A Critique Of My Profile In The Jewish Journal

Brad A. Greenberg writes: "He loves to dish dirt on rabbis suspected of sleeping around…"

Well, I’m not so sure. I report on rabbi-predators. The complete list is here. The entire focus of the reporting is on rabbis abusing their power to the point where there is no argument that they should lose their position.

Please compare my reporting on Mordecai Gafni to the paint-by-the-numbers Jewish Journal work. In 2004, the Journal reported that Gafni had been sexually wild 20 years previous. The essence of my report that year was that Gafni was still a creep. Who got this story right? It’s clear I nailed this story three years ago and the Journal only caught up this year when it had no other choice.

Here’s the thesis of the Journal’s condescending piece (who are these clowns to lecture anyone about journalism, I break more stories than the entire Jewish Journal staff, half of whom wouldn’t know a scoop if it fell in their bowl of matza ball soup): "But sometimes, Ford is right."

That says that most of the time I’m wrong.

It’s a mighty big claim and impossible to substantiate. But that doesn’t stop the Journal from making it its thesis.

The Journal keeps emphasizing that I primarily deal in gossip (the cover screams: "Luke Ford enrages, insults and demeans — and sometimes breaks real news") yet fails to show any instances where I’ve gotten it wrong (I have gotten it wrong, of course, but no more often than the New York Post).

In the third paragraph, Greenberg quotes a "community leader" who doesn’t have the balls to put his name on his quote that accuses me of all sorts of horrible things, but fails to provide any examples of inaccurate writing.

(I love how I’m getting all self-righteous here about anonymous sources.)

Brad writes: "Many Jewish leaders are disgusted by Ford."

Well, at least as many are disgusted with the Jewish Journal. And at least as many appreciate much of my work. "They say they have befriended him and been betrayed." The number of community leaders who’ve befriended me could fit in my shower (and have at times, but I don’t want to go into that right now).

The Journal article invokes the saintly Chofetz Chaim as the authority on permitted speech. That may be so, but if it is true, then all journalism, even of the anodyne Jewish Journal variety, is forbidden. If a Jew wants to invoke the Chofetz Chaim as the authority on permitted speech, then they better walk the walk and shun all news media (from newspapers to radio to TV, etc).

The article quotes "a local Orthodox expert on lashon hara."

Now, I think this rabbi  is great. He is a mentch and a serious thinker. But like yours truly, he has flaws and misplaced priorities.

This expert was a member of Aron Tendler‘s Valley Village community (a beautiful community filled with beautiful people, just walk its streets to see for yourself) for years and went along to get along. When my blog’s reporting on Aron could no longer be ignored, this rabbi addressed Aron’s shul. To talk about the great danger of sexual predators as rabbis? Nope. To warn people about gossip.

It was gossip that got the creep out of power.

While L.A.’s Orthodox establishment fiddled, Aron burned through the babes.

But they call me twisted.

That’s chutzpah.

Brad writes: "Last year, Rabbi Aron Tendler, then the pulpit rabbi at Shaarey Zedek in Valley Village, stepped down after Ford and a few other blogs published accusations of inappropriate sexual relationships with women and girls at Yeshiva of Los Angeles (YULA)…"

Amy Klein wrote in the Jewish Journal March 10, 2006: "Allegations against Rabbi Tendler surfaced on Jewish blogs — web logs — more than a year ago, citing anonymous sources who alleged the rabbi had behaved inappropriately toward women and girls."

Brad and Amy know that the allegations broke on my website and were not picked up anywhere else for about a year. Alone (among bloggers and journalists), I drove that story forward.

Aron resigned just a few days after I published an interview with two of his female students (I kept their names anonymous) who he’d pursued sexually (one of whom attempted suicide in despair over Aron).

Brad writes that my blog "does little to distinguish between rumor and reportage."

How does he miss the way my reportage is always published in black and white while my rumor-mongering is tinged yellow?

Since when is "journalism" and "reporting" the yardstick for judging a website?

By such narrow ways to assess merit. Wouldn’t it be nice if we just assessed all writing as good or bad journalism without worrying ourselves about its merit. Yeah, the bard really screwed up his facts on Richard III.

I thnk the parallels between Shakespeare and I are obvious.

There’s reporting on Lukeford.net but there’s a helluva lot of sex and violence and ocean breezes, dieting tips, workout-machines, and theology as well.

Lukeford.net is not primarily a news report nor just a website. It’s a way of life. It says, "We’re here. We’re queer. Get used to it."

Do I have to use different fonts to distinguish musing from satire from reporting? One does not read a love letter the same way one reads an electricity bill. Nor should a person read my rantings the same way he reads my reportage.

I can just imagine Brad Greenberg and Rob Eshman enjoying the best sex of their lives until Brad suddenly pulls out to inquire, "But is this good journalism?"

(That’s an example of musing.)

The most powerful things in life have nothing to do with journalism — faith, hope and love. And of these, the greatest is love.

Under a picture of my website, the Journal’s cutline reads, "Lukeford.net: Where the gossip’s at."

If the Journal truly wanted to practice good journalism, the cutline would say, "Lukeford.net: Home to L.A.’s most powerful Torah."

Brad writes: "Ford argues that gossip is morally neutral. The benefits of gossip balance out the negatives."

Sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. My incredibly intricate and sophisticated views on gossip are here.

While Greenberg tips his hat to my pioneering cinematic achievement — What Women Want — he completely ignores my contributions to Jiggly Queens 3 and The Trickle Effect (where I play an unscrupulous writer paired up with literary agent Sindee Coxx).

Despite intermittent attempts at high-mindedness, Greenberg relentlessly keeps the focus on the salacious, ignoring my substantial contributions to political philosophy.

Brad fails to realize that most of my writing on sex has been but an allegory of God’s love for Israel.

These turbulent times require strong men such as myself to provide moral leadership.

Kiki emails:

Dear Mr. Ford,

I just read the Jewish Journal article cover story about you. I’ve always wanted to write and say thanks for doing such a great job in exposing the not so glamorous happenings in the orthodox community. It’s a dirty job that is so necessary, but it seems that only you have the guts to do it. I believe that the community is a safer place today than it was before you came around.

I’m sorry they kicked you out of the major shuls like YICC. I know from growing up in this community that there are young single guys like yourself who are actually real sickos and pedophiles and are greeted with open arms each Shabbos. But because they have money, a socially acceptable profession, and they say the right things, they’re accepted. It’s a shame they had to pick on you.

I’m writing this anonymously because I am a recognized person in this community (no, my name is not Kiki) and I don’t want the attention that goes along with writing an e-mail like this.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see Amazon.com). My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (Alexander90210.com).
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