Two from the Road

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12 Responses

  1. Charles B. Hall says:

    Regarding full time learning, my own rav is very opposed to it for people who come to observance late in life. He feels very strongly that we are a credit to HaShem by remaining in our career positions and showing the rest of the world that it is possible to be frum in the modern world.

    Regarding kiruv shuls, there is one in my neighborhood: The Hebrew Institute of Riverdale. It now has approximately eight hundred dues paying families, most of whom came to observance through its Senior Rabbi Avi Weiss. It was over 30 years ago that he took over a dying congregation that had just fled its old location in a different part of the Bronx and was holding services in the basement boiler room of an apartment building, barely scratching out a minyan. Even today, it is different from many modern orthodox shuls in a lot of little ways that make people welcome. One example of this is that when a non-observant Jew shows up in the morning to say kaddish, we wait while he struggles to put on tefillin, helping him if necessary. Learning opportunities abound for every level of Torah knowledge, and the Friday night service, done to Carlebach nigunim every week, is as beautiful as any I have attended anywhere.

  2. Jewish Observer says:

    “both Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlgelernter in La Jolla and Rabbi Binyomin Friedman in Atlanta are products of Yeshivat Ner Israel”

    – Jeff Wohlgelernter’s ahavas yisrael is no surprise to me; not only because I know him, but also because he started off his education at HANC under Rabbi Meyer Fendel. RMF is an unheralded godol hador in ahavas yisroel. as an fyi, if we are to judge elementary yeshivas by the torahdikkeit of their products (as was suggested in an earlier JR post) HANC should win some special award. surely its success of having produced so many roshei yeshiva and (torah true) communal leaders is not unrelated to Rav Fendel.

    by the way, no disrespect to Ben Friedman, also a great guy 🙂

  3. Loberstein says:

    Since JO praised my good friend Rabbi Wohlgelernter, I will say a little about my mechutan, Rabbi Binyomin Friedman. I have watched the Dunwoody community change over the past 10 years and each time I visit I am inspired by the positive growth of members of the congregation. He has established a shul where becomming more Jewishly involved, learned, observant is understood as a goal. In general, Atlanta is the pace setter in the United states for how to do kiruv. There are growing pains in ever shul, community, school,etc. but things are getting better all the time.

  4. joel rich says:

    My wife initially expressed some concerns about exposing our sons to communities where everything would be different from what they are used to in Eretz Yisrael. Those concerns are reasonable. But in the end I feel that our sons gained a great deal from meeting so many Jews in the process of spiritual growth.

    I’m curious as to whether you asked daas torah on this issue. If yes, was there any nuance to the response or just it’s ok to go? If no, what basis does one use for deciding whether such a question is worthy of seeking daas torah?


  5. lawrence kaplan says:

    Jonathan Rosenblum: Since I have often been critical of your articles, I just want to say that I found this one to be very moving. Yasher Koach.

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    “In general, Atlanta is the pace setter in the United states for how to do kiruv”

    – or at least how to do organized kiruv. In its ideal state, kiruv is not somthing that kiruv people “do”; but is an attitude of openness and inclusiveness in which the mekarev’s love and caring naturally spills over into his actions. what drives him to invite his not-frum neighbor for shabbos is the same midah that makes him offer to drive his (FFB) neighbor to the airport.

  7. Baruch Horowitz says:

    “One of the rabbis I met told me that his children have developed an acute sensitivity to the needs of others. As a consequence, they are always among the first in yeshiva or seminary to spot a classmate with some emotional need and to offer support.”

    The above is interesting, as there are potential negatives to moving to a community with less Torah resources, such as in terms of less educational alternatives. It is therefore gratifying to read of the benefits, specifically, in terms of children’s development.

    “If no, what basis does one use for deciding whether such a question is worthy of seeking daas torah?”

    As far as this general question, I assume that one develops a sense of when to ask a question of one’s Rav or Rebbe on non-Halachic matters, just as one can develop such a sense for Halachic issues. On this note, I’ve heard a joke(I think, in fact, from a Rav)that there can be people who are “over-askers”, as far as “asking daas Torah whether or not they should tie their shoelaces” ; many people, thankfully, are at a more balanced point 🙂

  8. Steve Brizel says:

    Great column! I would advise any interested reader that BTs both here and in EY discuss many of their unique issues and POVs on Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim on a wonderful blog called Beyond BT. I highly advise anyone interested in reading about these issues to read and post on that blog.

  9. joel rich says:

    I understand your point on overaskers butr given the sensitivity with which R’JR’s community treats their children with regard to exposure to outside influences, I strongly suspected that he did ask daas torah and was interested as to what was “allowed”. If he didn’t I’m really curious as to why not given the above sensitivity and the general feeling that one should be very careful in making sure ones own bias doesn’t creep in.

  10. lawrence kaplan says:

    One question: You write ”Initially my wife expressed concerns about exposing our sons….” You then went on to say ”But in the end I feel that our sons gained a great deal….” And in the end how does SHE feel?

  11. Lishmah says:

    We attend the biggest kiruv shul in Denver Co. The whole community is encouraged to welcome new ppl in shul by introducing themselves, hosting, etc. I have even written notes to newcomers after they attend.Two interesting things:1) Our shul, like many kiruv shuls, have been a little hindered by success. By this I mean that as levels of observance grow,and peoples modes of dress and ability change, newcomers are sometimes intimidated to come into a congregation perceived of as being too religious. 2) Many BT’s adopt the minhaggim, hashkaffa of those who initially mekareved them, without much knowledge of other choices in the Observant world.

  12. Kayza says:

    One is that some of the congregants who progress furthest religiously will inevitably move to larger Orthodox communities, where there are greater educational opportunities for their children.

    This is one of the reasons that so many Chabad Shluchim push so quickly into starting a school, at least through the elementary years.

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