Friday, March 11, 2011

EZ Reads 3/11/11

Some interesting and fun reads/views before Shabbos comes...
  • A huge kiddush Hashem by some YU students, who noticed while doing a magic show that there were unused labs in a public school - so they volunteered to conduct science labs for the kids.
  • The Yated (on Matzav, via reader YS) has an interesting op-ed entitled Life is Not a Popularity Contest, which discusses how we must start speaking out in the community against those who act improperly and dishonestly.
    Prominent shady characters are given carte blanche to enact their agendas and the dishonest are permitted to continue their detrimental behavior and actions. We beat gingerly around the bush, dancing around the edges, afraid to proclaim the truth.

    What are we afraid of? Why are we silent?
    Amen. I hope this is the start of a transition, and I'm curious what set it in motion. (Orthonomics is also pleasantly surprised.) Nice bonus: I may not face as much fallout as originally thought from the Honesty and the Jewish Community series after all.
  • Adventures in Chinuch starts from the beginnings and questions if the root of the problem in Jewish education is perhaps the parents.
  • Absolutely hilarious routine at Life in Israel on an Israeli in a NY restaurant.
  • Tamar Snyder interviews Dr. Alan Kadish about Touro, filling Dr. Lander's shoes, and where the school is headed. Interesting if unsurprising that Touro is focused on being an educational rather than a research school.
  • ZionTrain posts an oldie that is a take on how halachos seem to be born in today's times.
  • Jewish men can jump? An article on Jews dunking... I've seen many guys dunk, but only a couple who did so in a game (and on a fastbreak only).
Have a wonderful Shabbos!


  1. Adventures in Chinuch starts from the beginnings and questions if the root of the problem in Jewish education is perhaps the parents.

    Every one of these articles about "the problem" in Jewish education seems to take for granted the idea that if parents and/or teachers do everything "right" then all kids will stay Orthodox. That seems to me to be a false premise.

    Questions for you, because I'm curious:

    1) What percent of kids, approximately, do you think would go OTD, assuming that all adults in their lives do everything perfectly (in the hypothetical scenario where "perfect" is possible.)

    2) How should kids/young adults who are going OTD anyway be treated?

    3) How should the fact that they are going OTD be explained to younger kids? Or should it not be mentioned?

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  3. JA - In short, the "problem" I am referring to is one of two things:

    1) The fact that MANY OR MOST young men and women in the Modern Orthodox world (not that it isn't true elsewhere)have little-to-no committment to the ideals and practices of Judaism.

    Yes, I am taking it for granted that this is considered a problem. After all, if the parents of these children are believing Orthodox Jews, wouldn't they want their children following in the same path.

    I believe that if parents would practice better what they "preach" (whether this preaching is active, or through sending them to Orthodox day schools), many more kids would be interested. I can't imagine anyone would disagree.

    Does this mean that every single kid would "stay on the path" if their parents do as well? Of course not. There are many factors that contribute to kids leaving OJ, or any faith for that matter, and not every factor is effectively combatted by good parental examples.

    2) That parents send their kids to schools that attempt to instill DIFFERENT values than are taught at home. Many students come from homes where Talmud Torah, careful shmiras mitzvos, humility, modesty consciousness of G-d, respect for Rabbanim, are NOT emphasized.

    Whether or not these values are important is not the issue. The issue is that the schools promote such values which aren't important at home. Such contradtictions are good for no one.

    I believe the points I have made are vaild whether you are a believing Orthodox Jew or not.

  4. YD,

    I think I agree with you, although I think I'd put a different spin on it. You make it sound like the rabbis always have the right values and the parents always have the wrong ones. In my personal experience, a lot of the difference was that the parents were actually Modern Orthodox and the rabbis were not, so it was more about hashkafo than about having "little-to-no commitment to the ideals and practices of Judaism."

    I know I started distrusting the rabbis early on because of some of those differences. For example, my mother had a good friend from childhood who was not Jewish, but one of my rabbis insisted that Jews and non-Jews could never have real friendship, that the non-Jew would always eventually "turn on you." This was in 4th grade. Other rabbis were blatantly sexist and racist. But even beyond blatant stuff like that, there was a pervasive disrespect for all things modern -- for secular studies, for professions outside of chinuch, etc. etc. Values that our parents instilled in us.

    I know why it's like that. There just aren't enough rabbis who are truly modern to teach the schools. To blame it on the parents strikes me as unfair. There were some rabbis who legitimately believed in Modern Orthodoxy and represented it well, but they were few and far between. The rest basically waffled back and forth, didn't offer a coherent message, and regularly violated values that we were taught by our parents.

  5. What a beautiful chessed the YU students are doing.

  6. Happy to see the Yated piece. I was hoping he would give some examples and start to call out some of the criminals.

  7. JA - I will hopefully respond to your last comments (most of which I agree with) in my next post.