Jewish Journal

NYT profiles FailedMessiah

by Brad A. Greenberg

January 11, 2010 | 4:22 pm

L.A. has Luke Ford, but the rest of Orthodox Jewish Americans have Shmarya Rosenberg of FailedMessiah.com. Here’s a snippet of what The New York Times had to say in a Saturday profile:

Blogging on the site FailedMessiah.com, Mr. Rosenberg, 51, has transmuted a combination of muckraking reporting and personal grudge into a must-read digest of the actual and alleged misdeeds of the ultra-Orthodox world. He has broken news about sexual misconduct, smear campaigns and dubious business practices conducted by or on behalf of stringently religious Jews.

Operating thousands of miles from the centers of ultra-Orthodox Judaism in Brooklyn and Jerusalem, waking at 3:30 a.m. and working a dozen hours at a stretch in an apartment cluttered with books, Mr. Rosenberg has had his scoops cited by The Wall Street Journal, Columbia Journalism Review, PR Week and Gawker. The national Jewish newspaper The Forward listed him among the 50 most influential American Jews, and the hip, cheeky magazine Heeb put him in its top 100.

And somewhat regularly, Mr. Rosenberg’s in-box brims with missives like this recent one: “what happened to you when you were young that you are so anti ‘haredi’ were you abused or molested, you are as false and krum as they come, you are not helping anybody with your negative bent. You wanna bring out sad occurrences in the community, im not sure that its your business to do that, there is such a thing called tznius. And to belittle gedolim whole sale just proves that you are insane.”

If you need a Hebrew and Yiddish glossary to fully fathom the diss — “krum” means “crooked,” “haredi” means “fervently Orthodox,” “tznius” is “modesty” and the “gedolim” are the great rabbis — then you have some sense of the almost claustrophobically inward community that Mr. Rosenberg chronicles.

I’ve got more on Jewish bloggers at GetReligion.

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