The Realignment of American Jewry

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9 Responses

  1. Ysoscher Katz says:

    To present Chabad as a legitimate alternative to progressive Modern Orthodoxy is just silly.

    We too could have offered people a simplistic yiddishkeit,  If all they wanted from us was coffee, mashke, and a place to chap a minyan when there is no alternative. 

    In reality that is what they are looking for when they stop by at a Chabad house.

    To us they come when they return home from those far flung places where Chabad is the only option.

    Once they are home and realize that the saccharinized fair usually offered at Chabad houses doesn’t offer solutions for the challenge of being a frum and committed Jew in the 21st century, they turn for help to modern orthodoxy.

    They look to us for a yiddishkeit that strongly endorses tradition but at same time proudly embraces modernity. Chabad houses do not offer that. They want us to promulgate a yiddishkeit they would like their children to embrace, not one they would merely gawk at as onlookers. (The fact is that Modern Jews join Chabad events as observers, not as participants. They are an interesting curiosity: fun to observe from a remove, but not inviting enough to embrace.)

    A more appropriate comparison  would have been Chabad high schools vs. MO ones. If Chabad were to run high schools and people were to enroll their children there en masse, it would have been dispositive. That would have proven the superiority of the Chabad model. In the mean time, this analogy is irrelevant because it compares two disparate products. One offers a fleeting encounter, while the other is attempting to provide an all encompassing experience.

    • Shmuel W says:

      Though I partially (emphasis added) agree with Ysoscher, why does he start off his comment stating the writer’s position is “silly”? It starts off the post in an oppositional tone and precludes substantive discussions.  Second note the shift away from the term OO to “progressive modern Orthodoxy” (Yasher Koach R’ Gordimer). That being said he is mostly right IMO that Chabad is convenient rather than calling to the klal.  The line on mashke and minyan is devastatingly accurate. But to play  a little chess in the multi dimensional different parts of klal yisroel (including groups whose Orthodoxy is a disputed pint) let us compare yeshiva oriented high schools and batei medrash versus MO (let alone OO) high schools.  Percentage wise how many alumni of “open Yeshivish” (my own term) high schools are frum 10 years on? 20 years on? Who is learning at least a little bit a week and involved in the jewish community versus graduates of MO high schools? Compare the high schools by objective metrics of shmiras hamitzvos ettc…) Or Even better when I was learning in the Mir and in Ner Yisroel there were many alums of MO high schools who came to more right wing yeshivas (the reverse trend is far less common). What does that say about comparing the sides?  Finally  Ysoscher states “They look to us for a Yiddishkeit that strongly endorses tradition”. In OO/NC though they sadly will not find that and hopefully that will change sooner rather than later.  

      • R.B. says:

        Yeah, I also found that claim strange. If anything, those looking OO are NOT looking for tradition. They are looking for a “push the envelope” viewpoint.

  2. lacosta says:

    1. many jews are attracted to the model of come-and-don’t-pay that chabad offers.   people speak with their money , and not needing to pay > $1000 and get free kiddush to boot , uncommitted jews would sit thru almost anything for that… [have had clients who moved their accounts from Reform to Chabad as a cost-saving measure…]

    2. many of these jews drive to their Temple Fri nite and then drive to their Chabad shabbat  morning.  chabad is cool with that.

    3. the buy in of the membership to any of Orthopraxy , orthodoxy, chassido-doxy, worship of the Rebbe  [let alone ‘yechi-hamelech’]  is undoubtedly very low—though clearly not zero.  This is more akin to the British Empire model of belonging nominally to an institution, whose practices one tolerates but is not neccesarily influenced by….


  3. lacosta says:

    >>Chabad Chassidim historically welcomed the opportunity to serve, joining the army after completing Yeshiva and period in Kolel.

    — hasn’t this changed in the last 20 yrs? i thought it’s now rare for them to join.  i also heard that going on shlichus will serve as a ‘sherut leumi ‘ equivalent—the best of both worlds:  exempt from army, considered ‘achareii tzava’ AND the opportunity to try and influence Israelis around the globe…


  4. lacosta says:

    kudos to rabbi adlerstein for allowing a chabad space in this website. for so long , chabad has been considered as Other as MO is by the haredi world . still subject to derision in most circles ,especially Litvish,  referred to by the N-word equivalent ‘chabadsker’, feared for its other-religion-like Messianism… Yet if the plane goes down over Peoria or Prussia and the sun is setting Fri pm, only the hardest-line Yeshivaleit will refuse to pray with them or eat their food….

    if Satmar can ‘fier a tish’  in Chabad of Palm Springs,  then maybe the haredi world IS  takke changing….

  5. Shades of Gray says:

    R. Yitz Greenberg mentioned Chabad in his original article(“Chabad differed from the ultra-Orthodox by its positive approach to Jews of every standard of observance and belief.”) I would add that Aish Hatorah and  others in the Charedi world have  followed Chabad’s pioneering  approach,  “beyond sectarianism” as  Prof. Adam Ferziger puts it.

    Even without NCSY,  modern Orthodoxy does outreach by  its very  existence– by providing additional options in Orthodoxy in line with  Project Makom’s(Jew in the City)idea of providing  additional options in Orthodoxy.

    In this vein, I  heard from an educator a few years ago who has connections to both the Charedi and MO worlds in the name of a Charedi figure(he didn’t mention who, only that “I’d recognize the name”) that “if modern Orthodoxy didn’t exist, we’d have to invent it; now that it exists, we can explain why we don’t hold of it “(interestingly, one of the speakers made the exact same point at the recent  Porat conference; Porat notwithstanding, I don’t find the point controversial,  since a Charedi figure apparently said it as well…).  Similarly, Rav Shteinman allowed R. Pam’s Shuvu model for the recent French aliyah, after much deliberation, thus “inventing” (or adopting) a new approach where none existed before.

  6. RYW says:

    I am disappointed in R Eliezri. I love Chabad because they focus on Ahavas Yisroel and dont get involved in putting other Jews down. I know that to get published on Crosscurrents you have to criticize and denigrate other Jews (and bonus points if they are open orthodox) but this is beneath the dignity of a shaliach.  The timing of this article with the others about major problems in the Chabad world cant be coincidental. Kol Haposel, Bemumo Posel. I didnt believe it, but once I read this article I realized that Chabad is indeed going down hill. Sad to see.

  7. Lee Smith says:

    Kol Hakovod to Chabad.  Its wonderful to travel almost anywhere in the world and find a Chabad outpost, often the only Yiddishkeit around.  As a traditional egalitarian Jew, I have benefited many times from the island of Shabbat and Kashrut and observance provided by Chabad in places I visited or meetings I attended even if my wife and daughters could not fully participate as in my ideal synagogue or community– at the very least I knew the food will be Kosher, Shabbat will be observed, and I will be in the company of fellow Jews.  However, comparing Chabad to the modern/traditional movements is indeed apple to oranges– but Chabad thanks for what you do provide!

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