Blaming Us for Their Problems

Those moving from America to Israel on aliyah are predominantly Orthodox, while Reform and Conservative Jews are staying put in America. Most of us would attribute this to Orthodox “willingness to pay a personal price, both in quality and comfort of life,” for the sake of the “mitzva of settling the land,” compared to the 88% of Sunday School graduates who don’t feel a strong connection to Israel. But if you’re the executive director and CEO of the Masorti (Conservative) Movement in Israel, the obvious (and obviously correct) answer is unacceptable. Thus readers of the Jerusalem Post were recently treated to an alternative theory authored by Yizhar Hess: the Orthodox make life nice and comfy for their own, and miserable for everyone else. Yes, the reason Reform Jews don’t immigrate to Israel can be traced to the Chassidic Rebbes of Meah Shearim.

The article is notable primarily for the petty nature of its grumbling against the Orthodox. Hess spends two paragraphs documenting the financial advantages of children’s Jewish education in Israel vs. the United States. Besides the laughable assertion that a chareidi classroom is “more comfortable, less crowded” than a secular one, he’s clearly missed the obvious: anyone moving to Israel for an improved standard of living — material living, that is — is smoking something of which the Rabbis don’t generally approve.

The article then goes on to recycle a number of tired and overused claims of state-sponsored Orthodox discrimination. Hess claims, for example, that the state government funds Orthodox synagogues, exclusively. Not only are the vast majority of synagogues funded privately, but this tired old claim was recycled once too often — it’s no longer true. Yet government funding of Reform Temples had absolutely no known impact upon the likelihood of American Reform Jews to make aliyah. It was, in fact, so insignificant that Hess himself apparently forgot about it.

His memory lapse continues when he speculates, “With which feeling will the Conservative girl return after almost being attacked at the Kotel for wanting to pray with a kippa and tallit?” To date, no Jew has been almost, nearly, or otherwise attacked at the Kotel for wanting to pray, as compared to wanting to make a political statement. Mixed “Kabbalat Shabbat” services on the Kotel plaza were a weekly feature of a summer’s Friday night during my time in Israel, and I presume this remains true even with the rehabilitation of Robinson’s Arch (see below). This is something the Conservative and Reform movements tried to obfuscate well into the 1990’s, but spokespersons (such as Anat Hoffman, Meretz politician and entirely secular in Jewish affiliation) developed an annoying habit of admitting to open microphones that the only “prayer services” generating controversy were more aptly described as political rallies.

But furthermore, Israel spent millions of dollars configuring a section of the Kotel as a space for non-Orthodox prayer services, in response to the demands of the Conservative movement. Three years ago, I endorsed the Masorti claim that it was inappropriate for the government to turn around and charge an entrance fee to those coming for prayer, now that the Robinson’s Arch area is an archaeological garden. And when the fee was withdrawn, “the Conservative Movement called the agreement ‘a victory for pluralistic Judaism in Israel and a move towards total equality among Jewish movements in Israel.'”

As I discovered upon searching for prayer at Robinson’s Arch, it is being used — but not, apparently, by Conservative Jews. Hess, CEO of the Conservative movement in Israel, seems to have already forgotten that the Israeli government spent millions of dollars to create a place at the Kotel for a young woman to pray with a kippa, tallit, sefer Torah, 2 turtle doves and an electric guitar. Perhaps it is because now that there is no political capital to be gained from doing so, the interest has dissipated.

If there is anything of value to be learned from the article, it is Hess’ admission that the Conservative movement, even in its more traditional Israeli wing, has abandoned any pretense of Halachic observance on no less critical a matter than conversion. “What will the Jewish federation president, whose wife was converted Reform,” Hess asks, “think when his daughter, who has made aliya, tells him in tears that she cannot get married in the Jewish state?” Apparently, Hess has no problem with the idea that a person with no pretense of Halachic membership in Am Yisrael should be listed as a Jew in the Jewish state, with all that that might imply for future generations.

So what is to be made of this senseless anti-Orthodox diatribe? It’s not worth, frankly, taking offense. It is a sign of a foundering movement that has so lost direction that its only remaining method for self-inspiration is through casting aspersions upon others — namely the Orthodox. It is a further indication that we won’t be seeing more essays of this nature (or any other) from the Conservative movement within a century… if not much sooner. How many of them will return to Judaism, and how many will be lost? That is the question, and that is the challenge.

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34 Responses

  1. Nathan says:

    About 10 to 20 years ago, The Union for Traditional Conservative Judaism (UTCJ) deleted the word CONSERVATIVE from its name, and is now named: The Union for Traditional Judaism (UTJ). If anyone could post the exact year that change occurred, it would be appreciated.

  2. Reb Yid says:

    The answer to Nathan’s question is 1990.

    In terms of the JPost article, Hess mentions numerous reasons for why aliya is primarily Orthodox. He duly credits worldwide Orthodoxy for making Israel a big part of their lives…I’m sure he wishes his own movement could do even 25% as well. I see kudos here, not pot shots.

    That said, it doesn’t help matters for Hess and his fellow non-Orthodox Jews that a) separation of synagogue and state does not exist, and that b) in this context the deck is certainly stacked in favor of Orthodoxy (although one could argue that it’s “better” than it was 10 or 20 years ago).

    Orthodox aliya trends are not likely to change even if a) and b) changed…but it is nonetheless important to acknowledge the institutional advantages that Orthodoxy has in Israel.

  3. Bruce Epstein says:

    I had a good laugh when I read this article.
    We made aliyah 6 years ago to Modiin, a new Israeli city. Today, an estimated 20% of the population, or around 14,000 people, is religious. And yet, the number of synagogues in the city is less than a minyan. There are minyanim in schools, homes, and wherever else they can be established. And there is a Conservative synagoguie for the less than one hundred people who are members, which is open only on Friday nights and every other Shabaat morning.
    In my daughter’s first year in school, there were 40 girls in her class, and there have been years when she studied in a caravan. Yes, education is much less expensive than in America, although we still pay for schooling, but my salary is less that half what i made in America.

    We did not move here for the good life, but for the “good” life of living in our land.

  4. Moshe Hillson says:

    “Reb Yid”: “in this context the deck is certainly stacked in favor of Orthodoxy “.

    Oh yeah? How about asking my children and grandchildren about their “schoolroom experiences”, such as classrooms in prefab. structures with no room for aisles, 33 to 44 kids per class, cutoff of electricity or of other services by authorities, etc.
    Due to shortage of space, R. Y.M. could not elaborate on a response to “the laughable assertion that a Chareidi classroom is ‘more comfortable, less crowded’ than a secular one”, but we Haredim in Israel can testify otherwise.

  5. Chaim Fisher says:

    Rabbi Menken has written so good an article here. I especially enjoyed the last paragraph where the non-Orthodox are seen fading away into the past…

    Eretz Israel is surely to thank for this. You just can’t live here without the Torah and be happy, and that’s what happens when these poor people who have such terrible teachers move here. Palterin shel melech and all that.

    Way to go Rabbi Menken.

  6. rejewvenator says:

    R. Menkin, my main bone of contention with your article is your title. There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’. The problem of Jews losing interest in Judaism is a problem for all Jews, even if it’s not a big problem for your specific denomination. By turning it into an us vs them you’re just perpetuating the needless sectarianism and sinat chinam that got us into this mess in the first place.

  7. Ori says:

    Israeli Jews who want to feel Jewish without adhering to Halacha don’t need to go to a synagogue to do so – they live in a Jewish(1) society. The Heterodox movements don’t have a market.

    (1) For some value of “Jewish” that includes the holidays, learning Tanach in school, etc.

  8. Bob Miller says:

    If we really believe their movement is foundering, why waste our time, ink, pixels, etc., on it and on its media mouthpieces? We will not repair the JPost and the like. We have to get our Torah views to potentially receptive Jews through our own channels. We also have to be very careful not to let our actions belie our words.

  9. Nathan says:

    “Reform and Conservative Judaism look increasingly like
    relics of the 19th and 20th centuries, respectively.”

    SOURCE: New York Magazine, 2008 Oct 6, page 206.
    article by David Samuels: Assimilation and Its Discontents:
    How Success Ruined the New York Jew.

  10. Ori says:

    Chaim Fisher: Eretz Israel is surely to thank for this. You just can’t live here without the Torah and be happy, and that’s what happens when these poor people who have such terrible teachers move here.

    Ori: The majority of Israeli Chilonim appear to be reasonably happy. It would probably be more accurate to say that the sacrifices Israel demands are too much unless you either grew up with them or have a really strong reason to accept them, such as the Torah.

  11. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I’m no Conservative or Reform Jew. I’m not exactly sure though that I’m still an Orthodox one either. And that’s my problem with R. Menken’s article. The disappearance of a vibrant and attractive Conservative movement, leaves those of us in Orthodoxy’s center or left of center mindset with no where to belong. So long as the Conservative movement was vibrant, both in terms of numbers, aesthetics and intellectual activity, Orthodoxy had to be somewhat more receptive and willing to accede to some liberal demands lest its left flank defect to the Conservatives; something that once upon a time would have been a potentially fatal blow to Orthodoxy in the country. As the Conservative movement became increasingly little more than “Reform but with more Hebrew,” Orthodoxy drifted further to the right, as it had less and less to fear that liberal Orthodox Jews would leave Orthodoxy. The Conservative movement ceased to be an option for us. UTJ never became more than a dull grey building on Palisades Avenue in Teaneck. Chovevei Torah may have gone too far too fast with the institution of the title “Maharat.” The problem now is that many liberal Orthodox Jews find ourselves belonging nowhere. We are, with different gradations of intensity, repulsed by the rightward shift in Orthodoxy, offended by the lack of consideration we are shown and angered by the condescending rejection of our religious views and practices demonstrated by an Orthodoxy all too happy to still accept and which expects our financial largesse. This shift in the balance of power has devastating impact on a very valuable group of Jews. Orthodoxy was at its best when, for example, the rabbi of a very modern Orthodox schul in Passaic was invited to say a weekly chaburah at the then newly founded yeshiva gedolah, or when the rabbi of a Young Israel in the midwest was whole heartedly accmmodated when he asked for a morning seder chavruta in the local Lakewood Kollel. That mutual respect is disappearing along with the Conservative movement.

  12. Mr. Cohen says:

    Article: Judaism Faces Gender Imbalance Crisis
    6/25/2008 USA Today by Nicole Neroulias, Religion News Service

    NEW YORK Non-Orthodox Jewish men are becoming alienated from their faith, a crisis that foreshadows a rise in interfaith marriages and secular generations, according to a new study from Brandeis University.
    The findings, based on 300 interviews, report the rise of female leadership and participation in Reform, Reconstructionist and Conservative Judaism has prompted men to opt out of religious activities, in contrast to Orthodox Judaism, which still requires men for traditional worship and family life.

  13. Ori says:

    Daniel B. Schwartz, what would you need to build a vibrant and attractive left-wing Orthodox movement?

  14. Steve Brizel says:

    Daniel B. Schwarttz-did you ever see either “ET” or “Shane”? “Come home” is a key word in both films.

  15. ilana elzufon says:

    “Hess asks, “think when his daughter, who has made aliya, tells him in tears that she cannot get married in the Jewish state?” Apparently, Hess has no problem with the idea that a person with no pretense of Halachic membership in Am Yisrael should be listed as a Jew in the Jewish state, with all that that might imply for future generations.”

    Hess said no such thing. A person who identifies as Jewish, but is not Jewish according to halacha, cannot get married AT ALL in Israel. Not even to another person who is Jewish by Reform but not Orthodox standards. Non-Orthodox clergy are not authorized to perform marriages here, and there is no civil marriage.

    Jews in the US are used to freedom of religion, which is incomplete in Israel. Rabbi Menken is correct that most non-Orthodox Jews who don’t make aliyah would never dream of moving to Israel no matter what. But there is a minority of truly committed liberal Jews for whom the establishment of Orthodox Judaism as the state religion really is a factor in alienating them from the state. (By the way, most such families face the same tuition-for-Day-School difficulties as Orthodox families, although they have fewer children on average.)

  16. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    In response to Ori, there is no point in building a new movement. All that does is increase schism and internecine squabbling. The issue is enabling non-chareidim to successfully function withing existing Orthodoxy in an atmosphere of mutual respect. I don’t want my rabbis to form their own batei din. I want them welcomed into existing batei din, assuming they are competant to sit on a Beth Din. Same for hashgachot etc.

  17. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Mr. Brizel, I am at home in my Orthodoxy and my Orthopraxy. Why do I need to leave or alter my home in order to be welcome in OUR community?

  18. Reb Yid says:

    To Daniel B. Schwartz:

    The “maharat” title was given to Sara Hurwitz by Avi Weiss, not by YCT.

    Some on the left of Orthodoxy and those who were raised in a strong Conservative background do not find current mainstream Conservative or Orthodox synagogues to their liking, for a variety of reasons. You have hit upon several of them…some of the factors are ideological (women’s participation, social justice) but others have to do with approaches of the denominational institutions qua institutions as they relate to active, contemporary Jews.

    YCT has attracted some of these folks, and there are a few Orthodox congregations on the left that are sympathetic to this approach. But probably the biggest growth in the past decade have been the various independent congregations/minyanim…many of these participants grew up in a Conservative or Orthodox home…there’s a significant day school/yeshiva cohort in this group, too.

    We’ve seen this all before in America…ever since 1820, about every 40-50 years there’s a group of active young Jews (20s and 30s) that create new movements or institutions because they believe the current ones don’t sufficiently speak to them on their terms.

  19. Ori says:

    Daniel B. Schwartz, you don’t want a new movement, but I fear you might need one. Orthodoxy is moving to the right. We can debate the reason for this, but it’s quite clearly happening. Furthermore, the people pulling it to the right believe they are doing it Leshem Shamayim, for the same of heavens. They are not going to stop doing it.

    If you build a non-Charedi Yeshiva, would Rabbis coming out of it be considered Rabbis by the Charedim? Would it be considered a valid source of experts for marriage, divorce, and Giyur? If not, then you have to leave the religious decision making to the Charedim, or have a schism.

  20. Steve Brizel says:

    Daniel B. Schwartz-ever try YU/RIETS’s Kollel Yom Rishon? I think that you might enjoy the wide range of shiurim that are quite popular among students and alumni in the Greater NY area. I don’t see the OU leadership, rabbinic or lay, or its constituency, as either overtly or driftig towards the Charedi world. OTOH, pne can argue very cogently that the NCYI attempts to be pro settlements while claiming to have its decisions reflecting the Charedi world-many of its rabbinic alumni are serving in rabbinic leadership positions in many YI branches. If Orthoprax means mixed swimming, mixed dancing at simchos and shul dinners, and what R S Rikin described as “eating fish out”, one can argue that the present committed generation of MO has long ago opted out of that definition and has moved in a more precise mannner, as opposed to a Pavlovian lenient or strict definition of the level of its adherence to Halacha and views the RIETS RY as the source of halachic and hashkafic guidance on major and minor issues.

  21. David N. Friedman says:

    I agree with Rabbi Menken wholeheartedly. Many years ago, alas, I was a member of a Conservative shul and I found it extremely irritating to be told that we should encourage the Masorti movement in Israel and that as Conservative Jews, we believe this or that, etc. Wanting to be a Jew and not a Jew with an adjective, I made my move to Orthodoxy. Upon leaving, some of my friends said I hoped I found something more “comfortable.” I told them COMFORT had nothing to do with it.

    Listening to Daniel Schwartz, I understand that comfort is such an important apparent criteria for many but I am here to challenge that thought. Holding personal beliefs and looking for a Judaism to reflect those beliefs is the precise opposite of the Jewish standard. We are required to be Jews first and to take our values from the Jewish tradition.

    I simply have zero sympathy for Hess and Rabbi Menken’s critique holds up very well and I am particularly frustrated by the whole protest at the Kotel issue. Praying at the Kotel is quite a remarkable experience and one that stands for Jewish unity and is a witness to real diversity. Praying among a crowd of people both like myself and very unlike myself–as a GROUP–is quite a beautiful thing and no Jew is excluded. One might feel a bit out of place without a tallit and tefillen–but I saw nothing that would prevent any Jew from praying at this magnificent site. It is evident that Hess is not interested or impressed with Jewish unity or real ‘pluralism’ and he wants the right to pray only as he wants to and not by the customs of the site. Perhaps he has not had the experience of showing up at some restaurant without the appropriate attire and I have little doubt he would not resent being given a dopey tie and jacket so as to conform with the tastes of some silly restaurant. But the customs of a restaurant must rank higher than thousands of years of Jewish tradition in his eyes.

    Concerning why it is primarily Orthodox Jews who make aliyah to Israel–this is very interesting given the fact that Israel is still largely secular in its total population. The fact is that Israel as a refuge for all Jews was a factor in the early development of the re-establishment of the State. Coming from European persecution after WWII, religious and secular Jews alike wanted to live a life free from terror–sadly, Jews have not had that pleasure anywhere except for America. So for a Jew to leave America and go to Israel is a downgrade in personal safety but an upgrade in Jewish living. Therefore, primarily the Orthodox are looking for this kind of an upgrade–a true aliyah.

  22. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Ori: There is no doubt that Orthodoxy has become increasingly chareidi in America. You may also be correct that a new movement to address the specific needs of Jews like me may be in order. But I personally don’t think it’s worth it. The schism would be too great. Moreover, the tension created by heter-Orthodxy under one tent is healthy. Rather than start new movements, I’d like to see Orthodoxy’s left wing flex some muscle.

  23. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    I don’t get to the Kollel Yom Rishon that often, given my wife’s work schedule. but I’ve downloaded some of the shiurim. The frustration I feel in Orthodoxy’s move to the right has little to do with communal gastronomy or dance partners. It’s easy to continually hold up those bogey men from a long gone era to justify the development of a far more insidious problem. I refer to Orthodoxy’s gorwing insularity. I refer to MO’s forfeiture of chinuch to chareidim. I am deeply troubled when I see classmates from YU davening in a schul and tolerateing a ban on the Hatikvah melody in services, and accepting the refusal of their schul to pray for Medinat Yisrael. I am bothered by Orthodoxy’s increasingly ubiquitous uniform as an expression not of the bourgoise values the black fedora was meant to teach, but of one’s frumkeit. Ground is lost when parents who have professional or graduate degrees send their children to yeshivot with substandard secular education because it’s the “frummer” option. My Orthodox identity is secure. I don’t believe that I will fall prey to this silly rightward shift. But I fear for my children who are growing up with these mixed up messages. They learn that chibat Zion has a place in school, but not in schul. In school limudei chol occupies the same status as limudei kodesh, but the Shabbat afternoon youth group leaders, who are held out as role models in the community, have no intention of earning a bachelors degree. Yet by and large those responsible for making the policy in schul, went to the same or similar schools where I send my children and had the same education I had. Their older children are the youth group leaders. Mixed swimming seems a far smaller problem, its bogey man convenience notwithstanding.

  24. L.Oberstein says:

    Why write about this topic,someone asked. Because it gets a lot of traffic.
    Many orthodox Jews do not share the chareidi hashkafa but feel comfortable in a frum community. Tragically for Jewish Continuity, the Conservative Movement just isn’t a player any more. I am sorry that so many young people do not affiliate, do not marry or marry very late or marry non Jews and thus, the Hebrew Schools are getting fewer, the Solomon Schechter Schools are closing and the demographics in a typical Conservative shul is older than in a typical frum orthodox shul. However, all in all, how many orthodox Jews are there? We are witnessing mass defections by the non orthodox from organized jewish life and then how will they ever come close to Hashem?

  25. Steve Brizel says:

    Daniel B Schwartz-When the MO world values Chinuch as a career choice with the same passion as it does careers such as medicine, law and finance, then MO can and will no longer depend on the Charedi world for Chinuch. Which MO shuls neither use Hatikvah or say a Tefilah for Medinas Yisrael/IDF? FWIW, RAS used to tell talmidim that singing Hatikvah was permissible as long they sang the last line with this change “lihiyos Am Kodesh” as opposed to “Lihiyos Am Chafshi”.

    Like it or not, selecting yeshivos for one’s children is a buyer’s market. Yes, inculcating the values that Hakamas Medinas Yisrael and Yom Yerushalayim are important-but so are textual literacy in basic Jewish texts, Shmiras HaMitzvos and a love for learning and observance. Like it or not, focusing on the black hat or a kippa srugah is a stereotypical way of denying the fact that the Charedi and MO/RZ camps can and should appreciate each other’s contributions without denigrating each other. That would strike me a far more practical way of showing Ahavas Yisrael as opposed to engaging in pop sociology as to what the wearer of a particular headgear exemplifies.

  26. Charlie Hall says:


    I live in a community where the center-left and left wing shuls (where black fedoras are very rare) have seating problems because they are so packed, where we pray for Medinat Yisrael, where the Hatikvah melody was used by the Chazzan for Hallel this past Shabat at my Young Israel shul, where the local co-ed modern Orthodox HS offers an outstanding secular curriculum, where men and women attend co-ed gemara classes together, where everyone seems to accept that it is ok to use the eruv and where people accept the kashrut of your kitchen if you are shomer Shabat. I don’t know anyone here who self-identifies Orthodox who “eats fish out” and my wife tells me that the local mikveh gets a lot of use. Not all the Jewish world is becoming Charedi or being caught up in excessive stringencies.

  27. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    Steven Brizel makes a good point about MO not valuing chinuch as a career choice enough. But then again the MO lifestyle, for various bad reasons (the only good one is the cost of superlative education in both Kodesh and chol has a steep price), is a very expensive one. From what I see though, chareidiut is not that far behind, and in certain enclaves has surpassed MO in all ways of ostentation and conspicuous consumption. While indeed MO needs to do better on this score, at the same time, those chareidim who choose to teach in MO schools should wholeheartedly endorse that weltanschaung to their students, and not try to steer them away from that hashkafa; a well known and coumented phenomenon. And sorry you can’t have it both ways. I complained that MO has allowed a chareidi co-opting of chinuch. You responded that MO does not value chinuch as a career choice. Thus we both recognize that MO schools are, to a larger degree, populated by chareidi teachers. Why then do you assume that the quality of Judaic education is lower in the MO schools than in the more chareidi schools? Since the MO schools tend to pay higher salaries and pay on time, it’s reasonable to expect a greater proportion of highly talented teachers to be found in their schools. After all, as you say it’s a buyer’s market.

  28. tzippi says:

    Re comment 27: MO schools may well be staffed with chareidi teachers. The question is, what are they given to work with? How many periods are allocated for which subjects? And if there is a mix of teachers, is there consistent build up and preparation for serious study at the middle and high school levels?

  29. L Oberstein says:

    For many yeas, modern orthodox Jews have complained that the ones who influence their children are right wing yeshivishe people who do not share their hashkofos. True. “Why” is the question and what is the solution.
    If Yeshiva University cannot produce pulpit rabbis who will devote their careers to American Jewry, why?
    If the mesiras nefesh required for rbbonus is lacking in modern orthodoxy,why?
    Sure, it is easier to live in Teaneck, and one makes a lot more money as an employed financial ananlyst than as a rebbe in a yeshiva, but is that the only reason modern orthodox men and women avoid chinuch and rabbonus. Do you honestly believe that the only reason bnai torah pick chinuch is because they are too ignorant to be plastic surgeons?

  30. Steve Brizel says:

    Daniel B Schwartz-There are numerous MO schools staffed by Charedi faculty who march with their students in the Salute to Israel Parade. However, IMO, that issue is at best a classical example of a “red herring”.

    Look at it this way-you freely admit that MO does not view Chinuch as a career option with the same zeal and passion as it does other professions and IMO, the issue of who teaches in MO schools will never be resolved favorably in the eyes of the MO world, unless and until Chinuch is viewed as an apriori career option in the same way as other professions. One cannot separate the complaint against the Charedi coopting of MO schools from MO’s failure as a movement to champion the producing of Talmidie Chachamim, Poskim, Rabbanim and Mchanchim.

    As far as MO as a weltanschaung-I think that one can drive a truck through the phrase because it is void for vagueness. Are you talking about TIDE, TuM, RIETS, the OU , RZ in all of its variations or LW MO? I would agree that such discussions would certainly be proper as part of a school’s preparations for its students spending a year in a yeshiva or seminary, provided that such a syllabus also included a survey of the hashkafic and halachic trends in the Charedi world as well. One can argue that the most important function of any mchanech or mchaneches is imparting both textual literacy in basic bedrock Torah texts and observance and developing a love for Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim in and out of the classroom to a student as a role model, as opposed to engaging in hashkafic pilpulim on what is MO.

  31. Noam says:

    The issue of MO education is certainly problematic. As has been noted by many, MO fail to encourage their young to go into chinuch. It is up to the hanhala of the school to make sure that the school’s hashkafic party line is toed by all. I am also bothered when my kids are told they cant sing a certain tune during Hallel because it involves (gasp) repeating a word. It drives me crazy when they are taught that the avot never sinned and kept the entire Torah(what we call the doctrine of Avot infallibility). However, I have found that this also is a useful opportunity to teach my kids that they are not Zoroastians or heretics, and we have also reviewed appropriate Ibn Ezra and Ramban’s on the Avot issue. It is unfortunate that these are not taught to the kids by the teachers, and instead the teachers are somewhat diminished when my kids ask them questions that they cannot answer without resorting to arguments of authority. Unfortunately many MO parents do not have the time/energy/knowledge to undo the teaching of Chareidi(and Chabad messianists) teachers. We certainly have to do a better job as a community if we want MO beliefs to be passed on to the next generation.

  32. L.Oberstein says:

    People who care more will survive. The solution is not to muzzle teachers, but to produce modern orthodox teachers. If this can’t be done then there is a systemic flaw in the hashkafa.

  33. tzippi says:

    Noam (31), I’m (“out of town”) chareidi and I’m surprised that responsible teachers taught that the avos never sinned. Only four people we know of never sinned, according to the sages. Now, if they approach it from the view of Rav Dessler and others, that the avos were on such a high spiritual level that their actions were measured that much more strictly, etc. that’s another story. But that’s just wrong, from any authentic Jewish view.

  34. Daniel B. Schwartz says:

    R Oberstein, you neglect the fact that it was not until very recently, that what is loosely described as MO (to give deference to Steve Brizel’s last post) was unable to produce teachers. That was not entirely the case in the 1930’s through the 1960’s. The systemic flaw is not in ideology, rather in the economics of being MO.

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