Quit Palling Around
I was a bit horrified to read Hannah Reich Berman’s defense of her “pal” Paula Deen. Whether or not Paula Deen deserves to be punished to the extent that she is can be debated, I suppose, but Ms. Berman’s treatise seems to be lacking several essential pieces of information. Far from Deen throwing around the “n” word just a few times, she also expressed her desire to have black people tap-dance while wearing traditional waiter attire to add authenticity to a true Southern, plantation-style wedding. This information was revealed in a lawsuit filed by a former employee of Paula Deen Enterprises, who said that racist and sexist comments were espoused regularly by both Deen and her brother in the workplace. So not only was it racism, it was workplace harassment.
Ms. Berman makes the point that she, too, has made hurtful comments to others in her past, as anyone who is human tends to do on occasion. But hurtful is separate from unabashedly racist, and besides, Ms. Berman is not a public figure of Deen’s stature. Anyone with that much exposure to the public should be held more accountable for her actions. Whatever other endorsements she loses, Deen will not go hungry, so to speak. She has banked millions already, and if she loses out on additional ones, let it be a very real lesson for her that racism is not to be taken lightly.
I doubt Ms. Berman would rush to Deen’s defense if she was documented for repeatedly using the “k” word in reference to Jewish people, nor would she cavalierly term it a goof-up. Racism is a form of hatred similar to anti-Semitism, and we should be vigilant against all forms of hatred and then denounce them. It’s what we would want others to do for us. Unfortunately, as someone who has regularly heard racist comments and language spouted at various Shabbat tables and in casual conversation in different Jewish communities, I guess I’m not surprised by Ms. Berman’s dismissal of the seriousness of Deen’s actions, just very disappointed.
Overall, Ms. Berman might want to find herself keeping company with better pals.
We Are A Majority
I read with great interest “Rabbi Ginzberg Responds” in last week’s paper (Letters, July 5, page 19). I wish to clarify Rav Aharon’s statement, “The Satmar Rebbe is a gadol b’Torah but he is a yachid and we are a rabbim.” Rav Aharon, zt’l, was referring to the extreme shittah of separation from the Zionists as, for example, his prohibiting voting in Israeli elections. Yet, in regard to the falsehood and anti-Torah viewpoint of Zionism or religious Zionism, it was Rav Kook, zt’l, who was the yachid. The overwhelming majority of gedolim, rabbanim, yeshivos, etc. in pre-war Europe, including the Chofetz Chaim, were vehemently opposed to the Mizrachi movement. I have heard this from HaGaon Rav Yisroel Belsky, shlita, among many others.
To see the hashkafah of the gadol ha’dor, the Chazon Ish, see In Their Shadows, page 82. “He said publicly that the ‘great and holy ideal’ of Zionism was idolatry in his eyes.” Pertinent to the great draft debate, I would mention that he said he was more afraid of Israeli soldiers’ chillul Shabbos than of the Arabs. Even more outspoken against the Mizrachi was the Brisker Rav.
May we be zocheh to have the true unity with the coming of Mashiach, bimheira beyameinu.