It’s Not About Triumphalism

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11 Responses

  1. L. Oberstein says:

    I am amazed at the rage of those who condemn David Brooks in the “liberal media”. They can’t take a good word about orthodoxy. Those who really care about the Women of the Wall are few compared to those who are immersed in orthodox preparations for Pesach. I feel sorry for those who see their world disintigrating and their children disinterested. Tragically, not all of the sons and daughters who won’t be at a seder are from the non frum world. There are many homes in our world where the empty seat will not be for “Soviet Jewry” or “Syrian Jewry” as it was in my younger years ,but for children of our community who have left the embrace of our community and found their identity elsewhere. Therefore the triumphalism we sometimes feel should be tempered with mourning for our lost children who are more than we care to admit.

  2. Bob Miller says:

    Around the seder table, we’ll soon be reciting texts that refer to our collective future in our home, Eretz Yisrael. The strong implication is that the most Torahdik life in our favorite American neighborhoods is no better than second best. It follows that our expressions of triumphalism, or whatever we want to call it, should not reference our community life in America as some absolute pinnacle of success. Moreover, we should really create a vast gloat-free zone so that our fellow Jews who wake up can comfortably join us in service to HaShem.

  3. Reb Yid says:

    It has been at least 30 or 40 years since the non-Orthodox have been engaging in the type of dialogue (at least the first line of it) mentioned by this blogger.

    But more to the point, there is plenty of blame to go around on all sides for mischaracterizations and misperceptions of the “other”. And unfortunately, that’s all too frequently what it is, since nowadays it’s very rare for Orthodox kids and families to have meaningful relationships with Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist, “Just Jewish” or secular Jewish kids and families–and vice versa.

    Used to be that all kinds of Jews lived in the same neighborhood, with Jewish commercial establishments, Jewish Community Center, all within easy walking distance. So everyone had a basic understanding of Jewish life and of the variety of Jews within the community.

    Today, however, most Jews are in their own silos, with their own house publications, their own dogmas, their own schools and camps. And the Orthodox even have their own charities and emergency services–so compared to 30-40 years ago, certainly fewer opportunities for them to interact with other Jews (in Jewish settings), let alone others who are not Jewish.

    In my world, it used to be that there was overlap between some of the non-Orthodox and Orthodox kids so that at least they were familiar with each other’s nigunim, tefillot tunes, Shabbat zmirot, birkat hamazon melodies and quirks, etc. While this still is the case in the rarified world that I purposely choose to live in (and where there is considerable cross-fertilization across the board in my special local Jewish community), it is all too rare elsewhere.

  4. SL Zacharowicz says:

    Thank you, Mr Brooks. Sorry, Ms Horn and Ms. Eisner.

  5. ralph berger says:

    Excellent post rabbi menken.anyone who is looking for a real downer ,check out the comment section on the ny times website after the brooks column.

  6. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    There is a great future for Orthodoxy, but not in America. The economics and social dynamics needed to keep such a community and its schools going cannot hold up. In a few years most of the MO community will be in Israel.

  7. L. Oberstein says:

    To Yehoshua Friedman. I heard Bibi a number of years ago tell a group of American rabbis that one day Jews would move to Israel to get rich. He said he was serious. If the high tech boom continues, if the natural gas is actually for real and won’t be sabotaged, Israel will be a richer country. If it were humanly possible to have peace, that would unleash the economy even more. The main reason many orthodox famailies can’t make ends meet is tuition. In Israel that isn’t a problem if you have a decent job.The extra fees are minimal for expanded education. But, the cost of living is very high in Israel relative to salaries. As Yair Lapid said over and over, families can not end the month, they run out of money. So, things will have to get better if middle class American Jews will move to Israel and more importantly, if Israelis will be willing to stay in Israel and not move all over the world, to Germany of all places, to make money. There are so many Israelis in this country who would maybe go back if they could have a middle class life and there would be a hudna with the Arabs. Is it possible?

  8. Yaakov Menken says:

    “Reb Yid,” saying it doesn’t make it so.

    With the possible exception of the residents of Kiryas Joel, it is not possible for Orthodox Jews to go through life without interaction with their non-Orthodox brethren. Certainly in Baltimore, the relevant community, it doesn’t work that way. Our children have non-Orthodox teachers. We see non-Orthodox doctors. We work with non-Orthodox people in our offices and businesses.

    Many non-Orthodox Jews, by contrast, have little to no contact with the Orthodox. Who moved out of those mixed, united neighborhoods? The Orthodox need to stay within walking distance of the synagogue, whereas the non-Orthodox have spread out to the suburbs, where the mix is ethnic not religious.

    To them, the Orthodox are a curiosity, and their media help them out by providing generous doses of negative misinformation. You won’t find in any Orthodox journal a counterpart to the way your typical non-Orthodox paper talks constantly, negatively, and ignorantly about the Orthodox. Today’s example is the Forward’s ridiculous editorial about OU Kitniyot Certification for Sephardic Jewry. It’s obvious that they didn’t talk to anyone at the OU, or even any Orthodox person, before printing puffery about “acknowledging the halachic legitimacy of consuming kitniyot.”

    This is not the first time that you’ve implied that Hatzalah is somehow a negative addition to the community — and I am not surprised that you refuse to sign your name to something quite so inane. But you’ve one-upped yourself with the claim that the Orthodox have “their own charities” as if those charities, many of which serve Jews of all kinds, is a divisive activity.

    As it happens, our next-door neighbor isn’t Orthodox (his wife and kids aren’t Halachically Jewish), and our kids play together all the time. But they were exceptional, deliberately moving into a neighborhood with a large Orthodox population. It’s quite silly to blame those who still form Jewish communities for the fact that non-Orthodox Jews move away, not in.

  9. Reb Yid says:

    I wrote my post a couple of days before it appeared, but Gary Rosenblatt’s superb editorial in this week’s JEWISH WEEK drives home my point even further.

  10. Steve Brizel says:

    David Brooks’ piece, as in many of his articles, and books ( especially “Bobos in Paradise”, where he discusses Orthopraxy) was filled with astute observations , but this time about and why shopping in our communities has progressed from the days of the sawdust filled butcher store to a store where you can get what you need to run a Kosher and halachically compliant home, as well as not be assaulted by the magazines at the checkout counter. As far as the need for the Torah observant community to have its own Tzedakos, the same exist because they are perceived as definite community necessities. With respect to Hatzalah, anyone who has ever been the recipient of their response on any day at any time of the year can testify to the fact that the volunteers who respond to a call are the great unsung heroes of our communities whose response time is well documented to be more rapid than their paid competitors. The comments by the editor of the Forward illustrate her ignorance of the Orthodox world ( i.e. confusing YU with the Charedi Brooklyn world).

    As far as Ms. Horn’s comments, the decline of CJ as a movement with any ties to halacha and the inability to develope a core interested in preserving the Solomon Schechter schools especially in communities where one would think that such schools would be natural draw, speaks volumes.

  11. Mr. Cohen says:

    In response to Jane Eisner:

    I feel frustrated when I see Orthodox Jews purchasing and reading
    the Forward and other Orthodox-bashing newspapers;
    I feel they are committing a blatant act of betrayal.

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