Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Re: Jewish Communities in New York

A friend whose good opinion I'd like to keep pointed out to me that community members might understand comments made about particular communities (both positive and negative) but outsiders will not. This is especially the case if one does not choose to word one's comments in a very precise and careful fashion, which I cannot reasonably expect of my commentators.

Therefore, I would like to thank you all so very much for contributing to my post about Jewish communities in New York. I appreciate the time you took to write your ideas and post them here, but I am afraid they might do more harm than good. (That having been said, there were parts of the comment thread that were very good and cannot possibly be harmful, such as Anonymous Mom's list of interesting places to visit or things to do in New York, and I do plan on posting that separately.)

My friend said, "Congratulations, readers of your blog now know the "stereotypes" just as much as a native New Yorker. "

That's not what I meant by this post nor what I desire to advocate. My friend explained that the comment thread contained many "gross generalizations" and was more misleading than helpful or accurate.

I don't want to be the deliberate disseminator of false information. For that reason, I have removed my former post.

I apologize for taking your time unnecessarily.


Anonymous said...

I respect your decision, but I do have a point to ponder. You don't have to publish it. There are those out of towners who sign leases or purchase homes where they go on to feel very uncomfortable and end up having to move. This kind of mistake can be especially costly for families with children. There are also many teenagers (and adults) today who do not connect to their orthodoxy and become disenfranchised by their experiences, especially in NY. I think there should be a forum somewhere to post information about schools and neighborhoods so that people can choose wisely for themselves and their children. Yes, it may get ugly, but when wide eyed innocent out of towners and even in towners, definately Baalei Teshuva, and some teenagers realize certain truths (sorry, but stereotyping just means that the majority of people in a certain place act a certain way and that the climate somewhere is just leaning toward a certain lifestyle) they become cynical and being properly educated about different styles of Orthodox Jews would not necessarily be a bad idea. Like I said earlier, we all have to find our paths in Yiddishkeit and many times people don't have a clue about the diversity of Orthodox Judaism. The average out of towner in NY will eventually figure out the New York issues, but it would be better, I think, if they heard that we acknowledge the types, we see what they are seeing, and there are all kinds of choices. For now, in this forum, I hope others will suggest more wonderful, unique ways to experience Judaism in NY.

SJ said...

I agree with your friend completely. (Do I know this friend?) I had actually made a nearly identical point about the post when discussing it with another friend. Thank you very much for being conscious of the issues and taking it down--it shows your sensitivity.

Anonymous said...

Just curious, is this friend from NY?

Anonymous said...

Good choice, I think. I also agree with your friend.

Funny, b/c I totally would have guessed that it was sj (and I wonder if she guessed that it was me!).

Larry Lennhoff said...

Even having had a list of stereotypes would have materially helped when we were searching for a place to live in the NY metro area a few years back. We spent a lot of time and effort in our search, and feel richly rewarded for it by where we wound up.

Anonymous said...

New York is a complex place with complex dynamics. I pity the goodhearted, innocent, naive out of towners visiting here. The Jewish dynamics of New York can be broken down into Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, other boroughs; then suburban counties of Long Island/Westchester/Rockland; then out of state suburban counties in NJ/CT. The majority are conservative/Reform/unaffiliated Jewish. The orthodox world is a small part of the New York Jewish world but orthodoxy maintains the Yiddishkeit of New York. The orthodox world itself is incredibly diverse. The New York Jewish dynamic can be further broken down by income: wealthy, affluent, middle class, and the Jewish poor. One way to classify orthodox Jewish communities is by Hashkafa. There is really no way to summarize the experience of what the Jewish communities of New York are about because each community has it's own unique dynamics, politics, and culture.
A prevailing truth about New York Jews is the their view that they are the center of the Jewish world (except for Israel) and no Jews exist beyond the Hudson river or outside of New York, except for maybe for Flordia which is the number one destination for New York Jews. Many will not venture outside their home turf. It's a sad point of view.

Needing a Passport to go to Brooklyn is just a joke but it bears alot of truth.

I think as an out of towner you should say what you think even if it offends the locals; while it may contain many generalities and gross inaccuracies, New York is not a place for the polite and weak willed. New Yorkers can and should learn from their visitors how they come across to the rest of the world. Please be blunt.

Try this blog, it can a good field guide and conveys insight as to the attitudes and cultures of the New York Orthodox Jewish experience: