It seems that, at every anniversary event, the standard reaction is disbelief that so many years have passed. It is the same with the Queens Jewish Link. I can’t believe it’s ten years since its inception!
I remember Yaakov Serle telling me the idea that he and some others hatched to have our own Jewish paper in Queens, guided by Torah-based principles. I thought it was a great idea whose time certainly had arrived. Yaakov asked me if I would agree to serve as its rabbinic advisor and I immediately agreed, as I recognized the importance such a publication would serve for the Queens community. He also asked if I would agree to write a column for the QJL and I accepted that, as well.
For me, it has been a challenging but very worthwhile experience. I do not get paid for my service to the paper, but that makes it all the more rewarding. I am not beholden to anybody except the emes.
The greatness of the paper is that it is not encumbered by a political or religious agenda. Orthodox viewpoints from all sectors are given equal exposure. The only exception is that of Open Orthodoxy, which has been declared as non-Orthodox by all the mainstream Orthodox organizations. Politically, yes, the paper leans Right, as I personally do. But that is not because we are anchored to any political ideology. It is because so many in the Orthodox community see the dangers on the Left. And we have been proven correct. Whether with social issues, crime, anti-Semitism, or Israel, the Left has shown how dangerous it has become. The general media, on the other hand, has totally squelched any legitimate discussion on these issues.
Indeed, the QJL features weekly columnists and letter writers from all political perspectives. Yet when someone doesn’t like an article written, the reaction is: That’s it! How dare you print that?! I will stop allowing your paper to enter my house! You will never see my institution advertise in your paper again! It is agonizing for the publishers to have to deal with, when they are just trying to maintain some balance. Very often, this reaction comes from people who otherwise are on a pedestal preaching tolerance.
Baruch Hashem, we were able to carve out a healthy hashkafah. Many Orthodox publications today will not allow any pictures of women. The QJL, on the other hand, follows the tradition of such great organizations as Agudath Israel of America, which regularly featured pictures of women (including Rav Moshe Feinstein’s rebbetzin) in its Jewish Observer magazine. It is not healthy to keep pictures from the male audience with the message that they are not trusted and that a picture of a woman will lead one to awful sin. But the pictures need be modest, tzanua, as they were in the JO. I will admit that on some occasions, proper discretion is not displayed, and the paper makes very effort to see that the mistake does not happen again.
I believe that the first article I wrote for the QJL was titled “Ladyfingers.” It was about the silly refusal of some “heimishe” Pesach bakeries to call those Pesach staples by their name as done for decades but to change the name to “Fingers.” That is the naarishkeit the Orthodox community faces from all directions as it tries to find its comfort zone.
Although the number ten plays a major role in halachah (minyan, maaser, bentching, etc.), I don’t know where it plays a role in marking an anniversary. But to all the publishers, editors, and readers of the Queens Jewish Link, I say: Mazal Tov!
“Ten” in Hebrew means “give.” Give to the Queens community for many more years, with Hashem’s help!
Rabbi Yoel Schonfeld is the Rabbi of the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills, Vice President of the Coalition for Jewish Values, former President of the Vaad Harabonim of Queens, and the Rabbinic Consultant for the Queens Jewish Link.