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Modern Orthodox Racism

Kudos to The Jewish Week‘s Gary Rosenblatt for taking on an apparent wave of post-election racism among Modern Orthodox youth. He quotes Elliot Prager, the principal of a day school in Englewood, NJ:   "I cannot help but wonder if … Read More

By / November 14, 2008

Kudos to The Jewish Week‘s Gary Rosenblatt for taking on an apparent wave of post-election racism among Modern Orthodox youth. He quotes Elliot Prager, the principal of a day school in Englewood, NJ:

 

"I cannot help but wonder if our concerns about prejudice and racism are valid only when it comes to our own people," he wrote. "I cannot help but wonder how we are supposed to succeed in our mission of teaching middot [values] when so many children are apparently being exposed to unwarranted distortions of information based not on political biases, but biases which go to the very core of common decency and respect for our fellow human beings."

Rosenblatt notes that much of the problem probably comes from students absorbing and repeating biases heard from their own parents. One wonders, then, what he would make of a blog post by his own Associate Editor, Jonathan Mark: 

I’m proud to live in an America where my kids will grow up knowing they can accomplish anything, they can be anything, as I point to Barack Obama and say solemnly to my children: "He had a white mother, just like you; he had white grandparents, just like you, and he became president of the United States. Remember that."

I know Mark’s trying to be humorous — in the same way he was being "funny" when he once made connections between Obama’s mixed background and Jewish tolerance for intermarriage — but I’m not sure what Mark’s point was. Was he crediting Obama’s rise to the white side of his family tree? Or was he mocking the centuries-long struggle of African Americans to reach the milestone of Election 2008? Check his comments too. I don’t really understand it, but I do think if this is the kind of thing "Modern" Orthodox parents are joking about with their kids, it’s no wonder Rosenblatt felt compelled to write this week’s editorial.

[UPDATE:  As of this posting, all the comments on Jonathan Mark's post have disappeared or been removed.]

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