Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kosher Berger

Dear readers, I think by now you know how I feel about the New York Times unofficial eulogizer and number one frenemy of Yiddish, Joseph Berger. In a word, Do. Not. Want.

I was dismayed reading the my-god-it-must-have-been-a-slow-news-week profile of JB in the Jewish Week called 'Kosher Berger'. I'm not even going to touch this quease making piece of work. I don't have to, because Mishpacha magazine already did it.

You read that right. Michpacha magazine and I are on the same page. Sort of. A teensy tiny bit.

To be fair, Mishpacha likes Berger because a Berger byline means that a piece won't be negative on Israel. And they don't even have a problem with his gooey sentimentalism toward Orthodoxy and Yiddish. However, Mishpacha takes issue with Berger's defense of the Times and accusations of its anti-semitism. Now this, this is just beautiful:

And then he added, as they say, the kicker: “I don’t believe the Times is anti-Semitic, and the fact that we run stories about Yiddish and chassidim is proof of that alone.”  
On that, two points. That’s a bit of a non sequitur; the Times can well be anti-Israel without being overtly anti-Semitic (although, of course, many see anti-Israel sentiment as a stand-in, conscious or otherwise, for anti-Semitism). And the notion that charming human-interest stories appearing now and then about Yiddish and chassidim can somehow be pressed into service as the Times’ philo-Semitic credentials sounds like the journalistic equivalent of “…but some of my best friends are Jews.”  
Mr. Berger can make any case he’d like for the Times’ lack of anti-Jewish animus, but his use of such an unpersuasive — indeed, hackneyed — argument is surprising. Let him, by all means, carry on writing his often enjoyable slice-of-life profiles of Orthodox life. But he ought not to serve, by reason of them, as his newspaper’s rav hamachshir.

Dude, when Mishpacha magazine calls you a hack, it's time to do a serious journalistic kheshbn hanefesh.