The New Jew

No big deal, they said. The new Pew Report offered few surprises. The 2013 report showed an American Jewish community looking like a patient with multiple systems failure; the current report showed vital signs setting off more and more monitors. The patient, however, has not yet flat-lined. A painfully tragic report – but nothing we didn’t expect.

It took the war in Gaza to help us conceptualize things, to realize the qualitative differences that had taken place in recent years.

We’ve watched in shock and pain as Jewish Quislings have aided and abetted the enemy. The 1000 Jewish employees of Google who demanded that their company issue a statement in support of the Palestinians, and cancel contracts with the IDF. The scores of non-Orthodox rabbinic students who declared that Israel is an apartheid state, and demand it be held accountable for its crimes.

Fifth columnists are as old as the Exodus and the eirev rav/mixed multitude that kept plaguing the Biblical Israelites. We’re used to self-hating Jews who turned on their former co-religionists – the Pablo Christianis and Johannes Pfefferkorns who reinvented themselves as Christians to find fame and money, by marketing hatred of Judaism and persecution of Jews. That was blatant self-interest at work there.

We’ve seen fifth columnists like the Yevsektsia after the Russian Revolution go after fellow Jews with particular ruthlessness and ferocity. Devotion to a cause, i.e. the Marxist dream of a non-religious but messianic redemption of mankind, was at work there. (When the Bolshevik dream turned into a nightmare, it consumed them as well.)

We’ve suffered from the self-haters, the Ken Roths, Shlomo Sands, the IfNotNow’ers, the expat Israeli leftists who support BDS. What’s at work there is wanting to convince non-Jews that they (who have no connection with Jewish practice or thought) are the Good Jews, while the Bad Jews are the ones loyal to the Jewish history that they are ashamed of and wish to distance themselves from. Jews have had to deal with the loathing of their neighbors for many centuries. Most were able to reject the charges of the haters as pure fabrication. Others, however, bought into them. They subconsciously reacted to the anti-Jewish hatred by agreeing with it. All those non-Jews can’t be all wrong, they thought! We Jews must have done something to bring it on, and we’ll only be treated like everyone else when we own up to those sins and repudiate them. So it turns out that a different form of self-interest is at work there.

We are now suffering from a wave of general indifference or hostility to Israel from a significant part of the American Jewish community. Certainly not a majority, or anything close. But enough that politicians fully understand that support for Israel – that once was a make-or-break issue for Jewish voters – is no longer quite so important. They can kowtow to the Squad without losing all that many Jewish votes.

What’s behind the evaporation of Jewish interest in what was once the quintessential Jewish issue? What is really at work here?

Nothing. The nothing that was the Judaism that they were taught – or weren’t even taught that. Younger Jews simply have not been given enough reason to identify with Israel, Jews, or Judaism. Instead, they’ve filled their heads with images and impressions from CNN and MSNBC. Judaism has become entirely irrelevant to their lives. They have become, attitudinally, non-Jews. It is not self-promotion, nor ideology, nor trying to sanitize their Jewishness in the eyes of others. None of the above. We have got to realize that a sizeable minority of our people – and an even greater part of our young people – do not react in any manner or form as Jews. The New American Jew does not reinterpret his Judaism, does not channel it into some Jewish cultural pursuit, does not rebel against it, does not even ignore it. You can’t ignore what isn’t there. The space within that was occupied in the case of their parents with something Jewish-sounding is now filled by whatever occupies the minds of other Americans.

How did this happen? The Lubliner Rov said it best. “I will remember My covenant with Yaakov, and even my covenant with Yitzchok, and even my covenant with Avraham will I remember, and I will remember the Land.”[1] The preferred covenant that G-d calls on to find merit for His people is the bris of Torah, the province of Yaakov. That bris produced Jewish merit for millennia. Jews bought into Torah – those who learned it and practiced all of its tenets, and those who wished they had learned it. Alas, after some time, Torah lost its grip on a large number of people. Hashem still found merit in Yitzchok’s bris, that of avodah. Even those distant from Torah built their shuls and attended from time to time. With the passage of time, this too waned. The third bris, that of Avraham’s chesed, kicked in. Otherwise non-practicing Jews still distinguished themselves in their care for their coreligionists. They contributed mightily to Jewish (and general) charitable efforts, as their expression of the Jewishness they still valued.

Those days belong to generations past. Although the Lubliner Rov didn’t say this, the continuation of the verse points to yet another way that Jews expressed their Jewishness, and stayed connected. “I will remember the Land.” Building up Israel, supporting it, cherishing it, added a few more decades of attachment to the idea of a Jewish people.

However, that has run its course. According to Pew, only 48% of those aged 18-29 say they have an emotional attachment to Israel, and 51% say they have little or no such connection. Having reached the end of the line, is it any surprise that only 34% of young people say that having Jewish grandchildren is important to them? Could we expect anything different from a group in which 41% call themselves unaffiliated with any Jewish religious denomination, and 40% say they are not Jewish by religion at all? We are looking at “Jews For Nothing.”

Here is another way of looking at it. In the Torah-abiding community, we dare not give up on any Jewish neshamah. We couldn’t if we wanted to; the Torah doesn’t allow it. Decades ago, however, to engage in any conversation with Jews outside the Orthodox community, we had to learn the vocabulary of those who vocally decried and denied our definition. Those Jews had to develop competing definitions of Jewishness. Increasingly, those definitions punted to the individual: a Jew was one who identified with Jews or Jewishness. Full stop.

Most, however, recognized that this was too broad a definition. (Humanistic Judaism did accept that definition. No conversion necessary.) It was so disconnected from a Jewish history of thousands of years, that it did not satisfy. It needed to be tweaked.

One tweak seemed to me like the next best definition to the real, halachic one. I don’t remember who was responsible for it; perhaps readers can help. This is how it went: A Jew is someone who identifies with the Jewish people – past, present, and future. It considered more than the present, the leanings of the moment. To be Jewish, one had to value, cherish, identify with the rich legacy of the past.

One also had to see himself sharing Jewish destiny in the future. A Jew had to buy into a Jewish future, and see themselves as identified with, and committed to it. For a while, Jewish continuity became the mantra of Federations.

That, however, is gone. It is relevant only to increasingly smaller parts of the community pie. With trepidation for uttering such words, it is not accurate to refer to “Jews For Nothing.” Rather, according to the definition that has undergirded non-Orthodox Judaism for decades, far too many of those today should be regarded as “Ex-Jews.” Moreover, it is not only the “Jews For Nothing” who have become Ex-Jews. Those who still have some attachment of Jewish culture of the past and present, but no plan at all for the future, are effectively no different.

Bernie Sanders has no Jewish children, no connection to Jewish life, and freely devotes his energies to undermining the largest Jewish community in the world. He is an ex-Jew. Former Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal did more than end a Jewish family line that survived many centuries when he married out. He sired Max, a non-Jewish son with a Jewish name who is one of the worst purveyors of Jew-hatred on the internet. Ex-Jews and non-Jews. Or maybe we should call them un-Jews.

Briefly, then, the New Jew is actually (again, in non-halachic terms) simply an Ex-Jew. And they are joined by significant numbers of those who were let in by Reform’s patrilineal definition of Jewishness decades ago. The children and grandchildren of those, along with the non-Jewish spouses of Jews who continue to artificially swell the claimed number of the Reform movement, add to those who will call themselves Jews, but aren’t – not in a halachic sense, and not even according to the competing definition.

What’s the takeaway? Some are saying that we have to do more to send more life-vests to those already cast into an ocean of non-Jewish turbulence. That is true, but we shouldn’t be naive. Most of us no longer share a common vocabulary with other Jews, no matter how eager we are. For decades, we could speak with Jews who had given up Jewish practice, because they still bought into the morals and ethics of the Torah. The parts of the Bible that they agreed with, they still affirmed as somehow Divine in origin. That disappeared with their embrace of gay marriage, unrestricted abortion rights, and the replacement of G-d with tikkun olam. Today, Orthodox Jews are separated from the non-Orthodox not only by observing Shabbos, kashrus, etc., but in our basic moral instincts. With Israel no longer acting as a communal glue, what is left to converse about? Movies? Celebrities? Certainly nothing Jewish.

To be sure, we will continue kiruv efforts – but with a caveat. There are some kiruv organizations and personalities who are still doing terrific work, especially on campus. (Even their work will become more difficult. The Conservative movement used to be an unwitting feeder into organizations sharing authentic Torah. It is very unlikely that it will be around at all in a decade.) Those kiruv organizations that have shown impressive results will continue to attract funding. The others are going to face serious questions about cost effectiveness, relative to other communal needs. The days are probably over in which a young man on the way out of Kollel could tell himself that if he was not cut out for the rabbinate or the classroom, he “could always do kiruv.”

We must press those sincerely interested in Jewish continuity, including Israel’s government, to invest in programs that do address the future, i.e. those that bolster the Orthodox community. It is a community that has flaws and challenges, but is the best – really, the only – hope for a Jewish future outside of Israel. Shoring up that community, in both its Modern Orthodox and haredi iterations, will produce loyal Jews for the future. If the anti-Semitism genie cannot be stuffed back into its bottle, it will also produce tens of thousands of olim.

I believe that the Torah community will be able to stand up proudly before the Divine Throne when Hashem asks if they did what they could to rescue Jews on the way out. They will point to the legions of baalei teshuvah they saved from the brink by supporting kiruv efforts. I’m not sure they could have done more. Is there then nothing more to be tried?

Chazal say about Avraham “bechah chosmin./with you we conclude.” While we usually see this as a reference to the conclusion of the first berachah of the Amidah, we could see it as referring to the end of history. Chazal also teach that Avraham established his fame by issuing a coin. According to one opinion in the gemara, one side of the coin depicted a young man and a young woman; the other side, an old man and old woman. The idea seems to be that the bond between Avraham and Soro did not change when the marriage was old and weary. Taken all together, Chazal may be saying that at the conclusion of time, when all other Jewish themes have lost their traction, what will attract people to authentic Abrahamic monotheism is the strength of Jewish marriages and Jewish families. When all else fails, we can show off our family life, and bring others into it.

One group has been quite successful at this. Chabad set up shop in places the rest of us won’t go, especially smaller communities away from the centers of Jewish life. When they move in, they do so for life, not for the duration of a contract. They open Chabad houses that treat the people who enter as part of a larger Jewish family, while having the shliach’s family (their children) assist in the effort. They often preach very little about observance. Yet some people pick up the bigger message and increase their observance, while others at least continue to connect with the Jewish people – as their family.

Arguably, Chabad developed this model first, and took it on the road. There is no reason why others cannot do the same, and make the concluding act of our outreach message the beauty of the Jewish family, on the granular level, as well as the bigger one of a global Jewish family.

Optimism aside, it is not reasonable to assume that we can, bederech hateva, prevent the loss of hundreds of thousands of Jewish souls, c”v. We will continue to suffer from the depredations of Jews who in effect are already lost – the large number of Ex-Jews in our midst.

We must be prepared to live with a riff on Pfefferkorn’s “Who afflicts the Jews is doing the will of God, and who seeks their benefit will incur damnation.” It has now become “Who afflicts the Zionist entity and the Jews is doing the will of sacred intersectionality, and who seeks their benefit will incur cancelation.”

Hashem Yerachem.

  1. Vayikra 26:42

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67 Responses

  1. Joel Rich says:

    I believe that the Torah community will be able to stand up proudly before the Divine Throne when Hashem asks if they did what they could to rescue Jews on the way out. They will point to the legions of baalei teshuvah they saved from the brink by supporting kiruv efforts. I’m not sure they could have done more. Is there then nothing more to be tried?
    How about all of the community living a life that will engender Kiruv without professionals. As in

    Rabbi Shimon ben Shetach commissioned his disciples to buy him a camel from an Arab. When they brought him the animal, they announced that they’d found a precious stone in its collar, expecting their master to share in their joy.

    ‘Did the seller know of this gem?’ asked Rabbi Shimon. On being answered in the negative, he said angrily, ‘Do you think me a barbarian that I should take advantage of the letter of the law by which the gem is mine together with the camel? Return the gem to the Arab immediately.’”

    When the Arab received it back, he said: “Blessed be the God of Shimon ben Shetach! Blessed be the God of Israel!” (Devarim Rabbah 3:3)


    • Bob Miller says:

      Do we keep to ourselves until we’re perfect?

    • Nachum says:

      I’m pretty sure that living morally will not bring these people back. In their eyes, they’re the most moral people there are.

      • David Z says:

        Albert Jay Nock wrote of the remnant–we will stay strong and true until the world bends back.

    • mycroft says:

      How about all of the community living a life that will engender Kiruv without professionals.

      The best kiruv is one that happens as part of normal interaction.
      Compare YU students from. half a century ago many came from Talmud Torah backgrounds and did not have parents who were Shomer Shabbas. Al Taamin beaztzmacha…but today it is my impression that the vast majority are still frum. Back then our institutions and normal programs welcomed people. Schuls had a higher percentage of non observant-many would leave completely but some and their families became frum. We’ve lost that by saying we have professional Kiruv organizations and let them handle it. Certainly, anyone who is employed in a lei modest should try and always think of ways to encourage both people to stay and people to return.

  2. Shani says:

    So sad but true.
    Many people call themselves Jews but really they are non-Jews with some Jewish heritage.
    Orthodox Jews need to begin asking some uncomfortable questions – should we reach out to non-religious Jews, when many are not actually Jews? Should our money go to educate and reach out to non -religious Jews when many are not Jews and even those who are will never embrace Judaism? Maybe the money should be spent lowering the tuition burden on our own families….

  3. Sid says:

    Ain oid milvado….forever

  4. Bob Miller says:

    Why do so many who fit your definition of “ex-Jews” still claim they are Jewish? They could generally pass for something else, so why would they bother? What they know of Judaism is typically just the socialist heresy thereof, and this is a big part of the problem.

    • Identity still means a good deal to many people. A particular identity marker (Jew; Yankee fan; Northerner) might not affect their behavior, nor be close to the top of their list of active concerns, but it still helps people understand the uniqueness of themselves. Our problem is the growing number of people – some of them halachically Jewish, others not – who endanger the lives of authentic Jews by their anti-Jewish behavior that begins with the announcement, “As a Jew….” We just might have to sometimes explain to non-Jews that there is a sharp divide in behavior and in thinking of Jew whose grandchildren will be around in a quarter century, and the ex-Jews who will have r”l disappeared without a trace

      • Bob Miller says:

        We’re getting it from both sides, as in the past when we were faulted for being communists, capitalists, or both. It’s hard to explain away the destructive leftist antics of ex-Jews, especially when they seem to outnumber us! This also puts the onus on religious Jews to act the part in all respects.

        Our frequent over-reliance on powerful but corrupt politicians puts us in danger of appearing to condone their actions in general. Thus, Schumer gets our public accolades when he helps us, but no public rebuke when he harms us and all Americans.

        When Hitler, yemach shemo, came to power, some orthodox leaders thought they could diminish the mortal threat by making clear that we were different from the other Jews and patriotic as Germans. This didn’t work, becase he hated all of us, the orthodox, too (or maybe especially). Some ideologues have too much hate to be bought off or mollified. Today’s far left (the main threat) and far right are exactly that way.

  5. nt says:

    Great article. I was looking for a term to define the world’s Bernie Sanders types. “Self-hating Jew” sounds too much like mind-reading, and “yevsektzia” is too inside baseball. Ex-Jew does nicely. I also recommend the “as-a-Jew”, which is the phrase used by people who only identify as Jewish when they decide to criticize other Jews.

    • D K says:

      Agreed. Ex-Jew is a great way of wording it.
      It goes against what we all learned in grade school, that a Jew is a Jew if his mother was Jewish, but we must come to the reality that when someone actively tosses off any semblance of his Jewishness, he has in essence cut off his relationship with the Jewish people.
      Great article.

    • mycroft says:

      When Hitler, yemach shemo, came to power, some orthodox leaders thought they could diminish the mortal threat by making clear that we were different from the other Jews and patriotic as Germans.

      Sadly, there has been the reverse general error in the frum community from the error in the Frei community. In general the non religious do not fear the left as much as they should and the frumdo not fear the dangers of the right as much as they should.

  6. Steven Brizel says:

    R Adlerstein hits the mail on the head . Kiruv today starts with attracting people who may have never seen Shabbos candles lit for Yizkor a de minimus Pesach Seder a Bar or Bas Mitzvah a Bris Milah It also means starting with a clean slate and being able to teach Torah without worrying about apologetics in a non judgmental manner one Mitzvah at a time especially with adolescents college aged and adult individuals If you never have met a BT you probably haven’t looked hard enough regardless of whether you are MO or Charedi

  7. Steven Brizel says:

    Great article but none should be shocked at where many NCSY alumni started and where they are in today’s MO and Charedi communities

    • NCSY remains one of the organization that does terrific work, and should be supported to the max. It is one of the best investments of kiruv dollars, with the added benefit of the needed inreach we need to keep our own teens committed. It fills in what schools (and often homes) do not provide

  8. Raymond says:

    This question as to why Jews are so alienated from their Jewishness is a very difficult one for me to even try to respond to, as I find it almost impossible to relate to. I grew up in a family that was somewhere between Orthodox and Traditional. Regardless of how formally religious we were, both of my parents had such a strong sense of Jewish identity that I simply cannot define their essence in any other way that would make any sense. They had the foresight to send us kids to Orthodox Jewish schools for twelve of our most crucial growing up years, both were very strong supporters of Israel, and really, we only had Jewish friends and relatives. None of this seemed unusual to me at all. In fact, it seemed perfectly normal, so much so, that to this day, I do not, for example, understand the concept of Secular Zionism. Why have a State for Jews if one is not aspiring to have it become a Jewish State? It makes no sense to me. What makes even less sense to me, is how, when voting, any American Jew can not make Israel be their top priority in deciding who to vote for. If we Jews do not care about our own survival, why should anybody else care? Again, it makes no sense to me.

    Nevertheless, I can to some extent look within myself, asking myself what are some of the things that push me away from being more Jewish than I already am. One thing that comes to my mind are Torah books. I am not sure how to say this without sounding shallow, but to my mind, while content is of the utmost importance, so is style. One of my college majors was in English, and i naturally gravitate toward good writing. Honestly, other Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan, and the Rambam (because of his absolutely clear, rational mind), I cannot think of another Torah author off the top of my head who writes all that well. Another factor is a much more sensitive one, namely how Rabbis and other Orthodox Jews actually behave, how they interact with others. A Rabbi can be a solid Torah scholar, but if he treats me with contempt, then all of his Torah learning becomes of no value to me. So perhaps when Orthodox Jews are involved in bringing Jews back in touch with their Judaism, they might consider both factors: not only what, but how they present their material, and even more importantly, how well they treat others.

  9. william gewirtz says:

    Rav Adlerstein, I largely agree.

    Some members of our community from Neturai Karta on the one end and the likes of one of the greatest Talmudist, Prof. Daniel Boyarin on the other, are just the meaningless extremes.

    Distance from the holocaust and the few remaining survivors who can provide eyewitness testimony contributes to the equating of the sui generis Shoah to other disasters, contributing to what was a period where we had special status. That period is now sadly ending, despite valiant efforts at education.

    The (NON) ethical behavior of some clearly identified with traditional Judaism is not helpful, particularly in Israel, but on occasion in the US.

    Nonetheless, there are some positive signs. In the death of many Solomon Schechter schools, a bad thing, the largest number of former students move to left-wing orthodox institutions.

    Acceptance of traditional Jews, perhaps not those identifiable as Hareidi, has based on studies as well as personal observation increased in Israel. The general population of Israel is more similar to Yair Lapid than his father.

    In the US the dramatic increase of visibly orthodox Jews in (prestigious) medical, legal, academic, banking, business, etc. fields provides the opportunity for at least subtle kiruv. the difference between my generation versus my descendants is not just size; my generation was a transitional one. Those coming latter all wear kippot. I remember back to 1997 when I was questioned at an investor’s conference for a Fortune 10 company by an investment banker wearing a kippah. I was amazed; now it has become more common.

    As woke culture currently the imprimatur of the American left continues to embrace anti-Zionist and anti-Semitic causes, one can see another major split that may force people off the fence. While most will be lost forever, we may gain some additional adherents to or those more open to a more traditional life.

    Given our birthrate, continued entry into the upper echelons of American society, a trickle of beneficiaries from kiruv, etc. we may grow in number and most importantly, be ready to assume leadership roles in various organizations previously the domain of the non-traditional Jewish population.

    While troubled by our significant loses in galut, I remain hopeful, particularly in Israel and a few other strongholds in the galut.

    • mycroft says:

      In the death of many Solomon Schechter schools, a bad thing, the largest number of former students move to left-wing orthodox institutions

      Many just changed to Community Day Schools. There are places with day schools without any Orthodox synagogues

  10. Pete Bloss says:

    As an Evangelical Christian and staunch ally of my Torah-living Jewish friends and of Israel, I grieve this phenomenon. I have been reading Dennis Prager’s “Rational Bible – Genesis” commentary on the first book of Torah. I intend to work through the entire series. It is very illuminating. Who am I to recommend this to secular or non-observant Jews? Yet, I bravely do. You and we must teach our children. This begins by reading the Bible. There is to be found truth, for Jews and for the whole world.

    We begin one child, one non-believer, one secular Jew (or non-Jew) at a time. Be of good cheer. G-d has called Israel to be a blessing to the world. Read Torah. Get about blessing us!

  11. Steven Oppenheimer says:

    After quoting the Lubliner Rov’s explanation of, “I will remember My covenant with Yaakov, and even my covenant with Yitzchok, and even my covenant with Avraham will I remember, and I will remember the Land,” you then quoted the Gemara in Pesachim (117b), regarding Avrohom Avinu, “becha chosmin” that it ends with Avrohom. I thought you were going to suggest that if a Jew gives up Torah, obervance (Ya’akov) and gives up Avodah – synagogue affiliation (Yitzchok) and finally abandoning Chesed, no longer supporting Jewish education and charity (Avrohom) then that is unfortunately the rejection of all the covenants and the end of the line. Even identification with the Land (Israel), does not get passed down to the next generation when everything else has been abandoned. And that is the tragedy of our current state of affairs.

  12. Michael Halberstam says:

    When you feel the blood gushing from a writer’s heart, you know his words are inspired. What you say is true, and even more than that, you speak as one who cares. At the end of the Torah, we read Shirat Ha’azinu More than anything, it offers hope that He cares and that we have to as well.

  13. lacosta says:

    1— the MO community need worry that its young generation , which is barely orthopraxic , and even less likely to be orthodoxic –and have fallen for many woke PC Truths [ LGBT, feminism etc ] –it’s only a matter of time till that movement is also mostly ex-jews . and of course from there a short jump to antizionism

    2— with wide swaths of the hassidic world rabidly antizionist-entity [ e g ] , and with much of the litvish world blase at best on the zionist entity [ maybe Palestine would support more kollelim ] , the jewish defenders of a jewish enterprise in Canaan will be increasingly limited. Keep courting the xtians , they are much more reliable than jews

    3– al derech hateva , demographics and politics clearly make viable jewish living in europe nearly untenable; and the US to follow shortly thereafter. the movement to treat israel as a pariah should not take much longer than the south africa model. Between cancelling landing rights, trade rights, tax deductibility of donations etc they should be able to dismantle theis enterprise within less than a decade , if that long

    4– ein lanu lehishaen ella al avinu shebashamayim . because al derech hateva , the survival of both a US jewish community and a jewish entity in palestine will be untenable….

    • Steven Brizel says:

      A Republican Congress will be far more supportive of Israel and put a strong brake on the woke left That alone will or should render items 3 and 4 a nice subject for a novel As for item 2 the Yated every week has a column by American Charedim
      who went on Aliyah and who describe how they are doing it Many Charedim in Israel realize that they can work and even serve in the Army and preserve their degree and level of observance As for Item 1 this subject remains of vital importance Rumors of the demise of a normal US and RL support for Israel are rumors greatly exaggerated but are the fever of the woke swamps called universities

      • Bob Miller says:

        No speculation about future Congressional or Presidential election results has any basis until fraudulent voting and fraudulent vote counting are eliminated or drastically reduced.

    • william gewirtz says:

      thank you for your concern for MO survival. I am decidedly modern orthodox, as my comments should make obvious. the eight grandchildren with whom God has blessed me are all traditional halakhic Jews. yes, there are losses, but there is no reason to worry about our disappearance.

      worry more about the non-traditional behavior of other groups on both sides who are testing survivability in different ways.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        All sectors of Orthodoxy have to be concerned about the threat posed by the intersectional woke progressive world regardless of the nachas that we enjoy from our grandchildren ( and I certainly enjoy that from our eineklach regardless of their age). That threat poses itself in many ways -on issues of gender, secular studies in yeshivos and their orientation, and “ethnic studies” which are decidedly hostile to the conventional family , strongly anti Semitic and anti Israel, and which are rooted in Marxist ideology that is taking over academia, culture and corporate boards. There is no doubt that you as someone who worked for a major corporation would today certainly be confronted by proponents of that ideology in some shape or form.

        We are all viewed as being in the same boat as purported “oppressors” and it is time to recognize that which worked for all of us regardless of our hashkafas in the past decades which was successful were tactics used in a different war. History teaches us that undue reliance on the tactics of the past such as the supposed impregnability of the Maginot Line against a blitzkrieg should lead us to rethink and analyze whether our communal and individual defenses and responses to the woke left are adequate.

      • D K says:

        “yes. there are losses”.
        Here’s a quote from Rabbi Avroham Gordimer’s article in the Yated last week (
        “Dr. Mark Trencher, president of Nishma Research, led the 2017 Nishma Research Profile of American Modern Orthodox Jews and reported some truly disturbing findings, such as:

        Only 73% of respondents said that Orthodoxy is an extremely important part of their lives;
        Only 70% of Jews raised as Modern Orthodox remain observant (with the median age of dropping observance being 28; Dr. Trencher reported this figure from a social media survey that was not part of Nishma’s formal study);
        Fewer than a third of Modern Orthodox men attend shul on weekdays, and when dealing with Modern Orthodox men between the ages of 18 and 34, the number drops to just 25%;
        Only 35% of Modern Orthodox men learn Torah daily;
        The risk of going off the derech is almost ten times greater (!) for those who describe themselves as “Open Orthodox” or “Liberal Modern Orthodox” than the rest of Modern Orthodox Jewry;
        Emunah in Torah MiSinai and observance of mitzvos among the former two groups is likewise very wanting (only two-thirds believe in Torah MiSinai, and only around half of the men lay tefillin daily);
        A large plurality of the children in these Open Orthodox and Liberal Modern Orthodox groups is less frum than their parents (49% and 38% respectively), whereas a smaller percentage of these groups’ children is more observant than their parents. (Nishma’s researchers specifically noted that this likely suggests a trend toward OTD in these two groups.)”

        This is not “losses”, this is a holocaust. Reb William, you may be a special person with lots of Siyata Dishmaya, but the MO world in general needs to wake up.

      • Steven Brizel says:

        The real issue is not what hashkafa we subscribe to or what our grandchildren subscribe to, but whether and how such hashkafic approaches deal with today’s challenges. Relying on the successful strategies that worked in part when we were grandchildren, as opposed to grandparents strikes me as mistaken when the threats posed are clearly different and more dangerous . Reliance upon the weapons of the past in a war waged against you with different weapons can lead to catastrophic results. Just ask anyone who thought that Polish cavalry or the Maginot Line could stop a blitzkrieg or that battleships unattended would never be attacked on a Sunday morning at the crack of dawn.

      • william gewirtz says:

        I suggest you worry about traditional Jews destined to a life of poverty, accustomed to living off handouts, with weak respect at best for fiscal integrity, regardless of what they assert about their beliefs and practices. What all this means in practice is unclear at best. What is clear to me is if everyone worried about those closest to them (aniyai irha, in a sense) not those that are distant from them hashkafically, the world would be a better place.

    • rkz says:

      I completely agree with point 4.
      Our survival (and much more) here in EY is a true miracle, and we have emuna in Hashem that it will only get better. We see amazing siyata dishmaya every day.
      As Maran Harav Charlap zt”l wrote many decades ago, we don’t want assistance from the Goyim, only from Hashem.

      • mycroft says:

        “A large plurality of the children in these Open Orthodox and Liberal Modern Orthodox groups is less frum than their parents (49% and 38% respectively), whereas a smaller percentage of these groups’ children is more observant than their parents”

        These children were likely subjected to mixed messages. Many of their teachers at their day schools do not believe in MO would not send their children to an MO day school. Thus children end up believing that teachers are teaching only for money because they don’t believe in what school is theoretically trying to teach. Some follow the teachers hashkafa but sadly more say a plague on both your houses.

  14. lacosta says:

    r steven brizel is i am afraid being too optimistic with regard to US voting patterns and demographics. sixty years ago , conservatives planned to enter Law and Wall Street , while LW elements infiltrated all the social sciences. the latter’s dividends now pay off , as all education from preschool thru PhD has been PC for so long , it is hard to see the future of the Democrats as being other than very left and very anti-Israel . reading their social media , the rant is that it is not viable to be ‘progressive except for palestine ‘ – and the under forty jews are raised that way.
    RYA can attest as well to the fact that the RW frum xtians have their own very strong OTD issue , and this of course means the only reliable ally for Israel in the US may be limited to the next few years at best….

  15. Bob Miller says:

    (corrected version) What is the ratio of young MO Jews now in colleges and universities (YU and Touro excluded) to the total number of young MO Jews in that age group? Do we appreciate the many ways in which today’s college and university experience in and out of class works against proper Jewish consciousness? No one wants to send their children into a spiritual meat grinder, but aren’t way too many of us doing exactly that? Oh yes, students need to learn skills, but, above all, they need to learn how to think and how to judge themselves and others in light of Torah.

  16. Nachum says:

    It’s even worse than that: Not only is there no connection to a Jewish future, there is an active attack on it. “Continuity,” the Woke element of Jewish academics has declared, is a code word for Toxic Masculinity (eeeek!) only, and must be discarded as any sort of topic for discussion.

  17. Steven Brizel says: Adlerstein mentioned “Jewish Quislings” . Take a look at the composition of the within link and you can see that far too many R and C rabbinical students and their allied signatories deserve that title.

    • Bob Miller says:

      We need blame these students’ parents (or possibly grandparants) and teachers for the lack of genuine Jewish content in their upbringing.

  18. Steven Brizel says: For those interested-read and send the author some form of Chizuk.This is what happens when liberals are mugged by reality

  19. Michael Halberstam says:

    The problem is not whether we are comfortable with the group we have chosen to identify with. Rather , we need to feel comfortable with our level of observance. Many people appear to be Chassidic or Chareidi when in fact their practice suggests that they are MO. Similarly many people think they are MO or Centrist, but they are in many ways indistinguishable from Chareidim. The issue is whether you one seeks to examine how to define his level of religious devotion, or whether he simply wants to point out why he is not the same as the other guy. Period

  20. Reb Yid says:

    Israel and Bibi made their bed with Trump.

    You’re now seeing the consequences.

    Bibi is also responsible for the end of bipartisan US support for Israel (let alone among US Jews), which had lasted for many, many decades through many different Israeli PMs, US Presidents and different parties controlling Congress.

    There are plenty of active and observant US Jews throughout their lives who have gotten fed up with the direction of Israel’s government and with its political and religious leadership. This is not the Israel we grew up with.

    We are proud to be Americans, and also work to make needed changes to the many faults of this country which have become increasingly apparent in recent years. The same is true about how we feel toward Israel–we are grateful that the country exists and for its accomplishments, but it is headed in the wrong direction in many ways and it seems unresponsive to these trends.

    • Raymond says:

      Actually, what has caused Democrats to abandon Israel is not the great Jewish patriot Benjamin Netanyahu at all, but rather the fact that the Democrats have made it their goal to oppose anything supported by Republican Donald Trump. And since Republican Donald Trump is the best friend that we Jews ever had in the White House (Republican Richard Nixon, Republican Ronald Reagan, and Republican George W Bush were also great friends of our Jewish State of Israel), the Democrats, led by AOC, Crazy Bernie, Ilhan Omar, John “Lurch” Kerry, Pocahontas Warren, and Raunchita Tlaib, have decided to stab Israel in the back.

      • mycroft says:

        We must cultivate friends on both sides of the aisle. There are democrats from areas with very few Jews who have taken a strong stand against anti-Semitism and were pro Israel in the recent conflict

    • Steve Brizel says:

      Do you support and subscribe to the views of the intersectional woke progressive left including Such as to Semites as the squad Self hating Jews such as Sanders and BS ? That is a simple question which you can answer in a simple yes or no answer .The left turned on Israel when after 1967.

      A real reading of American history is that America eradicated history and segregation in a relatively short period of time thanks to a bloody civil war and the gradual legal battle that ended segregation in the courts Snd via acts of Congress Yet the left now objects to the idea of being rewarded on its merits and insists upon equal results for unequal efforts as opposed to equality of opportunity Let’s facts it the left is Marxist and views the world simply as consisting of oppressors and oppressed and because our community worked hard and succeeded and built a Jewish state out of the ashes of the Holocaust we are somehow oppressors It is shameful that some who went through 12 years of Yeshiva education support BLM a profoundly anti Semitic ideology rooted in Marxist theory that is combined with Zinn’s Marxist views and illiteracy in American history

    • Steve Brizel says:

      This is woke propaganda American Jews especially those who are secular and assimilated define their Jewishness by the false god of social justice and the woke cause of the day They are uncomfortable with an Israel that defends itself and with the fact that Israel today is ground zero for Jewish observance learning, continuity and Jewish families with far more children than their American counterparts

    • Nachum says:

      Wow, how many self-righteous cliches can one pack into one post?

      • Steve Brizel says:

        There were no cliches in the above two posts I don’t accept or debate devotees of the woke agenda I state facts

  21. Contarian says:

    I have coined a new term. A Pew Jew is defined as a person who is not halachically Jewish but meets the Pew Survey’s criteria for inclusion in its report on Jews. A prime example would be Senator Jon Ossoff whose father was/is Jewish but his mother was not Jewish at his birth. He converted in a Reform ceremony later on. Why he did so is a mystery since Reform Judaism recognizes patrilineal Jews.

    • Nachum says:

      Reform recognizes patrilineal Jews *if they consider themselves Jews*. Same for matrilineal, which means Orthodoxy recognizes Jews Reform doesn’t.

      • Reb Yid says:

        It’s not enough for the father to be Jewish. There must be a formal affirmation by the individual at some point–at least this was the case in 1983 when the Reform movement first came out with patrilineal descent.

      • Bob Miller says:

        Whatever Reform does short of embracing Torah is not enough. Patching in a scrap of Judaism or Jewish terminology here and there into an overall rejection of Torah won’t cut it.

  22. Reb Yid says:

    Look at what is going on in Israel over the past few days. It’s a combination of what we experienced in this country over the past couple of years (culminating in January 6th) and the environment in Israel prior to Yitzchak Rabin’s assassination.

    The statements by many Israeli political and especially religious leaders are horrific, and often use identical terms employed by Trump and the right wing domestic terrorists in America. Doing anything necessary to maintain your hold on power.

    And you wonder why so many Americans and so many American Jews are so turned off?

    Don’t pretend for a second that every single person who has serious concerns about Israel is “un-Jewish” (as you presumptively think you have the right to define what this is or is not) or “anti-Semitic” (same).

    It’s not.

    Meanwhile, where is the responsible religious leadership in Israel? Or, for that matter, where is the Orthodox leadership in America to denounce this in the strongest terms?

    • Steven Brizel says:

      This so called unity government won’t last If you don’t think Iran is an existential threat to Israel and a bankrolled of Hamas and terror you are blind to the facts on the ground

    • Steven Brizel says:

      My question from yesterday remains unanswered Do you intend to answer it or not? If you don’t your rhetoric reveals you to be a woke progressive who does not engage in dialogue but rather subscribed to a quasi religion whose values cannot be questioned

    • Steven Brizel says:

      This is pure woke hogwash The economy roared until the lockdowns shut the economy down Trumps support of Israel and opposition to terror led to quiet in the Middle East and judges were nominated snd confirmed who were loyal to constitutional values We now will see that the Pandemic like Trump said had its origins in the lab in Wuhan and that this administration is too afraid of China to seek any real redress for that Fact In the meantime the legacy media which was so wrong on so many issues of the 29th Century manufactured a fake Russian scandal and became an expensive Twitter page with false views of American history rooted in Marxism Hardly the signs of domestic terror run wild Indeed the university campuses and public schools were revealed to be left wing re-education camps

    • rkz says:

      Reb Yid,
      I think that you wrote that you don’t live here in EY.
      I do (barukh Hashem)
      Never ever trust the media!
      The situation is very different from what you imagine.
      May you have the zechut to make aliya soon.

    • Raymond says:

      Look at what is going on in Israel over the past few days. It’s a combination of what we experienced in this country over the past couple of years culminating in the constant rioting and burning down of cities in reaction to violent criminal George Floyd dying from a drug overdose.

      The statements by many Israeli Leftist leaders are horrific, and often use identical terms employed by those suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome and the Left Wing domestic terrorists in America. Doing anything necessary to maintain your hold on power. And you wonder why so many traditional Jews are so turned off to Leftist politics.

      Don’t pretend for a second that every single person who has serious concerns about the Left is “un-Jewish” (as you presumptively think you have the right to define what this is or is not) or “anti-Semitic” (same).

      It’s not.

      Meanwhile, the responsible religious leadership in Israel can be found among the Orthodox. For that matter, where is the Democratic leadership in America to denounce the Intolerant Left in the strongest terms?

      • Bob Miller says:

        No one really expects the Democratic leadership to denounce itself. It needs to be starved of Jewish votes and donations.

  23. David Z says:

    It is still trie though that the reaosn that Progressivism and Wokeness is so attractive to “White” youth is because they have no identity and are searching for one, often unknowingly. For the Jewish nshama that yearning is even stronger. It is sad that so many will never know what it is their nshama seeks, but the talented kiruv workers are able to tap in. Of course they should be judged on their records. One of the best I’m aware of with a real track record is MesorahNJ.

    It’s where I personally donate. And they are always looking for new talent–bnot for what R; Adlerstein describes as poeople who couldn’t make it in chinuch, rachmana litzlan. If you have any interest in the career or in helping a group that uses succes as its metric, that’s the address.

    • That’s not what I said, which was that I’ve heard MANY in their later kolel years who knew they were not cut out for chinuch or rabbanus say that they could always “do into kiruv.” Presumably, they quickly learn that they are unqualified for the role. The ones who stick with it are often superstars. I met scores of them in the years that I served on the board of AJOP, and later when I attended the yearly conventions beautifully organized by my friend R. Itchie Lowenbraun zt”l

  24. Steven Brizel says:

    Anyone interested in left wing anti Semitism which hides under the label anti Zionism and such groups as BLM JSP etc and which has mushroomed into raw anti Semitism should read Sylvia Barack Fishman’s article on the subject which is available at Mosaic Magazine

  25. Zundel Eysheshoker says:

    Have you had time to reflect on your ill advised idea to vote for Smotrich? After seeing the new government that will be formed, do you have any regrets? Do you have the strength of character to admit that you made a mistake, and a vote for Gimmel would never have resulted in this?

  26. Bob Miller says:

    We ought to reflect on the Cardozo Law School decision to require the teaching of the bogus Critical Race Theory and similar trendy mishugas:
    Is this YU’s latest take on Torah U’Mada? Looks like anti-Mada to me. I had hoped that YU, of all universities, would not have given this intellectual filth the green light. After all, we Jews are prime hate objects of CRT. Sincere MO parents and students have something new to avoid.

  27. Steven Brizel says:

    Then read this linked article on those who are woke, pretend to be students and scholars of Jewish studies but whose hostile views of Israel must be fought

  28. Steven Brizel says: and

    At least some students had the mesiras nefesh to rip such Marxist garbage out of their yearbook.

    CRS and “systemic racism” are predicated on the Marxist and Christian notions of “orginal sin” which is contrary to what the Torah,Tanach, Chazal and every strain of Machshavah in our Mesorah tell us about the mitvzah of teshuvah on a personal and communal level. IMO, this is far worse than CRT being taught at a YU affiliated law school and is indicative of the hashkafic rot in certain parts of the MO world/

    One wonders if Frisch has had seminars and Shabbatonim about the challenges of remaining a ShomerTorah U Mitzvos in today’s secular college environment

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