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An interesting look at what a Charedi newspaper censors

I have always been curious about how the editors censor articles at Charedi publications. I’m pretty sure that anyone trying to write for the Yated, Mishpacha Magazine or Binah is going to be censored. I just was never sure how far they went until now, Eli David Lebowicz recently sent Hamodia a purim piece and it came back looking like a poorly done book report, all marked up in red and basically too many changes had to be done to it – to make it worthwhile. My favorite of the edits “Starbucks is Chalav stam and it got cut from one of my articles”.

Anyway, here are some things that you mentioned in your article that Hamodia will ask you to replace (Im not saying for sure, just in my experience):
1. Page 1 references to professional sports

2. Page 1 the party only had non-kosher food? They might not like you contradicting a midrash

3. Page 1 cant mention goyish comedians by name

4. Page 1 cant show Jews liking bacon. Even if youre right and they did like it, hamodia would not consider that a laughing matter.

5. Page 1 reference to a goyishe song

6. Page 1 not sure you could talk about facebook. Ive always been afraid to go there in my columns.

7. Page 1 cant reference girlie movies (or any movies, really) also on page 2, page 3, page 4, page 5, page 6

8. Page 1 not sure they will like you mentioning hitler in any way in a humor piece. Too soon.

9. Page 2 reference to celebrities and required knowledge of what American Idol is

10. (Page 2 the pinky and the brain references will probably go over their heads)

11. Page 2 reference to modern family. And tivo

12. Page 2 reference to mel Gibson who is a huge anti-semite, but only famous because of movies, and Hamodia reads arent supposed to know who he is.

13. Page 3 oj simpson, Charlie sheen, steven spielberg, mel gibson

14. Page 3 Im not even sure you can reference a maccabeats song that was a parody of goyishe song

15. Page 4 starbucks is chalav stam. This actually got cut from one of my articles once.

16. Page 4 Seinfeld reference

17. Page 4 amazon

18. Page 5 professional sports

19. Page 5 hamodia might think youre implying that mordechais feet smell worse than garbage

20. Page 5 bert and ernie. Also the lion king song reference

21. Page 5 was there really a third party? I thought there were only 2

22. Page 6 theyre not going to love you giving G-d dialogue, no matter how respectful

23. Page 7 you might not be allowed to mention a non-jewish holiday.

Anyway, I dont mean to hurt you in any way, Im just trying to teach you the rules. Once you take out what I told you to, youll be left with like two jokes. Its just important that you know the rules before planning a new piece. Oh, and also, no references to shaving (Chassidim dont do that), women driving (again, Chassidim), shidduch dating (Chassidim dont believe in that), and this is even though most of their audience is not actually chassidish. Also, nothing that is halachically assur or questionable or frowned upon by rabbonim, unless youre going to excuse it in the very next senence, and often not even THEN.

Find out more about haredi censorship on 4torah.com

{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Michael March 5, 2012, 8:12 AM

    I have a friend that used to work for Mishpacha magazine and he said that they have similar rules.

    he once wrote an article based on lessons to be learned from the death of Michael Jackson (e.g., Money doesn’t buy happiness), but they removed all references to Michael Jackson, so the article didn’t make much sense.

  • S. March 5, 2012, 8:34 AM

    As fascinating as this is, isn’t the author burning bridges with them? Was that intentional? I friend of mine once submitted a piece to Ami, and their edits was similarly fascinating/scary, especially as it was a scholarly Torah piece.

  • Yisroel H. March 5, 2012, 8:35 AM

    “Women. The haredi powers-that-be have decided that ____ are 100% assur and not to be acknowledged unless they are making babies or cholent. In any event, they should be meticulously cropped out of pictures as if they never existed. And don’t spread around the “____ are assur” thing, it’ll only encourage the ____ .” [Deleted reference to homosexuals.]

    Yisroel http://www.kosherunicorn.com

  • Akiva March 5, 2012, 9:06 AM

    Reminded me of this story I read once
    page 20 in this

  • Philo March 5, 2012, 9:10 AM

    Heshy, off topic, but it looks like Charedi supertrolls have discovered your blog big-time. They’ve come out of the woodwork to post comment upon comment calling the agunah Tamar Epstein the worst names and accusing her of everything under the sun.

    They’ve also been commenting up a storm to trash, as much as they can, the integrity and reputation of Deborah Feldman.

    I know you don’t want to moderate comments on your blog, but these supertrolls are making it a much less pleasant place.

    • Critic March 5, 2012, 10:38 AM

      “I know you dont want to moderate comments on your blog, but these supertrolls are making it a much less pleasant place.”
      In all fairness would you say the same about the “supertrolls” who bash Chareidim,Chassidim,”ultra Orthodox” or anyone else who does not measure up to their perception of right or wrong? It’s been going on all the time so what else is new. Why this sensitivity for Deborah Feldman above all others that have been trashed?

    • Meir March 5, 2012, 11:02 AM

      Charedi trolls should be easy to moderate. All you need is software to detect their poor spelling and filter those posts!

      • Critic March 5, 2012, 11:26 AM

        “In all fairness would you say the same about the supertrolls who bash Chareidim”
        And along comes Meir to prove my point.

      • Ben March 5, 2012, 5:18 PM

        What, because all the Hebrew/Yiddish words we are found in dictionaries and have a fixed spelling, Meyer?

  • Telz Angel March 5, 2012, 9:13 AM

    I hear they also cut any references to R’ Yishmael’s midrashim and one include the R’ Akibian perspective on biblical exegesis. But they will censor you if you call it “Akibian exegesis”, since they will think that you are claiming the two guys were friends. DRosenbach should watch out.

  • Eli Lebowicz March 5, 2012, 9:24 AM
    • David March 12, 2012, 5:31 PM

      Dude, that article isn’t in any way funny. Maybe one or two jokes, but they’re definitely not worth the amount of work it takes to find them. Even despite the strange things Hamodia doesn’t allow, if they were looking for a humor article, this would not qualify.

      Also, mentioning pop culture without making an actual joke about it is not in itself a joke.

  • David Lerner March 5, 2012, 10:00 AM

    You should read the banned book lists from the Orthodox schools, some of the reasons are outright ridiculous. (They even ban Dia.)ry of Anne Frank…) I’ll post links when I’m at my PC.

  • David Lerner March 5, 2012, 10:22 AM

    Here are two internal documents from the Orthodox chinuch world that are interesting. It is their rating systems of children’s literature.

    Secular Book List: Approved and Questionable Books With Comments By Alisa Avruch and Sharon Schwartz

    Secular Book List: Classics Analysis By Alisa Avruch and Sharon Schwartz

    • OfftheDwannaB March 6, 2012, 12:06 AM

      Wow. It’s hard to be masig how fucking stupid people can be.

    • Synapse March 6, 2012, 11:53 AM

      “Farenheit 451: Book has some deep concepts which need adult discussion – I wouldn’t give it to a teenager as independent reading.”

      I think the teachers at this institution need to sit down with an adult to discuss why they missed the point of the book when constructing this list, although it was interesting that nothing got less than an OK?? that I noticed.

      • Yoyo March 25, 2012, 2:10 PM

        It’s hard not to see those lists as satire as well. Diary of a Young Girl is unacceptable? Gulliver’s Travels?

  • Australian March 6, 2012, 4:51 PM

    Based on all this criteria they should ban the Torah…

    • Chaim M. March 12, 2012, 5:49 PM

      yeah, because the Torah is full of pop culture references

  • Shlomo March 12, 2012, 5:34 PM

    Most of those comments seem to be about the same thing: no pop culture. Is anyone surprised? Let’s all jump down Hamodia’s throats like this is news.

  • Alter Cocker March 12, 2012, 6:31 PM

    So someone sent this to you? Seems like a bad move by him since they may cut ties with him after this.

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