Monday, October 31, 2005

Book Review - Off The Derech

I just finished reading the new book, Off The Derech – Why Observant Jews Leave Judaism. Written by Faranak Margolese and published by Devorah Publishing. I had a lot of thoughts and comments on it that I wanted to share, but I neglected to take proper notes as I was reading it, so I don’t have it all organized properly and prepared to present coherently. For now, I’ll just say that I agree with almost all the main points of the author, but at the same time I was very disappointed in how she presented her positions. In my opinion, she was nowhere nearly as persuasive as she should have been. While I almost always found myself agreeing with her points, it bothered me that almost all her arguments were only supported by either anecdotal evidence, cute chassidish-like vertlach, random “chazal’s”, or quotes from rabbis, mechanchim and frum therapists. Even her survey, which while interesting and revealing, she admits is unscientific.

Edit: I don't mean to say that her positions really don't have any substantial support. I believe they do. She says that she has interviewed hundreds of people who have "gone off", and been researching the subject for five years, so that is definitely more than anecdotal. What I meant is that when she writes about the issues and presents her position on any particular factor, she usually doesn't bring any sort of verifiable statistics or recorded reports to back up what she's saying. I trust that she has the data and support for her views, but for the most part it's absent from her presentation. I understand that a complex sociological study like this might be difficult to break down into clear-cut factoids and measurable results, but overall, as I was reading through it, all the quotes, cute divrei torah, and brief recollections actually made me feel like I was reading some advice column from a d'var torah sheet or a chareidi periodical. It didn't feel very academic, scientific or professional.

For those who don’t know, the book is an examination of the trend of people who leave the Orthodox world and pursue a life uncommitted to halacha. (Going “off the derech” is a euphemism for those who have stepped off the path of religious life.) She takes a close look at the issue, exploring it from many angles, detailing countless motivators for the behavior, and clearly outlining the distinct roles various factors (family, education, community, role models, emotions, intellectual difficulties, etc.) have in influencing a person to consider leaving the religious lifestyle.

Unsurprisingly, she advocates an approach of being more tolerant, open, flexible, accepting, respectful, and more positive towards the whole religious experience. She demonstrates the danger of being too restrictive and demanding. She tries to show the importance of allowing a sincere religious motivation to develop rather than forcing Judaism on its adherents. There’s a lot of good stuff in the book, and it’s refreshing to hear someone point out some of the problems that are prevalent in Orthodox societies nowadays. For every issue she examines, she brings numerous stories and quotes to support her views.

However, despite the fact that I’m in almost total agreement with her overall approach, ultimately I was unimpressed with her presentation. In my opinion, although critical of them, she doesn’t convincingly show how truly damaging and destructive so many of the views and attitudes that are common and accepted in today’s religious society really are. Additionally, too often it seems that she’s holding back. At times, the criticism is tempered by sympathetic rationalizations meant to excuse the very problems she disapproves of. On other occasions, she follows up her position with an almost apologetic defense of the more restrictive approach. While I understand her ambivalence to criticize a behavior that may be common among many respected torah figures and religious communities, if she really does feel it’s wrong she should just say it like it is and not soften her criticisms with contrite apologetics.

Overall, I’d say the book is important in how it highlights many damaging attitudes, behaviors, and trends in frum society. But I feel that most people in today’s age probably know about these issues already. So either you agree that the problems are serious, and you don’t need a book like this to tell you what you already know. Or you've heard her arguments in the past, but you also know the counterarguments to them and you've decided to settle on the more restrictive approach to being religious which she is against. Most people who appreciate the book probably already agree with most of her arguments, so for them the book is just a case of preaching to the converted. And for the crowd who disagrees with her, well, they’ll probably just nod along, admitting that what she points out are indeed serious problems, but that they aren’t really relevant to their own situation, and anyway there are also potential risks in her approach and they have rabbonim and chazal’s to back up their approach just like she does. In other words, it won't have any affect on these people whatsoever! After all, isn’t that the reaction people have been having until now? The book is chock full of quotes from well known educators, rabbis and mental health professionals who have been saying these things for ages (much of her material is excerpts from pieces published in chareidi periodicals and books). And no one’s taken their message seriously up until now. So why expect anything different from this latest effort? Although I sincerely hope I’m wrong, I highly doubt too many people are going to dramatically change their approach to chinuch after reading this book.

Some of the positives:
  • She unabashedly and courageously places the blame for the problem squarely at the foot of the Jewish community, refusing to buy into the oft-heard excuses and accusations that are trotted out about people who go off the derech.
  • She does a masterful job of outlining the different issues that may affect a person towards leaving religiosity, how they interact, and how they build upon one another.
  • She draws upon a varied and eclectic range of religious personalities for supporting her positions. There are quotes from Rabbi Berel Wein, Rabbi Adin Steinzaltz, Dennis Prager, Rabbi Joseph Telushkin, Rabbi Natan L. Cordozo, Rabbi Shmuely Boteach, Rabbi Shlomo Wolbe, Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Dr. Norman Lamm, Rav A. Y. Kook, The Chazon Ish, various roshei yeshiva and Bais Yakov principals, directors of programs for at-risk kids (for example the founders of Priority One, Project Rejewvenation, Project Chazon, Ohel, Project YES, etc.), and various well known frum therapists.
  • Many of the problems she focuses on are things that I have been saying on this blog for months, e.g. emotional factors play a more primary role in a person’s attitude towards frumkeit than intellectual ones, that truth is not enough to motivate someone to be frum, the importance of relevance, how damaging negative religious experiences can be to a person’s growth, the affect it has on the person when the trust in the system is broken, etc. Apparently, I'm onto something.
Some of the negatives:
  • It reads like a frummie book. I guess that isn’t really such a bad thing, as it is after all marketed to the frum crowd, but I found it very annoying.
  • It’s nice that she’s got so many rabbis backing her up, but the fact that she doesn’t usually have anything more substantial (How about some documented studies or hard data?) really isn’t a good thing. While I agree with most of what she’s saying, I also know that for every rabbi who supports her approach of being more accepting, tolerant, etc. I can find two others who say we have to tighten the reigns to protect other kids. For every shtickel torah about being more understanding and accepting I can bring you just as many to show you how important it is to be demanding and restrictive. It’s all nice what she’s saying, but it’s just not a very solid or persuasive argument for one who knows both sides of the debate.
  • Many of the stories that she brings to support her positions – while very illustrative of problems in society - are quite ambiguous and do not necessarily support the specific point she’s trying to make. For example: A rosh yeshiva told a prospective student, “Real bochurim don’t read newspapers.” In my opinion, this could demonstrate any of a bunch of problematic attitudes (all of which she touches on at various points in the book): the trend towards a very narrow definition of orthodoxy, dismissiveness and rejection of those not ascribing to your view, pressure to conform, etc. She uses the story to illustrate negative attitudes towards the outside world. I suppose it could be seen that way, but it does seem to be a bit of a stretch. (Once again, my nitpicking is not to undermine her point. I agree the attitude is potentially harmful, but the story doesn’t support it very strongly, and therefore using it as a support only weakens her argument.)
  • She contradicts herself at times. I even found that some of the people she quotes aren't consistent, neither with each other, or even with some of their other quotes she uses in other places. (Which kind of proves my point about the ease of being able to find a rabbi who maintains an opposing view.) She even contradicted something she told me in person (I met her over sukkot) with what she explicitly wrote in the book.
Some of her common themes:
  • People aren’t leaving because of the pull of the outside world. They’re leaving because they want to get away from the frum one.
  • The wiles of the yetzer hara doesn’t make a person go off the derech. They may make a person stumble, but to completely leave, at root there must be much more serious problem which is undoubtedly a result of bigger things than the occasional (or even frequent) sin.
  • While it’s true that religious life can be difficult and challenging, and kids have to absorb that lesson, that kind of lesson has to be the exception, not the rule.
  • To truly last in the way it's supposed to be, a person's Judaism must be positive, meaningful, and motivated by a sincere desire to live that life.
Essentially, when it comes to this issue, we all know the debate. One side says to be more understanding, accepting, flexible, less restrictive, give people more autonomy, allow people to develop their own feelings about religious experiences, etc. and by doing that people will have a more positive experience with Yiddishkeit. The other side says that we need to batten down the hatches, do whatever we can to keep out the influences, make kids realize that Yiddishkeit is important and must be followed no matter how you feel, etc., and that will stave off the defections.

The debate is an old one. And everyone has chosen a side by now. We don’t need a book to simply tell us the benefits of any one perspective. We need a book that can clearly and forcibly show us all how absolutely vital this approach is. And how fundamentally flawed and dangerous the other approach is. Unfortunately, as worthwhile as I feel it is, I don’t think this book is that.


Jewish Atheist said...

It seems to me that if you want to know why people leave Orthodoxy, you should ask a bunch of people who left, not a bunch of Rabbis.

The Hedyot said...

> should ask a bunch of people who left...

Oh, she did that. She interviewed hundreds of people who "went off". That's what the stories are from. The web survey itself is a result of around 450 respondents.

I think I’ll add that detail to the main post.

Mis-nagid said...

I haven't read the book yet, but I will. As with most discussion of recovery from frumkeit, it doesn't seem to apply to me. While it's true that most people who reject Orthodoxy do so for primarily emotional reasons, that is not the case with me. I've thought long and hard about it, and my root causes stem from skepticism. One day someone will write a book for people like me. Maybe it'll be me.

The Hedyot said...

She has a whole section of the book devoted to the matter of intellectual issues, but still feels strongly that emotional factors play a more primary role in most people who go off.

Until you write that book, how about reprising all those brilliant blog posts and start writing again?

Mis-nagid said...

"still feels strongly that emotional factors play a more primary role in most people who go off."

I don't disagree with that as an empirical statement. However, if the findings of the last 200 or so years of science were more widely known amongst the Otthodox the ratio would be different. Hell, just learning comparative religion would reshape that figure.

B.T. said...

Mis-nagid- you certainly should write such a book. The trick is to give your intellectual reasons for going off without just becoming another biblical criticism book, etc. You should weave your story in there as well. And, of course, there should be an uplifting part about how you live now, how OJ figures into your worldview if at all, and practical strategies for folks considering how to do the two-step of leaving with all the common social issues, family issues, etc.

You could do the book anonymously if you wanted. I think it would be a mechaya for a lot of us who are getting up after stumbling on the block of OJ.

B.T. said...

Btw, Da'as- thanks for the review. Good idea. I'd seen her website and was curious. I guess I'll get the book. I'm her approach was quite tainted because her "angle" was as one who went off as a case study for Rabbeim and educators to know better how to get them back.

With such an inherent bias, the most useful stuff would be people's stories. Frankly, when I hear about so many people going off, I wonder why it doesn't set off an avalanche, not that I would want that. Would I want that...? It would validate my position, but it would not be what I want to see happen per se. I'd love to see some kind of change.

Mis-nagid- I take it you didn't bother with reform/conservative either. I'm curious what role "spirituality" plays in your life, if any (by that I mean even meditation or anything) and I'm especially interested in whether you have any ongoing interaction with an OJ community or people, etc. Sorry for not knowing this if you've posted it before.

Mis-nagid said...

"The trick is to give your intellectual reasons for going off without just becoming another biblical criticism book, etc."

That's funny to me because I discovered bibcrit waaaay after I was already an atheist.

"You should weave your story in there as well."

While I'm sure that would enhance a book, I'm far too privacy-conscious for any such thing.

"You could do the book anonymously if you wanted. I think it would be a mechaya for a lot of us who are getting up after stumbling on the block of OJ."

I really would like to write such a book.

"Mis-nagid- I take it you didn't bother with reform/conservative either."

I partial to Reconstructionist Judaism, even if not a member.

"I'm curious what role "spirituality" plays in your life, if any (by that I mean even meditation or anything) and I'm especially interested in whether you have any ongoing interaction with an OJ community or people, etc. Sorry for not knowing this if you've posted it before."

I had a popular blog which discussed this and a lot more. Please email me: mis-nagid AT hush DOT com. All email is completely private.

farbisener freud said...

I agree with Misnaged. There's a whole segment of the Off The Derech population that has done so for intellectual reasons. Young men and women are no longer attending college just to earn a "parnossa." They are open and receptive to a rational, scientific view of the world.

Mis-nagid said...

"There's a whole segment of the Off The Derech population that has done so for intellectual reasons."

The frum world will never admit to that, though. To do so would be to admit that Orthodoxy is less than perfectly intellectually supportable. They'll still stick to their smearing of anyone who leaves, no matter what Faranak writes. No cult can afford to legitimize those who reject it.

The Hedyot said...

> ...her approach was quite tainted because her "angle" was as one who went off as a case study for Rabbeim and educators to know better how to get them back.

That may be so (although I'm not so certain of it), but I believe that she gave the issue a reasonably fair shake. She says some fairly untraditional ideas in her book. Even the haskama she has from Rabbi Leff is not absolute. He compliments her, but does express some reservations with aspects of her writings.

I think her motivation was more to examine the issue from the angle of people who are giving up something that is supposedly such a major part of their identity, and often suffering through tremendous heartache as a result. Although it may be that she wants to “win people back” (or rather to prevent people from leaving), maybe she’s just interested in preventing people from having those difficulties in the first place. Meaning, her purpose isn’t really to sustain the ranks, but rather to prevent the problems. The end result may be the same, but I think she deserves the benefit of the doubt. In fact, there are points in the book where she clearly states that some people NEED to leave religiosity to achieve a healthy emotional state. I think a statement like that earns her the benefit of the doubt that she’s at least as concerned about the person themselves as she is about keeping them frum.

mnuez said...

C'mon, you make "pursuing a life uncommitted to halacha" sound like a bad thing! I'm glad that snag piped up in here as I'd say that I'd mostly agree with him and not place "blame" at the foot of the Jewish community for people not swinging chickens over their heads. Blame? Why should anyone be blamed for people who no longer eat fish heads so that they have a successful year or pour wine into their pockets so that they'll get rich (or funnier, place wine on their heads so that they'll be smart! There are few things more ironic than that...)

I do though agree with the way that you're presenting the matter in terms of why a great many (perhaps the majority) of orthodox jews no longer practice orthodoxy. They probably practiced it because of emotional/societal reasons and then ceased to do so for similar reasons - and then read some snag so that they can feel good and "intellectual"(!) about their new choices. But in fact they ceased their practice for non-intellectual reasons and a great many feel guilty/nervous about it and would never have left if "the orthodox community and rabbis" had done "everything right".

Even there though - assuming that orthodox judaism is the way to go, it's the way to have the best life in this world and the way to be konah eternal life, - even then I wouldn't "blame" "the orthodox community" the "rabbis" or anyone else. The Rabbis and laypeople are human beings like everyone else and they too have their difficulties in life and ought to be allowed the same foibles as anyone else. why blame them any more than the fools who left for some reason? Why blame the divorced parents of the boy who left for his having gone off the derech when his parents are themselves mere humans trying to survive this complicated life and trying to simply stay afloat? Why blame the chassidishe rebbe for his human failings? or "the yeshivas" or "the gdolim", they're all humans like you and they should be allowed the same errors. And as for looking at the Orthodox Jewish community as a whole, you can blame them for people leaving - or for anything else for that matter - of you find that on average they are a less responsible, happy or productive community than similar control group communities. But are they? Are their families less happy than similar families? Are they less intellectually honest than similar people? Are they less nourishing to their necheshalim than the average similar community?? Why then blame people or groups of people for being simply... people?

Though of course, like I said, unless a man wants to be a part of the community yet somehow hurts himself by leaving (as is likely the case with many former orthos but not with snag and a whole bunch of others) I would say that speaking of blame or "off the derech" is incongruous.

That said, another finely penned piece by the hedyot who keeps putting forth some of the best (formerly) Jewish writing on the web.


The Hedyot said...

> I agree with Misnaged. There's a whole segment of the Off The Derech population that has done so for intellectual reasons.

Again, she admits that intellectual factors do play a significant factor in many people's decision, but it's not the primary motivator for most people. And I agree with her on that wholeheartedly. It's a relatively small percentage of the Off The Derech crowd that leaves purely for intellectual reasons. I personally also have many difficulties with Orthodoxy from an intellectual perspective but I don't think that would be enough to make me consider leaving it entirely.

> No cult can afford to legitimize those who reject it.

I find this statement absolutely brilliant. It's really very true. But in essence that's what she's doing in much of her book, legitimizing those who are rejecting the system. She’s probably able to do this because she clearly doesn't buy into many of the cult-like practices of the society. But like I wrote in the post, she backtracks on a lot of the ideas she presents. After reading your observation, it’s clear why she does this. She needs to. She has to do this because it's so imperative to them not to be seen as actually legitimizing those who reject the system. So she gets away with it by flip-flopping, hoping some people will hear what she’s saying without having her house burn down as a result.

Anonymous said...

I haven't read the book yet, so I can't speak to it directly, but Margolese should be on relatively safe ground vis-a-vis the O communal establishment. As I understand it, she's active in R' Efraim Buchwald's kiruv work and IIRC, a WHOIS of her site used to indicate that it was registered to Buchwald's National Jewish Outreach Program. From what I read about the project, Margolese adopted Orthodoxy (i.e., is a baalat teshuvah,) left and returned again, so this should provide an interesting personal perspective. Does she discuss her own journey in the book? Incidentally, I did provide input to her survey.
Ben Sorer Moreh

Anonymous said...

...more...just took a look at the book's Amazon listing and my skin began to crawl. Why? the subtitles. The first reads "why observant Jews leave Judaism." That frames the thesis that any personal redefinition of one's Jewish observance, e.g., joining another movement, is "leaving Judaism". The second is "how to respond to the chaallenge". Resond to the challenge? How about how to raise healthy people who are empowered to make their own decisions and to accept them when they do?

The Hedyot said...

>Does she discuss her own journey in the book?

Yes. Extensively.

The Hedyot said...

BSM - I have to admit that from a certain perspective the book is definitely spun as a way to "save" people from "leaving", and that it looks at those who leave as something regrettable and unfortunate. And I understand why that would be objectionable.

However, a large part of her approach is premised on exactly what you're saying. That people should be given the freedom to choose their path, and to be accepted whatever they choose. She even suggests the very radical idea that it is necessary and right for some people to leave.

Even when she makes statements like the above, she qualifies it slightly, for instance, she won't advocate the above approach because she feels that all paths are equally valid, but rather because it's the only real way to have a confident, self-sufficient religious person.

At times I wondered whether she really believes herself everything she writes or is just saying certain things to appease the people who are going to be very upset about certain ideas. I don’t know. On the one hand she wants people to read her book and adopt her ideas. On the other hand, she realizes that if her ideas are too controversial no one will listen, and she risks getting into a lot of trouble. So I think she kind of tries to do both, putting the ideas out there, and then quickly qualifying it before anyone can accuse her of being too radical.

The Hedyot said...

> Margolese should be on relatively safe ground vis-a-vis the O communal establishment. As I understand it, she's active in R' Efraim Buchwald's kiruv work...

Before the controversy, Slifkin was also on safe ground with the establishment. Involved with respected chareidi institutions, published books acclaimed by chareidi RY's, etc. None of her ties or backing will matter much if someone is sufficiently bothered by what's in the book to take action against her.

The Hedyot said...

> C'mon, you make "pursuing a life uncommitted to halacha" sound like a bad thing!... Why should anyone be blamed …

> That frames the thesis that any personal redefinition of one's Jewish observance, e.g., joining another movement, is "leaving Judaism".

I understand the objection many have to the supposed premise of the book, which is that there’s something wrong with choosing to leave Orthodoxy, and that there’s an inherent negative slant towards those who have left. I suppose that is true to some extent. For those who feel that there is no reason to “blame” anyone for making a responsible decision, or for choosing a different lifestyle, I can understand why this entire endeavor might be disagreeable. But I really do believe that much of the book can be appreciated without being bothered by the religious issue specifically.

The most visible and obvious issue that is at the center of focus here is the abandoning of frumkeit. But the real issues which are being discussed - the issues underlying the mass defections - are the many aspects of the dysfunctional society and educational approach that are producing unhappy, unstable, unfulfilled people and families. These are things that are problematic in and of themselves, without regard to whether they result in someone rejecting Orthodoxy.

Maybe if the issue (or book) was reframed a bit it would be more palatable and acceptable to many. How about changing the subtitle from “Why Observant Jews Leave Judaism” to “Why Observant Jews Feel So Negative About Their Experience With Orthodoxy That They’re Willing To Give Up their Closest Family & Friends And Reject Their Society’s Most Cherished Values”? Because that is essentially what she’s exploring in the book. And we could change the other blurb from “How To Respond To The Challenge” to “How To Give Orthodox People A Judaism That Is Emotionally Healthy, Fulfilling, Meaningful, Supportive And Satisfying, (not only so that they stay frum, but so they become happy, healthy, well-adjusted, productive, responsible people).”

Is that better?

Mis-nagid said...

DH, You should do some reading on cults. Nothing I said was new or even insightful. The trick is knowing enough about cults to recognize the characteristic signs in Orthodox Judaism.

Get a few books on cults, some in general, and some on specific cults, like Jehovah's Witnesses and Mormonism. You may need to take regular breaks from reading to calm the overwhelming sense of dejavu.

The Hedyot said...

Mis-Nagid - Can you recommend any specific titles, or web sites to check out until I get to a library?

Mis-nagid said...

Try this site:

Spend a few hours reading the people's stories. The origings of their doubts and the reactions of their families and the true believers around them will remind you of your own blog.

Pragmatician said...

I wonder if she didn't neglect to analyze that there's a lot of guts involved in going off the derech. Maybe many more would like to do it but can bring up the courage to go through with it.

InterestedJew said...

Has anybody here read "Unchosen: The Hidden Lives of Hasidic Rebels"

There is a big discussion about it on

mnuez said...

pragmatician is entirely correct. People who "leave" openly and publy are occassionaly "uysvurfs", occassionaly people for whom leaving is very very easy for one reason or another and occassionaly people who leave out of a clear intellectual decision that was amazingly difficult to come to because of how seriously they took Judaism before. These are people whose hearts never considered leaving yet who eventually chose to follow their minds slowly and over a long period of time and who ceased to practice certain aspects of Judaism despite the fact that their social network (real and imagined) is comprised of Orthodox Jews and despite the fact that they themselves Love certain aspects of the religion and once believed in it b'emunah sheleimah.

The few such people that I have met are extraordinary people so high and above their condemers that to analyze their "emotional" reasons for leaving and to "blame" the lack of "nourishment" of their community for their Spinozan reasons for leaving is laughable.

Litvshe said...

I read the book...well, most of it. I read through the first third pretty closely and then found myself skimming the rest. She writes very well and in a very organized manner. That said, the book is pretty useless. Most of the case work and issues brought up are based more in the UO world but the book is written in a way that is aimed squarely at the MO world. Noone in the UO world would ever consider picking it up. If one wants to write something of this sort and would like it to be useful certain cultural issues need to be taken into account. I'm not saying the reasons it won't be accepted in many circles are necessarily correct, but that is an irrelevant point. You can't enlighten people if you don't have a common language. And lets just the UO world is unwilling to understand the language of R' Shlomo Riskin or Dennis Prager. Even though, in context, they don't have anything too radical to say. In other parts of the book, I did feel her message was too radical, that is...put orthopraxis on the back burner. Which just isn't going to fly.

Zeh Sefer Toldot Adam said...

Just a methodological note...
In positivist social science, the method is to look for hard data. In constructivist social science the method is to seek to understand different people's understanding of concepts. Constructivism posits that humans cannot know reality, all we can know is our own understandings of the world we perceive. Therefore the valuable data is gathered through interviews with people, hearing what they think about an idea.

Your criticisms of the book seem spot on, but perhaps on the issue of data gathering you may have misjudged it.

How better to understand why people leave Judaism, that to ask them to tell their own story. To force them to fit into a data gathering survey would maybe force them to give reasons they don't want to give.

debka_notion said...

If what she did is, as it seems to be, qualitative research rather than quantitative research, then there aren't supposed to be lots of numbers- it's a different sort of research, working from the ground up: you start by asking lots of questions and you shape your analysis as you go. If anything, it sounds like the problem you are describing is that she reports the problem rather than analyzing and conceptualizing it to make broader statements. Of course, I haven't read the book. But Jewish social scholarship has some very funny holes in it, I'm finding (as a student working on a problem in Jewish social science right now).

Anonymous said...

As someone (sadly I wll remain anonymous) who myself and my wife have been involved in the American Israel world for 25 years, in Yeshivot and seminaries, teaching guuidance, and administration, I would like to point out one thing.
The people who are being castigated in this book, especially her own personal story, are giving their all. They care deeply about each individual, and gladly put their own personal and family life last after their students. They are peopel who are usually psooseing of advanced degrees who could be having a much simpler and lucrative if they did not believe deeply in what they were doing.
These Rabbis and Rebbetzins give up their days nights and vacations for their students. To ascribe the base motives that she does, is simply unfair. I have had to ask students to leave school, but they are still welcome in my home, and they take advantage of that.
I would at least expect that before she attacked the Rabbi who was upset at her for coming back from a night at some boy's apartment watching movies (I cannot imagine why he was upset), she would go back to him and ask him for his motives.
This is not to say that more warmth is not needed, but the tone of attack is hopelessly biased.

Anonymous said...

BTW you can criticize my spelling if you would like to.

Anonymous said...

I was raised completely secular with a little bit of an education via my afternoon Hebrew School at my Conservative "temple".

After spending a wkend in Crown Hgts with the USY from my "temple", I began to thoroughly explore Judaism.

Thankfully, there is much more meaning and depth in my life-much more so than most other secular Jews and non-Jews.

I also wish to comment that during my college years (after my Lubavitcher experience) I encountered Jews for Jesus and I tried to chase away any fellow Jew searching for answers from them. After talking with them (the J for J's) they had me convinced that Jesus was in fact son of god. They were able to do this because of my very limited Jewish education.

Fortunately, after much intense study, i realized that our sages were not wrong for the past 2000yrs.

I vowed that my future children would attend a yeshiva and that I would be the last ignorant Jew in the family.

The future of the Jewish people and Judaism are dependant on the vitality of orthodoxy. I've been to many Reform and reconstructionist "temples" throughtout my life as well as the Conservative since I was brought up in that "movement".

These aforementioned movements are just last ditch efforts to "save" the Jewish people and Judaism. They lose the children of its original membership and catch the ex-orthos on their eventual way out.

As Mark Twain and many others have commented-the survival of the jewish people is a miracle-and proves G-d's existance and the importance of the Jewish people in the role of the world. Sadly, we do keep getting smaller and smaller in number (I would love us to ALL survive together-l'dor v'dor). I know that is a fantasy however.

But judaism cannot survive if we all contimue to toss our tallitot, tfilin, etc into the sea. The non-orthos do not keep Shabbat or kashrut or anything for the most part. We cant survive without it.

Hopefully, the Jewish people and Judaism won't end up in a museum (as the Nazis wished) as a civilization that has come and gone like the rest.

With extreme ahavat Yisrael,


Anonymous said...

I feel that she does not respond enough to those who leave yidishkeit for intellectual and skeptical reasons. Responding to those who leave for that reason seems to be the most difficult thing.