias should start his own newspaper, under the business model of covering every story that might be of interest to every single member of a neighborhood. I wish him much luck with that business model.

54 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Methinks Mr. Matathias is offended that noone in the Orthodox community deems the drivel that he espouses news worthy. Face it Mr. Matathias, you're a big bag of wind who's time in the 5 towns community has passed. You're not relevant anymore, so go find another hobby.

12:44 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

two comments:

First, this reminds me of the Starbucks kerfuffle that happened in Israel a few years ago. When Starbucks pulled out of Israel, some people started a boycott movement. Of course, Starbucks pulled out because they were losing money; not for any political reasons. Same thing here. It's all about making money in the best American tradition.

Second, NYJW must be having a very slow news week.

12:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Prof. Asher J. Matathias has been on a personal vendetta against most of the orthodox community for years now. Remember that he was vehemently against the Orthodox community running candidates in the SD15 elections. He is probably just peeved that the new Jewish Star doesn't cover him the way the old one did.

1:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone like this guy?

1:17 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Siiiiiggggghhhh.... just another milestone in the Jewish Week's slow and steady march to irrelevance. I wish they could see how angry and defensive they sound with these defeatist articles.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not a resident of the 5towns and never read or heard of the Jewish Star. When the paper changed to cover the Orthodox happenings which are many, the ads multiplied & revenues generated big bucks for the owners. Why change the headlines of the paper to cover "orthodox happenings", that is shutting the door on other Jewish residents of the 5towns.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous 5 towner said...

The funny thing about all this is that the jewish Star is actually a relevant NEWS paper, as opposed to an organizational/institutional PR display that is the 5tjt.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Hot Chani said...

kim baalt der tzitungen vet schribben in yiddish.

3:17 PM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

Obviously if the majority of the community is Orthodox, the majority of the news and attention will be focussed on Orthodox events. However, is there some reason the increase in attention to the Orthodox segment of the community has to go hand in hand with completely excluding the other members of the community from mention?
Parenthetically, the newspaper does seem to do a fair job and I hope they grow further.

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am orthodox myself.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-"


Well, I have never read any of his other things, but he is definitely not correct in this writing. Is he actually arguing that the Jewish Star HAS TO cover issues that he deems important?

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone who's had a number of conversations with Prof. Matatthias described him to me today as a somewhat well-meaning guy who wraps himself in tin foil to block the messages being beamed to him from his TV.

5:52 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"a somewhat well-meaning guy who wraps himself in tin foil to block the messages being beamed to him from his TV."


After careful analysis of the Press Release that Prof. Matatthias distributed, and Orthomom reprinted here, I'd must disagree. The type of arguments Matatthias level seem more likely to be coming from his toaster. Not his TV.

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=399173#

6:38 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I disagree with the premise of prof Matathias' letter, I do love his phrase "talit-ban". I shall have to use that.

6:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This guy sounds like an old school 60's style liberal hippie type. As OM pointed out - in the e-mail he wrote, I had to read the line about "such a "business model" is pursued for profit!" three times. At first i thought he was being sarcastic like "Can you imagine? A newspaper for profit? Crazy!"
I got chills when I realized this guy was dead serious! He is seriously SHOCKED that a newspaper has a "business model"? What the heck does he think?
Message to the "Professor":
"A Guide to the Newpaper "Business Model"
A newspaper is a business. They print articles relating to a community, interest or hobby, that generate interest and thereby get people to read them. Then, the newspaper approaches OTHER businesses and charges them "MONEY" to include "advertisments" for these businesses. The way in which the "rates" for these "advertisments" is determined is by how many people actually "read" the publication.
Seeing as we live in the United States of America and we have rights to free speech (you may want to talk to the NY Civil Liberties Union about that), I can print just about anything I want in my newspaper. I can choose to write about general news. I can write about local news, national news OR no news at all. Hell, I could try to sell my newspaper BLANK if I choose to - It's entirely up to me as the owner of the newspaper. Presumably, my goal is to get as many people as possible to read my paper so that I can justify higher ad rates.

"Professor", IF this publication has deemed it more profitable to market and position the brand to an orthodox audiance, what crime have they committed???

They have no obligation to print what you see fit. They have no obligation to the community whatsoever. The ONLY obligation they have is to sell newspapers and ad space. THAT'S IT. And, there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with that.

The only thing outrageous here sir, is YOUR outrage.

7:20 PM  
Anonymous R.Schonfeld said...

Asher covered the Gourmet Glatt Saga perfectly see his letter to the Vaad Rabbis

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Asher covered the Gourmet Glatt controversy just the way I would expect from someone who disagrees with Orthodox rabbis. Exactly right for a guy who doesnt believe that what Orthodox Rabbis say is right. exactly right for my tastes? no, i think not.

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous 7:20, are you the publisher of the newspaper in question? You sure sound like you know a lot about the newspaper business.

8:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am Irish Catholic myself.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

Anonymous said...

"Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am Irish Catholic myself. "

Well, this Irish Catholic thinks he's way off base on this one. Printing only the news and editorial content you like or agree with is the right of every publisher. And every American for that matter. It's their paper. Some people operate papers that lose money JUST so they can use it to voice their opinions. Profits be damned.

Do you think Rupert Murdoch would sell the Post even if it lost a million dollars a week? Heck no.

My advice to Professor Matathias and those of his opinion is do as the Richner family has done. Take the personal financial risks associated with running a newspaper yourself and put you money where your mouth is. Borrow against that pension fund, get a second mortgage, cash in that insurance policy and go for it.

What? Don't have the b***s? Than don't criticize those with bigger ones than you.

11:24 PM  
Anonymous sick of whiny weiners said...

I comepletely agree with goy guy. Who in the world does the Jewishweek think it is by printing every story it can possibly find to make it look like the orthodox jews are opressing conservative and reform.

Not to gloat but what in the world has the conservative and reform been doing for the last 150 years if not actively working to dissolve orthodoxy? Their reason for being was to replace orthodox Jewry.

As far as I'm concerned, Jews are Jews and the more the merrier. But why are conservative and reform jews seem obsessed concerned with nothing beyond than pointing out how orthodox jews are opressing and minimizing them.

And why must the Jewish week do nothing but enable this pointless whining. The whole topic is so off the mark it's maddening. There are dead conservative and reform congregations that hold onto their buildings, even though they are empty, rather than sell to orthodox jews.

It happens all over brooklyn and long island. Empty buildings are being turned into non-denominational cutural centers, even though orthodox congregations are dying to use perfectly good synagogue buildings to strengthen their community and perpetuate the spiritual usage of the shul.

Conservative and reform like to gloat about how they are more spiritual, reserved, serious, open minded, whatever than orthodox jews. They are obsessed with orthodox this and orthodox that. all while their numbers plummet and they self destruct.

The jewish star is going orthodox because that is the only flourishing jewish community in the united states. It's just so annoying to hear reform and conservative rabbis whine about the demoralizing, divisive orthodox as most of them chomp at the bit for any opportunity to push orthodox faces into the mud.

Instead of lamenting their own self-inflicted evaporation, why can't reform and orthodox leaders take a look at what orthodox communities are doing, and reject the fossilized dogma of orthodox bashing, and step over the line of real dialougue. Imagine what could happen.

But instead, it's always about the mean, nasty orthodox jews demeaning and minimizing us. If that's the case, then stop sniping from the sidelines and do something about it. If orthodox jews are so divisive, then do something about it.

It could begin with real dialogue and real reevaluation of the movements. It won't come from exploiting every chance to point out where orthodox jews are wrong.

12:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

if the above poster really believed in " a jew is a jew is a jew" she would never agree with the orthodox viewpont of only orthodox is the "real Judiasm". it is the orthodox community that continues to bash the reform and conservative factions. if the orthodox embraced ALL JEWS, than perhaps we would not be losing our children to " those people".
It seems to me that extremists of any religion are a danger to that religion..
as for the sniping from the sidelines,,,,the situation involving GG just showed how much say the Ravs hold over our community....what happened to freedom in our small enclave??

8:53 AM  
Anonymous sick of whiny weiners said...

From a historical perspective, orthodox is the 'real judaism'. but put that aside because it's not relevant to this conversation.

What is relevant is that since reform and then conservative arrived on the scene, they stood for a concerted effort to strangle orthodoxy (a term which was only coined to differentiate traditional jews from those who wanted to change all the rules to suit their social ambitions).

For generations, orthodoxy was spit on by the reform and conservative establishment. Now, in their dying throes, proven wrong by history and reality, hemorrhaging adherents and drowing in the assimilation and intermarriage they all but championed, the reform and conservative established has proactively switched gears to an assume an institutionally ordained sour grapes mentality, feigning whiny victimhood.

I'm not one to gloat when the shoe is on the other foot. It actually gives me a stomach ache. But jews are Jews and I try as hard as I can to love all of them; particulaly those who don't seek to undermine and mis-portray my legitimate beliefs and lifestyle at every turn.

10:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's nothing wrong with mutual respect, but no business should have to lose money for it.

The demographics in the 5 towns represent a microcosm of this "conflict" between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, and this "conflict" is accentuated by issues like the vaad influence and school board politics, but the core conflict remains to be that Conservative and Reform desire equal standing, equal influence and equal representation in the "Jewish community" in all respects, and they're repulsed by the possibility of any Orthodox influence on their way of life. This perspective will not change, and as the Orthodox community continues to thrive and flourish and numbers committed to the Conservative and Reform movements continue to wane, this conflict will become ever more accentuated.

11:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A secular Jew here. [So already two strikes against me. Poo poo.]

Not a fan of the Orthodox strong-arming stores to become shommer shabbos or risk losing business [acting like Nazis with tsitsis]; of narrow-minded residents who vote down school budgets because of their limited parochial interests - the rest of community be damned - not understanding that they hurt their own children in the process; or, for that matter, of the establishment of an insular Orthodox community that builds invisible walls around itself that make the physical walls of the Warsaw ghetto pale by comparison.

When it comes to a for-profit newspaper, however, such as The Jewish Star -- which began as a paper "serving the Jewish community of the South shore," transitioned to "serving the Orthodox community of the Five Towns," and has now broadened its reach to serve "the Orthodox community of the South shore," I say, let the rules of the marketplace prevail!

If this is what folks want, give it to them.

Thankfully for Conservative, Reform, secular, and even many modern Orthodox Jews, The Jewish Star is not widely read by most folks outside the Chelm-like sphere of the Five Towns Orthodox.

The self-righteous, self-serving, and "who cares about anyone else" attitudes of small minds with limited vision is pretty much confined to a community absorbed in ritual, while losing sight of religious significance.

Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you seems to be the credo of the Orthodoxy I read about in The Jewish Star.

You can keep it. Just the way it is. All to yourselves!

11:48 AM  
Blogger Chaim B. said...

>>>strong-arming stores to become shommer shabbos or risk losing business [acting like Nazis with tsitsis]

Exercising free choice to give your business to a store that is closed Shabbos instead of one that is open is equivalent to Nazism?! I am surprised any Jew, religious or secular, would make such an odious and outrageous comparison.

12:31 PM  
Blogger Somewhat Anonymous said...

Chaim B. -

Because the Nazis were all about ending the millenia long Jewish tradition of working on Shabbos! Its in the Nuremberg Laws somewhere.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm orthodox and I don't bash anyone. I and my family, most of whom are not orthodox, have lived in the 5 towns for over 50 years and we have never witnessed this so called bashing. I get along great with my neighbors for years. Its just a few lunatics with too much time on their hands who create this so called conflict for their own needs.

2:08 PM  
Blogger storywatcher said...

The real story here is the chutzpah of telling people on the front page that this is a paper for the Orthodox communities of the South Shore and then dropping off that paper at Conservative shuls so that those readers will patronize their advertisers. It's like punching someone in the mouth and then handing them the doctor's bill.
Also, my hunch is Mr. Richner would not turn down a full-page ad from these Conservative shuls, even though he is "serving the Orthodox communities of the South shore."

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yea the change in heading was just unness. Changing the target market is just economics. Banning "Prof" Asher..priceless. I enjoy articles which are informative not offensive.

3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the whole strong arming stores thing a delusional urbsn myth. Especially in this town which is pretty modern and accepting.

3:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

5 towner said...
The funny thing about all this is that the jewish Star is actually a relevant NEWS paper, as opposed to an organizational/institutional PR display that is the 5tjt.


Just wait...those yeshivos will coming knocking very soon.

4:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
the whole strong arming stores thing a delusional urbsn myth. Especially in this town which is pretty modern and accepting.

3:59 PM

I always love your sarcasm...a person with brains seems to be the exception in our town.....thanks, malkie

5:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

34 Comments Close this window Collapse comments
Anonymous said...
Methinks Mr. Matathias is offended that noone in the Orthodox community deems the drivel that he espouses news worthy. Face it Mr. Matathias, you're a big bag of wind who's time in the 5 towns community has passed. You're not relevant anymore, so go find another hobby.

12:44 PM


MoChassid said...
two comments:

First, this reminds me of the Starbucks kerfuffle that happened in Israel a few years ago. When Starbucks pulled out of Israel, some people started a boycott movement. Of course, Starbucks pulled out because they were losing money; not for any political reasons. Same thing here. It's all about making money in the best American tradition.

Second, NYJW must be having a very slow news week.

12:56 PM


Anonymous said...
Prof. Asher J. Matathias has been on a personal vendetta against most of the orthodox community for years now. Remember that he was vehemently against the Orthodox community running candidates in the SD15 elections. He is probably just peeved that the new Jewish Star doesn't cover him the way the old one did.

1:15 PM


Anonymous said...
Does anyone like this guy?

1:17 PM


Still Wonderin' said...
Siiiiiggggghhhh.... just another milestone in the Jewish Week's slow and steady march to irrelevance. I wish they could see how angry and defensive they sound with these defeatist articles.

1:23 PM


Anonymous said...
Not a resident of the 5towns and never read or heard of the Jewish Star. When the paper changed to cover the Orthodox happenings which are many, the ads multiplied & revenues generated big bucks for the owners. Why change the headlines of the paper to cover "orthodox happenings", that is shutting the door on other Jewish residents of the 5towns.

2:20 PM


5 towner said...
The funny thing about all this is that the jewish Star is actually a relevant NEWS paper, as opposed to an organizational/institutional PR display that is the 5tjt.

3:13 PM


Hot Chani said...
kim baalt der tzitungen vet schribben in yiddish.

3:17 PM


Chaim B. said...
Obviously if the majority of the community is Orthodox, the majority of the news and attention will be focussed on Orthodox events. However, is there some reason the increase in attention to the Orthodox segment of the community has to go hand in hand with completely excluding the other members of the community from mention?
Parenthetically, the newspaper does seem to do a fair job and I hope they grow further.

3:56 PM


Anonymous said...
Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am orthodox myself.

5:34 PM


Anonymous said...
"Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-"


Well, I have never read any of his other things, but he is definitely not correct in this writing. Is he actually arguing that the Jewish Star HAS TO cover issues that he deems important?

5:48 PM


Anonymous said...
Someone who's had a number of conversations with Prof. Matatthias described him to me today as a somewhat well-meaning guy who wraps himself in tin foil to block the messages being beamed to him from his TV.

5:52 PM


Still Wonderin' said...
"a somewhat well-meaning guy who wraps himself in tin foil to block the messages being beamed to him from his TV."


After careful analysis of the Press Release that Prof. Matatthias distributed, and Orthomom reprinted here, I'd must disagree. The type of arguments Matatthias level seem more likely to be coming from his toaster. Not his TV.

6:21 PM


Anonymous said...
http://www.ratemyprofessors.com/ShowRatings.jsp?tid=399173#

6:38 PM


Anonymous said...
Although I disagree with the premise of prof Matathias' letter, I do love his phrase "talit-ban". I shall have to use that.

6:47 PM


Anonymous said...
This guy sounds like an old school 60's style liberal hippie type. As OM pointed out - in the e-mail he wrote, I had to read the line about "such a "business model" is pursued for profit!" three times. At first i thought he was being sarcastic like "Can you imagine? A newspaper for profit? Crazy!"
I got chills when I realized this guy was dead serious! He is seriously SHOCKED that a newspaper has a "business model"? What the heck does he think?
Message to the "Professor":
"A Guide to the Newpaper "Business Model"
A newspaper is a business. They print articles relating to a community, interest or hobby, that generate interest and thereby get people to read them. Then, the newspaper approaches OTHER businesses and charges them "MONEY" to include "advertisments" for these businesses. The way in which the "rates" for these "advertisments" is determined is by how many people actually "read" the publication.
Seeing as we live in the United States of America and we have rights to free speech (you may want to talk to the NY Civil Liberties Union about that), I can print just about anything I want in my newspaper. I can choose to write about general news. I can write about local news, national news OR no news at all. Hell, I could try to sell my newspaper BLANK if I choose to - It's entirely up to me as the owner of the newspaper. Presumably, my goal is to get as many people as possible to read my paper so that I can justify higher ad rates.

"Professor", IF this publication has deemed it more profitable to market and position the brand to an orthodox audiance, what crime have they committed???

They have no obligation to print what you see fit. They have no obligation to the community whatsoever. The ONLY obligation they have is to sell newspapers and ad space. THAT'S IT. And, there is absolutely NOTHING WRONG with that.

The only thing outrageous here sir, is YOUR outrage.

7:20 PM


R.Schonfeld said...
Asher covered the Gourmet Glatt Saga perfectly see his letter to the Vaad Rabbis

7:30 PM


Anonymous said...
Asher covered the Gourmet Glatt controversy just the way I would expect from someone who disagrees with Orthodox rabbis. Exactly right for a guy who doesnt believe that what Orthodox Rabbis say is right. exactly right for my tastes? no, i think not.

7:33 PM


Anonymous said...
Anonymous 7:20, are you the publisher of the newspaper in question? You sure sound like you know a lot about the newspaper business.

8:54 PM


Anonymous said...
Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am Irish Catholic myself.

8:59 PM


goyguy said...
Anonymous said...

"Professor Matathias is a conservative Jew and in my opinion correct on almost all subjects I have read from him-even though I am Irish Catholic myself. "

Well, this Irish Catholic thinks he's way off base on this one. Printing only the news and editorial content you like or agree with is the right of every publisher. And every American for that matter. It's their paper. Some people operate papers that lose money JUST so they can use it to voice their opinions. Profits be damned.

Do you think Rupert Murdoch would sell the Post even if it lost a million dollars a week? Heck no.

My advice to Professor Matathias and those of his opinion is do as the Richner family has done. Take the personal financial risks associated with running a newspaper yourself and put you money where your mouth is. Borrow against that pension fund, get a second mortgage, cash in that insurance policy and go for it.

What? Don't have the b***s? Than don't criticize those with bigger ones than you.

11:24 PM


sick of whiny weiners said...
I comepletely agree with goy guy. Who in the world does the Jewishweek think it is by printing every story it can possibly find to make it look like the orthodox jews are opressing conservative and reform.

Not to gloat but what in the world has the conservative and reform been doing for the last 150 years if not actively working to dissolve orthodoxy? Their reason for being was to replace orthodox Jewry.

As far as I'm concerned, Jews are Jews and the more the merrier. But why are conservative and reform jews seem obsessed concerned with nothing beyond than pointing out how orthodox jews are opressing and minimizing them.

And why must the Jewish week do nothing but enable this pointless whining. The whole topic is so off the mark it's maddening. There are dead conservative and reform congregations that hold onto their buildings, even though they are empty, rather than sell to orthodox jews.

It happens all over brooklyn and long island. Empty buildings are being turned into non-denominational cutural centers, even though orthodox congregations are dying to use perfectly good synagogue buildings to strengthen their community and perpetuate the spiritual usage of the shul.

Conservative and reform like to gloat about how they are more spiritual, reserved, serious, open minded, whatever than orthodox jews. They are obsessed with orthodox this and orthodox that. all while their numbers plummet and they self destruct.

The jewish star is going orthodox because that is the only flourishing jewish community in the united states. It's just so annoying to hear reform and conservative rabbis whine about the demoralizing, divisive orthodox as most of them chomp at the bit for any opportunity to push orthodox faces into the mud.

Instead of lamenting their own self-inflicted evaporation, why can't reform and orthodox leaders take a look at what orthodox communities are doing, and reject the fossilized dogma of orthodox bashing, and step over the line of real dialougue. Imagine what could happen.

But instead, it's always about the mean, nasty orthodox jews demeaning and minimizing us. If that's the case, then stop sniping from the sidelines and do something about it. If orthodox jews are so divisive, then do something about it.

It could begin with real dialogue and real reevaluation of the movements. It won't come from exploiting every chance to point out where orthodox jews are wrong.

12:14 AM


Anonymous said...
if the above poster really believed in " a jew is a jew is a jew" she would never agree with the orthodox viewpont of only orthodox is the "real Judiasm". it is the orthodox community that continues to bash the reform and conservative factions. if the orthodox embraced ALL JEWS, than perhaps we would not be losing our children to " those people".
It seems to me that extremists of any religion are a danger to that religion..
as for the sniping from the sidelines,,,,the situation involving GG just showed how much say the Ravs hold over our community....what happened to freedom in our small enclave??

8:53 AM


sick of whiny weiners said...
From a historical perspective, orthodox is the 'real judaism'. but put that aside because it's not relevant to this conversation.

What is relevant is that since reform and then conservative arrived on the scene, they stood for a concerted effort to strangle orthodoxy (a term which was only coined to differentiate traditional jews from those who wanted to change all the rules to suit their social ambitions).

For generations, orthodoxy was spit on by the reform and conservative establishment. Now, in their dying throes, proven wrong by history and reality, hemorrhaging adherents and drowing in the assimilation and intermarriage they all but championed, the reform and conservative established has proactively switched gears to an assume an institutionally ordained sour grapes mentality, feigning whiny victimhood.

I'm not one to gloat when the shoe is on the other foot. It actually gives me a stomach ache. But jews are Jews and I try as hard as I can to love all of them; particulaly those who don't seek to undermine and mis-portray my legitimate beliefs and lifestyle at every turn.

10:54 AM


Anonymous said...
There's nothing wrong with mutual respect, but no business should have to lose money for it.

The demographics in the 5 towns represent a microcosm of this "conflict" between Orthodox, Conservative and Reform, and this "conflict" is accentuated by issues like the vaad influence and school board politics, but the core conflict remains to be that Conservative and Reform desire equal standing, equal influence and equal representation in the "Jewish community" in all respects, and they're repulsed by the possibility of any Orthodox influence on their way of life. This perspective will not change, and as the Orthodox community continues to thrive and flourish and numbers committed to the Conservative and Reform movements continue to wane, this conflict will become ever more accentuated.

11:30 AM


Anonymous said...
A secular Jew here. [So already two strikes against me. Poo poo.]

Not a fan of the Orthodox strong-arming stores to become shommer shabbos or risk losing business [acting like Nazis with tsitsis]; of narrow-minded residents who vote down school budgets because of their limited parochial interests - the rest of community be damned - not understanding that they hurt their own children in the process; or, for that matter, of the establishment of an insular Orthodox community that builds invisible walls around itself that make the physical walls of the Warsaw ghetto pale by comparison.

When it comes to a for-profit newspaper, however, such as The Jewish Star -- which began as a paper "serving the Jewish community of the South shore," transitioned to "serving the Orthodox community of the Five Towns," and has now broadened its reach to serve "the Orthodox community of the South shore," I say, let the rules of the marketplace prevail!

If this is what folks want, give it to them.

Thankfully for Conservative, Reform, secular, and even many modern Orthodox Jews, The Jewish Star is not widely read by most folks outside the Chelm-like sphere of the Five Towns Orthodox.

The self-righteous, self-serving, and "who cares about anyone else" attitudes of small minds with limited vision is pretty much confined to a community absorbed in ritual, while losing sight of religious significance.

Do unto others BEFORE they do unto you seems to be the credo of the Orthodoxy I read about in The Jewish Star.

You can keep it. Just the way it is. All to yourselves!

11:48 AM


Chaim B. said...
>>>strong-arming stores to become shommer shabbos or risk losing business [acting like Nazis with tsitsis]

Exercising free choice to give your business to a store that is closed Shabbos instead of one that is open is equivalent to Nazism?! I am surprised any Jew, religious or secular, would make such an odious and outrageous comparison.

12:31 PM


Somewhat Anonymous said...
Chaim B. -

Because the Nazis were all about ending the millenia long Jewish tradition of working on Shabbos! Its in the Nuremberg Laws somewhere.

1:51 PM


Anonymous said...
I'm orthodox and I don't bash anyone. I and my family, most of whom are not orthodox, have lived in the 5 towns for over 50 years and we have never witnessed this so called bashing. I get along great with my neighbors for years. Its just a few lunatics with too much time on their hands who create this so called conflict for their own needs.

2:08 PM


storywatcher said...
The real story here is the chutzpah of telling people on the front page that this is a paper for the Orthodox communities of the South Shore and then dropping off that paper at Conservative shuls so that those readers will patronize their advertisers. It's like punching someone in the mouth and then handing them the doctor's bill.
Also, my hunch is Mr. Richner would not turn down a full-page ad from these Conservative shuls, even though he is "serving the Orthodox communities of the South shore."

2:23 PM


Anonymous said...
yea the change in heading was just unness. Changing the target market is just economics. Banning "Prof" Asher..priceless. I enjoy articles which are informative not offensive.

3:53 PM


Anonymous said...
the whole strong arming stores thing a delusional urbsn myth. Especially in this town which is pretty modern and accepting.

Anonymous said...
the whole strong arming stores thing a delusional urbsn myth. Especially in this town which is pretty modern and accepting.

3:59 PM

I always love your sarcasm...a person with brains seems to be the exception in our town.....thanks, malkie

5:21 PM
Your welcome
I meant to say urban legend.I'm being totally serious. As a 3rd generation 5 towner there has never been a cabal to shut down the stores on Shabbos. The great thing about growing up and living here is that it is as live and let live as it gets. I have no time or energy to be judgemental.

7:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This whole thing is the proverbial Jew grasping an unclean insect while busy cleansing himself while submerged in a mikva (ritual bath). The Richners openly desecrate the Sabbath while pretending to moralize to the Orthodox community. Now that's funny.....

9:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you know that the Richer's "openly desecrate the Sabbath" ?

They certainly do not 'moralize' to anyone.

They own a newspaper that caters to the Frum community. Its no different than Coca Cola running TV commercials with ladies in bikinis, but still putting the OU on the bottle cap.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous Ear to the Sidewalk... said...

How do you know that the Richer's "openly desecrate the Sabbath" ?

They certainly do not 'moralize' to anyone.

They own a newspaper that caters to the Frum community. Its no different than Coca Cola running TV commercials with ladies in bikinis, but still putting the OU on the bottle cap.

12:26 AM  
Anonymous stillwonderin' (who hates new blogger) said...

I am in AWE of just how much free publiity the Jewish Week unwittingly handed the Jewish Star! I almost wonder if the Richners paid to have this article placed.

A professional PR firm couldn't have orchestrated a better campaign if the tried!!

5:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sure...but the Richners do whatever they can to denigrate and vilify the frum community in the Herald and then patronize us in the Star because "that's where the money is." How stupid do they think we all are?

10:35 AM  
Anonymous (stillwonderin' (who still hates new blogger) said...

Sure...but the Richners do whatever they can to denigrate and vilify the frum community in the Herald and then patronize us in the Star because "that's where the money is." How stupid do they think we all are?

Assuming this is the case, which in itself is debatable, then what is the basis is there for the article in the Jewish Week if not to stir up specious resentment towards Orthodox Jews, which is the real toipic here, not the financial or ideological interests of the Richner family.

If the Herald existed to offer a balanced viewpoint to satisfy all elements of the South Shore jewish community then Mattithias should have no argument and Stewart Ain would have no justified reason for the claims he levels in his article.

You just prove the point that the Orthodox community is being targeted by those who wish to malign it.

Are you sure you want to keep your comment on the record?

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

please don't dis people who are not orthodox . Everyone has a right to make a living and not everyone is aware of Torah. Respect!

2:16 PM  
Blogger Michael Brenner said...

Well, as someone who knows Asher, I can attest to the fact that there is a little more to this story.

When I first saw Asher's email, I thought that it was much ado about nothing. The Jewish Star was always more focused on Orthodox issues than anything else.

But all this stuff about it being a commercial venture is missing the point. The paper is distributed for free around the Five Towns, including to Conservative synagogues. It includes a public calendar of events. It's more than a little grating, as a non-Orthodox Jew, to see a newspaper that billed itself in the past as a community paper consciously exclude certain parts of the community right in its masthead like that. It's very in-your-face.

And it doesn't just exclude the non-Orthodox community. It excludes multidenominational ventures as well, and that is what Asher, who sits on the Five Towns Jewish Council and is the chapter chairman of Long Island B'nai Brith, is not happy about.

5:15 PM  
Anonymous goyguy said...

Michael Brenner said...

"But all this stuff about it being a commercial venture is missing the point."

But, that's the only point

"It's more than a little grating, as a non-Orthodox Jew, to see a newspaper that billed itself in the past as a community paper consciously exclude certain parts of the community right in its masthead like that. It's very in-your-face."

In your face? It's called advertising. Obviously a paper that has to be given away needs all the help it can get. Since it's pretty thin on the ads it has to be a money loser. The non orthodox community didn't make them any money so it's time to move on, right? Businesses change to find better markets all the time. Radio stations switch from rock to pop to oldies. Newspapers get sold and change their editorial positions. Happens every day.


"And it doesn't just exclude the non-Orthodox community. It excludes multidenominational ventures as well, and that is what Asher, who sits on the Five Towns Jewish Council and is the chapter chairman of Long Island B'nai Brith, is not happy about."

It's an Orthodox geared paper. What does he expect? Maybe you and your friends can pool your money and start your own paper that no one buys. Piss away a few thousand a week for a couple of years... Don't you get it? If anyone actually read or advertised in the paper maybe it wouldn't have switched 'formats'.

10:29 PM  
Blogger Michael Brenner said...

Goyguy:

It was always an Orthodox-geared paper, and I'd like to see the hard number backing up the determination that a switch to covering only the Orthodox community makes financial difference. The editorial content of the paper has not changed over time. I don't see how Richner makes much more money sticking that advertisement at the top. So I have a hard time understanding the commercial aspect of this "decision". Somehow, I bet Richner is not going to turn away ads from non-Orthodox institutions should they choose to advertise in his paper again.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous conservo-mom said...

Of course the paper has every right to target who it wants to target. After all, as you said, it is for-profit paper and lord knows we live in a "for profit" society. The article is only interesting because it is just another example of how the ortho community in the 5 Towns is becoming more and more insular and its (as you said) as if jews of other denominations are of a different religion. Thanks for that, by the way.

7:29 PM  
Anonymous lawrencemiami said...

First of all do not think that the orthodox in the five towns are so religious,they are all about loshen hora ,slander,shallow,pompus attitudes,snobish,materialistic,to prove my point ,take a`look at the houses,with the phony mezzuzas on the door that obviously means nothing to them ,larger the better,the nicest homes ,clothes`etc.THEY ARE FULL OF SHIT.The other jews should stop thinking these people are so religious ,stop being offended by them they are just as religious or not religious as anyone else.If you really want to be with the orthodox then join the only synagogue that really cares about the fellow jew.CHABAD.

10:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthodox Jews create ghettos. It just makes it easier for the next generation of Nazis to find them.

4:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthodox Jews create ghettos. It just makes it easier for the next generation of Nazis to find them.

4:48 PM  
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