Out Of The Mailbag – Hamodia Prints ‘S’ Word; Causes Chillul Hashem

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yw_story_logo.jpgOut of the Mailbag:

I was shocked and appalled to read the letter to the editor in today’s Hamodia where they actually printed the “s” word in their publication – a derogatory Yiddish term referring to African-Americans that is considered by many non-Jews to be a racist term.

When I read it this morning, I was really disappointed. After all, even the author of the letter said that someone from outside the community used that term. So why wouldn’t Hamodia leave that offensive word out of their newspaper? This is the same Hamodia that won’t even print an email address or a website address, but it’s okay to print a racial slur?!

Specifically, I was worried that this would snowball into a Chilul Hashem (desecration of God’s name). Well sadly it has. Please see the post on the venerable NY Daily News – “Daily Politics” blog [posted below].

Shame on Hamodia.

I sincerely hope that they run an apology to the community for the resulting Chilul Hashem or at the very least publicly explain which one of their many rabbonim signed-off on the publication of this shameful term.

Finally, I know that this letter will generate controversy. However, I still respectfully request that you print it online because I know that Hamodia would never print it.

Thank you.

Sincerely,
Yankel Weiss.

Fanning The Flames
By Elizabeth Benjamin

[NOTE: Although the NY Daily News printed them, YWN has edited any derogetory slurs below] 

A reader forwarded this letter-to-the-editor from the Orthodox Jewish newspaper Hamodia that adds fuel to an already racially-charged fire by alleging an ethnic slur was used outside the Bloomberg-Giuliani event in Boro Park yesterday.

According to author of the letter, who identifies himself only as “Elimelech Freiman” and doesn’t say if he’s in any way connected to a campaign, “pro-Bloomberg activists” were seeking to “disparage candidate (Bill) Thompson by citing his race.”

“One person grabbed by suit collar, and asked me, ‘are you going to vote for a “s”?'” Freiman writes.

“I think such talk is morally indefensible. This person was by his looks and demeanor obviously not a member of our community. But his free use of this kind of language was certainly based on an assumption that such talk is acceptable and effective when talking to a Chassidic person like me.”

“It is scary to think that a person would assume that such hate talk wouldn’t offend a Chassidic-looking person. When I heard it, that assumption worried me more than the actual offensive language.”

For those who don’t speak Yiddish, “s” is a derogatory term for a black person. (There’s debate about this word, of course, because by itself it simply means “black” and is not a slur; it apparently all depends on how you employ it).

Aside from this disturbing allegation, which, it should be noted, is being made by someone who is obviously pro-Thompson and is not being pegged on anyone directly connected with the Bloomberg campaign, this writer also notes something that perhaps should cause even more concern in the mayor’s camp.

He alleges that there is a consideration amount of “frustration” in the Orthodox community with the Bloomberg administration. That’s worrisome for the mayor, who needs this voting bloc, and also explains yesterday’s big Giuliani-fest. (The former mayor has apparently retained his popularity with Orthodox voters).

Among the issues of concern to the Orthodox community cited by my reader are: The priority 7 vouchers, the Kent Avenue bike lane and, that old standby, parking tickets.




68 COMMENTS

  1. What was the point in writing this? To say lashon hara about a frum buisiness! If you find it offensive, write to the editor! There is a bigger inyan about making a chilul Hashem infront of fellow yidden, and i think you are doing that now!

  2. of course this kind of talk is wrong. I hate that word so much. I cringed when I heard it growing up from children and adults in my community. I’m ashamed of the Jew who used this slur. I thought that being Jewish meant to uphold justice and be kind to others. I guess he didn’t get the memo.

  3. We cannot express moral outrage at the likes of Jackson, who called NY “Hymie Town”, or Sharpton, who called Yidden “diamond merchants”, if we are guilty of the same loose speech. “Shvartze” has never been complimentary.

  4. Joseph, couldn’t agree more. Calling blacks ‘blacks’ isn’t any more derogatory than calling whites ‘whites’. It is what it is, and there is no hiding that. Do we have to stop referring to people from Spanish countries as Spaniards? Are the French offended if we call them, well, French? And the English: I wont even spell out the ‘english’ word for them!

  5. If you think the holy Hamodia will ever appoligize for this, dream on.

    They get away with murder.

    High time someone pulled the rug out from underneath their rugs.

    Kudos YWN

  6. Lashon hara?!

    This is your problem?

    There is no kapara for chillul hashem last I checked. And there is no reason why Jews need to be looked at in a bad way because of a frum newspaper.

  7. the gerrer rebbe must be kvelling now.

    how proud he must be at the hamodia (his “baby”).

    he’ll be in nyc in a few weeks, so the hamodia better get their act together before he whips them into shape.

  8. Joseph. I have read your comments in many articles. my conclusion you are a racist bigot. You only believe that you know what is right. I want to tell you that what you say is against halachah and someday i would like to meet you face to face or at least over phone, or email. it’s either that or you are just trying to incite and intimidate everyone and see what the response is.
    speak to you soon,
    Joe

  9. WHY IS THIS LASHON HARA?

    A NEWSPAPER IS A PUBLIC FORUM! ANYTHING WRITTEN WHICH CAN DAMAGE THE IMAGE OF FRUM YIDDEN CAN AND SHOULD BE PUBLICLY EXPOSED.

    IF DONE QUIETLY, NOTHING WILL EVER BE ACCOMPLISHED.

  10. this is the paper who ignores major news in yerushalayim such as when hundreds of frum people get arrested and beat up by hafganos of the pride parades…..because their rabonim told them not to….

    sure.

    pass the challa, here comes the techina

  11. There is nothing wrong for a Jew to say “Svartze” when referring to someone of the Negro race; it’s not like using the “n” word. There are many words that Jews like to use the Yiddish form instead of the English, even when speaking in English.

  12. The person who wrote this in to YWN is a BIG baby!!!! You cannot ignore words. Shvartza is not a bad word. I have to say the headline on the story made me say, “OH NO, THEY DIDNT!” and when I read the story, I saw they really didnt! BH!!

    Was it so kewl for the guy to say that to the other person…. perhaps not but I will bet these two people BOTH voted for the other Shvartza in the WHITE House!!

  13. honestly! he didnt say a racial slur nor did the daily news seem upset at hamodia 4 printing it. mayb at the guy that said it…not at the guy hearing it…i do find it insulting to use such a word in general and in public but in the way it was portrayed in the hamodia i think its perfectly ok. but then agn that is only MY opinion..
    my next point is-YES THIS IS LASHON HARA. maybe not this idea cuz this is a public forum but some of u ppl hav got to think b4 u post. honestly, i am finding YWN more as a venting place for irritable, unintelligent ppl more then a/t else! and don kid urself yoilish, so far i hav not seen a/t other then malicous talk agnst the hamodia being said. u wanna be productiv?- write a letter to the editor will you…jus spare us!
    2 Joseph-as much as i don find that article bad—ur comment was very disturbing! u see that ppl find it racist, some commen sense please! #6,14 and especialy 16- Thank You!

  14. “Schvartze” is NOT a derogatory term for a black person. It means “black”, plain and simple. If used in an English phrase, it might be derogatory, but in a Yiddish phrase it has the exact same connotation as black in English (which can be derogatory though not necessarily so).

  15. first, of all that word is not derogitory in any what way.
    second,homodia did not write it.its a letter to the editor and if you [YWN] got a problem with that then you should block all the posts that have the s word printed in YOUR

  16. #2 Joseph – Then you should have no problem with either Hymie Town or Kike? Or maybe your principle is that your own racism is just fine while antisemetism is a serious moral flaw? Disgusting

  17. #16 – Joe Katz – I arranged to have lunch with Joseph last winter, much like you out of curiosity to meet the man behind the intolerance. He’s rather affable actually – a rather nice fellow one-on-one, despite his ideological intransigence.

  18. Saying “shvartza” instead of “Black” is no problem at all. Why can’t Jews use their own laguage.

    But the problem is this: Jews talking about elections based on race, not based on record etc. — that’s the Chilul Hashem!

  19. I dont understand, the letter was stating that it was inapropiate to use such lingo. Does the times and post refrain from printing the N – word, when it is used to describe how a racist talked?

  20. #32 – YonasonW
    Hey,
    Maybe I’ll try that except I don’t know if he would want to go to the restaurants near my house due to the fact that there owned by mizrachi Jews, and I do believe they have a African American Waiter.
    well maybe we can somewhere near him.
    How about it Joseph

  21. Thank You #’s 12, 23, 24, 25, 29, and 30.

    Yonason, anytime you are up to it, drop me an email and we’ll do lunch again. And this time I’ll pay. 🙂

    P.S. Don’t forget to bring that day’s N.Y. Times so I can point out the lies in any story you choose.

  22. Hey Joseph,
    How are you?
    I do agree with you that The NY Times is one big lie.
    But do you really believe everything you write. For insistence, about two months ago you wrote something along the lines of, “the Zionist helped the s,”
    kol tuv,
    Joe

  23. Do you think when people say blacks they mean it complimentary? Many people use black in a derogatory way also. They couldn’t stand Negro so we called them colored people then they prefered being called black because they felt it gave them equal footing with the whites. As in black or white. I expect that they will get tired of being called black also. Recently some of them got fed up with black and wanted to be called African Americans. But in my opinion if they were total zadikim even the N word would have a sweet sound. Changing your label will not change anything. Changing what you represent will change everything.

  24. Only hotheads such as this Weiss and Freiman would pay attention to what some wild hoodlum thinks we think. There are plenty other things outsiders think we’re all about. When Bloomberg says, this whole thing is Meshugana, is that a reflection of our way of talking? It’s a reflection of his point of view of the way his grandparents spoke.
    My Goodness.

  25. I would like to know who gave YWN the right to print this letter and besmirch another publication. Who does the editor ask his halachik questions to? Why is this different than any other form of lashon hara? Moreover, I believe you are transgressing the “lav” of “lifnei evair” by giving a forum for all the comments printed so far many of which certainly do not fall in the category of “ve’ahavta le’raiach komocho” and worse, are the exact opposite. Does anybody think that they are bringing Moshiach any closer with their incendiary comments?

  26. There is nothing deragtory about using the word Schwarzer. It is a yiddish word which can be translated in english as Negro, Black, African American depending on the era. It usage is not derogatory. It doesn’t translate to the N word. It is intersting that the less relgious a person is the more the person finds it offensive. For those people whom yiddish is there first languge there is nothing deragatory about it. For iriligous people who do not know Yiddish well it becomse derogatory.

  27. 45- “I would like to know who gave YWN the right to print this letter and besmirch another publication. Who does the editor ask his halachik questions to?”

    Good points…. I would like to know who gave Hamodia the right to print this letter and besmirch the entire klall yisroel. Who does the editor ask “her” (yes, its a her) halachik questions to?

    When you answer them, I’m sure we will have a serious taana on YWN. Until then, YWN remains in the clear.

    Don’t hold your breath…. they never answer to anyone, or bother asking either…

    Maybe it’s time to let everyone know how they disgraced klal yisroel over sukkos with their shelly silver article? even after being told not to publish it by a leading Rebbe…..

    P’ratim Yavoyu

  28. The S WORD is only bad if it is used the wrong way and the same goes for the N word. The J word is not so bad if it used correctly. If someone says the jew guy in a conversation it is taken badly but if someone says in the context the jewish guy nobody gets excited. All I did was add the word “ISH” to jew and everyone is happy. If you use the T word nobody cares either. If you use the word TIP in a sentance while screaming at a friend nobody cares either.

    Now if you scream TIP and then add ISH you get TIPISH and all of a sudden everyone is writing in to YWN.

    The best advice I can give anyone is don’t use the A word, B word , C word, D word, E word, G word,J word , H word, and basically most of the beggining letters of words we should all stay away from when speaking or writing. Some of you are thinking this makes no Cents but I careful and took out the S and put a C in there instead so as not to offend anyone that does not like the S word. Right words that our interchangeable.

    Ebonics is a good language because you can never offend anyone with that language. Until someone can understand ebonics we are all safe so we should all use it for now.

  29. You guys are all crazy. Last time I checked (or did I space out since) that word is a simple word which means black. Is there something wrong with that word. Come on and if I would say he’s a “veise”, is that also wrong.

    This is absolute crazy..

  30. The “””””s word”””””????????????? LOL! “Shvartze” is “the s word”??????? For the writer of this and all the rest of non-yiddish speakers, “shvartze” translates LITERALLY as “black”… that’s all!!!! black people are black and were always called “blacks” in american english. chilul hashem???????????? this shoiteh is getting terribly carried away with his political correctness.

  31. #48 that may be so but as the saying goes 2 wrongs don’t make a right. Where in Halacha, because “officially” Yidden are still bound by that, is one allowed to do an averira because someone else did the same thing? Try telling a judge that the reason you didn’t pay your taxes is because someone else didn’t either. You’ll both end up behind bars. And I got news for you, Gehinom is a very large place with room for all.

  32. If this really happened then the shame is on the campaign that went so low. If the guy is making it up and Hamodia printed without checking then it was very bad judgment. But no matter what this is not a Hamodia article using that word, it is just a story about someone who used it very negatively. If it really happened then great that Hamodia exposed low campaign tactics to which Bloomberg should not resort.

  33. Using the “s-word” is disgusting indeed, as is using racial slurs for Arabs, and others.

    If we expect them to respect us, let’s begin with respecting them. Hate only brings more hate.

  34. I don’t get it? YonasonW, you talk out of both sides of your mouth. When Al Sharpton talked about the diamond dealers after the tragic killing of Gavin Cato and Jesse Jackson called New York,”A hymie town full of hymies” you downplay the violence of the Crown Heights riots. You claim that Al Sharpton had nothing to do with it. When a newspaper prints a Yiddish word that is used in a derogatory way, you attack those who defend the newspaper. All of us JEWS just have to line up in back of the Democratic party to keep all of their elected officials in office?

    Joseph and Joe Katz, I would very much like to introduce my husband to the two of you gentlemen and then we could all go out to lunch together. L’chaim!

  35. Au contraire Flatbush Bubby (#56) – I do not defend any racism. I think that Al Sharpton has well earned serious our concern that he is a racist – but I still think simply as a factual matter he had nothing to do with Crown Heights in ’91.

    More importantly, I don’t own the problem if a non-Yid is anti-social,intolerant or prejudiced; I do if the perp is a Yid. There simply is no valid macor for some of the intolerant views expressed here.

    I come from a Yecche family, on my father’s side, that was virtually wiped out in the Churban Europe – only my father survived, as he got out in the mid-thirties and was in medical school elsewhere when the doors closed in Germany. My father taught me that prejudice is a disease – and he was especially put off by prejudice in our community, precisely because for centuries we have been its victim. The racism in our community is our disease, and is known publicly – I think it is a chillul Hashem of major proportions.

    I happen to wear a black hat and have a beard…over the past 35 years working in government agencies, including law enforcement agencies, and in the transportation industry, I have experienced several times an expectation that as a “black hat” I probably am a racist – and surprise that I am not. Not a pretty picture.

  36. Alright Flatbush Bubby, squeak, Yonason, Joe Katz, and your husband are in. The tabs on me.

    squeak – I hope we don’t have to wait for Chanukah to do this!

  37. Bottom line it’s all about H.P.O and YWN did it aging getting the hits with great HOCK! And anyways who cares about that paper? Move on people….

  38. Addendum re Flatbush Bubby #56

    Bubby writes “..Joseph and Joe Katz, I would very much like to introduce my husband to the two of you gentlemen and then we could all go out to lunch together. L’chaim!…”

    Would be a charter meeting of the Jew Klux Klan! (Sorry to include you JK – I just couldn’t resist the tease)

    Peace 🙂

  39. tony smith, be specific. Instead of just accusing me, when do I talk out of both sides of my mouth or you are someone who just hates me and wants to see me put down upon and intimidated into silence?

  40. my rov this morning after shacharis was approached by a few mispallilim to get his opinon on this matter, and he sides with ywn all the way.

    he said hamodia crossed over a line

  41. ******NEWSFLASH*******

    The Hamodia printed this filth just to stab the Bloomberg campaign in the stomach since they refused to grant the Hamodia an interview as they did to the Yated.

    The only issue is that the yated endorsed Bloomberg while the Hamodia refuses to endorse a candidate.

    So let it be known that the Hamodia did this intentionally, which makes this so much worse.

    SHAME ON THE HAMODIA!

  42. Joseph, YonasonW
    you should know that maybe we can start the “JDL”
    “Just Denounce Liberals” Sorry YonasonW Couldn’t resist (I Don’t know ho to do the Smiley Face so JUST SMILE!!!)

  43. For those that say nothing is wrong with the word- your all nuts.

    If a person asked you “your voting for that jew”? We would all be in a frenzy but if you would ask your “voting for that jewish person” it has a whole different meaning. It’s the way it is said and sometimes to whom it is said to.

    Hamodia should be ashamed of themselves for even making this into what it is.

    And Dov Hikind should stop making things up and running around that everyone is telling him about the “S” word.

    The only “S” word I would tell Dov Hikind is “S” for stupid.

  44. After reading the comments I suggest we refrain from using the A word, B, word, C word, D word, E word, G word and basically all the way down to Z because all these letters are driving some of you nuts.

    We should all go back and speak pig latin the way the “S’s” speak ebonics.

  45. Let me see if I understand this.

    A non-Jew (can I use the “g-word”?) grabbed a Mr. Elimelech Freiman by the collar and asked him if he’s going to vote for a “s.”

    Mr. Freiman was offended at the use of the “s-word.” He wrote a letter to Hamodia saying he was offended by the use of the “s-word.”

    Hamodia printed the letter.

    Mr. Yankel Weiss read the letter in Hamodia and rather than understanding that Hamodia was pointing out how offensive it is to use the “s-word” he just decided to be offended that they quoted a “g” who said “s.”

    So Mr. Weiss e-mailed YWN to say he was offended that Hamodia printed a letter saying how offensive the “s-word” by quoting the “g” who said “s.”

    YWN in their infinite wisdom printed the letter from Mr. Weiss.

    Now, a bunch of people who STILL don’t get it are offended that a “g” said “s” and that Mr. Freiman was pointing out how offensive “s” is and that Hamodia agreed that “s” is offensive and YWN agreed that “s” is offensive.

    Come on people. Read. Then react.