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Preview: Comments on SerandEz & Friends: The Greatest Opportunities

Comments on SerandEz and Friends: The Greatest Opportunities

Updated: 2013-06-25T09:05:38.343-04:00


Im also going to shoot fpr the one-and-out. This m...


Im also going to shoot fpr the one-and-out. This may be a bit ortho-exclusive but I think there is a bit too much of a dependency on Da'as Torah. I understand the need for some flavor of central guidance but the ever-growing apparency of the flaws of this system are showing themselves more and more frequently. People need to realize that there can be a certain level of autonomy in one's practice, if their education on halacha, etc. is up to snuff.

The tremendous amount of power that is placed in the hands of the established "da'as Torah order" is manifest in their (occasional?) abuse of the power and leads to this whole chumra-as-halacha movement, which further exhibits the notorious exclusive practice of "frumier than thou."

This is not to say that having a Rabbi for your questions is wrong, but a central organization that may or may not have an agenda is polarizing the orthodox community further.

There is no reason that a person who feels properly knowledgeable in halacha cannot make a personal decision without running it by the thought police.

It might sound trivial, but a number of instances in the recent past have shown me the dangers inherent in this current system.

1) Disunity. Sephardim look down on Ashkenazim. Th...


1) Disunity. Sephardim look down on Ashkenazim. The Ashkenazim look down at everyone. If someone is more to the right, they're fanatic, stuck up, or crazy. If someone's more to the left they're not frum or worse, not Jewish. A million splinters like what we have isn't getting us anywhere.

2) Economics. The economic principles of the frum community are illogical. It seeks to have the few who make money support many who don't (while simultaneously looking down on them for doing so, as per #1). It is simply economically unsound and will implode sooner or later.

3) Corruption. Everything from the Lipa concert banning to the lawsuits of rabbeim. Roshei Yeshivos have been considered religious leaders and they are either doing a bad job of minimizing corruption or actively participating.

Empires have fallen on less. Think about Rome...their disunity, poor ecomonics, and corruption brought them down at the attack of forces they could have repelled otherwise.

Well, let's a ger who has married a baal...


Well, let's a ger who has married a baalah teshuvah (whose family has not been frum in, literally, generations, and can now be best described as "Jews at heart, Christian in belief"), I'm not sure where to start. My wife and I have both been subject to such blatant sinat chinam (based on our backgrounds, as well as on our current religious beliefs and stances on certain issues within the Jewish community and the world at large) from so-called "leaders" of our community, that it makes me sick just to remember it.
OTOH, I do want to note that it has NOT been a "blanket" problem. We have a wonderful relationship with our Rav, and with some other Ravs in the community - it's just that the ones we HAVE had trouble with, it has just been SO overwhelming.
So, on that note:
1) How the ("black hat") Orthodox community acts towards gerim and BTs.
Oh, the stories I could tell you. Growing up a ger in the Orthodox community, I knew several other gerim around my age (we were all adopted as youngsters or infants and raised in frum households). Every single one of us was made to feel inferior, at one time or another, by our peers, teachers, "community leaders", simply because of our birth status.
I'll never forget one day when I asked my rebbe at the time(not my Rav) if I should say "shelo asani goy" when I daven. He said I should because I have a "yiddle neshamah" and it just got put in the wrong place at first - it needed time to find it's way to the right place.
So I asked him "if that's the case, then why am I treated so poorly by others if my "yiddle neshamah" has found its way back to its right place now, and shouldn't Hashem love better those of us whose "yiddle neshamahs" had to struggle to find their way?"
His response was "Hashem MAY love you better, but it doesn't mean that the "yidden" will."
And that brings me to #2.

2)How the Orthodox community at large feels that "bein adom l'makom" is everything, and "bein adom l'adom" is nothing.
Every time I turn around another frum Jew is being arrested, indicted, incarcerated, etc for a wide range of acts ranging from bone-headed "you should have known better" to onerous "how could someone like YOU do THAT?"
I'm not sure what is going through their collective minds at those points, but it obviously is NOT Shulchan Aruch.
Not to mention the time my srugie-wearing friend was teaching a secular subject in a yeshiva high school and was told by the students that their rebbe told them that they do not need to treat him with respect, since he's not really a Jew - he wears a srugie, you see.

3) I don't know if this falls under Education, Economics or something else, but...

How come my day school tuition is so high...and my kids' teachers get paid so little?
Let's face it...other than me and my wife (who have our own obligation to teach our children), my kids' teachers are the people who spend the most time with them, and will train them for the future. Isn't it time that we ensure that the people who we entrust to train our children are not dead-tired (because they have to work another job as well, just to make ends meet), or drones (who the school will never get rid of, because they have been there so long - regardless of how poor a teacher they actually are) or (the most likely possibility by far) do it because it is a labor of love - but cannot stop themselves from telling your kids not to become teachers when they grow up because of the economic hardship it entails?

Ummm, sorry so long, I got a bit worked up there...

I am not so much a fan of finding "threats to" Jud...


I am not so much a fan of finding "threats to" Judaism as I am a proponent of finding "opportunities for".
Here are three:

1) Economic – There has to be an organized effort by ALL community institutions/organizations to keep community money in the community. It's only after community needs have been met that one should give to other institutions and organizations. The impacts of such an effort would be significant and wide ranging.

2) Untapped Resources – The Jewish Community has within its midst a vast and wholly ignored resource known as “singles”. Let’s try for just a moment to think of these individuals as actual people as apposed to shidduch possibilities (I know this will be hard but give it a shot). Why not engage them as an asset instead of dooming them to limbo status as far as the community is concerned. As a group they more often than not have available time, energy and talents to offer. We might be surprised at how willing they would be to get involved…if only the invitation was proffered.

3) Chinuch/Education – A decrease in the shaping of Judaism using an “us vs. them” approach. This applies whether “them” is non-jews or simply another sect/group/movement/wing/camp/party/gang/tribe within Judaism. More emphasis on the positives; not to the exclusion of the negatives that are out there (because they are out there)…but perhaps more as the primary tool.

Polarization. How to solve? No idea. Interaction?



How to solve? No idea. Interaction?

The biggest threat is Sinat Chinum. The biggest o...


The biggest threat is Sinat Chinum.
The biggest opportunity is Ahavat Chinum.
How? A reinvigoration of the MO movement with greater emphasis on education, teacher/Rebbe/Morah training and recruitment in the MO world. A big push to shift donations toward Jewish Educational causes. As part of this drive, push an inclusive model for MO day schools across the country, programming, sensitivity training, suggestions for how to run dual programs within the schools for newly observant or not yet observant within the MO day schools. The idea being to follow the model of old wherein everyone was welcome in the neighborhood Yeshiva and it all worked. But even beyond that. Where it becomes affordable to send your child to Yeshiva and it becomes profitable to teach in it. Then, emphasis in curriculum on Jewish History and the experiences of Jews across the world over the years. Who are the Chasidim? Who are the Yemenite Jews? Etc. This change will be years in the making. The ultimate goal would be to grow Modern Orthodoxy while welcoming more Jews into Jewish Education while sensitizing Yeshiva/ Day school kids to Jews of all types. The beginning point is money, of course.

I don't follow rules well, so I'm only going to li...


I don't follow rules well, so I'm only going to list one thing, but I think it's the most important - Jewish unity. There are so many instances of treating fellow Jews poorly and if they don't "count." I was recently speaking to a co-worker and I made a comment about how someone is either Jewish or not Jewish, completely independent of their observance or lack thereof. My co-worker (who is not at all observant) was unfortunately shocked by my attitude and said he has encountered many, many instances where he was treated and had comments made about his Jewishness not counting. I think we disenfranchise so many Jews when the opposite should be done. And I'm not talking about kiruv efforts - we should reach out to our fellow Jew and accept them as our family whether they are interested in living an observant lifestyle or not. I think having an attitude of inclusion rather than exclusion is an excellent opportunity for Yiddishkeit and will strengthen it in the process more than one could imagine.

evanstonjew said... 1) Intermarriage. A world ...


evanstonjew said...

1) Intermarriage. A world of RWMO and charedim will mean the end of Israel, and an increase in anti-Semitism. Take a look at the Sunday NY Times article on Obama to see the role influential secular Jews play in American Jewish life.
Solution...give up on kiruv and try to bring yiddishkeit to Jews where they are.

2) The failure of MO to develop an alternative leadership that can influence the entire Jewish world and stand up to charedim. The failure of all denominations to develop lay leadership, and forms of public opinion where all voices can be heard. Until the Jewish community becomes more democratic it will remain an oligarchy of the gedolim and the rich.
Solution...baalei batim have to put some backbone in their rabbis who are in general a bunch of ninnies, and the Fedration and other Jewish organizations must become more open and democratic.

3)The impoverishment of the Jewish middle class and the growing dichotomy between rich and poor.

Solution…There is none. It will become important in the future to develop home schooling and other alternatives to Jewish education, since the costs will continue to go up and real incomes will decline.

Erachet said... Hmmm, I'm not all that great a...


Erachet said...

Hmmm, I'm not all that great at these sort of questions but I'll give it a shot.


2. Education. There needs to be more "thinking for yourself" type of education going on and less "let me spoon-feed one side of Judaism down your throat."

3. Labels. For a religion which professes dictums such as "dan l'kaf zechut" and "v'ahavta l'reiacha kamocha," there is an awful lot of judging going on based on externals, schools, where you live, etc. - and all that judging happens before you even know a person. There are stereotypes everywhere, but how many times do we fight disagreeable stereotypes as Jews? So shouldn't we learn from that not to judge everyone by stereotypes? Labeling people does more harm than good and I think it's one of the biggest dividers of the Jewish nation.

I'm still trying to think of something for 1, but that's all for now. I hope that's what you were looking for!

Shira Salamone said... 1) Conversions. If even...


Shira Salamone said...

1) Conversions. If even the Orthodox can’t agree on what constitutes a valid conversion, what's to become of the rest of us? This is not a new issue—I posted about it almost 3 years ago— and it’s not going to go away. The Jewish community worldwide is in dire need of joint (involving rabbis from all streams of Judaism) local batei din (Jewish religious courts) that will ensure that all conversions are recognized by all Jews (or most, at least). This crisis is going to tear the Jewish people apart if it's not solved.

2) Jewish education for those with disabilities. Yes, I have an axe to grind—my son was refused admission to a Solomon Schechter (Conservative) Day School because of his social-skills delays—and I’m going to grind that axe as loudly as I can! Some efforts have been made to provide a Jewish education to children with disabilities in recent decades, and those involved are certainly to be commended. But there's not nearly enough available by way of personnel and/or funding and/or facilities to help all the kids who need help.

3) A solution to the Aguna problem. The inability of a Jewish woman to divorce her husband without his consent—and the result that hundreds of women are chained for life in dead marriages—is a problem that has plagued the Jewish people for centuries. The suffering of women, and the black eye that this problem gives the rabbinate, should have impelled the rabbis to find a solution years ago.

1) Image. To some extent, this requires greater aw...


1) Image. To some extent, this requires greater awareness of how we come across, less dismissal of the opinions of the outside world (while simultaneously not allowing ourselves to just worry about image over substance), and better understanding of how we can do the same things in different ways or using different words so that it is understood better.

2) Economics. This requires opening up the books of schools, shuls, and institutions, seeing where waste is, getting rid of it, seeing where redundancies are, getting rid of those, and analyzing where money can be pooled to increase what we can get out of our resources.

3) Education. This somewhat relates to both of the above, but there are a large number of issues with our educational system that need to be addressed. Too long to detail in a comment.

Note that these were not in order of importance. I think Economics is first.