The New York Jewish Week, an independent Jewish newspaper and website, has prompted outrage after publishing a meme mocking the Lubavitcher Rebbe on the cover of their print edition.
The meme was one of many posted online after the Crown Heights eatery Basil Pizza and Wine Bar announced that their Kosher supervisor is now Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a namesake of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
The meme reads “Melech Hamashgiach” superimposed on a photo of the Rebbe, and was featured on the front cover of the newspaper to call attention to an article written by Jewish Week staff writer Hannah Dreyfus about the dispute between OK Kosher certification and Basil’s owners.
Many around the world were quick to denounce the printing of the meme which is disrespectful and mocks the Lubavitcher Rebbe, a revered leader of world Jewry.
In response to the backlash received by the paper in response to the printing of the meme, editor Gary Rosenblatt issued an apology, not for the article but for “crossing the line…in the eyes of a number of readers”:
“An article in last week’s issue, ‘Kashrut War Has Holy Overtones,’ inadvertently crossed the line from news reporting to sarcasm in the eyes of a number of readers whose views we respect. The piece dealt, in part, with a pizza and wine bar in Brooklyn hiring an interim kashrut certifier named Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the namesake of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. It prompted numerous comments on Facebook, including puns, memes and other attempts at humor we cited that were seen as disrespectful to the Rebbe. No disrespect was intended, but we apologize for our lack of sensitivity.”
The apology was met with further criticism from readers around the world.
“So writing a piece that immensely disrespected the Rebbe was an attempt at humor? Have you no shame?” wrote Elliot Hamilton on Twitter.
“If you aren’t willing to recognize you did anything wrong, don’t bother apologizing,” wrote Leibel on Twitter.
“Totally and utterly appalling, you will be losing readers due to your actions,” wrote Shmuli Brown on Twitter.