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Most-Read Jewish Link Articles of 2022

This year has been yet another one of heart-stopping news, both wonderful and terrifying. From the gradual lifting of pandemic restrictions to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global events have made a lasting impact. This year brought us a devastating snow storm, runaway inflation, the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the World Cup, a sharp rise in antisemitism, multiple Israeli elections and the death of Queen Elizabeth II, among many notable stories.

But what about The Jewish Link? We’ve rounded up our top 10 articles from 2022 so you can look back at how this year has gone for our community:

10. “Morningstar’s ‘Modified Limited Hangout’” by Scott A. Shay

June 30, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/op-eds/52292-morningstar-s-modified-limited-hangout

In November 2021, The Jewish Link published an important essay by Scott A. Shay, called “A Smear by Any Name” (bit.ly/3C4NiJ5), which took issue with Morningstar’s ESG ratings, which he, as well as many others, found to be widely and disproportionally biased against Israel. The essay enumerated how investors who have no desire to boycott Israel may be doing so because of hidden screens run by Morningstar’s subsidiary, Sustainalytics, that disproportionately penalize companies doing business with or in Israel.

In early June 2022, Morningstar released an independent report in order to investigate the criticism. Shay, who is chairman and co-founder of Signature Bank, wrote a follow-up article on June 30, “Morningstar’s ‘Modified Limited Hangout.’” He wrote that “the story of how this report came to be, as well as its content, sadly have done little to improve the confidence of investors who noticed the company’s unexplained and unjustified bias. In fact, the report, which is best described as a Nixonian ‘modified limited hang-out,’ should worry all investors who count on ESG raters to help them invest for the good of the planet.” The outcome of the article was that Morningstar committed to major changes in its screening technologies, in a deal publicized by Jewish Federations of North America and others.

9. “Grandson of Holocaust Survivor Locates Catholic Family That Hid His Grandmother” by David Jasphy

February 10, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/features/49054-grandson-of-holocaust-survivor-locates-catholic-family-that-hid-his-grandmother

This story was a personal account by Riverdale attorney David Jasphy about his search for the Polish family who saved his grandmother, Pola. After two years, Jasphy was able to track down Jadwiga and Miroslawa Grochowska, who were now living in Chicago.

Jasphy wrote of his meeting with the Grochowskas: “I flew out from New York to Chicago on February 1 and rented a car to drive to her house. I didn’t know what she would look like, as the only photo of her I had was the picture given to my grandmother in 1943. I pulled up in front of her house and an 86-year-old version of that 7-year-old girl from the photo was staring right at me. We exchanged pleasantries and she took me inside, where she had photos waiting on the table for me. We talked for two hours and then we decided to drive 20 minutes away to visit her mother’s grave so that I could pay my respects.

“For the first time in my life, I was in a Catholic cemetery, yet here at her grave, I felt that I was standing on holy ground. This woman had risked her life at 28, and that of her 7-year-old daughter, in order to save a Jewish girl. If not for her, generations of my family would not exist. At that moment, I recited some Tehillim, said thank you to her, and kissed her tombstone.”

8. “Teaneck’s Styler Family Preps For Aliyah” by Pearl Markovitz

August 17, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/monthly-sections/family-link/53074-teaneck-s-styler-family-preps-for-aliyah

This story may not have been big global news but it was significant for the Teaneck community—a touching feature on Tzvi and Michelle Styler, a newlywed couple with special needs making aliyah together with Tzvi’s parents, Drs. Steven and Marianne Styler.

As Steven told Pearl Markovitz: “The radiant smile on Tzvi’s face as he takes Michelle as his bashert loving wife will reflect all of the love and care which went into his life to this point from his devoted family, and from the overwhelming and genuine love and acceptance that he received all these years from the Teaneck community. Marianne and I wish to thank you all for encouraging our Tzvi to fulfill the words of the Gedolei Yisroel who blessed him before birth to be a light and a blessing to others.”

7. “Bike4Chai as a Model for the Jewish World” by Jeffrey Rosenfeld

August 24, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/features/53123-bike4chai-as-a-model-for-the-jewish-world

Every year, Jews of all different backgrounds gather to ride in the Bike4Chai race, which raises money for Chai Lifeline. It’s an inspiring feat that attracts more and more riders each year, and the attendees come back with heartwarming stories every time.

Jeffrey Rosenfeld of Bergenfield participated in Bike4Chai for the sixth year in a row and came to a moving realization: that togetherness between all kinds of people is possible. He wrote, “Apart from Bike4Chai, when else do I have an opportunity to interact with these wonderful Jews from totally different places?

“The message of all of this is that as Jews, we get too caught up in our particular derachim and hashkafa. It does not matter if you are Ashkenazi or Sephardic, chasidic or modern, from Teaneck or Lakewood. At our core, we are all the same, just avdei Hashem. There need to be more occasions when we forget our differences and stick to our proverbial yellow biking kit.”

6. Is There Jewish Life on TikTok? by Brooke Schwartz

July 14, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/features/52447-is-there-jewish-life-on-tiktok

As TikTok continued to grow exponentially this year, many wondered if there were content creators on the platform who were Orthodox—and as we soon found out, there are plenty.

Summer associate Brooke Schwartz spoke to a number of these observant Jewish TikTok creators to get a sense of what kind of content has been designed for our community, and why there is a need for it. She wrote:

“Sarah Haskell, a Modern Orthodox TikToker in her early 20s, said she sees a lot of value in the app—and unlike both Moses and Anat, does not think her values as an Orthodox Jew clash ‘at all’ with being on TikTok, saying that she thinks that it ‘[aids] in helping Judaism more than hurting it.’ Her account, which has 100,000 followers and is called @thatrelatablejew, has several educational goals: to educate Jews who grew up religious and remind them of the beauty in Judaism in everyday life (as well as showing them that it’s OK to struggle in following halacha); to reach Jews who weren’t raised religiously and have no Jewish education or background; and to reach non-Jews who are curious about her culture. She prefers TikTok’s format because it is more accessible. ‘You can learn something new about Judaism in one of my videos in a minute.’

“Sarah made a great point that many people are unwilling to watch a 30-minute or hour-long YouTube video and may not be educated at all if not for TikTok: ‘I think TikTok in general makes learning Judaism very accessible because the videos are so short.’”

5. “Manalapan’s Congregation Sons of Israel Restores Mechitza and Orthodox Affiliation” by Harry Glazer

January 5, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/community-news/48248-manalapan-s-congregation-sons-of-israel-restores-mechitza-and-orthodox-affiliation

After over 100 years, Congregation Sons of Israel in Manalapan returned to its roots and reinstated its mechitza, after having it removed in the 1960s to encourage local families of all denominational backgrounds to attend services.

Middlesex editor Harry Glazer wrote of the decision: “Over the past decade, Leff and a large committee undertook a ‘wide-ranging process’ that included an analysis of current demographic trends in Monmouth County and a close review of national studies of the trends affecting different streams of Judaism. They interviewed scores of local leaders and synagogue members and came to the conclusion that, with no serious changes, the shul’s membership would continue to decline.

“[…] When the congregational vote was held in November, participation was robust and the verdict was quite clear—over 90% supported the recommendation to restore the mechitza. It will be reinstalled on March 5, 2022.”

4. “Lashon Hara and Abuse Cover Ups” by Rabbi Daniel Feldman

January 5, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/op-eds/48247-lashon-hara-and-abuse-cover-ups

In the wake of the Chaim Walder scandal, which was uncovered at the very beginning of this year, many in the Orthodox community wondered where the line between lashon hara and speaking about an abuser should be drawn—especially with the false assumption that staying silent is part of the prohibition against speaking lashon hara.

Columnist and educator Rabbi Daniel Feldman was quick to debunk this myth, writing that “the precious value of lashon hara was never intended to allow evil to flourish, or to silence the oppressed. It is, by design, coupled in the Torah with the imperative to save the vulnerable. It is more protective, not less: a mandate to save body and soul, mind and psyche at once, to value all the components of humanity together. A false piety that allows suffering to exist through silence or inaction betrays the values of lashon hara more than any harsh words ever could.”

3. “Social Media Influencer Lizzy Savetsky Anticipates Return To NYC” by Channa Fischer

May 26, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/features/51493-social-media-influencer-lizzy-savetsky-anticipates-return-to-nyc

Now anticipating a spot on Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New York City,” influencer and activist Lizzy Savetsky announced earlier this year that she would be returning to the Upper East Side community after several years in Dallas, Texas.

As she told digital editor Channa Fischer: “Our family was made for city life … we love action, the hustle, and we want to be in the middle of everything. New York is the best place for Jewish community outside of Israel, in terms of schools, restaurants and synagogues. You have everything you could possibly want.”

2. “Get Ready for the West Orange Fooderie” by Jill Kirsch

September 22, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/food/53687-get-ready-for-the-west-orange-fooderie

Kosher-keeping residents of West Orange have rejoiced in the opening of the West Orange Fooderie, a full-scale kosher supermarket and food court.

Rabbi Eliezer Zwickler, rabbi of Congregation AABJ&D in West Orange, was instrumental in bringing the Fooderie to the community. As he told senior editor Jill Kirsch: “As a community we are very excited about the grand opening of the Fooderie. Shloimy Gornish is invested in, and dedicated to, ensuring that the store is successful and that our community is serviced with a full-scale glatt kosher supermarket experience. When Shloimy was first interested in purchasing the store, he insisted that his vision was dependent upon the partnership he sought from the community. We look forward to many successful years of the Fooderie providing us with all of our kosher needs.”

1. “Ryan Turell and the Challenge Of Modern Orthodoxy” By Michael Feldstein

November 16, 2022

https://jewishlink.news/features/54950-ryan-turell-and-the-challenge-of-modern-orthodoxy

Sports fan or not, Ryan Turell’s draft onto NBA G-League team Motor City Cruise prompted the question: Can an observant Jew become successful in the big leagues?

Wrote contributing editor Michael Feldstein: “[Turell] has not given up on his dream of playing professional basketball, and has figured out a way to still commit to an Orthodox life. It certainly helps that his new employer has been very accommodating … I’m not sure every basketball organization would have acceded to Turell’s unusual requirements. I’m delighted he has been granted this opportunity.

“But what might be the most impressive part of this story is this: No longer will youngsters in Jewish day schools with dreams of becoming professional sports athletes be told that they cannot play because they are shomer Shabbat. For that alone, Ryan Turell has made an enormous contribution to the Orthodox world.”

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