Chairman's Message

Chairman’s Message – Summer 2010

While more and more dailies throughout the country are shutting down, new frum publications keep cropping up, it seems, every few months.

Unquestionably, the proliferation of Orthodox print media is a welcome development. It says much about the vitality and dynamism of American Orthodoxy. It says much about our need for publications that offer a Torah perspective on the often-confounding events that take place in the world.

But even with the plethora of new frum publications, ranging from a daily newspaper to women’s magazines—Jewish Action continues to occupy a unique role.

Founded in 1984 as an Orthodox journal of thought, Jewish Action has always provided a “forum for a diversity of legitimate opinions within the spectrum of Orthodox Judaism.” True to its mission, the magazine has, over the years, published articles on Orthodox thinkers and leaders from Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaKohen Kook to the Chazon Ish, from Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik to Rabbi Yitzchak Hutner.
In the pages of Jewish Action, the Torah world is vast and endlessly fascinating; conflicting ideologies are merely different interwoven strands in the tapestry called Klal Yisrael.

To its credit, and that of the Orthodox Union, the magazine has always encouraged debate and dialogue leshem Shamayim, for the sake of fostering greater unity and respect, and for the sole purpose of bringing glory to God’s Name. Jewish Action’s refreshing honesty— its willingness to present both sides of a debate—remains, I believe, one of its greatest strengths.

But Jewish Action is not only known for its openness. While print media in America succumbs to blogs and Twitter, Jewish Action remains a consistent voice of deliberation, intelligence and thoughtfulness. We take the time to consider, to reflect. Readers have come to expect more from our articles.

We do not publish articles merely to entertain or to inform. Our mandate has always been to inspire and to enlighten. Oftentimes, we find ourselves deliberating over whether or not to publish an article. We ask ourselves: What does this particular article offer our readers? What is its underlying message? Many times, we are forced to reject submissions— even well written, intellectually superior submissions—because they do not fit our publication’s overriding mandate: to inspire and to enlighten.

This was Jewish Action’s mandate back in 1984, and it remains its mandate even as the journalistic landscape continues to change.

In this special issue, we celebrate our tradition of open, honest dialogue by presenting a rare exchange between two highly esteemed roshei yeshivah who are at different ends of the ideological spectrum: Rabbi Aharon Lichtenstein of Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel and Rabbi Aharon Feldman of Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore.We are honored that these roshei yeshivah chose Jewish Action as the
forum for this most meaningful dialogue in which they seek to “dismantle” the formidable ideological “walls” that separate them. I’m sure you will find this exchange to be exceptionally thought provoking.

This issue also focuses on the Three Weeks, the national period of mourning culminating in Tishah B’Av, by including excerpts from the newly released The Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot. Published by OU Press and Koren Publishers Jerusalem, The Koren Mesorat HaRav Kinot is a compilation of Rabbi Yosef Dov Soloveitchik’s profoundly stirring commentary on the Tishah B’Av kinot. The excerpts selected highlight some of the poignant and recurring themes in the Rav’s commentary.

To all those who made the effort to take the OU online survey on marital satisfaction back in 2009, well, the results are in. Dr. Eliezer Schnall, an assistant professor of psychology at Yeshiva University, and Dr. David Pelcovitz, professor of psychology and education at Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration, present some of the fascinating results (and their implications). Attracting 3,760 respondents from around the world, the survey was designed to gauge marital satisfaction in the frum community. The results may surprise you.

Finally, I would like to point readers to a magnificent photo essay of the once-thriving Jewish communities of Alexandria and Cairo and a moving tribute to the late visionary Dr. Bernard Lander, founder of Touro College.

Before signing off, I want to remind readers that Jewish Action is available online. Visit us at /jewish_action, and don’t forget to drop us a line! 

This article was featured in the Summer 2010 issue of Jewish Action.