Klal Perspectives – The Next Issue

Readers are always weighing in on ideas for future issues of KP. The editors take them very seriously. In the last few weeks in particular, a number of people contacted me offline with ideas that I thought had considerable merit. I encouraged them to put them in an email, and I would forward them to the full board. I have no recollection of who they were.

I don’t think anyone did! And here we are, ready to decide on our next issue. If you were one of those people, now is the time!

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26 Responses

  1. Esther Gold says:

    I’d like to see a Klal Perspectives issue dealing with the phenomenon of a move to the right in the chareidi world regarding Tsnius standards: the removal of pictures of women and girls in religious publications including illustrations of girls in children’s books, and strict advertising guidelines imposed in certain towns by “Modesty Patrols” to name a couple of examples.

    How does this shift affect us as a community? Does it raise respect towards women, or objectify them? Are we moving in a healthy direction?

  2. Leah Adler says:

    I second Esther Gold. I will NEVER purchase a magazine that leaves out all pictures of women. It sends a message that any image of a woman, dressed modestly or not, is obscene. And I think rabbis and others have an obligation not just to refrain from saying that this is the right approach, but to ACTIVELY come out and say that this is WRONG. The latest craziness is to leave out the first names of women – if you write “Leah Adler” that might make a man have impure thoughts – you’ve got to write “Mrs. Adler.” Not sure how those guys plan to read the Torah, which has the name LEAH as well as many other women’s names…
    We already are behind the curtain in shul, and we understand the reasons for that. But erasing us? And all the “Charedi” politicians – you can’t do your political work with Orthodox women, but you can work in the Knesset with Arab and secular women? That’s OK? We don’t buy it. Not that it should matter, but I am not MO – I’m a Bais Yaakov-educated kollel wife, and that is why I care about the crazy extremism in my community. I don’t want my daughters always told that everything is about they dress.

  3. Alexandra fleksher says:

    How about broaden the topic to “The Voice of women in Orthodox society” including issues of women’s leadership and presence in communal matters as well.

  4. Alexandra fleksher says:

    I’d also like to see the klal perspectives editors and contributors tackle the concept of daas torah.

  5. joel rich says:

    An interesting topic might be “crazy extremism in my community.” There is always some basis claimed (Ms. Adler might be referred to taanit 5b on the name thing) so is there any line to the right of which gets the same treatment as OO. And if not, why not?


  6. Leah Adler says:

    You should tackle Da’as Torah, great idea. There are some people for whom it is a religion, quite unlike mainstream Orthodox Judaism, not to mention the problem of really knowing what some gadol said or was told…
    A final thought: I know you often invite “experts” to weigh in on subjects – what about having an open call for essays on various topics? You’d be surprised what some “regular” people have to say and share….

  7. Dr. E says:

    Leah (see I used your first name 😉 )

    Although am on in total agreement with your observation, I don’t think that the editorial board of KP would be amenable to devoting an issue to taking a reactionary cue. I would think that a scholarly piece in Tradition or an article in Jewish Action might look back at when the sociological turning point began, why that happened, and why the inertia continues.

    What you are pointing to is likely the confluence of a concerted effort by popular frum magazines to be universally accepted/read by the Chassidic community and increased insecurities within the Litvishe world as to their level of frumkeit (and the most popular scapegoat today, Tzniyus). There is a liability in being branded as “Modern Orthodox”, so many businesses and organizations don’t want to go there, even though they are knowingly departing from what has been normatively acceptable to them until now.

    Given that the entire issue was devoted to the topic of women’s roles (Personally, I feel that the best KP article on the topic was http://klalperspectives.org/rabbi-tzvi-hirsch-weinreb), they probably won’t revisit that at this time. But, to me there is still the kasha of how a chinuch system can intentionally under-skill and under-educate males, attempt quite the opposite for females, and suppress the latter from taking on responsibilities and getting publically recognized for that.

  8. AMZ says:

    Materialism. A discussion of wealth in the Orthodox community. Is it good? Is it bad? What is the middle ground if any.

  9. Bracha says:

    I just wrote a comment on the other post about KP but I’ll post it again here:

    I would love to see an issue of Klal Perspectives dedicated to the multiple roles that woman are juggling. They have done an issue on women working a few years ago, but my interest is more about how women can remain remain connected to their Judaism intellectually and spiritually while raising families. I would be happy to help with and possibly contribute to such an issue.

    Some of the issues that I think would be beneficial to address…

    Shidduchim (touched on somewhat in the issue on divorce)

    Preventing abuse in the community and addressing it quickly and appropriately (probably not going to happen but this is one of the biggest issues facing our community today – particularly among children who are OTD the abuse rate has been estimated at 90%. So if we could PREVENT and ADDRESS abuse we would – at least in theory – decrease children going OTD by 90%. However, we have a long long way to go in this area and children are getting seriously hurt while we take our time developing an appropriate response!)

    Emunah – This is an issue that is just going to continue growing unless addressed. What “answers” are we offering people who struggle with emunah, connection, and belief (this was something touched on in a previous issue but was more about feeling connection to the community in general). There seem to be people who are struggling with real questions (not just emotional, but intellectual) and they are unsatisfied with the pat responses they are getting from us.

    There are more but these are just a few that I think need to be addressed sooner rather than later.

    Thank you for your great work!

  10. AMZ says:

    Materialism. A discussion of wealth in the Orthodox community. Is it good? Is it bad? What is the middle ground if any.

  11. g says:

    The current issue of Klal Perspectives is incredibly relevant. Its counterpart is desperately needed.

    Can we talk about women? Women as people? Women as individuals, who, like men, had spiritual and intellectual goals and visions of their future, but now see themselves as falling short as “earners, [wives, mothers,] community members,” and yes, learned Jews? The issue on working women touched on some of these topics, but it lacked a holistic view of women as people.

    One of the Marvelous Middos Machine CDs features a conversation between Dr. Middos of 1968 and Dr. Middos of 1988. (I’m sure there’s a decidedly more scholarly reference point I could take, but see above re intellectual goals and falling short. Full-time employment + husband + three children ages four and under are all incredible blessings, but for me they’re incompatible with intellectual pursuits.) The two good doctors discussed absolutely nothing of note, but I was taken by the notion of talking to myself twenty years hence. What would I ask myself? Would I recognize myself? What do I hope I’d be?

    My adult self finds it hard to imagine creating a vision of my future, a dynamic vision that allows for the fluidity of life, and carving out the space and time to actualize that vision. My younger idealistic self is uneasy with the idea that my original tapestry of dreams will remain unrealized, its outlined canvas filled with only the occasional clumsy stitch, rather than colored and shaded with the intricacies of experience and reflection.

    So . . . can we talk about women?

  12. DF says:

    The current issue is important enough that it merits a second installment, or at least more time to sink in. If that cannot happen, then I would suggest the biggest need for our community today is this: A re-assessment of the entire “learning” paradigm upon which orthodoxy is now centered. It wasn’t always this way. Learning was always for the few – it has now become for the masses. The whole foundation of orthodoxy has changed dramatically as a result. Some of have gone so far as to say we have made “learning” into an avoda zara. A provocative phrase. But is there more truth to it than we’d like to admit?

    And with all of our “Learning”, how much is the average individual actually learning? I’m not asking how much is retained, for which, sadly, we already know the answer. No, my question is how much is actually learned, while the Learning is still underway? Is there any reflection? Amid the raucous shakla vitarya, is there any pause to think about the bigger picture?

    Is the Daf Yomi program, perhaps, not quite so good as advertised? [And it IS advertised, and promoted, too, like any other product in a marketing blitz, which also gives me pause, but that’s quite another matter.] Has the Artscroll shas, all 76 volumes of them, actually increased learning? REAL learning? It’s an open question.

    In a nutshell, it seems to be new world for orthodoxy. With already a full generation or two of “learning for the masses” on the books, and the products out there among us for examination, we need to see if the evidence supports the post WWII hypotheses that learning should now be for everyone. This is, I think, the most pressing question for all of us today. (I can be reached at the email I listed for more.)

  13. Ellen Lebowicz says:

    When I scrolled down to leave a reply, I saw the name I’ve used in past comments (Esther, my Hebrew name) to remain unrecognizable. I did that because fear in our chareidi system has become systemic on so many fronts. Why can’t I say what I need to say without hiding my identity (granted, Esther is who I truly am, but the above name is what I still use in the world. Am I afraid what my neighbors, the community, the rebbeim and teachers in my grandchildrens’ yeshivos might think. Will my grandchildren suffer and have trouble finding shidduchim?

    The topic raised above regarding women in the frum community in the 21st century is huge. Photo-shopping women out of pictures raised many issues, besides the chilul Hashem raised when Angela Merkel was erased from the unity march in France. Jews and non-Jews alike mocked us. But if I’m a little girl looking at Jewish publications and there are no women there, how do I interpret it? Do women just disappear in community life? Are we just silent figures trying to hold all the pieces together but when trying to do it all, burn out with marriages and children falling in its wake?

    “Adults off the derech” is a topic that has been raised in various places. How much of it is because the realistic fears we have of what’s happening in the secular world have been dealt with in a way that seems to result in many repressing their identities, others hiding and giving lip service to the edicts of the powers that be, and still others just throwing the whole thing overboard?

    Are we truly representing ourselves as “a light unto the world” or have we just become another group of fundamentalists afraid to challenge what “they” say? Dr. E. is probably correct when he says “I don’t think that the editorial board of KP would be amenable to devoting an issue to taking a reactionary cue”. But perhaps could be the topic of adults heading off the derech (women included), and are there alternatives to retreating further into a bubble that can no longer be air-tight

  14. L says:

    I have so many thoughts on this, but the previous commenters have already addressed many of them; issues pertaining to the needs and roles of Jewish women today; rethinking our chinuch system from nursery on up, to evaluate whether we are a) reaching most of our students with our educational methodologies and hashkafos, b) instilling yiras Shamayim, emunah, and ahavas Torah in our children, c) being sufficiently proactive and realistic regarding the way the “next generation” uses technology, and d) providing both boys and girls with the tools they need to be both literate and engaged Jewish adults, as well as competent, confident wage earners.

  15. klal fan says:

    Israel, Eretz Yisrael, and its importance and downplaying in the American frum community.
    At the siyum haShas, Rav Lau commented on how incredible it was that 90,000 religious Jews were assembled at MetLife Stadium, whereas in Israel the largest siyum was 20,000. Shouldn’t those numbers be reversed? How many of the 90,000 are planning at all to live in Israel? Have we as a community learned the lessons from Churban Europe, or are we blindly building massive shuls, houses, and organizations without thought of a Geula that could come any day? Are our yeshivos inculcating a working knowledge of Hebrew in our children? Are the excuses for remaining in Chutz LaAretz getting weaker with the increase in technological connection? Is it possible to build a tolerant, American-style, Torah im Derech Eretz community in Israel, or is that a pipe dream? Are our US Rabbinic leaders discussing or encouraging the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael enough, and if not, why not? (Yes, I currently live in the US, I just have these questions. And Klal Perspectives is my *favorite* Torah publication out there)

  16. Jewish Observer says:

    Here’s an idea- let’s define the legacy of golus America. We know that, at their best, yekkes are known for their punctilious attention to mitzvos and their integrity, litvaks for their scholarship, poileshers for their grass roots realism, sefardim for their emuna peshuta. So what is the mark of the amerikanisher yid? What should it be? What imprint should we be leaving for posterity?

  17. SA says:

    Let me second “Klal fan’s” suggestion about an issue on the attitudes towards living in Israel. Just as the issue of “learning for everyone” needs to be reviewed three generations after the World War II era, so does the attitude toward modern Israel and how the mitzva of living there needs to be approached.

    Most American frum Jews, if they are honest with themselves, have the wherewithal to make such a move if they so choose. We are talking about the fulfillment of one of the most potent dreams of Jewish history available for the taking, if we so choose. On a practical level, the crushing financial demands that characterize American Jewish living really ought to lead the community to take note of this alternative. No, it’s not an easy move, but it’s worth it. We are here 27 years and no, not everything turned out exactly the way would have liked. But if we had to do it all again, we would do it all again.

    The generation that made it to America after the Holocaust perhaps couldn’t be expected to relocate again; nor perhaps could their children, who couldn’t leave their parents. But we are two more generations hence, and many of us have spent considerable time in Eretz Yisrael studying, so it’s not foreign to us. How can it be that Eretz Yisrael is not a major factor in planning our future as individuals and a collective? Are we guilty of “וימאסו בארץ חמדה, לא האמינו לדברו”?

    Israel has plenty of problems, but it is still Eretz Yisrael. If American frum life was so perfect, well, I presume we wouldn’t need Klal Perspectives.

  18. Chochom b'mah nishtanah says:

    How about how unfortunately non torahdik hashkafos have so infiltrated our communities and discussions.

  19. Sharona says:

    We hear many chizuk messages from speakers and such about doing teshuva which is very good. In my opinion, I think that the one thing that we Jews can all improve on is internalizing what we learn, and feeling Hashem in our heart. Many people learn what to, but don’t feel so much the beauty and joy of Torah and mitzvos. Hashem wants us to serve Him with joy. I feel that if we instilled this is our children, they wouldn’t want to depart from it.
    Another thing that we can improve on is giving students other Torah options to learn besides Gemorah. Some might not be great at it and feel frustrated. They need to have alternatives so they stay with us. For example, they might be more interested in the Ramchal or the Zohar etc. Like Shlomo Hamelech says, “Chinuch l’naar al pi darko”

    Overall, besides learning what to do, lets each work on internalizing what we learn, see and feel the beauty and joy of our Heritage, and spread that to our children

    Thanks for reading, chodesh tov, and kol tov

  20. lacosta says:

    would like to see some honest talk on MO-haredi wars—- what they believe honestly about the other ;are these becoming two separate branches of religion; is peace possible between them; what issues are negotiable to try and make peace, if that’s even possible

  21. Jewish Observer says:

    Another idea: what about promoting a model of transparency among frum organizations; a culture of open-book on finances and governance practices.

  22. tzippi says:

    Re AMZ: how about the working poor and difficulty making ends meet. (True, we’re coming from first world standards. B”H.)
    But here’s a suggestions: the parameters of chanoch l’naar al pi darko. How many of the “crises” may have their roots in groupspeak, herd mentality, etc. (A revisiting of Chemotherapy as Metaphor might fit in as well.)

  23. Cindy says:

    Perhaps we could get some clarity on the issues of bitochon and emunah in financial matters for young families. In a world where government policies in taxation, housing, etc are not geared towards traditional young families, it is becoming almost impossible for so many young families to establish themselves securely as well as raise their families without recourse to parental or state support. What standard of living do we have a right to expect Hashem to provide us with? If a father is doing his best, and many times today, that best is short of what is required for covering a simple, but decent, standard of living, what is a woman’s role in hishtadlus for parnassa. How should this affect a couple’s considerations when having more children. How should this affect attitudes to risk-taking, recourse to state aid etc?

  24. Miriam Ellinson says:

    What about a discussion on the lack of broad-shouldered leadership in more yeshivish circles, the lack of wise, respected rabbanim and rebbetzins who are willing to state opinions and hashkafic perspectives using their name? As an example: I am a writer, and I am continually astonished by the number of rabbanim and educators who will never allow their name in print, even when their words could give enormous chizzuk and guidance to Klal Yisrael, and even when they are assured they will see the FULL article before print. These rabbanim often DO have thought-out opinions on the subject matter-they express them to me by phone-but they will not share them. The same goes for obtaining haskamos to books and sefarim: even after reviewing and approving a book, many rabbanim will say they don’t want their name in print – as a policy. The trend is apparent outside the world of print as well: it is hard to find a rav or educator who will take a firm, public stand on a topic. I feel disillusioned by the seeming lack of backbone in my community. I wonder what these leaders are afraid of – is it that be-all and end-all, shidduchim? Only in the more MO circles are people willing to state an idea and stand behind it with a name. I feel saddened that we have an orphaned generation–men, women and families desperate for chizzuk and guidance–but no one is willing to step up to the plate.

  25. tzippi says:

    Miriam, there’s the flip side: aseh lecha rav. How many of us grew up with the model of a family rav, and have we given this over to our children? Are we encouraging them to find mentors? Not that we aren’t here for them, and our input in their choosing mentors is sure to be invaluable, but a personal relationship with a qualified rav/rebbetzin is important for our children. This may well give chizuk to the good people who should be leaders.

    (As a postscript to my earlier post, I am in no way against kolel or long-term kolel, nor do I think it should be relegated to the elite.) (Oh, and define elite. But this is a whole other thread.)

  26. Steve Brizel says:

    How about a series of articles that address the following : “The learner/earner, Lchatchilah not Bdieved”

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