Strictly Orthodox Jews ‘Reject the Principle of Equality in General,’ New York Times Claims

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By Ira Stoll

“Hebrew is by no means the only language that has been the target of calls for change,” the New York Times concedes somewhere in the middle of a long article about Hebrew. “Many world languages, like French, make every noun either masculine or feminine. And the United Nations has issued guidelines for nondiscriminatory communications in the six official languages of the organization: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish.”

So if French and other languages are the same way, why does the Times bother devoting a whole long news article — illustrated online with seven photographs — to a kerfuffle over gender in Hebrew? Maybe because an article about French wouldn’t provide the opportunity to bash Orthodox Jews.

The Times helpfully explains, “Some ultraconservatives and strict Orthodox Jews oppose the new focus on linguistic equality, since they reject the principle of equality in general.”

That is clumsily worded, unclear, and negative. My own view of it is that Orthodox Jews (and many others) would say they believe all humans are created with equal dignity in God’s image and should have equal civil rights to vote or to drive a car, but that does not mean all gender or other differences in language or in other regards are to be ignored or eradicated.

Note also the “they” pronoun. It’s used by the Times not in a friendly, inclusive way, as in, The strict Orthodox Jew prefers they/them pronouns. It’s used in a nasty, exclusive way, as in, those bigoted not-just-merely conservative but ultraconservative and not just merely Orthodox but strict Orthodox Jews are against “the principle of equality in general” (as opposed to the principle of equality in specific?), unlike we enlightened New York Times readers, who are more equal than they are, those benighted strictly Orthodox Jews over there.

The New York Times is all for “the principle of equality in general” — unless and until it applies to giving equal, fair treatment to Orthodox Jewish views. Then the Times throws the principle of equality overboard, letting readers know without a lot of guile who the paper thinks is inferior.

The Times news article, published in English under the headline “Israel’s Biblical Tongue Collides With Gender Politics,” itself uses gender-specific honorifics — “Mr. Levinson,” “Ms. Shomer.” Does that mean the paper’s editors, or its publisher, “reject the principle of equality in general”?

If the Times itself is so committed to equality, maybe it should try enforcing a new policy of giving strictly Orthodox Jews equal space every time it publishes an article disparaging strictly Orthodox Jews.

Ira Stoll was managing editor of The Forward and North American editor of The Jerusalem Post. 

{c) The Algemeiner Journal


  1. I suggest the editors at the New York Evil Times read the book Animal farm to find out who is really more equal than whom. Yes, the pigs stink Mr. Evil Times.

  2. To see how Jews, most notably Orthodox Jews, that respect women – and the respect for women is built into our very fiber – whereas women in the NY Times culture are just objects. They’re culturally abused and are used for mens’ animalistic behavior. In the Muslim world, also an NYT cultural favorite, don’t even begin to go there. I’ve yet to see the NYT bash Muslim inequality. It’s altogether back to the same old-same old, slam and bash Jews and their sacred customs and culture.

  3. “The Times helpfully explains, “Some ultraconservatives and strict Orthodox Jews oppose the new focus on linguistic equality, since they reject the principle of equality in general.””

    The Torah, which all observant Jews follow, is what rejects the general culture’s nonsense/Sodomite laws of making men and women equal. Women do have certain halachic leniencies that men do not, due to the different “built-in” roles/responsibilities of each gender (for example, men cannot lactate and, therefore, their baby will not be dependent on the milk from a man, unless, of course, they are using formula).

    In truth, though, the Zionist language is at least as secular as – and certainly more profane and sacrilegious than – say, French. So, the “Modern Hebrew”/”Ivrit” language itself is of no concern from a Jewish – not Zionist – perspective. Our actual religious language is Lashon haKodesh, the holy tongue, not the evil rip-off of the same that is “Modern Hebrew”.

  4. Brilliant points in this articles geniusly presented in what may be the best written article printed on this site in a long time
    In a fair world, this article would go viral

  5. Jews rejecting equality is a kiddush Hashem. Male and female are 2 different genders. Each play their own role.

  6. Good. This is a much better way of presenting liberal views – in the proper context.
    And btw, how does the NYT know to comment on gender linguistics, if they are not biologists. At least not more than a recently appointed SCOTUS Justice.
    And one more thing: How do they explain the gender disparity in English, such as he/she, his/her? and that’s besides the glaring lack of equity in American hospitals, where they have a maternity ward, but no paternity ward.

  7. Stay Strong Everyone And We Will Defeat eventually the dominant dogs . Those who do will Reap the Rewards
    Sooner hopefully, But eventually

  8. Gender in language has nothing to do with equality in life. Of those six languages mentioned, Russian has three genders; French, Spanish, and Arabic have two, and Chinese and English are almost genderless.

    My favorite sentence in Spanish is “Este gato es mi mascota.” The very same animal is referred to by both a masculine word (gato=cat) and a feminine word (mascota=pet). The sentence is correct regardless of whether the cat itself is male or female. Making Spanish or Hebrew genderless would make them no longer Spanish or Hebrew.


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