A Response to My Critics

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72 Responses

  1. Mike S. says:

    I don’t know the numbers, but Maimonides school sends substantial numbers of graduates both to YU and to the Ivy’s. As near as I can tell, the school is quite proud of both.

  2. lawrence kaplan says:

    I apologize to Jonathan Rosenblum for my crack about ”fact checkers.” I wrote in haste and will now repent at leisure. Certainly appropriate for Elul. On substantive matters, however, I remain unconvinced by his reply.

    JR’s most interesting point by far was his comment that the Editor of The Torah U-Madda Journal was ”ordered not to publish (his) piece” responding to Rabbi Schiller’s article. This is a serious accusation which calls into question the Journal’s integrity and independence. Perhaps the Journal’s former editor, Rabbi JJ Schacter would like to comment.

  3. Ori Pomerantz says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum: I do not claim that Feldman is an infallible witness as to the educational goals of Maimonides or even to how those goals are communicated to students. I specifically noted that I consider him to be dishonest in his whining about the failure of Maimonides to accept his intermarriage in light of its educational message. But I do not dismiss his every perception of the educational messages he received in school out of hand.

    Ori: Is there a Maimonides graduate in the house? I think it would be useful to hear about the educational message from a witness who does not share Professor Feldman’s biases.

  4. Toby Katz says:

    “My friend Steve Brizel regularly lectures me on the large number of fine young talmidei chachamim produced by YU for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, since, as far as I know, I have never denied that fact or written otherwise.”

    Rabbi Adlerstein — it is probably because our mutual friend, Steve Brizel, sometimes confuses you with me. I’m the one who posts little digs at YU from time to time — not on C-C but in more private forums.

    I believe in TIDE but not in TuM — for reasons that would need a book. I wish someone would write that book.

    Like you, I had a great, great rebbe who was a musmach of YU — my father. I think it’s safe to say that no charedi yeshiva ever produced a man of his unique gifts, but then again, he was sui generis among YU’s graduates, too. But there is no question that much of what my father received from YU was of inestimable value to him, and thus, to Klal Yisrael.

    As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure, EVEN from a Torah uMada perspective, possibly for reasons having to do with a pretty secular Boston parent body. I cannot believe that it represents Rav Soloveitchik’s dream of an ideal high school for bnai Torah, or an ideal feeder school to YU.

    PS. If the typical product of YU was R’ Steve Brizel, I would never have a negative word to say against that school.

  5. fkm says:

    4) Now to the crux of the issue. The vast majority of correspondents seem to have read the eight sentences in my piece that relate to Modern Orthodoxy as if I had written a full-blown critique of Modern Orthodoxy and/or attempted to prove its utter bankruptcy from the example of one bad apple – i.e., Noah Feldman. I am variously accused of having taken “potshots” at Modern Orthodoxy, of being “flippant” and “gratuitous.”
    I never dreamed that those eight sentences would be construed as a systematic critique.

    Welcome to the world of the sound-bite. R’ Gil posted those eight lines out of context with his sarcastic comments which naturally started a feeding frenzy.

    I don’t know why you are wearing your heart on your sleeve in this post in front of all these sharks.

    P.S. Can you email your rebuttal to Torah U’madda to me?

  6. Nachum Lamm says:

    “In truth, I found Rabbi Lamm’s treatment of the halachos of rescuing a gentile on Shabbos, in terms of our developing moral sensibility, in his open letter to Feldman to be as shocking as anything written in Torah U’Madda.”

    What chutzpah.

    “But I’ll leave that discussion to someone else.”

    Very wise. Someone who’s as learned as R’ Lamm and done as much for Judaism, I’d hope.

    By the way, you did not address the Yated line left out of subsequent verions which people actually got angry at: The assertion, with no proof, that many Maimonides graduates are no longer frum.

  7. Jewish Observer says:

    “As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure”

    – I don’t beieve RYBS or his family view / viewed it that way

  8. joel rich says:

    R’JR 4) Now to the crux of the issue. The vast majority of correspondents seem to have read the eight sentences in my piece that relate to Modern Orthodoxy as if I had written a full-blown critique of Modern Orthodoxy and/or attempted to prove its utter bankruptcy from the example of one bad apple – i.e., Noah Feldman. I am variously accused of having taken “potshots” at Modern Orthodoxy, of being “flippant” and “gratuitous.”
    I never dreamed that those eight sentences would be construed as a systematic critique.
    \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\
    Welcome to the world of the sound-bite. R’ Gil posted those eight lines out of context with his sarcastic comments which naturally started a feeding frenzy.

    Comment by fkm

    R’JR and FKM,
    I take your statements at face value and would only comment, as iirc I have to an extent in the past to R’JR, that we live in a world of soundbite and context (e.g. someone who has a very pro-MO narrative will likely be read for anti-charedi tendencies. I can testify to this since I had a very personally [although I believe it was unintentional to the extent individuals read into my question an intent that wasn’t there]painful experience of this nature). I believe that both of you are frequent public communicators with known leanings. You may want to consider a peer review process that might identify areas of possible concern that could be clarified in the original writing.

    On a related note I would be interested in your reaction to the following quote from R’ Slifkin “What did he learn from the controversy? “I learned that the haredi and non-haredi communities differ in their approach to Torah in a much greater way than I ever imagined, and that it is impossible to bridge the gap.” Do you think this is accurate and therefore worthy of a separation process or can charedism coexist philosophically with MO? IF MO is written off do you think TIDE will be acceptable or will the system of education you mention turn TIDE into the next MO?
    KVCT

  9. Joseph Faith says:

    Rabbi Rosenbloom,would it be possible to see your response to rabbi schiller? I have had the article from Rabbi Schiller next to my bed for years, and i have always wondered how you would respond. I would be m,ost grateful if you would provide an email address on which to contact you regarding the aforementioned article.

  10. Michael Atlas says:

    Two things that I think are still missing; and still wondering why they aren’t mentioned:
    1. I’m still wondering , why the “school” continues to be the focus of how the kids turn out and not the “parents” of the students unless we’re assuming that if the heads of the school change their hashkafos that the parents would go along with it. My gut tells me that the parents after 40 years already have a hashkafah and if the school became more to the right they would object; I could be wrong. It just surprises me because although the schools play a part in shaping the kids values, children already have haskafos by the time their in early elementary school, which leads to the second issue.
    2. I think the question shouldn’t be so focused on whether students have a cheishek for learning. The critical issue and the litmus test is to what extent the students graduate with the internalization or at least awareness of “mah chovoso b’olamo” regardless of whether there’s more or less of a focus on talmud torah per se.

  11. Jewish Observer says:

    To JR – Instead of expending so many words on defending why you are perfectly right, isn’t it possible – even a little – that there is something to learn from all the criticism? whether or not it is snide should be separate from whether or not there is something to it. you should not be afraid of once in a while saying “you are right”. aside from the classiness and mentchlechkeit of it, a display of humility could also go a long way toward promoting your charedi agenda.

  12. Shaya Karlinsky says:

    “Ein adam roeh nigei atzmo.” A person has trouble seeing his own blemishes. Since my good friend, Jonathan Rosenblum doesn’t seem to recognize the problem with those “eight sentences” with which he concluded his article, even after they were pointed out to him, let me make an attempt to clarify for him why many people were upset by them.

    After so compellingly proving what a malevolent agenda underlies Feldman’s “whining,” how irrelevant were most of his arguments to any reasonable hypothesis and how internally contradictory many of his complaints are, RJR sets up a straw man, and draws a “conclusion” that is unsupported by the evidence that preceded it.

    RJR wrote:
    FELDMAN HAS performed one valuable service: His piece serves as a warning against the easy assumption that the best in secular learning can be readily reconciled with passionate Torah study.

    Who in the MO world, who in the TIDE world, who in the TUM world, ever proposed as an “easy assumption” the above reconciliation. In fact, it is a difficult, sensitive and arduous task, and I believe that it is presented as such. It is no less difficult a problem than many other inherent conflicts that arise when we attempt to live the Torah (spiritual) ideal in the “real” (material/physical) world. One of the differences between MO/TIDE Judaism and Charedi Judaism may be that the former acknowledges both the difficulty and the possibility of resolution, and sets as one of its goals to train their students in a way that will ensure the resolution be aligned with Torah values.

    IF, as RJR himself wrote, it was “axiomatic that there is a tension between the goal of being at once the finest of New England prep schools and Volozhin Yeshiva” meaning this was known even before Feldman’s nonsense in the NYT, then WHAT in the world was there about his piece that provided ANY service to anyone — except to Feldman himself. Bringing up this important discussion at the conclusion of an article that showed Feldman’s true colors, and using him as the example of anything relevant to that discussion, could legitimately be construed as a “pot shot.”

    Feldman obviously “opted out” of the system completely, well before he married a non-Jewish woman. His vitriolic diatribes as well as actions against Orthodox Judaism, make him so irrelevant to the question of whether MO Judaism in general, and Maimonides in particular has succeeded or failed, that offense could easily be taken at the following sentence.

    “Maimonides has produced hundreds of Ivy League graduates, but few distinguished Torah scholars.” As the head of a Yeshiva for Ba’alei Tshuva, a similar thought about my institution would state “Darche Noam/Shapell’s has produced hundreds of [observant and ethical professionals] but few distinguished Torah scholars.” That is exactly as it should be, for not every institution is supposed to produce identical products. Given the ideological background of the parent population and the goals of the incoming student body, even a few distinguished Torah scholars from Maimonides is quite an accomplishment. An evaluation of Maimonides success and failures is an important and appropriate topic. But using Feldman to imply anything about those successes and failures was a totally inappropriate conclusion to what was otherwise an excellent presentation.

    That is what upset me.

  13. ALG says:

    I believe very, very few people familiar with Maimonides, including those who encounter its graduates at Israeli yeshivot, seminaries, YU, and all of the other institutions of higher learning that its alumni attend, would agree that “there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure.” While I have some disagreements with the school, from which I graduated in the ’90s, I can’t imagine anyone calling it a “great failure.”

    Also, as to whether Maimonides sends/sent more graduates to YU or Ivy League schools, I am fairly sure that it has sent more to YU over the years than to the Ivy’s. I think about 50% of my class went to YU or Stern, and only maybe 25% went to Ivy League schools. The classes aren’t that large (at least weren’t when I graduated), and only a handful go to Harvard and a few more to Columbia, Penn, or Princeton. I know of only one or two who have gone to Brown or Dartmouth. Many, many have gone to YU.

  14. lawrence kaplan says:

    JR asks ”Am I wrong in thinking that far more Maimonides graduates attend Ivy League Schools than YU?” ALG, a Maimonides graduate, asserts that JR is in fact wrong. Will JR now do some fact checking with the Mainmonides alumni office –or does he want me to do the checking for him?– and if it turns out that he is indeed wrong, will he then apologize publicly to the School?

    On the other issues I am in agreement with Shaya Karlinsky.

  15. Mark says:

    Rabbi Karlinsky,

    I must say that your argument is rather convincing. I also imagine that had you [or anyone else] written something like this in a civil tone RJR would not have penned his response. He may not agree with you but that’s for him to argue, not me. The thrust of his response here is the unbelievable lack of civility in tone that the vast majority of response struck. One can disagree on a point or two and remain civil. Unfortunately, far too many of the “open-minded” and “tolerant” commenters ventured well beyond the norms by referring to him in disrespectful terms, ascribing motives to him that were unfounded, simply because his criticism touched too closely to their belief system.

    I’m not sure how long you’ve been around these boards [this is the first time I can recall reading a comment of yours but I’m no baki in this field] but you might want to scroll down a bit and read up on some past articles. Almost every single one of the commenters has a long history of criticizing Chareidim for every form of deviancy imaginable. If I had an hour, I could compile a list of comments regarding Chareidim that would have your hair stand on end. [It’s also interesting how RJR until recently was viewed favorably as a “sensible voice of moderation in the Charedi world” by many of these commenters who now refer to him as a “shill” and many other unfavorable terms. I, for one, will have a hard time taking their criticisms of the Chareidi world seriously again seeing as to how they reacted when they sensed that their own worldview might be under review.

    Perhaps you knew all this already and don’t agree but I thought I’d lend you some perspective. The words in his article that I most identified with are, “which were mainly of a tone that has made this an increasingly unsatisfying forum in which to participate.” If you’re not sure why, try posting something that’s mildly complimentary toward Chareidim and you’ll soon find out.

  16. Mark says:

    FKM,

    “Welcome to the world of the sound-bite. R’ Gil posted those eight lines out of context with his sarcastic comments which naturally started a feeding frenzy.”

    No way! Gil doesn’t post anything that might be Lashon Harrah or did you miss that post in which he reiterated his long-standing policy to that effect?

  17. Steve Brizel says:

    WADR, I believe that the article in question and the much stronger version in the Yated segued unfortunately from a legitimate discussion of Noah Feldman’s articles into a full scale attack on MO-which by definition includes RIETS, YU and the OU. I fully appreciate the fact that Jonathan views R D Miller as his rav and posek. It would also be worth noting that RYBS also shared R Dessler ZTL’s view that TIDE produced Torah observant Jews, but not Talmidie Chachamim. I would also stipulate that RYBS’s views on TuM were quite different than those expressed by R D N Lamm. In this regard, I would refer the interested reader to “The Rav: The World of Rabbi Joseph B. soloveitchik”, Vol II at Pp. 225-234. That being said, it is also an undeniable fact that many of this generation’s leading RY and Talmidei Chachamim in both the Charedi and MO worlds went to yeshivas that were not all that different than Maimonides. As for the statement that only RW MO send their sons and daughters to YU and SCW, anyone familiar with YU would dispute that statement-although Halevai that was the case.Again, I believe that those who live in the Charedi world in Israel, even if one’s rav is a RY in Gruss, and who write about YU and RIETS -should visit the RIETS Beis Medrash, take in a shiur or chabura and then write about the experience.

    As far as the Feldman article in question, any Ben Torah worthy of that title can and should be able to discuss all of the halachos and mitzvos lampooned and bad mouthed by the author intelligently and without apologetics. As far as the one halacha that you mentioned, WADR, if one goes carefully through the sugya in question with Rishonim and Poskim, the rationales presented are both Tzelem Elokim and Mishum Aivah. One can argue when which rationale became predominant in the Poskim from a historical POV, but it is equally true that either rationale today is irrelevant from a practical halachic perspective. In fact,no less than RSZA posited that either rationale wasirrelevant and paskened that there was to be differences whatsoever with respect to treatment of Jewish and non-Jewish patients at Shaarei Tzedek.

    Finally,I take issue with the notion that educational failures do not have a common denominator. If we have learned anything about educational failures in the full spectrum of the Torah observant community, regardless of the hashkafic label, there is a triad of dysfunctional families and parenting, schools and educators that can’t or won’t deal with kids who don’t fit into a school’s perception of and projections of success and an ofen overbearing sense of conformity in our communities that leaves precious little room for genuine spirituality. The notion that hashkafic differences require different tactics in dealing with a Noah Feldman or a group of kids acting out in the Catskills is IMO one of the reasons why the issue continues to plague our communities.

  18. Steve Brizel says:

    Whoops-in my penultimate paragraph, it should have read “RSZA paskened that there were to be no differences whatsover.”

  19. Moishe Potemkin says:

    As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure

    I’m curious as to how this particular piece of motzi shem ra made it past the Cross-Currents censors.

  20. Doron Beckerman says:

    Rabbi Karlinsky writes:

    “In fact, it is a difficult, sensitive and arduous task, and I believe that it is presented as such… One of the differences between MO/TIDE Judaism and Charedi Judaism may be that the former acknowledges both the difficulty and the possibility of resolution, and sets as one of its goals to train their students in a way that will ensure the resolution be aligned with Torah values.”

    While the possibility of resolution is acknowledged by the MO world, I question to what extent the difficulties are acknowledged in any practical sense. I am hard pressed to list three Sefarim from prominent Mashgichim from the MO world which set the course for MO proteges to successfully navigate the “real world”, or which give more than passing lip service to the fact that dangers lurk. In fact, I can’t think of one.

    While Modern Orthodoxy may set successful navigation as one if its goals, it seems that being short on the details of how to bring that goal to fruition is no hindrance to total immersion in treacherous waters, sink or swim.

    In “L’Frakim”, a collection of essays from the Seridei Aish, he writes:

    “R’ Yisrael (Salanter) was not opposed to acquisition of knowledge of Mada and study of foreign languages. When he spent a long while in Germany, he befriended R’ Ezriel Hildesheimer, and even praised him before his students as a man of achievement and perfection. He dreamt also of instituting a method of TIDE based on the version of German Charedim, and he even put effort into translating the Talmud into German, and aspired that they should institute Talmud in the universities as one of the scientific courses in the liberal arts division.

    He encouraged one of his students to study medicine at university and trusted him that he would be successful in sanctifying the name of heaven, when showing through his pious conduct that it is possible for a person to be an expert doctor and a G-d fearing person simultaneously. Only, R’ Yisrael failed with this student. He succeeded in being appointed a general in the Russian medical corps, and then left the fold. All his days R’ Yisrael rued this occurence, which caused him to refrain from any new attempt of a TIDE methodology, but he did not stop his student R’ Simcha Zisel Ziv from founding a “Talmud Torah”… which combined Torah and DE, study of Torah and Mussar with a limited program of foregin languages and general knowledge.

    Despite his inner support for this daring experiment of R’ Simcha Zisel, he refused to acquiecse to the plea of his beloved student to come and see the new institution. R’ Yisrael did not want to give his approval to an experiment whose success was dubious.

    Despite his support, as above, for secular studies and secular education, he opposed with all his might bringing these studies into the Yeshivos…”

    “Secular knowledge can serve as a pickaxe to dig with – as a source for a livelihood, or for the sake of fulfilling practical needs in the service of a community and a society. But Chalilah to make the secular education a crown to take glory in. It is not a crown which befits those who bear upon their head the crown of Torah.”

    (And it is this, among other things, which R’ Wolbe pointed to as a critical area of concern vis-a-vis university – the lure of prestige which is attendant to participation in the academic world. You might even feel hurt if your ‘Simchas’ are not acknowledged by your alma mater, if you have been fawned over, (or been a source of Nachas), for the prestige achieved in the hallowed halls of academia).

    I cannot recall the source right now, but I recall reading that, ultimatlely, even R’ Simcha Zissel conceded that an institution like that which he headed would have to be run by someone of the caliber of the Ramban to be successful.

  21. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    I’m curious as to how this particular piece of motzi shem ra made it past the Cross-Currents censors

    It was a judgment call. Should we censor it, or allow it to stand, and have the statement almost certainly debated and countered by others – which is in fact happening?

    The editors have to make decisions like this on the fly all the time. We have no rotation or assigned seder. Whoever gets there first and notices comments building up in the inbox vets a few. That’s why it sometimes can take quite a while before a comment is posted. We also miss some lines, and frankly, make some mistakes.

    This one I would defend. If abusive language would have been directed against an individual, the decision would likely have been different. Institutions take a bit longer before their feelings are hurt. By that time, I figured, there would be some commenters who rushed to present a different picture.

  22. Moishe Potemkin says:

    It was a judgment call.

    Thanks, first off, for your response.

    The question stands, though. I cannot see how this statement is anything other than a clear violation of an issur de’oraisa, regardless of whether or when feelings are hurt, or whether people respond as they should.

    I urge you to reconsider your judgment call.

  23. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “Most of life involves choices between less than ideal alternatives; indeed it is impossible to maximize all one’s values at the same time.”

    There was an interesting article this week in one of the Charedi family magazines(I don’t recall which) on Yavneh seminary(Cleveland) which parenthetically made this point. Once one identifies with a school, spouse, or community because of “priority” reasons, one needs to find a way to live with any less-priority items which were not satisfied(assuming they can not be satisfied in a compensatory manner).

    “Nor, as one trained in intellectual history, do I take the Maimonides school handbook as the last word or only word on how students perceive the educational message of the school.”

    I was the one who posted the link, and I agree with Jonathan Rosenblum on the above point. When reviewing Maimonides website, I noticed the handbook, and I posted it to point out that no matter what weaknesses there are in the school’s educational approach, there is room for Torah growth at that particular level.

    “The then editor of the Torah U’Madda Journal professed himself thrilled that his publication would be the forum for such a spirited debate, which would surely draw attention to the Journal. But he was ultimately ordered not to publish my piece.”

    I would indeed liked to have seen the rejoinder published in Torah Umaddah Journal. I think that neither side should be afraid of allowing full expression to the other(R Shimon Schwab makes the point in the beginning of “These and Those”); the same I think would apply to debates over Science and Torah issues or to any other Charedi/Centrist issue.

  24. Jewish Observer says:

    “This one I would defend.”

    I think the point was rhetorical; that this level of shtoch would normally not be tolerated if directed at Torah-true mosdot

  25. Gil Student says:

    I believe that offense was taken for three reasons:

    1. The declaration that Maimonides is a failure based on an inappropriate criterion. As I think has already been pointed out in the above comments that I have not had time to read fully, Maimonides never claimed to try to create “distinguish Torah scholars”. It is as if one would declare the Ponevezher Yeshiva a failure because it has failed to produce a significant amount of great chazzanim. (Even if it has, one can easily say that the number is not enough or that the quality of those chazzanim is insufficient.)

    2. The inference, perhaps incorrect, that this same judgment applies to all similar schools, including Ramaz, Frisch (my high school) and even MTA, although the last is different because it is all-boys.

    3. The naming of the institution, in that it condemns the people who have dedicated their lives to the school as failures. R. David Schapiro, the rosh yeshiva of Maimonides, is one of the kindest and noblest people alive today. His being hurt like this in public is painful to all who know him. Additionally, those rabbanim, mechanchim, rebbetzins and mechanchos who graduated from Maimonides (I’ll just name one because he is distinguished and Charedi — R. Yirmiyahu Kaganoff, who went to Maimonides elementary school) have been either publicly insulted or, at the least, placed under a cloud of possible insult (is he one of the few distinguished scholars?). That just isn’t right.

  26. Jewish Observer says:

    “let me make an attempt to clarify for him why many people were upset by them.”

    – shkoyach to Rabbi K for articulating with art and finesse what many of us couldn’t

  27. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “A fuller reading, however, only confirmed my initial impression: I did not recognize myself or anything I wrote in most of the comments, which were mainly of a tone that has made this an increasingly unsatisfying forum in which to participate.”

    Marvin Schick wrote in the Jewish Press that “the Feldman Affair… is a significant event in the development of American Orthodoxy, encompassing important issues about Modern Orthodoxy that have not been sufficiently explored, intra-Orthodox divisions…”.

    Why Noah Feldman was zoche(merited) to this– I don’t know, but apparently, his article had a certain contagion, in that it stimulated much discussion about Orthodoxy , and likewise, anyone writing on the topic, such as Jonathan Rosenblum, likewise stimulates much discussion. 🙂

    Incidentally, Noah Feldman published another article in today’s Times about separation of church and state, and touches on issues that could relate to the Jewish community.

    I like to read and learn from Jonathan Rosenblum’s articles, whether I agree with them in their entirety or not, as I wrote, inter alia, last week to one of the other Cross Currents writers. As I also wrote in my latest blog post(Mishmar.blogspot.com), my personal approach is to directly face the strengths and weaknesses of a particular issue, rather than providing full defenses of Charedi positions and policies(even those of Gedolim); I think that is, paradoxically, the best answer for some people caught in the middle. I call only call the shots as I see them, and my own personal perceptions or emphasis of the weaknesses of the charedi system and philosophy come across, even as I acknowledge the strengths.

    One must also admit that a forum that allows participation from both sides of the Centrist- Charedi divide does not exist in the same form in the conventional Jewish Media. If so, such a forum is experimental, and one must allow for certain imperfection, especially on topics which people on either side feel strongly about, and for which discussion therefore generates passionate responses.

  28. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “I cannot recall the source right now, but I recall reading that, ultimatlely, even R’ Simcha Zissel conceded that an institution like that which he headed would have to be run by someone of the caliber of the Ramban to be successful.”

    I also read that; perhaps it’s in one of the blue Chochma Umussur volumes, but I don’t recall the citation. Note, though, that R Simcha Zissel writes about embracing the rationality of the Rambam, where possible(posted on this blog in a “Torah Rationalist’s Manifesto”, February, 2005).

  29. Eliyahu says:

    On the college compus where i spent several years, there were many divrei torah given by the orthodox students about how judaism is not ascetic and we believe in elevating the physical/engaging the outside world, etc. There were not so many divrei torah and much less emphasis among the student population on the need to separate and protect oneself from the negative influences of the college campus. So listening to the students, it seemed that practically there was an easy assumption that torah and secular education (in a college campus framework) can be readily reconciled.

  30. Jewish Observer says:

    “of a tone that has made this an increasingly unsatisfying forum in which to participate”

    – sounds like the kid in the playground who insults his friend, and when he gets it back just as hard says “I don’t want to play here anymore. The kids aren’t nice”

  31. Leora says:

    I just want to add one of my favorite Maimonides graduates, Rabbi Asher Lopatin. See http://www.asbi.org/harav/.

  32. YoelB says:

    I have been reading these exchanges with an increasing sense of unease. Whatever Professor Feldman’s failings may have been in this matter, and while people have been addressing, as they must, the specifics of what Feldman remembered hearing in high school, the larger point is not being addressed: an attitude of contempt for non-Jews.
    Before I explain this I would like to emphasize that it looks to me as though Professor Feldman employed a lower standard of intellectual inquiry than one would hope he employs in his classroom. I know for myself that this sort of failure of integrity comes when there is something in myself I don’t want to look at.
    But Feldman’s methodological inadequacies don’t mean that he’s not talking about something real. He seemed to be asserting that his school taught a non-Jew may not have a right to expect that a Jewish healer will treat him on the Sabbath, and that the attitude therein expressed resulted in his being contemptuously treated for marrying a non-Jew.
    Frankly, I have less of a problem with the latter than with the former: a person who violates his community’s norms can expect some form of disapproval.
    But even if Feldman’s memory was faulty about specific details and his argument specious, I know that I have heard expressions of contempt for non-Jews in various Torah settings. And in terms of saving non-Jews on Shabbat, “mishum eivah” is very likely to arouse eivah. Just look at Professor Feldman: it aroused eivah in himself for his fellow Jews and for Judaism! Isn’t “mishum eivah” prone to being heard as contemptuous even if a particular talmid chacham is refined enough to think and say it with respect for a fellow being created b’tzelem elokim.
    The Lubavitcher Rebbe, ztz”l thought that the time had come for Jews to increase awareness of the Noachide Laws and to teach them. It might be argued that he was premature. But would anyone deny that when the time comes that will indeed be a Jewish responsibility?
    And how effective is a teacher who has contempt for his students?

  33. Holly L. says:

    Dear Rabbi Rosenblum,

    It pained me deeply that you wrote “As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure.” There is simply no basis in reality for this statement. What saddened me the most is that you seemed to be criticizing the school for its very hashkafah of daring to teach both limudei kodesh and secular studies in a way that takes both seriously and sees value in being exposed to both in an integrated fashion. You appear to advocate for a world of Torah Torah and only Torah in terms of yeshiva education. But quite honestly what is all of that sacred Torah study worth if it doesn’t make the people who study it into mensches. It should be obvious to someone as respected as you in the Chareidi world that it is very cruel and disrespectful to publicly label Maimonides a great failure. I suggest you visit the school to understand how slanderous your pronouncement is.

  34. Mike S. says:

    I can’t imagine a way to discuss who is a “distinguished Torah scholar” consistent with the halachos of shmirat halashon, but if the phrase is to mean anything, it means those whose scholarship goes well beyond the norm even for Torah scholars. Thus, only a tiny fraction of the students of any high school, indeed, any yeshivah gedolah, will ever achieve that status. Just as only a tiny fraction of MIT’s graduates go on to win Nobel prizes; it is the nature of the thing. On the other hand, if you meant “serious learners”, that is people who devote serious effort and time to Torah learning, than it is just slander to suggest that Maimonides school has not produced many of them. If you meant boys who learn in Kollel for extended periods of time, yes, MO institutions produce fewer of them than Chareidi istitutions, for obvious reasons.

  35. Loberstein says:

    “a tone that has made this an increasingly unsatisfying forum in which to participate.” This comment on Cross- Currents by one of it’s stars should give all regular bloggers pause. What often concerns some of us is not the opinions expressed but the emotion that spills over into the vehemence of some opionions. For example, what upsets me is not just the ban on Slifkin, on Scwekym, and who knows what else but the tone of the edicts and bans. Why write that Slifkin should have “dirt in his mouth” ( do they really want him dead!!!) or that Schweky and Fried are to be shunned and not allowed to daven for the amud or perform at any school function or wedding,etc. as they cause the many to sin. Could not these bans be written in a less angry way? Of course they could but it tells us something about the writer and his inner struggles.
    Now to bloggers, once you can hide behind a stupid nickname and don’t need to identify yourself, you cn say nasty things and get away with it. I know Cross-Currents edits out ad hominen attacks and should, but I am concerned about the intolerance for diversity evidenced by many on all sides of the frequently resussitated debate of Modernity vs.Tradition in orthodoxy. Some on each side seem to believe that truth, justice and certainly the American Way are on their side and the other opinion is a relic of the Dark Ages. I amalways amazed at how intolerant some modernists are of traditionists and vice versa.
    So, let’s do teshuva in Elul and disagree more agreeably.
    Signed by one who is not ashamed to identify himself.

  36. Menachem Lipkin says:

    Rosenblum writes:

    “I never dreamed that those eight sentences would be construed as a systematic critique.”

    More than anything else in Rosenblum’s lengthy defense, this sentence underscores the simple fact that he just doesn’t “get it”. Through the laws of Loshon Hora and the exactness with which we analyze words, even letters, of the Torah, Talmud, and even our commentaries, we know quite well that quantity is irrelevant to the significance of the message. Add to this the fact that Rosenblum is an attorney and writer, two areas where written exactness is critical, and his claim to naivety becomes untenable.

    What Rosenblum doesn’t get is that it’s not the critique itself, we all recognize that no derech is perfect, it is that Rosenblum…

    …mischaracterizes the MO educational system as one where “equal emphasis is placed on the curriculum of the dominant secular society and Torah learning”. As Rabbi Berman pointed out this is simply false.

    …uses Feldman, clearly someone who has rejected orthodoxy in general and MO in particular, as a “warning” beacon, not to all of us, but just to MO. Feldman has no more value to us in this capacity than does the pope.

    …as a Chareidi mouthpiece, has questionable standing on a Chareidi blog such as Cross-Currents, or a public newspaper such as the Jerusalem Post, to hurl an attack at modern Orthodoxy, especially one as specious as this one.

    …squandered a grand opportunity to use the screed of an outsider such as Feldman to bring together all camps of orthodox Judaism in defense against him.

    Ironically, in Rosenblum’s acknowledgment that the chareidi “rock-throwers in Ramat Beit Shemesh,” serve “as an indictment of the chareidi educational system”, he just makes a stronger case against himself. Those rock throwers continue to operate within the Chareidi system. They are not in Cherem, their pictures, as it were, are not “edited out”, and they continue to serve as full functioning members of their Chareidi societies. All, of course, in contrast to Feldman.

    In the right forum, with appropriate examples, and constructive tenor there is what to critique about modern Orthodoxy. What Rosenblum doesn’t “get” is that he had, as they say on the SAT’s, none of the above.

  37. S. Fisher says:

    Most of this discussion revolves around the “ideal” or “average” product of MO educational institutions.

    As a YU alumnus, I think that most people do not understand (or mischaracterize) the “average YU student.” The main reason for this lack of understanding is as follows: There is no such student. One of the best (and most maddening) things about YU is that the student body is representative of a vast spectrum of hashkafic belief and halachic observance.

    There are many YU students who spend most of their time in the beit medrash, engrossed in their learning. These students live up to the highest ideals of Torah U’Mada. At the same time, there are great numbers of YU students who spend a good deal of their leisure time partying, drinking and engaging in a multitude of clearly forbidden “fratboy” practices.

    In fact, I recently attended a wedding of a YU student. Besides for the mixed (nightclub style) dancing, shameful attire and general lack of tzniut, the (nearly forty odd) YU students in attendance exhibited an unbelievable lack of restraint in their speech and conduct. If I did not know so many fine young YU students, knowledgeable in halacha and machshevet yisrael and firmly committed to an Orthodox life in every sense, I would have been sorely tempted to tar all YU students with the same miserable, and downright depressing brush.

    I believe that to be the crux of the issue. The “Modern Orthodox” camp is huge – ranging from the “culturally” Orthodox (or the Torah v’Entertainment folk) to the devoted talmidim of RHS and RMT. Perhaps those who would attempt to categorize “the MO” in one fashion or another would be well advised to consider that virtually every person I have met has a completely different definition of Modern Orthodoxy.

  38. Michael Feldstein says:

    And truthfully, who do the readers think the average Maimonides student would have been more likely have held up to as a role model, the Feldman’s of the world, with their Harvard and Yale degrees and Harvard professorships (without the intermarriage, of course), or a Maimonides graduate who went to study with Rav Aharon Kotler in Lakewood? Which one do they think would have been likelier to receive a letter from Rabbi Lamm “shepping nachas”?

    ————————————————————

    The beauty of a school like Maimonides (and other Modern Orthodox institutions like it) is that it doesn’t have to make a choice between these two students, and can “shep nachas” equally from both of them.

    Take a look at the ads in Jewish newspapers that many of the MO high schools place at the end of the school year. Yes, they brag about the colleges that their students get into, but in the same ad they also boast about the high percentage of their students who go on for post-high-school study in Israeli yeshivas–listing these schools, too.

    In essence, that’s a very practical reflection of what Torah u’Madda is all about.

  39. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Mike S. writes: “I don’t know the numbers, but Maimonides school sends substantial numbers of graduates both to YU and to the Ivy’s. As near as I can tell, the school is quite proud of both.”

    Mike, is the school “my son the doctor” proud of its Ivy League alumni, or is it proud that it has alumni in Ivy League universities who remain proud, commited Jews? The answer to that question would go a long way toward refuting or substantiating Jonathan’s argument.

    Gil, I second your comment about R’ David Shapiro. I grew up in Boston, but I didn’t attend Maimonides. I knew him as a neighbor, not a principal. His warm smile and sincere manner are among my fond childhood memories. We are, of course, proud of the fact that R’ Kaganoff is a Boston product, but his development as a Talmid Chochom has more to do with his family background and the high school/post high school yeshivos he attended than with his elemetary school (in Maimonides they don’t begin to learn Gemara until the eighth grade). I agree, though, that there are many Talmidei Chachamin who are twelve-year graduates of Maimonides, some of whom I know personally. Jonathan agrees as well [in the Yated article he writes that he knows only of one, but he assumes there are more of whom he is not aware]. His point was that Maimonides is more famous for its Ivy Leage alumni than its Talmidei Chachomim.

    Nochum, why did Jonathan’s comment get you so bent out of shape? His feelings about Torah U’Madda (both the philosophy and the book) are surely well-known to you. In any event, WADR to Rabbi Lamm and his accomplishments, you can’t expect anyone to accept such a controversial statement on reputation alone. The burden of proof, I’m afraid, lies on Rabbi Lamm.

    Steve, here’s a story to warm your heart: About ten years ago, the nephew of a well-known (and well-respected, in all circles) Modern Orthodox personality transferred from RIETS to Lakewood (it’s been known to happen in even the best of families). A friend of mine asked him how Lakewood compares to RIETS. He answered that he thinks the “hasmadah” is better in RIETS. [He’s still in Lakewood, by the way.]

  40. Mark says:

    S. Fisher,
    “The “Modern Orthodox” camp is huge – ranging from the “culturally” Orthodox (or the Torah v’Entertainment folk) to the devoted talmidim of RHS and RMT. Perhaps those who would attempt to categorize “the MO” in one fashion or another would be well advised to consider that virtually every person I have met has a completely different definition of Modern Orthodoxy.”

    Very very true. I would only add that the same might be true of Chareidim who comes in many sizes and colors [ok – shades of black]

    Chaim Wolfson,

    I think you meant to address Michael Feldstein, not MikeS.

  41. Jewish Observer says:

    “his development as a Talmid Chochom has more to do with his family background and the high school/post high school yeshivos he attended than with his elemetary school”

    – you could probably make the same argument about many Lakewood stars. After all, how many Lakewood bochurim don’t come from otherwise good torah backgrounds?

  42. Michael Atlas says:

    Many of the comments made on this post are addressing the battle between a student’s focus on Talmud Torah and staying in Yeshiva vs. Ivy league graduate and PhD pursuers. I still think that what needs to be addressed is not IF a student goes to an Ivy league school or pursues secular knowledge, but rather WHY he is doing it. There are many of the MO (from the MO-lite) camp that think they have more in common with Dr. Lamm than someone living in B’nei Brak has with Dr. Lamm. However, there is practice and there is motivation. And what the real MO and real Chareidi community have in common is that they are trying to achieve and accomplish their purpose in this world. Dr. Lamm and Rav Shteinman therefore have more in common than Dr. Lamm and an MO-lite person.

    Not everyone who is attending Harvard/Princeton is doing it for the same reason. We shouldn’t clump them all together in the same group. (the same is true for everyone who is learning)

  43. Holy Hyrax says:

    If you are responding to critics, can you please respond to this line of yours:

    >When equal emphasis is placed on the curriculum of the dominant secular society and Torah learning, the former will trump the latter.

    Why do you feel this is the case

  44. Joe Fisher says:

    Whew, so many words.

    The proof of what my lawyer friend once told me:

    When someone knows he’s right, he speaks briefly and quietly. When he knows he’s wrong, he pounds on the table and shouts.

    It’s a simple truth: most of the Modern Orthodox give less to avodas hashem than the charedim, and, naturally, they get less.

    One wonders what they expected originally–to somehow get just the same? Some new kind of equal opportunity? It’s not fair that just because I invested less I should have less results?

    Come on. Rabbi Rosenblum properly identified a spade as a spade. By jumping on him with all these more and more nitpicky arguments, you’re proving how wrong you know you are. He owns the big picture and obviously deep down you do agree.

  45. Former YU says:

    I support of RJR’s comments about Maimonides. In comparison with even other MO schools, Maimonides has a lower profile in the YU beis medrash, even when compared with Frisch, Haftr and certainly with the all boy schools. I would go further and suggest that it is underepresented at the “big 3” of MO post- high school yeshivas, KBY, Shaalvim, and Gush as the percentage who attend these 3 are lower than comparable schools including other out of town co-ed schools, like miami, baltimore, silver spring.
    Again, I have no proof and no fact checkers, this is basd on personal observation but I think a survey of the YU beis medrash, and israeli yeshivas wold bear it out. The shem Maimo has is of ts focus on ivy league schools. Again there are good YU gys from there and especially out of town it can vary by the grade.
    This also is not an indictment f the administration as the parents and community in Boston is a highly intellectual, highly educated commu nity who mostly went to secular schools and expect the same for their kids. The rebbim have to deal with what students and values the community sends their way.
    This does not mean the school is a failure, but it seems clear a cheshbon hanefesh is needed by MO educators about heir system, b/c feldman isn’t the only one. Significant numbers of students from schools like Maimo get simlar messages, even if the marry Jews. They are not particular observant (and most probably never were) but that does require evaluation of the educational model.

  46. Nachum Lamm says:

    Chaim: First, it’s Nachum, please. Second: Come on. We all stand or fall on our (usually deserved) reputations. And before one presumes to write a lengthy public attack on another, one should make sure that it isn’t perceived (rightly or wrongly) as chutzpah. I’m sure Mr. Rosenblum would concede that he is not nearly the Talmid Chacham nor the Jewish communal leader R’ Lamm is.

    However, I have to take Menachem Lipkin’s statement a step further. I hope Mr. Rosenblum’s naivete is unintentional, but wouldn’t it be preferable that someone who writes article after article that makes so many people upset- even if, assuming for a moment, he’s completely sincere and not out to anger and every one of his defenses is true- would take a step back and say, “Well, I meant well, but if so many people are angry, maybe I should put a little more care into what I write- maybe I should consider what they say, even if they are intemperate in their criticisms”? Just a thought.

  47. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “Chaim Wolfson,I think you meant to address Michael Feldstein, not MikeS.” (Comment by Mark — August 27, 2007 @ 6:02 pm).

    Mark, good point. Micheal’s comment hadn’t been posted yet when I submitted mine. But I guess he answered my question.

  48. Gershon Seif says:

    “I believe in TIDE but not in TuM—for reasons that would need a book. I wish someone would write that book.” (Toby Katz)

    Nu, you are a writer with just the right yichus for the job. I say this is a mokom l’hisgader bo. Go for it!

  49. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “you could probably make the same argument about many Lakewood stars. After all, how many Lakewood bochurim don’t come from otherwise good torah backgrounds?” (Comment by Jewish Observer — August 27, 2007 @ 6:35 pm).

    JO, what I meant was that one generally does not become a Talmid Chacham in elementary school. That’s not intended as a criticism of Maimonides, although as a Bostonian born and bred, I do have my share of issues with the school. The fact that that they first begin teaching Gemara in eighth grade (or at least that’s the way it was when I was growing up in Boston) is not one of them, but it does mean that if R’ Kaganoff left Maimonides after eighth grade, his Gemara background can only be attributed to his high sachool/post high school education and to learning with his father at home.

  50. Zev says:

    Holly L. wrote:
    Dear Rabbi Rosenblum,
    It pained me deeply that you wrote “As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure.”

    These lines were not written by Rosenblum, but by one of the commenters on this thread.

  51. Jewish Observer says:

    “JO, what I meant was that one generally does not become a Talmid Chacham in elementary school”

    I hear. That said, I know from my own elementary school days that many of my classmates who went on to become torah stars already showed signs of being on that trajectory in elementary school.

  52. Steve Brizel says:

    Former YU’s comments are well stated and indicative of a process of due diligence that I have been proposing since the publication of Noah Feldman’s article. However, one can and should distinguish between a course correction consisting of due diligence by educators, parents and students as to the proper venue for their higher education, regardless of where they attend yeshiva or seminary, and viewing MO educators and parents as invariably geared towards the “nachas” of Ivy acceptances with no appreciation for the value of Torah study or even attending YU or SCW.IMO, the discussions on Hirhurim and Lookjed are evidence that the concept of due diligence is alive and well among the parent body of these schools. However, I would agree that the larger issue is how parents and their children interact upon the return of a son or daughter who is more Mdadkek Bmitzvos than upon his or her departure and how both parents and their children handle the process that some call flipping out and others view as religious growth.

  53. Jewish Observer says:

    “So, let’s do teshuva in Elul and disagree more agreeably.”

    Dear Rabbi Oberstein,

    Don’t you think your words could fairly be directed straight at JR who could have prevented the nastiness from starting by not making the shtoch in the first place? Further, don’t you think he could swiftly put it to a peaceful end by apologizing now?

    Love (and hugs) to all,

    Aaron

  54. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Nachum: First, I apologize for misspelling your name; no insult intended. Second, sports stars coming off bad seasons sign megamillion dollar free agent contracts based on reputation. Ideas are judged by different criteria, or at least they seem to be on this blog.

  55. Bob Miller says:

    Jonathan,

    In this discussion, you have been accused of naivete! (“I hope Mr. Rosenblum’s naivete is unintentional”)

    Don’t take this grave accusation lying down. Them’s fighting words.

  56. Gil Student says:

    “Maimonides has a lower profile in the YU beis medrash, even when compared with Frisch, Haftr and certainly with the all boy schools”

    Could be. I don’t know. All I know is that the two guys my year who know the most Torah (and whom I know) — one went to Frisch and the other went to Maimonides.

  57. Jewish Observer says:

    “the two guys my year who know the most Torah (and whom I know)—one went to Frisch and the other went to Maimonides.”

    – reminds of a story reputedly attributed to the Brisker Rav (or his son, not sure). a talmid sitting in a taxi with the BR pointed to a yid outside and said, “that person is known as the Chofetz CHaim of America”. So the Rav responded, “and I am the Rabbi Akiv Eiger of thi taxi”. it’s not a nice story, just a funny one. and I don’t mean anything bad about Maimo or Frisch. just imaging some what some people’s reactions to it might be.

  58. lawrence kaplan says:

    I have been thinking about Jonathan Rosenblum’s original article. First, is is probably unfair to Maimonides School. But let us assume with the former YU blogger that Maimonides has a lower profile in the YU Beth midrash, KBY, Gush, Shalavim etc. than other MO high schools. As former YU himself says this is probably owing to the different parent bodies of the schools. But JR subtly (and not subtly in the Yated) attributes the supposedly poor record of Maimonides to Rabbi Lamm’s view of TUM. For him to then turn around and deny that his article was a critique of MO in general strikes me as unconvincing. And since Rabbi Lamm served as President of YU for some 25-30 years, Steve Brizel’s referring to YU was in place.

  59. Jewish Observer says:

    “owing to the different parent bodies of the schools”

    a good and obviously correct point. Judging Maimonides success by how many gedolim it produced versus e.g. Chaim Berlin is like comparing how many Arachim shabbaton alumni are frum versus alumni of Agudah conventions.

    according to JR’s theory, american elementary yeshivos should be co-ed because of the disproportionate number (per my anecdotal estimation) of talmidei chachamim that came out of these schools verus regular heimishe schools

  60. Loberstein says:

    I appreciate Jewish Observer’s comments on my comments. The problem as I understand it is that modern orthodox people don’t want to hear criticism from a chareidi. They will make the same critique among themselves but get defensive if an outsider says the exact same thing . Chareidi society is often worse. Every week in Yated, Hamodia, Mishpacha, someone writes ” How could a frum publication print”( an opinion that the writer feels is against his understanding of Torah Judaism). Mishpacha published a letter from a person who says that we live in the 21st century and we have to learn to live with the internet . In the next issue someone holier than he wrote that it is wrong that Mishpacha printed the first letter as it has been settled by the gewdolim that it is better to lose your parnasa than to let the internet into your home, case closed.
    I am of a different hashhafa, I just like being Jewish and like what comes along with it and really do love all Jews. That’s the chinuch I got in Alabama and all my years in the Torah world have not bleached it out of me. I am a Jew, period.

  61. Shira Schmidt says:

    15 bELlul Some commentators asked to hear from Maimonides alumni. I received the following from Mrs. Ada Jacobowitz who was in one of the first graduating classes of Maimonides.

    In our class two of the boys went to YU. The third went to hachshara, made aliya, has earned awards from the State of Israel for his contributions to its safety, and learns regularly. The one girl in the class who went to an ‘Ivy’ married a man who recently retired as principal of a Bais Yaakov high school. The other two girls went to college and graduate school, married men who earned PhDs and live observant lives. For example, one of the men turned down an offer to play with the L.A. symphony because they wanted him to play Friday nights.

    The paradox of particular vs. universal was obvious and dealt with as part of life’s complexities. We learned to partake of the best in our secular surroundings, to join but not to merge.

    In response to comments as to which we were taught to value more — our religious or secular studies, I would respond that we were taught that it is our job as Jews to lead holy lives. If digging a ditch do it well, put up barriers etc. as the Torah teaches. If working in a lab be aware that we are learning about Hashem’s creation. Keep the work holy. If a doctor, remember that only with Hashem’s help can we help heal our fellow man who was created bitzelem (in His image); in business be aware of Hashem seeing us and conduct ourselves in a holy manner. Rabbi Soloveitchik said -as best I remember – that we worship Hashem in our kitchen, our bedroom , in the street, at our work — our whole life is to be in His service. In Judaism we find joy and beauty in the world.

    Once when Rabbi Soloveitchik took us to watch a restaurant kosher its kitchen for Pesah it was also the time of a lunar eclipse. After koshering the kitchen on the way home he explained the workings of Hashem’s world in relation to he eclipse. It was a seamless whole– from the exodus to the eclipse, both were part of Hashem’s world.

    In Maimonides I learned that we should learn from all and take the good. We could listen to the beauty of Mozart and Beethoven without adopting the belief system of the composers.

    I am very grateful for the training I got at Maimonides. An appreciative alumna of Maimonides. Ada Jacobowitz

  62. Jewish Observer says:

    “I just like being Jewish and like what comes along with it and really do love all Jews. That’s the chinuch I got in Alabama”

    – I vote for Alabama chinuch!

  63. dr. william gewirtz says:

    If one could have been dan lekav zechut and excuse those eight sentences as written in haste, that option is now moot. I find nothing in the clarification to address the precise language of those sentances or even admit to a (poor) choice of words that led this audience to badly misinterpret. Instead we are treated to a classic set of misdirection plays (perhaps another example of Yale JD training on the defense of guilty clients):
    1) focus on the critics and target any of their miscues,
    2) raise larger issues a) gedolim grown in the environment of Germany versus Lithuania, b) a gripe with the TUMJ and c) a critique of R. Lamm and
    3) preface all that with—-some of my best friends (poskim) are…

    An executive who I worked for many years ago was fond of saying: if you want to get out of a ditch, quit digging.

  64. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    Shira Schmidt: Thank you for providing us with the moving account of Ada Jakobovitz, and thank you Ada Jakobovitz for the account. Among other things, it reminded me once again of the greatness of my Rebbe.

  65. Chaim Wolfson says:

    “I vote for Alabama chinuch!” (Comment by Jewish Observer — August 29, 2007 @ 7:38 pm)

    JO, over HANC?

  66. Jewish Observer says:

    “dan lekav zechut”

    – kaf (as in modern Hebrew word for spoon) zechut refers to the side of the scale that holds zechut

  67. Jewish Observer says:

    “JO, over HANC?”

    – maybe it’s a tie

  68. Bob Miller says:

    Have we absorbed some wrong attitudes from our host society?

    This is from “Be True to Your School” (Beach Boys):

    “When some loud braggart tries to put me down
    And says his school is great
    I tell him right away
    ‘Now what’s the matter buddy
    Ain’t you heard of my school
    Its number one in the state'”

  69. Toby Katz says:

    I was the one who wrote “As for Maimonides, there is no question that the school has been on the whole a great failure, EVEN from a Torah uMada perspective, possibly for reasons having to do with a pretty secular Boston parent body.”

    Apparently having read only the first half of that sentence, R’ Gil Student accused me of maligning all the rebbeim and mechanchim ever associated with the Maimonides school. Had he just gotten to the end of my sentence — “a pretty secular Boston parent body” — he could have saved all of us a lot of unnecessary angst.

    In defending decision not to censor my remarks, R’ Adlerstein wrote, “This one I would defend.” And Jewish Observer responded:

    “I think the point was rhetorical; that this level of shtoch would normally not be tolerated if directed at Torah-true mosdot.”

    I wonder if he truly meant what he clearly implied: that Maimonides is not a Torah-true mosad.

  70. Yitzchok Adlerstein says:

    In defending decision not to censor my remarks, R’ Adlerstein wrote, “This one I would defend.”

    What I said was that I would defend the decision to publish it, betting (successfully, it turned out) that the charge would be challenged by other readers. I did not say that I agreed with the assessment of Maimonides.

    I said that CC editors would not allow similar comments directed against individuals, even if they would also be likely to be refuted. The difference is that people’s feelings are hurt first and mollified later; the same is not true of institutions.

  71. Jewish Observer says:

    “I wonder if he truly meant what he clearly implied: that Maimonides is not a Torah-true mosad.”

    – I meant that was the implication of the maligners

  72. Chaim Wolfson says:

    Re: Toby Katz’s comments (#4,68). The Maimonides student body does, in fact, contain a large percentage of students from secular homes (at least it did in my days in Boston, though it may be different now), and I believe that has an impact on its curriculum and school policy. But that doesn’t make the school a failure. Any student from a secular background who becomes Shomer Shabbos as a result of attending Maimonides (and there are many who have) is an unqualified success. Rav Soloveitchik is reported to have said that Maiminides is his ticket to “Gan Eden” (I cannot verify this, but I heard it from a friend of mine who went to Maimonides). I believe that he was referring to the many students who came closer to Yiddishkeit as a result of their Maimonides education. Maimonides may not be for everyone (my parents would have home-schooled me rather than send me to Maimonides, where my mother was a teacher for several years), but it has its fair share of successes, and we should all recognize that.

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