Letter To NYMag Editor On Orthodox Jewish “Fundamentalists”

Last week The Forward (not known for being the most pro-Orthodox publication out there) posted a surprisingly positive article about Orthodox and Hasidic women entrepreneurs. Unfortunately, far too often, when a positive piece about an Orthodox Jew comes out, someone, somewhere feels compelled to write a negative response to it. This is my response to NYMag’s negative response.

Dear Editor,

I was extremely disappointed at Kat Stoeffel’s “Ultra-Orthodox Women Are Learning In.” Since when does a “religious fundamentalist” read a secular book, watch a popular TV show, or talk about appearing on said popular TV show? The original article in The Forward about the growing number of hasidic women pursuing out of the box, entrepreneurial careers should have been something that your magazine embraced. It could have been an opportunity to show some nuance toward a community which is far too often painted with a broad brush.

Also, Stoeffel completely misreported when she wrote that it’s too hard for ultra-Orthodox women to work outside the home (with all those babies they’re popping out!) thus they never leave. The Forward actually wrote about a woman (Judy Greenfield) who goes on business trips and just checks in with her children numerous times a day. And Stoeffel somehow forgot to mention that for two of the women interviewed, their husbands work for them.

The “fundamentalists” are famous for their closed-minds. It appears that some of your writers share more in common with them than you realized.


Allison Josephs

Founder and Director, Jew in the City

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  • Avatar photo ChavyA says on January 17, 2014

    Couldn’t agree more!! Allison, you amaze me, time and time again! You go girl, for speaking up for all of us!

  • Avatar photo mary ann says on January 17, 2014

    Adding my “Good for you!” to the pile!

  • Avatar photo shimon says on February 10, 2014

    The irony is that in the modern orthodox community women need to work in order to afford to support the kids.

    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on February 10, 2014

      Most communities need a two income household these days.

  • Avatar photo Chani says on May 2, 2014

    You don’t have the courage obviously to address women’s issues in the Orthodox world, could you at least cut out all the undermining of advocates for women’s issues (such as agunot advocacy) from your blog? You really should hear what Orthodox people working on issues such as the epidemic of wife-beating have to say behind closed doors about the damage public figures like you are doing to the many women not as blessed as you.

    • Avatar photo Allison Josephs says on May 2, 2014

      Thanks for your comment, Chani. But, wait, what? What am I not addressing due to lack of courage? I’ve written about agunahs and child molestation. Wife beating is a horrible thing! But that’s not an Orthodox problem, that’s a woman problem (I actually do touch on violence and women in my agunah post). I have never pretended or conveyed that all Orthodox women have perfect lives. In fact, I’ve noted that of course there are some unhappy Orthodox women out there as there are some jerky Orthodox men out there.


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