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  • Writer's pictureDaniela Weiss-Bronstein

Ahavat Chinam

The deep anger being exposed this week in our larger community is terrible to see but hopefully will move people past their immediate feelings and into hearing each other.

People who are religious are shouting that they're upset, people who have left are shouting down the religious voices, no one seems to be listening or paying attention to each other.

The dark underbelly is a wild lack of respect on the part of many commenters for anyone who isn't living exactly like them. Frum or not, that's the primary theme.

As Fred MacDowell said about Julia - when she was Talia she preached that unhealthy "they are nothing, we are great" and now that she's Julia she's doing the same, just inverted.

I care less about whether one particular person is still frum or not, so long as they're healthy. Is she healthy? I can't say. But based off of what I've seen this week, we're not healthy. There is so much rigidity and anger and demeaning of other people.

The way I see it? It doesn't matter how much being dati works for me if it doesn't work for you. And it's doesn't matter how much you reject a life that holds meaning for me. What matters is addressing the failure points *honestly*. What matters is truthfully portraying your story and the community you're from, especially when it's a little-understood religious minority.

My opinions of people who do reality TV shows are pretty freaking low, but if Julia can start to tell her story honestly, can give her kids space to be themselves without derision, it would be great.

Monsey isn't Monroe. It sounds so exotic to claim you never used the internet or watched TV or whatever other stuff she's claiming, but she quoted Seinfeld in her shiur that was *posted online*. Her ex went to an Ivy League. She held down a job in fashion.

Talk to people who really grew up as she claimed. I'm related to a whole bunch of them! And even people from Monroe use the internet. Maybe not at home, but for work. The number of people who actually have *no* access to the internet is tiny and more concentrated in the poorer neighborhoods of places like Boro Park and Monroe. Also, in my experience, the women have access to the internet at work while the guys are at Yeshiva and don't, so sorry to invert expectations, but it's not as simple as misogyny.

I get that the distinctions feel too fine for a general audience, but they really are different worlds.

If one truly believes that Netflix is just interested in a multitude of stories about minority women rather than peddling certain stereotypes, please email them and ask why they passed on the film being produced about Beatie Deutsch. I'm struggling to come up with a single positive portrayal in American media of religious Jews, and this was a solid opportunity.

So, be kind, honestly assess your biases, listen to each other, and let's work together to address the places where frum communities are failing people instead of just screaming at each other on the internet.

Have a good Shabbos and a safe fast. Ahavat Chinam can be achieved.

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