I cannot bring myself—that is despite the criticism—to jump on the bandwagon or pile on while adding nothing constructively new to stories in newspapers like The Jewish Week and The Forward along with numerous web blogs that serve one objective, and that is to vilify and denigrate Orthodox Jews and our way of life.
There is great talent and journalistic acumen at both newspapers but their disposition to freak stories about frum Jews and less frequently about Jews in general, is sickening and often repugnant. So why do they indulge in that type of journalism and why do people read that stuff. They do so for the worst reason and that is essentially because they’ve always read and for some reason are drawn to stories like that.
To be more specific, the latest edition of the Jewish Week has as its lead article a story that surfaced last week about a Cedarhurst, New York bakery—Zomicks—with national distribution that has had health department problems with the likes of signs of mice and roaches and so on. Certainly not very tantalizing or appetite inducing type of news but the Jewish Week seems to want the reader to think that the bakery production plant has been taken over and is now run by the vermin to the point where they are about to declare an autonomous takeover.
And this is the problem with this coverage. The objective here is to create the impression that the tiny fraction of a health department issue is in fact pervasive and dominant and that the bakery owners—who are Chassidic Orthodox Jews—don’t give a darn so long as they are making fistfuls of money. This is patently false. I know people in the baking business and have spoken with several this week. Baking on a large scale with large supplies of flour and other ingredients in a warehouse setting presents management with a constant battle to fend of the infiltration of bugs that are naturally drawn to that type of environment. The best illustration of this fact is that despite the struggle, the health department in New York never saw fit to close the plant down at any point. It is a reality that we as consumers are not aware of or comfortable with and in this case the press takes liberties and exploits those facts.
An additional obscured fact is that the last such baking plant issue with bugs took place more than two years ago and since then the plant has passed every inspection. This is not highlighted because it does not assist the otherwise craven tabloid objective of the paper.
So the Jewish Week’s objective here is not about healthy eating but rather about toying with the good reputation of well-meaning and successful people in the community and deconstructing that reputation to scandal proportions if at all possible. Conventional wisdom here says that these types of man bites dog stories sells newspapers. Well, it certainly does pique the interest of people who possess a proclivity for gossip. But more than anything is distorts reality and just as quickly turns people off.
More on this in our next piece on the subject. Shabbat Shalom