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Contentions

Escaping From Brooklyn … or the Hamptons

The New York Times’ website has a feature titled “One: New York Characters in Sound and Images.” This week has a new feature about one Rivka Karasik, who grew up in the Lubavitch movement and left it in her early 20s.

Her story of leaving a life and a faith system she disliked is pretty typical and, it must be conceded that the narrative on the video manages to deprecate the Chabad lifestyle without indulging in any over-the-top rhetoric or abuse of this approach to Judaism. This is, thank God, a free country, and people can and should live as they see fit, by following any faith or none at all.

However, in listening Karasik’s story, her flight from her parents’ community did strike me as a narrative that would particularly appeal to the liberal mindset of the Times’ audience; most of the responses in the Comments section reflected this bias. Yet one reader was thinking along the same lines as I. Giving his name as “Joe” from “LawnGuyLand,” he wrote:

In the interest of even-handed journalism for which the Times is noted, I hope to soon see a piece on one of us who thought s/he was crazy because s/he thought that there must be more to life than being reading the Sunday Times at the weekend home in the Hamptons, and so opted to become a Chassidic Jew.

Well said, Joe, though I think such a story would more likely than not be about a religious Muslim rather than a Jew.

Count me in as one who thinks there is a middle way between the Times-reading Hamptons-dwelling Jews and the Hasidim in Brooklyn. But wouldn’t it be nice if the former stopped viewing the latter as only something to escape from or as worthy subjects of a National Geographic-style feature treating the Orthodox like some obscure tribe in the Amazon?



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