Jewish Standard Flip Flops on Gay Announcements

From our favorite paper, the Ridgewood Patch, first they publish, then they publish not.
Newspaper Will No Longer Publish Same-Sex Wedding Announcements

The Teaneck-based Jewish Standard newspaper announced Monday it will no longer publish same-sex wedding announcements after receiving complaints from some in the community.
By Noah Cohen

The Teaneck-based Jewish Standard will no longer publish same-sex wedding announcements after receiving complaints about an item noting a gay couple's engagement, the newspaper's editor said in a statement posted on its website Monday.

The Sept. 24 announcement of Justin Rosen and Avi Smolen's wedding plans led to complaints from members of the traditional Orthodox Jewish community, the statement said. The announcement remained published on the Jewish Standard website Monday.

"Our subsequent discussions with 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," editor Rebecca Kaplan Boroson said in the statement.

"The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future," Boroson said in the statement.

Boroson would not say who had complained or attended a meeting to discuss the matter with the newspaper, which serves Bergen County, Passaic County and others in North Jersey. She repeatedly declined to comment on the decision and the circumstances leading up to it.

She said she did not know if groups had threatened to pull advertising from the newspaper.

"We are not taking a political position," Boroson said.

Steven Goldstein, the chief executive officer of Garden State Equality, said the newspaper's decision was a "slap in the face" of the Jewish and gay communities.

"The paper should be ashamed of itself," Goldstein, of Teaneck, said.

Goldstein said the decision reflected opposition to gay marriage from the Orthodox community and ignored acceptance of same-sex marriage in other branches of Judaism.

"The Jewish Standard should no longer bill itself as a newspaper. It should bill itself as an Orthodox newsletter," Goldstein said.

In a letter to the Jewish Standard posted on BlueJersey.com, conservative Rabbi Rebecca W. Sirbu said she was dismayed by the decision.

"I do not understand how you can take this stance and run such a statement the very week that a Rutgers University student threw himself off of the George Washington Bridge because his roommate publicized his gay affair?"

Formal positions on same-sex marriage range from acceptance to disapproval among the different branches of Judaism. Orthodox Jews are largely opposed to same-sex marriage, Reconstructionists approve of same-sex marriage, while Conservative and Reform branches have varying opinions, said Rabbi Ely Allen, director of Hillel of Northern New Jersey.

Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor in chief of New Jersey Jewish News, said he understood the pressures from readers the Jewish Standard faced but questioned how the Teaneck newspaper had handled the situation. Instead of publishing complaints as letters to the editor, the newspaper published a statement from the editor without naming those who opposed the wedding announcements.

"I think it's important to hear the Orthodox opposition in the newspaper," Silow-Carroll said.

Jewish newspapers work with different sensitivities than that of other newspapers, he said. The publications often share the values of the local Jewish community.

The region's largest daily newspaper, The Record of Bergen County, has no policy prohibiting wedding announcements from same-sex couples, said Dina Sforza, corporate counsel for The Record's parent company, North Jersey Media Group.

Noah Cohen is the editor of Teaneck Patch.

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