The Organized Jewish Community, Truth and the Academic Process
I spoke briefly with Mitchell Bard tonight. Bard, author of Will Israel Survive?, was the opening speaker at the local Jewish bookfair. Most of the conversation revolved around an earlier book Bard wrote on Ethiopian Jews and Operation Moses. But the conversation opened this way:
Me:How do you handle corrections on your website?
Bard: You mean the Jewish Virtual Library?
Bard: We correct anything that's wrong. Why? Did you see something that needs correcting?
Me: Yes. Does that email address work?
Bard: On the site? Yes, sure.
Me: Who reads it?
Bard: I do … I might assign it to someone to research …
Me: You see those emails?
Bard: Yes. Why? Did you email us?
Bard: What was the correction?
Me: The article about the Lubavitcher Rebbe, his academic record, the schools …
Bard: I remember that [email]. What was wrong with it again?
Me: The academic record, the schools, the …
Bard: Where did we get the article from?
Me: A Chabad website.
Me: So why didn't you correct it?
Bard: We don't assume people lie about their rabbis, we trust [pause] what they say about their rabbis, what Lubavitch says about their own rebbe.
I had all I could do not to burst out laughing. Instead, I suggested Bard get in touch with Professor Menachem Friedman, the world's leading academic expert (sociology and history) on ultra-Orthodoxy in general and on Chabad specifically.
Bard, who bills himself in part as a historian, replied: "Who's that?"
I should add that Bard seems to be a perfectly nice man. I just hope the standards for his Israel work and his Holocaust work are higher than his standards for the JVL website.
Here's the JVL entry on the Rebbe in PDF for archival purposes: