When in doubt, report the news
Last week, The Jewish Standard published a same-sex couple’s announcement of their intent to marry. This week, The Jewish Standard published an apology for doing so.
The Jewish Standard is the weekly Jewish newspaper of Northern New Jersey, and has been in print since 1931. It’s unlikely there’s been an issue without some wedding announcement or another, but this is probably among the first wedding apologies.
The statement read as such: “A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue. Our subsequent discussions with the representatives from that community have made us aware that publication of the announcement caused pain and consternation, and we apologize for any pain we may have caused. The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart.” The statement concluded with the paper vowing not to run same-sex announcements in the future.
And yet, in the paper’s mission statement, we read: “The Jewish Standard is not affiliated with any program, organization, movement, or point of view, but is dedicated to giving expression to all phases of Jewish life.”
Predictably, both Orthodox Jews and homosexual groups were up in arms over the situation. Did those rabbis represent religious Jews who experienced “pain and consternation” over the announcement? Sure. Did the couple whose wedding announcement was retracted, as well as other members of the Jewish homosexual community experience the same? Undoubtedly.
The problem here is not a simple one.
By publishing a same-sex wedding announcement, the paper, and any such paper, may be offending those whose religious or cultural beliefs sway against the rights of homosexuals to marry. By not publishing the announcement — or, rather, retracting it — the paper is knowingly neglecting something very personal, and very real, that is happening in the Jewish community. So what to do?
Publish the announcement, as The Jewish Chronicle has in the past, in compliance with the policy set by our board.
We’re not trying to stake a moral high ground here, and we’ve certainly made judgment mistakes as well. But when it comes down to such a touchy situation where, no matter what the action, one group will be offended, a newspaper needs to stick to what it does best: report the news. And wedding announcements being an important part of any Jewish community, it is no more or less important to publish an announcement of two same-sex partners than that of a man and woman. This is not a morality issue.
Unfortunately, it was quickly forced to become one.
No segment of Judaism is wrong in its belief regarding homosexuals. But as Jews, taught to be accepting of others, we mustn’t take personal offense when other Jews act in ways with which we religiously disagree. Or further, when our local newspaper does its job and reports it.