Mr. Rosenfeld's Article
To the Editor:
As a subscriber to your magazine, I must write you about the article “Adam and Eve on Delancey Street” by Isaac Rosenfeld that appeared in your October issue.
We Jews have always stressed derech eretz—good manners—for private and public living. I think Mr. Rosenfeld and your office struck the nadir of publication by having this foul piece appear in your magazine.
Your magazine always prides itself on its high literary form and expression. Someone must have, literally, muffed the ball this time (and I don’t mean matzo or meat ball either). If this policy of polluting our own water continues, you will have to remove my name from your list of readers!
I think an apology is in place. You have given much material for our detractors. Is Isaiah right after all in chapter 49, verse 17? (Look it up!)
Rabbi Leo Shubow
To the Editor:
I am writing in reference to the article entitled “Adam and Eve on Delancey Street,” by Isaac Rosenfeld, which appeared in the October issue of COMMENTARY.
This article so far outrages propriety and decency that I feel, as an Orthodox Jew and as a member of the Executive Committee of the American Jewish Committee, a most vigorous protest is called for. Regardless of your individual opinion on kashruth, you must, of necessity, have respect for those who observe it as part of their religion, just as you respect Catholics and Protestants in their observances, even though you may not subscribe to their ceremonies. The present article is an attack on an observance of the Orthodox Jewish religion. It flows from an unscientific and now generally discredited procedure of the early psychoanalysts who linked just about everything to sex. If kashruth escaped this linkage in that period, it seems a little late now to make the tie. The article goes beyond anything of its kind in indulging in a degree of vulgarity never seen in magazines of good repute, and most certainly not to be expected in the columns of COMMENTARY. The article bears the strongest possible resemblance to samples of the writings of Streicher which I have seen.
The editor of COMMENTARY undoubtedly accepted the article as something limited in its injurious effects to Orthodoxy. In this he made a serious mistake. Most non-Jews have about the same knowledge of the differences between various types of Judaism as, say, the average Jew has of the diíFerences between the Methodist and Lutheran churches. The non-Jewish readers of COMMENTARY, if in the past sympathetic to things Jewish, will be disgusted by the obscenity of the article, and not at all disposed to have more respect for any branch of Judaism. For the non-sympathetic readers of COMMENTARY the article provides an excellent source of anti-Jewish material on the lowest possible level. You may properly ask of yourself what your attitude and reaction would have been had the article appeared in such a magazine as the Atlantic Monthly. The article will be a great source of embarrassment to those of us who have recommended COMMENTARY in the past to our non-Jewish friends.
I feel certain that your committee will repudiate this article as not at all representing the aims of COMMENTARY, and that it will take steps to insure that there will be no repetition of this unfortunate episode.
M. L. Isaacs
New York City
To the Editor:
I meant to write you some time ago complimenting COMMENTARY upon its stimulating articles, but it seems that when we have a complaint, we write immediately. I am very much surprised that COMMENTARY with its high standards should have included in the October issue the article “Adam and Eve on Delancey Street.” Even in jest, such articles have no place in any Jewish periodical, and I hope that the editors will be careful to exclude such material in the future. On the whole, I like COMMENTARY very much and I missed it while I was away on my sabbatical leave of absence.
Rabbi Morris Silverman
To the Editor:
Isaac Rosenfeld’s article “Adam and Eve on Delancey Street” was most disgusting. It was an insult not only to observant Jews but to all proud and decent Jews. Rosenfeld’s observations were not only cheap and in poor taste but filthy and pornographic as well. . . .
Rabbi Gilbert Klaperman
Charleston, S. C.
[We are sorry that a number of our readers found Mr. Rosenfeld's article offensive to good taste and Jewish feeling. Those who know COMMENTARY hardly need assurance as to our editorial policy or intention. As for the author, those who know Mr. Rosenfeld or his work—his novel Passage from Home and his writing in COMMENTARY and elsewhere—must acknowledge his genuine concern with Jewish ideas and problems, and his equally genuine Jewish identification.
There are always limits beyond which editors cannot go in editing writers, especially those of Mr. Rosenfeld's seriousness and conviction; we try in COMMENTARY to give the widest possible latitude to the expression of authors' opinions, whether or not we agree with them. At the same time, we recognize that there are several passages in Mr. Rosenfeld's article that lend themselves to misconstruction and misunderstanding and that should have been recast; and certainly there is one anecdote that was in very bad taste and that should have been eliminated. That this was not done represents a lapse in editorial watchfulness, which the Editor deeply regrets.—Ed.]