Picture a Jewish town, located deep in a Polish forest, that hasn’t received so much as a postcard from the outside world in more than a century. Max Gross conjured it up The Lost Shtetl: A Novel, and the result is both screwball and serious.
As it is, The Orchard reads more like Days of Our Lives than Daniel Deronda.
One need not buy into the cultural importance of “Snapewives” to accept that the digital age is one in which individuals demand narratives, practices, and communities they find personally meaningful.
In 2006, a blogger known as Baal Habos posted about a former rebbe who had once compared heretical media to “a hole in the head.” By then he had become a “ba’al ha-bos” (roughly, a family man), with a position in the community he wasn’t comfortable giving up, he had acquired plenty of holes in his head and wanted to discuss them—anonymously.