NOAH FELDMAN AS THE “JEWISH JAYSON BLAIR”?
UNION OF ORTHODOX JEWISH CONGREGATIONS CALLS ON NY TIMES TO APOLOGIZE FOR PUBLISHING FELDMAN ANTI-ORTHODOX ESSAY;
NY JEWISH WEEK REVEALS FELDMAN AND TIMES EDITORS KNEW ARTICLE’S ASSERTIONS WERE FALSE BEFORE PUBLICATION
Today, the “Orthodox Union” — the nation’s largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization — called upon the New York Times to apologize for its publication in its Sunday Magazine of an essay authored by Mr. Noah Feldman after the New York Jewish Week revealed yesterday that Feldman and Times editors knew in advance of publication that the essay contained false statements. The Union further called upon the Times to remove Feldman from his position as a Contributing Editor to the NY Times Magazine.
The essay, a highly personal account of Feldman’s difficult relationship with the Modern Orthodox Jewish community in which he was raised, entitled “Orthodox Paradox,” was published in the July 22 edition of the Times’ Magazine. The essay opens with a lengthy account of Feldman attending a reunion of his Orthodox high-school with his non-Jewish finacee, and his assertion that the school deliberately and singularly eliminated Feldman and his finacee from the photograph of the reunion published in the school newsletter. The NY Jewish Week, in its August 3 edition, published a report in which Feldman admits having learned in advance of the publication of his essay that his assertion of being intentionally edited out of the photo was false. Moreover, the Jewish Week expose reveals that NYTimes editors were also aware, in advance of publication, that the essay’s assertion was false.
In the wake of these revelations, the Orthodox Union leadership has written to the NY Times as follows:
On behalf of the leadership and constituency of the Orthodox Union, we write to express our outrage at the decision by the Times Magazine editors to publish Mr. Feldman’s slanderous essay when… it became known to the author and to the editors – in advance of publication – that Mr. Feldman’s assertion of his being deliberately cropped out of a photograph of his day school reunion – the departure point and narrative framing for his essay – was false. When we read Feldman’s article initially, we were offended by the many scurrilous anti-Orthodox characterizations he makes (referencing the murderers Amir and Goldstein; comparing the Tefillin (phylacteries) worn at morning prayers to masochistic devices, etc.), but we could not reasonably expect the editors of the Times to have the knowledge or background to vet such assertions, even though we would expect any intelligent reader of the essay to question Feldman’s perspective. But it is another matter entirely to learn that the editors were informed – in advance of publication – that Feldman’s representation of the photograph incident was questionable; decided, as reported by the NYJW, to pay for the photographer to travel and retrieve the contact sheets; examined the contact sheets and then determined Feldman’s assertion was false and then made an editorial decision not to publish the photo! Such editorial conduct is outrageous and we believe demands an apology from the Times.
Moreover, we believe that Feldman’s own “journalistic” credibility has been sufficiently shown to be absent, that we ask you to remove him from his position as a Contributing Editor to the Times, just as you would remove any columnist or reporter found to be knowingly writing articles with false information.