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Comments: Week of January 14, 2013


1. “‘Brooklyn’s Ascension Official’—says NY-based publication every other week for the past 12 years,” tweeted @bencsin, who was objecting, in this instance, to Adam Platt’s annual, themed survey of the best food the city has to offer (“Where to Eat 2013,” ­December 31–January 7). Platt’s praise for Brooklyn restaurants struck most readers at, too, as a little overdue. “I’d really like to hate Platty’s Brooklyn come-up piece,” wrote one, taking issue with the perpetual hype machine but not the food: “The fact is, the restaurants mentioned here work so hard to remind us that there really is more to life than ­relevance-checking and aspirational media.” Though at least one respondent wanted to revoke everyone’s visa: “I don’t know what is worse for my beloved borough, the malignancy that is the influx of hipsters to Brooklyn, or the obnoxious and imbecilic foodies. All I do know, is that the two combined ruined what was the best borough in NYC.”

2. “A bunch of aging, decently well-off white people get on a boat, play the slots for a while, and complain about what the country has come to,” wrote Hunter at Daily Kos, describing Joe Hagan’s account of a National Review Caribbean cruise just weeks after the presidential ­election (“Blues Cruise,” December 31–­January 7). “These pieces are so easy to write,” wrote Rod Dreher at The American Conservative website. “Nevertheless, Joe Hagan’s report is a guilty pleasure—guilty, because these cruisers are such an easy target, and a pleasure because though I’ve never been on an NR cruise, as a right-of-center opinion writer, I have found myself in situations like this. Nobody who has paid thousands of dollars to spend a week or so in the company of ideological confrères wants to be told that they’re wrong about anything.” But most of the response, predictably, came from triumphant liberals. “It’s interesting to read the word ‘fear’ over and over again,” wrote one commenter at Wrote another: “They live in a world almost completely detached from the reality that most of us inhabit.”

3. “I can only begin to imagine the difficulties that are faced by being a black Orthodox Jew, a minority within another minority,” wrote one reader of photographer Wayne Lawrence’s portraits (“The Black Orthodox,” December 31–January 7). “To all of you featured and all of you not featured but in the same situation, Baruch Haba, Yeyasher Kochachem, and welcome to the tribe,” wrote another. “By your fierce, unshakable commitment, you show your character. We are lucky to have you in our communities.” But another Orthodox reader, a black woman who converted, wrote in to express her doubts. “The most difficult group of people to get along with is Orthodox black converts. I converted because Jewish ideas about G-d and spirituality match my own. I know that I have many imperfections: I see Halachah as a guide to overcoming (or at least recognizing) them over time. However, when I’m around other black converts, I feel like I’m taking a test. Every word that comes out of my mouth is scrutinized, every movement evaluated. I feel much more comfortable around born Jews (of any color) and non-Jewish black folks than around other black converts. Admittedly, conversion can be an intense experience, and it takes time to get comfortable in your own (spiritual and dermatological) ‘skin.’ ” The mother of one of the subjects, Nechemyah Davis, also wrote in: “When my son started on his journey to find out who he was spiritually, I was right there with him. It was not an easy journey. We went to many churches of different faiths, but came away with nothing. One day my son decided to contact a Jewish synagogue. I was so afraid he would come back with a broken heart because I knew nothing about Judaism except that it was for Jews. He came home so happy and decided to attend. He has been determined to convert ever since. It was a struggle all the way, but he was not deterred by it. He decided he should be in New York to get his conversion. He is there now converted and with his new wife, and they are happy. I am so proud of him that he didn’t let others turn him from his destiny.

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