Last Thursday, while I was en route to Israel for Sukkot, a fan alerted us to a 2016 article that was reposted that day to a Facebook page by lifestyle magazine Purple Clover. They are owned by Whalerock Industries and are a reincarnation of BermanBraun (a big Hollywood production company). They focus on digital media, partnering with several big names such as the Kardashians. Purple Clover has 9 million social media followers, with 8.5 million of them on Facebook.
The article in question, “A Gefilte Fish Out Of Water” sounds like an innocent-enough Jewish title, but it’s the byline that truly says it all. The author, Sue Kolinsky, a TV producer, in her anecdotal article about the wedding of her MTV co-worker (turned Orthodox Jew), “When I heard my friend was marrying an Orthodox Jew, my mouth said ‘Mazal tov’ while my brain said ‘Oy vey.’”
Our fan wanted to know:
Why is it being reposted now? Would this pass today’s standards, were it about any other group?
Good questions! It was distasteful when it was written in 2016 and it aged poorly. Kolinsky’s groaning – no longer internal – and dragging of feet also drags a beautiful cultural celebration of love and community through the mud. The gleefully jabbing regale of the event perpetuates antisemitic stereotype after stereotype.
From disdainfully criticizing modest dress and head coverings for both genders, to making fun of washing hands for bread (“I thought, who gets dirty so fast? Apparently, Orthodox Jews have OCD – or Howie Mandel is the opening act”) to referring to her supposedly good friend in a continuously judgey-positive manner: the article attempts to walk the line of cutesy-woke when faced with Orthodox Judaism, but barrels straight into horrifying.
She perpetuates the “hole in the sheet” myth not once but twice, which is a devastating myth that JITC debunked years ago.
Perhaps the most shocking and disgusting part of the article was after the bedecken, when Kolinsky literally started making things up, “Now, it’s said that the couple is actually married before the ceremony, and that they perform carnal knowledge prior to exchanging their vows in public. So I can only assume, that it was ‘hole in the sheet’ time.”
For a website that self-proclaims as a platform for people who are “young in spirit, if not age, and comfortable in our own skin,” Purple Clover certainly made the world an uncomfortable place for the Orthodox Jewish community.
Once we found the article, we drew attention to its outrageousness via social media and got directly in touch with the Purple Clover team. We posted this message to our platforms, linking to the article, so our readers could see it for themselves.
Wow Purple Clover – this article is rife with blatant inaccuracies and gross judgments. It was inappropriate when you first published it in 2016 and it is really off color by now. Would you publish an article about a secular Muslim or Hindu judging a religious Muslim or Hindu bride? Orthodox Jewish weddings are incredibly beautiful and meaningful, but apparently cultural appreciation doesn’t apply to yucky Jews. Please visit Jew in the City so your writers and editors can educate themselves and confront some pretty egregious biases.
To the editors, we sent this message:
Your article on Orthodox Jewish weddings is libelous and nasty. This is a community that is literally being attacked daily in broad daylight. Othering us surely contributes to the negative feelings society holds on a group they know so little about. Please remove this awful article and issue an apology to the Orthodox Jewish community. Our weddings are beautiful and meaningful and it is horrifying that you allowed a writer to project so much judgement, coupled with so much ignorance onto our traditions.
We heard back quickly and were told the piece would come off of Facebook and the site itself. The Facebook post was pulled that day and the article was removed from the site the following day. Apparently no one who was involved in publishing this piece works at the magazine any more, but to turn this ugly moment into a positive one, I will be given a platform on their channels to discuss what was problematic about this article and so much Jewish representation and what we are working to change in the industry. Stay tuned!