Dr Schick in Tablet

Some of the first stirrings and concerns about the Pew Report appeared right here in Cross-Currents, led by Dr. Marvin Schick. He followed up with conversations with the conveners of the study. Now, he has taken those concerns to a wider public in Tablet Magazine, drawing on his reputation and experience as a serious researcher for decades.

His fans are proud.

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6 Responses

  1. Steve Brizel says:

    My wife and I met ( and escaped from) the UWS over 35 years ago, as did all of her roommates who married Bnei Torah who learned at RIETS and other yeshivos. One of my wife’s roommates had a college acqaintance who was training to become a R clergywoman, and invited her acqaintance for a Shabbos meal. Her friend enjoed the meal, but had no idea why those assembled enjoyed humming niggunim without words. WADR, much of the secular demographers in the academic world know very little about Orthodoxy except to engage in lame rationalizations such as comparisons with the growth of fundamentalism, and to “blame” BTs for an Orthdoxy that does not fit the stereotyopes of their training and biases. Indeed, one can read the secular Jewish media and see a POV that is hostile to any notion of committed Orthodoxy that I recognized in the reaction to the humming of a simple niggun while basking in its ignorance of the vitality of the Orthodox world.

  2. Reb Yid says:


    You’re missing the point that Schick is making, a point with which I agree. Surveys can only tell you so much. But in conjunction with good qualitative work, we can get a very nice picture of Orthodox Jews.

    It has nothing to do with the supposed “secular” social scientists or your tangential remark about someone who was Reform. You’d be surprised at the number of social scientists who study Jews (and Orthodox Jews) who make Shabbat a regular part of their lives and know (and enjoy) the nigunim.

  3. Steve Brizel says:

    Reb Yid-the social scientists who ” study Jews (and Orthodox Jews) who make Shabbat a regular part of their lives and know (and enjoy) the nigunim”- how many are Shomrei Torah UMitzvos-the acknowledgements page of the Pew study is indicative that the overwhelming majority are academics either affiliated with JTS, HUC or other academic centers. I stand by my comment about the degree of ignorance and hostility towards and about any form of committed Orthodoxy in the MO and Charedi worlds within the secular Jewish world as well within those who purport to be experts re Orthodoxy.

  4. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    R. Yid,

    One of the oft quoted “maivinim” on the ultra-orthodox is “Professor” Sam Heilman. I have no idea if he is שומר שבת or not but I do know that whatever I read of his is either intentionally misleading or he really is utterly clueless. Either way, he alone is proof that these professors’ understanding had no basis in any reality at all.

  5. Reb Yid says:


    Institutional affiliation should never be confused with personal religious affiliation.

    Not everyone who works at YU is modern Orthodox, at JTS Conservative, at NYU “secular”, etc. And I know enough of those folks in the acknowledgements to confidently assert that the correlation between their institutional and religious affiliation is far weaker than 1.

  6. Reb Yid says:


    Ah, so now we really get down to the nitty gritty. So now we move the “kosher” goalposts from 1) whether or not someone knows and understands the significance of nigunim, to 2) whether or not someone is Shomer Shabbat to 3) whether or not we like or agree with the professor’s findings.

    Funny–when Marshall Sklare first wrote about Conservative Judaism more than 50 years ago (a movement to which he belonged, by the way), those in the movement also did not like or agree with what he had to say. But that did not make what he had to say any less insightful from a sociological or historical perspective, then or now.

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