The Forward 50

Ruth Lichtenstein

Media

Ruth Lichtenstein

The Forward 50

There was some shock, but little surprise, when in 1998 the best-known brand in Israeli Haredi journalism — the venerable daily newspaper Hamodia — appeared in an English-language American version with a woman at the helm. Women generally don’t mount the ultra-Orthodox public stage, particularly in the stringent Ger community, Israel’s largest Hasidic sect, which dominated Hamodia from its founding in 1950. But the publisher of the American edition isn’t just any woman. Jerusalem-born educator and Holocaust historian Ruth Lichtenstein, 59, born into Ger’s leading family, quickly established herself as a power in her own right, then emerged this year as a rebel.

Daughter of Hamodia’s founding editor Rabbi Yehuda Leib Levin, granddaughter of longtime Agudath Israel world president (and signer of Israel’s declaration of independence) Rabbi Yitzhak-Meir Levin, and great-granddaughter of the third Ger rebbe, Avraham Mordechai Alter, she quickly made Hamodia a key voice of American Orthodoxy, then took it daily in 2003, making it the only daily Jewish print newspaper outside Israel. She’s kept up her scholarship, founding an award-winning Holocaust education center, Project Witness, which creates curricula for Orthodox schools and regularly partners with non-Orthodox institutions on public programming.

Her 600-page Holocaust chronicle, “Witness to History” (2009), has been cited by Yad Vashem scholars and others for its academic standards, historical context and multiple viewpoints, all departures from Haredi custom. Her most controversial departure, though, was her signed, front-page Hamodia editorial of January 4, 2012, “It’s Time to Act,” attacking the “silence” of mainstream Haredi leaders in the face of extremist “meshuga’im” (madmen) who spread “warped messages” — most recently by dressing up as Auschwitz inmates to protest a government crackdown on gender-segregated buses — that tarnish the silent majority of more tolerant Haredim.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels. http://jd.fo/g4cjH
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • That sound you hear? That's your childhood going up in smoke.
  • "My husband has been offered a terrific new job in a decent-sized Midwestern city. This is mostly great, except for the fact that we will have to leave our beloved NYC, where one can feel Jewish without trying very hard. He is half-Jewish and was raised with a fair amount of Judaism and respect for our tradition though ultimately he doesn’t feel Jewish in that Larry David sort of way like I do. So, he thinks I am nuts for hesitating to move to this new essentially Jew-less city. Oh, did I mention I am pregnant? Seesaw, this concern of mine is real, right? There is something to being surrounded by Jews, no? What should we do?"
  • "Orwell described the cliches of politics as 'packets of aspirin ready at the elbow.' Israel's 'right to defense' is a harder narcotic."
  • From Gene Simmons to Pink — Meet the Jews who rock:
  • The images, which have since been deleted, were captioned: “Israel is the last frontier of the free world."
  • As J Street backs Israel's operation in Gaza, does it risk losing grassroots support?
  • What Thomas Aquinas might say about #Hamas' tunnels:
  • The Jewish bachelorette has spoken.
  • "When it comes to Brenda Turtle, I ask you: What do you expect of a woman repressed all her life who suddenly finds herself free to explore? We can sit and pass judgment, especially when many of us just simply “got over” own sexual repression. But we are obliged to at least acknowledge that this problem is very, very real, and that complete gender segregation breeds sexual repression and unhealthy attitudes toward female sexuality."
  • "Everybody is proud of the resistance. No matter how many people, including myself, disapprove of or even hate Hamas and its ideology, every single person in Gaza is proud of the resistance." Part 2 of Walid Abuzaid's on-the-ground account of life in #Gaza:
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.