Orthodox Rabbis Allegedly Use Extortion To Force Jewish Newspaper To Stop Taking Announcements For Same Sex Weddings
In response, Orthodox rabbis complained to the paper's publisher.
If that is all that happened, I'd have no complaints against either the paper or the Orthodox rabbis. But allegedly, the Orthodox rabbis did not stop with simple complaining – they made threats.
Here's how those threats allegedly worked according to a source familiar with the situation:
1. The rabbis told the newspaper that they would stop advertisers dependant on the Orthodox rabbis' kashrut endorsements from advertising in the Standard.
2. The Orthodox rabbis then told all kosher restaurants, caterers, etc. that anyone who advertises in the Standard will automatically lose their hechsher (a rabbinic seal of approval stating that the food is kosher).
3. The Orthodox rabbis also told that Standard that day schools, yeshivot and seminaries would not advertise in the Standard if any more same-sex announcements or ads are published by it.
The Standard's publisher buckled and forced his editor to issue an apoloigy to the Orthodox community. That published apology promised the Standard would not take any more same-sex announcements or ads, which is especially strange becuase I'm told the Standard takes ads for non-kosher restaurants, some of which serve shrimp, and the Torah refers to shrimp-eating the same way it does to male homosexual relations – as a toevah, and abomination, a classification of sin used very rarely in the Torah.
Yet somehow both the Orthodox rabbis and the Standard view the "abomination" of eating shrimp in a far more benign way than they view the "abomination" of same-sex marriage, which leads me to believe homophobia, not the Torah, is the source of their actions.
That uproar and Tablet's reporting caused the paper's publisher to issue a statement directed to the non-Orthodox people hurt by his actions. Here's an excerpt:
“We did not expect the heated response we got, and—in truth—we believe now that we may have acted too quickly in issuing the follow-up statement [i.e., the apology to the Orthodox community], responding only to one segment of the community,” wrote James Janoff. “We are now having meetings with local rabbis and community leaders.”
The Standard acted reprehensibly and the Orthodox rabbis even worse – especally when you realize that gay student committed suicide a few days ago after being bullied and then visciously outed on the Web, and that student lived in the area served by the Standard.
This is another in a long line of examples that show what life would be like for Jews if Orthodoxy ever took control of the Jewish community.
If you know what's good for you, you'll do everything in your power to make sure that never happens.
Update 10-8-10 – The Rabbinical Council of Bergen County New Jersey has issued a statement about this issue in which they deny the allegations of threats and extortion.