A Jewish newspaper in New Jersey said its first same-sex engagement announcement will be its last one.
The decision by the Jewish Standard of Bergen County was announced in a statement in its Sept. 30 edition a week after the newspaper published its first same-sex announcement. The announcement referred to Avi Smolen of New Milford and Taylor Rosen of Coram, NY, who are to be married this month by Rabbi Joshua Gruenberg at North Shore Synagogue in Syosset, NY.
Smolen, development and communications associate at the Manhattan office of Keren Or, the Jerusalem Center for Blind Children with Multiple Disabilities, is former president of Rutgers Hillel. His father Robert Smolen is the principal at the Gerrard Berman Day School Solomon Schechter of North Jersey in Oakland.
In a statement on its editorial page, the newspaper said it did not expect the large volume of comments it received both against and in favor of publishing such announcements. The newspaper’s coverage area includes Teaneck and Englewood, two communities with large and growing Orthodox communities.
“A group of rabbis has reached out to us and conveyed the deep sensitivities within the traditional/Orthodox community to this issue,” it said. “Our subsequent discussions with representatives from that community have made us aware that publication of the announcement caused pain and consternation, and we apologize for any pain we may have caused.
“The Jewish Standard has always striven to draw the community together, rather than drive its many segments apart. We have decided, therefore, since this is such a divisive issue, not to run such announcements in the future.”
The New Jersey Jewish News published its first same-sex wedding announcement earlier this year. In a statement, Andrew Silow-Carroll, editor-in-chief of the NJJN, said, “Our policy reflects the fact that same-sex marriage and commitment ceremonies are sanctioned and blessed in the Jewish community by the Reform and Reconstructionist movements and their rabbis, and the role of a Jewish community newspaper is to respect and reflect the largest possible range of practices and beliefs.”