Monday, December 30, 2013

Why Ami Magazine is a Failure

Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter
Once again Rabbi Yitzchok Frankfurter has written a disgusting piece of trash he calls an editorial in last week’s Ami Magazine. I am not going to bother commenting on the substance other than to say that it shows Rabbi Frankfurter is an utter failure at what he is trying to accomplish. Instead of being a voice for the Charedi world, he is increasingly becoming an embarrassment to them. In his editorial labeling Rabbi Asher Lopatin  a heretic - where one is not allowed to answer Amen to his Bracha or violate Shabbos to save his life - he has set back his own agenda of fighting the left. I am not going to argue with him. I will leave that for others to do if they so choose.

What I will say is that when a magazine editor and publisher like this is responsible for the content in a magazine - it shows. Ami has steadily deteriorated since its founding. The only viewpoint published in Rabbi Frankfurter’s  magazine is his own. He has set himself up to be the voice of Charedi Jewry. But as this editorial plainly shows, he has failed miserably at it.  

After consulting with several prominent Charedi personalities, they have all come to the same conclusion. Rabbi Frankfurter should be ignored. Anything coming out of his mouth (or pen) is not worth the paper it’s written on.  His sole purpose is to sell magazines and set himself up as a martyr for his cause.  With editorials like this, he has only set himself up for ridicule.

Ami Magazine contains little of interest. They have few writers of substance. Ami once boasted Rabbi Avi Shafran as both a contributor and editor. Agree with him or not, his opinion pieces were always thought provoking. He is a brilliant writer. But Rabbi Shafran is no longer associated with Ami and the magazine is much poorer for it. And no one of any substance has replaced him.

I am not going to advocate boycotting Ami. I am not a fan of boycotts and bans. I would only say that buying this magazine is a waste of money unless you’re looking for some high quality paper to line your birdcage with.

Rabbi Moshe Grylak
If you are going to spend your money on a Charedi magazine, then I would instead strongly recommend Mishpacha. Its editor, Rabbi Moshe Grylak is a man of integrity and grace; thought and substance. I don’t always agree with him but I respect his views. He is not the unstable attack dog that Rabbi Frankfurter has proven to be. 

Mishpacha also boasts several opinion writers of substance. Like Jonathan Rosenblum and Eytan Kobre. Although I generally disagree with both substance and especially tone of Kobre’s pieces, he is an intelligent writer most of the time. Add to that a rotating group of prominent writers and thinkers that include among others, Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman, Rabbi Dr. Jerry Lob, Rabbi Henoch Plotnik, and Rabbi Emanuel Feldman, and you get a pretty decent picture of the real Charedi world – both moderate and extreme.

Just comparing the two editorials in each magazine this week is reason enough to recommend Mishpacha and not recommend Ami.

Rabbi Grylak is in the middle of running several editorials on young Charedi girls who have been virtually thrown into the streets by their parents.  These young adolescent girls rebelled against their upbringing to the point of complete intolerance by their parents. He is doing this because of a chance encounter with a true Charedi hero (of Sephardi heritage) by the name of Rabbi Yair Nahari. Rabbi Nahari has single handedly created a home for these girls. One that is staffed with mental health professionals.

Rabbi Grylak asks a question that many of us ask. How is it possible for a parent to expel a child from their home and abandoning them to the streets? No matter how rebellious a child is, is it even possible for a parent to do such a thing?!  And yet we all know how serious the problem is. It is one that seems to be growing exponentially.

That Modern Orthodox Jews have this problem too and that it may very well be in much bigger numbers - is beside the point. This is not some sort of competition or a numbers game. How much good does it do a Charedi parent of an OTD child to say, ‘Well at least my community has less OTDs than MO!’ I further suspect that more Charedi OTD children get ‘tossed’ into the streets than MO children.  But that too is irrelevant. The relevant question is why does this happen? And what can we do about it?

I am not going to speculate about this particular issue here – although it deserves attention. Perhaps another time.  My purpose here is to compare the two editorials as an illustration of why I think Mishpacha has succeeded and Ami has failed . And why I think Rabbi Frankfurter ought to be fully rejected by his readers; advertisers, and his own rabbinic leadership.