Jewlicious and Westboro Baptist Church: The Jewish Angle

Westboro Baptist Jerusalem Post

The story of how a twitter exchange between Megan Phelps Roper and, well… me, helped Megan and her sister Grace leave their hateful Church, has already been broadly covered. This coverage culminated with a massive piece in The New Yorker that went into great detail, both about the story itself and its aftermath.

While all the coverage was lovely, I always felt that there was too much attention focused on the twitter aspect of the story and not enough on the entire Jewish ecosystem that came together in order to help, welcome and support these women despite the fact that they had previously insulted, demeaned and even frightened some of us. This was perhaps exacerbated by the fact that except for a few local stories, no major Jewish press has ever paid any attention to this amazing story. I have no idea why, but thankfully that’s changed to a certain extent with this weekend’s cover story in the Jerusalem Post’s In Jerusalem Magazine. I guess that makes sense given that when I was exchanging tweets with Megan, I was in Jerusalem!

The thing that pleases me most though is that the writer of this story interviewed Rabbi Yonah Bookstein and his wife Rachel who had bravely hosted Megan and Grace in their home while also patiently and lovingly answering all their questions about Judaism. Also mentioned was Allen Alevy, the main sponsor of the Jewlicious Festival, who flew Megan and Grace to LA in order to participate in the Jewlicious Festival, solely based on our assertion that these women had left their family and needed our help.

When Megan and Grace got to the Jewlicious Festival they were met by much warmth and love from attendees. It was a singularly great moment that embodied so much of what Jewlicious and the Festival were about. Thanks to Ariel Dominique Hendelman for putting together a thoughtful and well written article. Since In Jerusalem Magazine is behind a paywall, I have included a link to a PDF file of the article that you can read if you like.

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ck

Publisher at Jewlicious
Founder of Jewlicious? Publisher? Man I hate titles. I coined the name Jewlicious and I slave over the site. I live in Jerusalem and I need to get some breakfast.
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9 Comments

  1. Sherry

    6/2/2016 at 12:04 pm

    It is kind of funny that this is the first coverage you have had about this story in the Jewish press. Jewschool and the Forward attacked you for alleged sexism – Jewschool even wrote 3 posts about your fundraising – zero posts about striking a blow against WBC. The ADL gave Megan and Grace the Kay Family award at a posh event at the Kennedy Center in DC while not even mentioning Jewlicious in the program, let alone inviting anyone from Jewlicious to maybe have a little nosh… It’s nice to at least get an insight into the full story. Kudos to Rachel and Rabbi Bookstein for their generosity of spirit. And kudos to you ck for not being bitter.
    🙂

    • ck

      6/2/2016 at 12:20 pm

      Well Sherry, I can’t speak to the editorial decisions of the Forward, or Jewschool or any other Jewish media outlet. A firmly Jewish story that received coverage by everyone from Gawker to NPR, from the Guardian to the CBC, was maybe not that interesting? I don’t know. As for the ADL, the Chicago chapter invited all three of us to address the community as well as a summer camp. I was very warmly received and people seemed to really enjoy our talks. Since then, Megan and Grace have spoken to a number of ADL chapters across the US and I know that they always mention Jewlicious and Rachel and Rabbi Yonah (I am fully loving that nomenclature btw). The ADL is free to honor whoever they want to honor, and I know that it was very brave of them and difficult to leave their family. I fully support the awarding of any and all awards to these very special ladies. What am I supposed to say @Sherry? I’m super proud of what small role I played in this affair, I am thankful and privileged to consider the Booksteins and Megan and Grace as good friends. I have nothing to complain about.

      • Sherry

        6/3/2016 at 2:37 am

        I’m sorry CK. But it was wrong of the ADL to not invite someone, anyone, from Jewlicious to the ceremony. The event you spoke at in Chicago was a fundraiser and the ADL made a lot of hay out of a story that would never have happened but for your amazing attention. The prize was for Heroes Who Stood Up Against Hatred and Bigotry – that’s you. And Megan of course, but where would she be without your patience? The ADL comes out of this looking less than gracious. The rest of the Jewish community? Asleep at the wheel.

        • ck

          6/3/2016 at 7:04 am

          It’s more Megan’s story than mine. She left her family, her entire world, for the sake of a principle. I just typed some ideas on twitter.

  2. sheela

    6/6/2016 at 1:52 pm

    Congratulations and good job, CK! The real heroes never get the props they deserve *shrug*
    –From an old friend/lurker on the website 😉

  3. sheela

    6/6/2016 at 1:54 pm

    …not to take away from the bravery of Megan and Grace — good on them! Her’e sto hoping they have a better, fuller, freer life ahead of them.

  4. ZionistReem

    6/13/2016 at 1:34 pm

    You’re my hero CK. You’ll always be my most inspiring Rabbi, my most influential tweeter, the Jewish yin to my apathetic yang. Those of us who have been following you and this blog – we know. We know that your willingness to call it like it is across all platforms, fearless and unwilling to sell out or be brow beaten by your intellectual inferiors – that will never change, no matter what awards you don’t get. I have no idea why the ADL froze you out, but not even mentioning you in the program, as if Meghan just magically left WBC, was totally classless. If I was Meghan, I would not have accepted the award. I know she mentions you every time she speaks, but WTF ADL? WTF?

    • ck

      6/15/2016 at 7:54 am

      pretty sure they didn’t run the program past Megan – she is and has always been a total doll. As for my “intellectual inferiors” – if they are dumber than me then they have got to be some pretty dumb mofos. I doubt anyone like that both exists and has any kind of job. I don’t need no stinkin’ awards, all I need is for all y’all to keep reading!

  5. beitzim

    6/29/2016 at 8:36 pm

    The ADL sucks. It’s their job to see anti-Semitism under every rock. Luckily, Abe Foxman and his reptilian opinions is now gone. Some of the up and coming younger leaders are actually pretty cool. But then again, was Abe at the helm when the ADL neglected to even acknowledge CK? I guess that while I would usually give the benefit of the doubt, lets just assume that the ADL sucks until further notice?

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