Thursday, August 17, 2006

Rumpspringa for Jews?

Fascinating article in the Jewish Week sent by reader Sara K. I'm heading out now with the cutie and my grandfather for a bit, so commentary will come later; meanwhile, give it a read.

Allowed to stray from the fold, 90 percent of Amish youth come back; could the Orthodox use a ‘rumspringa’ of their own.

Shachtman watched this, as a rare outsider who was granted insider status, on and off for three years. A Jew from a “very liberal background,” he had access to conservative Amish homes and Amish lives, watching their teens making life-changing decisions.

For people who view the Amish as isolated, quaint, buggy-riding anachronisms, his book paints a surprising picture: Shachtman’s Amish teens have active libidos and hip-hop vocabularies; they like money and have favorite pro sports teams; they’re not as square as they may appear.

Just like many frum kids.


  1. -->Allowed to stray from the fold, 90 percent of Amish youth come back; could the Orthodox use a ‘rumspringa’ of their own.

    Already exhists; it's called going to learn in Eretz Yisroel after high school ;^)

    --then again, considering where some of us went to high school...

  2. G, Mordy - I know you're just kidding, but... Eh. Only to an extent (and the article says that!). And we're not encouraged to go do certain things. (How cool would that be!?)

  3. Yeah...right...kidding...hah,hah..hah...hah..aaahhhhhhh...ummmmmm,yeah

    encouraged, huh? what an idea **cough**mesivta**cough**

  4. I don't know about Amish, but since they mention adult baptism in the article, I assume they believe similarly to Baptists that you must consciously accept Jesus to be a part of their community. So it makes sense in the framework of their religious beliefs, and is a very reasonable way to approach religion (reminiscing about the old posts at GH's blog about whether Lakewood Yid would be a fanatical Mormon if he were born that way).

    As far as I know, our religious framework is totally different (especially in the more traditional part of the spectrum). So we can't be on "Jews Gone Wild" because we don't get the choice. The choice was made by our ancestors while G-d held a mountain over their heads.

    Although tell me more about this mesivta :)

  5. Someone on the frumskeptics board wrote that Rumspringa is commonly misunderstood. It's not actually a period where anything goes, it's just that they officially recognize that adolescents require a little more leeway. I don't think it's relevent to modern Orthodoxy anyway, since they don't live completely apart like the Amish, but it would sure be interesting for the haredim. Still, without the life-skills to easily succeed in the outside world, many might come back just because it's easy.

    Also, remember that many of us who leave don't leave just because the rules are too restrictive. :-) Some of us have actual theological/philosophical/worldview differences with Orthodoxy or Judaism in general.

  6. E-K - Wait, there's a "Jews Gone Wild"!? ;) I think the [somewhat misguided] question in the article is why we don't institute that "year-off leeway"; that in the long run, it will help us. But, as you say, the framework is different: We don't allow the 'line to be crossed' in general in order to make it easier for people not to in the future. The only exception seems to be to some extent in Israel, in some places, where they don't encourage it but rather pretend to ignore it while they 'work on' the teen.

    JA - I think that's why many of the Amish do come back. They simply have a somewhat difficult time truly adjusting to the outside world, even when they are accepted et al.

    And I honestly feel that you (and the other bloggers) are extremely rare in that you have such serious theological differences. Most people - honestly - simply don't care all that much (whether religious or not). Furthermore, even among those who have theological differences, I would venture that a sizeable group first had issues with some of the restrictions, then found the theological differences. It allows them to "escape" the restrictions in their own mind. I think to some extent, we all do this rationalizing.

  7. Oh, E-Kvetcher: You have to ask G about that Mesivta. :)

  8. And I honestly feel that you (and the other bloggers) are extremely rare in that you have such serious theological differences.

    I agree that most who leave probably don't have well-examined theological differences, but I bet a LOT of them have simple ones. Like, "this stuff is ridiculous!" Or just "this doesn't make any sense!" Because, frankly, even you must admit that a good deal of Orthodox Judaism at least seems absurd when looked at in the right (or wrong, depending on your POV) light. Think lulav and esrog, the origins of waiting between meat and milk, the Genesis story, the tower of Bavel, the anti-gay stuff, pervasive racism, covering the hair, wearing black hats in the summertime, etc.

  9. Simple theological differences don't mean very much. Just about anything could be called that... but when it comes down to it, they are leaving not because they have serious issues with belief in God or the like, but rather they are uninterested in or turned off by what goes on.

    In regards to your specific examples, I'll agree that some of it seems absurd when looked at it the wrong light. :)

  10. "the anti-gay stuff"???!!

    Judaism's prohibition of homosexuality is one of the more logical commandments.