Sunday, October 24, 2010

Esther Petrak: A Second Look – and an Apology

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about a interview making the rounds on the internet about a Modern Orthtodox young woman by the name of Esther Petrack. The interview showed her answering in the affirmative - a question about whether she was prepared to violate Shabbos to be on a reality show. The show was Tyra Bank’s America’s Next Top Model.

I used Ms. Petrack as an example of a problem that I believe exits in the modern Orthodox community. The problem of why some of its members might go ‘Off the Dererch’. There is a segment of modern Orthodoxy I call MO-Lite that is observant for social rather than ideological reasons. I think that is true in other segments as well including the right. But I also believe that in modern Orthodoxy it is more prevalent.

I am not going to get into a discussion about that here. Nor am I going to discuss whether it is appropriate for a religious young woman to participate in this kind of competition. That is not my issue here.

This post is very specifically about an apology and it is directed to Ms. Petrack and her family. I want to offer my sincere and profound apologies if in any way my post contributed to any pain they might have had.

I was mistaken. I took for granted that the interview making the rounds was an accurate reflection of what happened. That it was edited doesn’t bother me. These things are always edited. But it was the way it was edited that was wrong. It was edited to make it seem like Ms. Petrack was about to abandon her Judaism just to get on the show.

But I was apparently wrong. Very wrong. This was made clear in a post in the blog: Pacific Jewish Center Rabbi. Therein the blogger, Rabbi Fink, cites the words of Ms. Petrack’s mother who testified to the fact that the interview was edited to reflect the opposite of the truth and goes on to show via an anecdote that her daughter is indeed serious about her Judaism. Rabbi Fink made the same error I did in his original post on the subject and apologized. I now do the same.

I toyed with the idea of deleting that post but decided to leave it up and add an update and link to this post. The reason I’m not taking it down is because I still believe in the general premise of the post. It’s just that Ms. Petrack is not an example of it. She is apparently a sincere and religious modern Orthodox young woman who has every intention of remaining observant.

Again, my sincere apologies to the family.