Carey Purcell apologizes for 'Jewish man's rebellion' Washington Post column - iMediaEthics
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The Washington Post in 2011 (Credit: Flickr/Daniel X. O'Neil)

Writer and theater critic Carey Purcell wrote about her romantic relationships with two Jewish men in an opinion piece for the Washington Post headlined, “I am tired of being a Jewish man’s rebellion.” The column was met with criticism, and now Purcell has published an apology on her website.

Purcell’s March 29 Washington Post piece said, in part, “Over almost seven years and two serious relationships with Jewish men who at first said religion didn’t matter — and then backtracked and decided it did — I’ve optimistically begun interfaith relationships with an open mind twice, only to become the last woman these men dated before settling down with a nice Jewish girl.”

She described herself as meeting “the stereotypes of a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant (WASP),” explaining: “I’m blond, often wear pearls and can mix an excellent, and very strong, martini. Manners and etiquette are important to me, and when I’m stressed, I often cope by cleaning. I do describe myself as Christian, but loosely and in the most liberal sense possible.”

She later wrote in her piece:

“But, living in New York and working in theater, I frequently meet Jewish men. At almost every event I go to, they approach me. As flattered as I am, I don’t welcome the complications and potential heartbreak I’ve experienced back into my life.”

Israeli newspaper Haaretz published an opinion piece collecting responses to Purcell’s Washington Post article and explaining, “Purcell’s decision to take the failure of two relationships that she admits ended for reasons other than religion, and then turn their Jewishness into their defining characteristic and the rejection of her into a racial/religious act, was remarkably badly timed. Unwittingly or not, she struck an unusually sensitive nerve with a sledgehammer.”

Purcell wrote in an April 3 blogpost on her website, “I am truly sorry I offended so many.”

She continued, “It was never my intention to disrespect the Jewish faith or anyone who engages in Jewish customs, traditions or religious beliefs, and my editor and I spoke about that at length while putting the piece together. I realize now that I touched upon serious issues for Jewish people in America and worldwide, for which I sincerely apologize.”

Purcell added that she didn’t “respond to the comments and Tweets and emails more quickly” because she wanted to “process” and “honestly acknowledge the harm that had been done.”

She also tweeted, “I am truly sorry for the offense and harm caused by my recent WaPo column. I’ve spent time to reflect and have more to say here” with a link to her apology.

iMediaEthics wrote to the Washington Post to ask if it will post a link or update to Purcell’s apology and if it has any response to the apology. The Post pointed iMediaEthics to tweets from Lisa Bonis, who wrote that she “greenlighted” the essay. Bonis’s tweets explain, “Who people have dated in the past — and how those experiences have played — do affect who they choose to date in the future.” Bonis continued that “the essay was clearly about her experience,” and noted that she herself is both Jewish and “the product of a happy interfaith marriage.”


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Carey Purcell apologizes for ‘Jewish man’s rebellion’ Washington Post column

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