Sunday, November 17, 2013

All About Me (An Expose, as Per Your Request)

I was raised on inherently Jewish ideals and values:
  • Kol Yisrael areivim ze l'ze: all Jews are responsible one for another
  • Clal Yisrael: all Jews are part of one fellowship
  • Tzedek, tzedek tirdof: Justice shalt thou pursue
  • Hochay'ach tochi'ach et ameetecha: Thou shalt rebuke thy fellow
  • Lo alecha ha'melacha ligmor, v'lo ata ben choree l'hivatel mee'menu: It is not up to you to complete the task but neither are you exempt from taking part in it
  • Im ayn ani li, mee li? Uk'she ani l'atzmee ma ani? If I am not for myself, who will be, but if I am only for myself, what am I?
Undergirding these and countless other ideologies was the central understanding that human beings were put on this planet l'takayn olam b'malchut sha-dai. To fix the world for the Kingdom of God.

I could go through my twelve years of Jewish Day School education and pull out the ideas and teaching of those who influenced me, including Martin Buber, Hillel, Rabbi Akiva, Reb Nachman of Bratslav, Moses Maimonides, Nechama Leibowitz, Yehuda Amichai, the poet Rachel, Chaim Potok, Milton Steinberg, Leonard Bernstein, Franz Kafka, Hannah Senesh, Kings David and Solomon, the writers of Pirkei Avot (the Ethics of the Fathers), Shlomo Carlebach, Woody Allen, Philip Roth, Erica Jong, Judy Blume, Nora Ephron, the liturgists and composers of our prayers and hymns.

I could attempt to compile a list of all that I've read and studied, the 40-plus times I've been to Israel, my summers spent at Jewish summer camps (Massad, Ramah, Moshava, Cejwin...and others), and my A-list Jewish credentials: I am the daughter, granddaughter and niece of prominent rabbis. I know how to read Torah, in fact, I do read Torah periodically at synagogue.

But for those angry folks who have recently called for an "expose" of me based on my activistic work on a recent case involving the effort to help an Orthodox victim publicize her plight, I offer this pithy Q and A with myself in order to help you in your investigations.

As my personal work ethic is complete transparency, I present this interview, which is intended to reveal all the juicy revelations you are surely hoping to uncover. I believe that coupled with Googling me in order to read my press releases and published writings online, you will be able to answer the question posed by one of those who wrote -- most elegantly -- in a recent comment thread of a blog notable for its hysteria and vitriol: "Who is this Dicker?"

Q: Who is this Dicker?
A: Ah, I'm so glad that you asked! I am an almost 53 year old woman who lives in NYC and works as a writer and communications consultant.

Q: Is this Dicker a frum Jew?
A: By your definitions, probably not. By my definitions, hell yes!!! I keep Shabbat and kashrut and holidays. My life is Gd-centered. I am a passionate Zionist. My life's work is motivated by mitzvot (good deeds) and the task of tikkun olam (repairing the world).

Q: But we heard this Dicker is a Conservative Jew! We published the finding that her father is a Conservative rabbi!
A: Yes! You did a good job investigating me! My dad was ordained by the Jewish Theological Seminary and served as a respected pulpit rabbi for 21 years. He then became a clinical psychologist. But once a rabbi, always a rabbi. And once the daughter of a Conservative rabbi, always the daughter of a Conservative rabbi.

Q: We heard this Dicker eats treyf!!!! An article about her in the Forward states that she once bought Irish Cheddar cheese at Zabar's for her oldest son who lives in Berlin. What kind of Jew eats such chazarei (literally pig-food)?
A: Hmmm. You are probably unaware that the recent requirements for kosher cheese are a bit more than a century old. Once upon a time, all Jews ate all cheese unless it was laced with chunks of ham. Let's be real: cheddar cheese is hardly a cheeseburger. But since you asked -- and to lay matters on the table -- I'm quite sure that my concept of kashrut differs from yours. And I'm sure that yours differs from other Jews. But no. I do not eat anything from a pig.

Q: We heard this Dicker hates Orthodox Jews! Why would she engage in a campaign of such lashon hara (evil words, aka gossip) against Orthodox Jews????
A: As I'm married to an Orthodox Jew, it would be hard for me to hate Orthodox Jews. My kids probably affiliate as Modern Orthodox and I love them. I do not hate my husband. I love my husband, though I'm pretty sure you would consider him as treyf (unkosher) as you seem to consider me. He wrote a book a couple of decades ago where he candidly articulated his struggles to live a religious life and be a journalist. It was a bestseller.

I have friends in various Chabad communities and, believe it or not, in Kiryas Joel. I have friends who live in contested territories in Israel. I have female friends who cover their hair. I have male friends whose tzitzit dangle from their shirts. I have neo-haredi relatives.

But let's discuss those charges of lashon hara. Since when is working to reverse injustice considered lashon hara? I believe that the term lashon hara is misappropriated by those that do not want their own evil deeds revealed...or the evil deeds of those near and dear to them. This is a very subjective term.

And incidentally, the work I do is not against anybody. It is for the purpose of repairing the world. In other words, I believe in humankind partnering with Hashem to fix that which is broken in the world.

Q:What other terrible projects is this Dicker behind? What other damage has she done to the Jewish People?
A: I am a writer who has worked professionally as a publicist for over 20 years. Google will be very instructive in revealing my work to you. I have been writing personal essays and feature articles for the better part of 35 years. I operate in full transparency; indeed, I am proud of my work and whom I have promoted. Among my past and present clients:
  • The Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis
  • The Yeshiva University Museum
  • Neshama Carlebach
  • Yossi Klein Halevi
  • Justice for Jews from Arab Countries
  • The Central Conference of American Rabbis
  • Yeshivat Chovevei Torah
  • The Rabbinical Assembly
  • The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
  • American Hebrew Academy
  • Magen Tzedek
While this list is a fraction of what I have done, I include these to give you an idea of the scope of my projects across the denominational divide, though I've consulted on literally dozens of projects, some in the realm of political life.

I have also done pro bono projects on behalf of worthy causes.

I've worked with artists, writers, filmmakers, schools, cultural initiatives and social activism.

I do not discriminate by denomination. I will work with Jews of all affiliations.

The only people I do not work with are haters, liars, thieves and lunatics.

Q: We've seen pictures of this Dicker online. She is not dressed modestly! She does not cover her head!  She wears sleeveless dresses and Doc Marten hiking boots. Who is she to work with frum Jews?
A: It is true that I dress differently from ultra-Orthodox Jews.

Q: What else is this Dicker up to?
A: Glad you asked! I like to swing dance, which I sure is considered treyf by you, but that's fine. I have plenty of partners. I even wrote an article for the NYTimes about swing dance in NYC. I like to travel and do so often for my work. I am a champion Scrabble player and am currently writing a book on the utility of Scrabble in marriage with my husband. I have two adorable dogs. I am blessed with wonderful friends and family. My Facebook page is public so you can cyber-stalk me if you wish. I have a new cool business called The Wedding Kvetchers. I hope you will Like it on Facebook. I am the architect of Flashmobs. I am a performer. I play the drums. Oh, and I like to sing in karaoke bars with friends, though I KNOW you are against that because you believe that a woman's voice cannot be heard in public.

So maybe that's what your suspicion of me is all about.

I am a woman who has raised her voice in public to address social injustice perpetrated in the name of Judaism. I believe that Judaism is the most brilliant, compassionate and humanistic religion on the planet. I am offended by acts of injustice in the name of the Torah. My belief of Gd is that of a personal, caring Master of the Universe.

Yes, I have spoken out. Not for the cause of lashon hara but for tzedek, perhaps even tikkun olam.

So, I hope you have a better idea of who I am. I could write so much more -- indeed, what a rare an indulgent pleasure to write about myself!! -- but I'm on my way to the gym, another thing I really like to do. I hope you do, too! I think that spending an hour or so on the treadmill or elliptical trainer might help you think about such values as Clal Yisrael and tikkun olam.
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PS: I took this selfie aboard the Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul two weeks ago. I thought that a personally-penned expose of myself should include a self-taken photograph.

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