Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer (henceforth, YGB) has been going around Facebook and various blogs (including this one) promoting his new Google Group. The name of this group is self-descriptive: “Bring the ‘Jewish Observer’ Back.” Okay, they’re not exactly sure how, but gosh darn it, they’re gonna try!
R’ Nachman Bulman, who was the Observer’s founding editor and served in that capacity for about half a year, had a policy of never openly attacking those to his right. My study of the JO seems to indicate that the tradition of said editor generally continued until the magazine’s closing. Moreover, the Agudists did consistently attack and delegitimize those to their left. Is it any wonder then that, despite the fact that Bulman considered R’ Joseph Elias a revisionist, the latter became the chief Hirschian interpreter for the Agudah and the principle of its “Torah im Derech Eretz” school which is anything but? Is it any wonder that -- while Bulman gave a private hesped for the Rav for students he liked -- before the Rav’s body was cold, the JO was preparing an attack on him? Is it any wonder that while Bulman wanted a more open-minded attitude towards science, the JO printed various flawed articles regarding Judaism’s relationship with that field?
But more importantly: is it any wonder that the JO eventually couldn’t handle the competition which was even more hardcore? Matzav and the Yateds (sounds like a good Israeli band name…but I digress…) were willing to go further than the JO had, easily portraying global warming as a hoax (oh, btw, what a surprise, the whole Climategate thing was just proven to be total narishkeit), endorsing Facilitated Communication, drawing comparisons between YU Roshei Yeshiva and Amalek, and twisting the teachings of Rav Hirsch beyond recognition (okay, that's just the Yateds). Matzav and the Yateds were preaching to an already convinced audience, an audience convinced by the JO and the rabbinical world which fostered it. So I don’t understand why YGB and his cohorts want the JO back when Matzav and Yated are really the fulfillment of the true vision the JO always promoted: if you have a haredi rav who isn’t Neturei Karta, you can’t be too right wing.
[still having a keyboard problem, will insert links later. Tomorrow: "Being Asked to Leave."]