Noah Feldman, who ignited a firestorm of criticism last week with his pointed attack on Modern Orthodoxy in The New York Times Magazine, admitted this week that he learned before publication of his article that he in fact was not intentionally cropped out of his reunion photograph.
The photographer, Lenny Eisenberg, told The Jewish Week Monday that he had difficulty capturing as many as 60 reunion participants within a single frame. Eisenberg ended up taking several shots from one side, then the other, and several people on the far side — not just Feldman and his fiancée — happened to be out of the picture when it finally appeared in the newsletter.
However, Wolff acknowledged that the school’s alumni updates had indeed rejected Feldman’s subsequent submission of his lifecycle events once it became known that Feldman eventually married his girlfriend, who did not convert, making his children non-Jewish according to traditional Jewish law.
The photographer, also a Maimonides alumnus, said that after the 1998 reunion he ran into Feldman at a “Conservadox temple” when the conversation took place that Feldman recounts in the Times: Eisenberg told Feldman, “don’t blame me,” with Feldman assuming he was referring to the yeshiva’s cropping because of his girlfriend.
Eisenberg now says he wasn’t thinking of Feldman’s girlfriend, only the photo’s unwieldy circumstance. “I would have said the same thing” to any one of “16 other people” who didn’t appear in the final picture.
“Maybe we didn’t understand each other correctly,” Feldman now says. “I thought he knew what I was talking about.”
The original article (now locked behind the Times's stupid pay wall) did not state that the photo was cropped or altered, but I erroneously assumed that it was. I don't know whether to believe that the choice of a photo that excluded Feldman and his girlfriend, among others, was intentional or not.
Regardless of the specifics of this case, from my personal experience and from the comments of the Orthodox bloggers that I read, most of whom also assumed the photo was altered but thought it was largely acceptable, I continue to think that Orthodox Judaism has a denial problem about those of us who leave or marry out and that they are unfairly cruel to us, albeit unintentionally.
(My original post on the subject and a follow-up.)