Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Angst of Anglo Charedi Converts

You've got to feel sorry for the pain of Anglo charedi converts. (Maybe I'm especially empathetic because I used to be one.) They are having a really hard time lately.

With the term "Anglo charedi converts," also known as "Anglo charedi wannabees," I am not talking about people who converted to Judaism. Instead, I am referring to people who grew up Orthodox but not charedi. These people tend to be idealistic, sincere, and passionate. They want to be moser nefesh for higher goals. At some point, they wanted to become more serious about Judaism, and they received the impression that this meant becoming charedi. This often happens during the post-high-school year in Israel, especially if they attended one of those yeshivos that is supposedly for centrist/ modern Orthodox students but which has charedi rebbeim (such as Ohr Yerushalayim, Toras Shraga, etc.).

The Anglo charedi convert has changed his course in life as a result. He has eschewed the high-powered careers chosen by his classmates (unless he became charedi at a later stage in life). The Anglo charedi convert typically attended kollel, being reluctantly supported by his non-charedi father or father-in-law. He has lots of pictures of (charedi) Gedolim on his wall. His children are in charedi schools. He is very happy with his new social affiliation.

At least, until recently.

You see, most Anglo charedi converts can never truly become full-blooded charedim. They have been brought up with solid values about how to be a good citizen. They have an innate respect for government, and a special place in their hearts for the State of Israel. They read the non-Jewish press more than the charedi press, and thus identify with Israel against the rest of the world. They feel a swell of pride whenever they see an Israeli soldier. They think that some secular studies are beneficial. They are acutely conscious of how non-charedim view charedim.

How do Anglo charedi converts feel when they see everything that Israeli charedim do? It's very uncomfortable for them to see the utter contempt of Israeli charedim for the State of Israel, their lack of appreciation for the IDF, and their refusal to acknowledge the value of work. They are dumbfounded by the fighting between different Gedolim. The Anglo charedi convert may even feel, deep down, that there is something to this "share the burden" concept.

There are some Anglo charedi converts who realize that the charedi world is not the One True Way that it claims to be. These people disassociate from the charedi world, to a lesser or greater degree (see my article The Making Of Post-Haredim). But for most people that is too difficult a step. They have embedded themselves in charedi society, and it's too difficult socially, emotionally and psychologically to change path in life.

Some frankly admit to their discomfort with charedi society, especially with regard to recent events. (Several such people are readers of this blog.) But many do not want to admit to such problems with their chosen path. As a result, many Anglo charedi converts engage in denial.

These people refuse to discuss the statements made by Gedolim and rabbonim of the Rav Steinman/ Rav Auerbach camps about each other. They'll claim that the rallies in Jerusalem and Manhattan, staged as protest against the government, and designed with political goals (as evidenced by the location), were simply innocent prayer gatherings. They'll claim that Tehillim 69, calling for God to pour His wrath upon the evil heathens, was not recited at the rally as a reference to the Israeli government, even though this was quite obviously why it was being recited, and it was consistent with statements uttered by Rav Ovadiah Yosef and, yibadel lechaim, Rav Steinman. They'll claim that the Nachal Charedi unit in the IDF is a good thing and is evidence of charedi participation in the IDF, even though there are barely any charedim in it and the Gedolim at the rally forbade further participation in it. They'll claim that the Gedolim really support career-training programs for charedim, even though all evidence is against this. As a defense against criticisms of charedi society, they'll point to Anglo-charedim who have professional careers and who davven for the IDF, even though these are precisely the Anglo exceptions that prove the rule.

In addition, these Anglo charedi converts will try to shut down any critique of charedi society. (This is in contrast to Israeli charedim, who relish the argument.) They'll describe it as "bashing" or "hate-mongering" and they'll call for achdus, as we have seen on Cross-Currents. But really, they want to silence the criticism because it makes them uncomfortable and insecure about their path in life.

If the Anglo charedi converts are not able to change direction in life, one can only hope that they will positively influence the full-blooded charedim around them. Unfortunately, this is unlikely, since true charedim don't really respect Anglo charedim as charedim, just as sources of money. Still, one can hope!

120 comments:

  1. As a BT who was once upon a time a "chareidi wannabe" living in Israel, and later America, I think the initial period of disengagement came when we began the shidduch process for our children. It used to kill me to see my child rejected by shadchanim and supposedly "top" marriage candidates despite my child having wonderful qualities because 1. we refused to lie and say we would support someone to the tune of $75K per year to stay in learning for an indefinite period and 2. we were BTs lacking yichus and therefore somewhat "tainted." I actually used to cry tears with tremendous sadness and frustration over the fact that my children were being rejected not because they were bad people, but because we, the parents, could not measure up to the demands of the system. Ironically, many of those same people of yichus who rejected us, as it turned out, had "chashuv" family members who had spent time in prison, who had family members who wouldn't give a get, who had family members who were sexual predators or were in jail. Yet *we* weren't good enough! I am pleased to report that b'h all of my children married happily to wonderful people, but the ugliness we experienced with the shidduch process served as a catalyst for us to reexamine the system, for this was truly "not what we signed up for." When one is a BT one is extremely idealistic and proactively seeking positive, upward spiritual/religious growth; and I am ashamed to say we allowed ourselves to be totally brainwashed by the chareidi system, the irony of which does not escape me since we were never really fully accepted by that system for all the years we tried so hard to be part of it. We simply got tired of the shtick which had everything to do with "frumkeit" but little to do with Toras Emes. BH we are spiritually strong, we are shomrei mitzvot, our children and grandchildren are all shomrei mitzvot . . . we're just not chareidi.

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  2. Actually, what disturbs the Charedi wannabes is that the Israeli Charedim value only those who are true Talmidei Chachamim, and if you are not such, they could not careless what you have to say. Those Anglos who are sincere Mevakshim are happy to live in such an environment, while those who merely pretend to be scholars must write their own blogs and endlessly complain in their own quest for respect.

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    1. True Torah scholars like Rav Soloveitchik, Rav Lichtenstein and many others?
      Please explain why Charedim supported Metzger and Rabbi Lau for Chief Rabbi.

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    2. clued in? what a joke! YOU don't have a clue. the charedim couldn't care less whether your a true talmid chacham or not. they only care if you agree with them or not. if you play their game your more than welcome to say or write, no matter who you are. if you disagree, you could be the biggest talmid chacham in the world, you're still worthless. wake up and smell the coffee.

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  3. OK, so you found us out. I'm one of your subject group, though more inclined to be a dissenter than a doublethinker. That missive from Rav Gold said just about everything that's been on my mind, plus more, and I would never have dared to be as ... um ... forthright as he was.

    So what do you propose for those of us Anglo pseudo-Haredim who want to center our lives around sincere avodas Hashem, who are utterly repulsed by Israeli Charedi attitudes towards Israel and non-Haredim - yet who feel distinctly uncomfortable with the tendency of much of non-Haredi society towards pushing the envelope of how much halacha can be squeezed to fit in with my desired lifestyle? e.g. how short can I make my skirt/sleeves/hair covering, is it really so bad for boys and girls to hang out together as long as they don't touch, generally lax attitude towards halachos bein adam laMakom.

    Is there a middle ground somewhere? Can we create it?

    Perhaps that's what we Anglo "charedim" can give to Klal Yisrael: a new derech, a middle path, for people who take Torah seriously, and yet respect and appreciate the State of Israel, and other Jews who are not exactly like us?

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    1. What you're describing isn't a "middle path." It's a slightly-less-hard-right path.

      What's so bad about boys and girls hanging out together, anyway?

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  4. I'm one of this Anglo Charedim... But don't understand why you're focusing so much on IDF ?

    IDF is an army like many others. It's a job and became the Israeli religion.

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  5. SGB, It's called chardal

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  6. It's called Chardal.

    Not exactly, as many Chardalnikim are as close-minded about the rest of society as Chareidim and quite a few felt obliged to at least partly support the Chareidim in their fight against the draft, the only difference being that most of them still maintain an allegiance to the State.

    So it's not Chardal - it's called 'serious Dati Leumi'. Admittedly, your kids won't be growing up in a completely sheltered world (which Chareidim don't have either), but that's what life is about.

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  7. Ameteur (sp?) - I have also heard the term Chardal, though I have yet to see institutions referred to as "Chardal" that are in the mold that I described. Ferinstance, a local school I have heard called "Chardal" either has no particular policy about home Internet, or the families simply ignore it, because I know many kids from this school who have pretty much unfettered access to the Internet. That's their choice, but I don't want my kids exposed to that kind of influence.

    To flesh out my point more: I, as an adult, have enough self-security to fall in the "unclassified" zone between Charedi and Dati-Leumi; I understand nuances and I know how to extract the good aspects of both worlds and filter out the stuff I don't like or want. But for my children, who see the world in stark black-and-white terms need some way to identify themselves. I can tell them "we're just Jews" all I want, but like it or not, I'm making a political statement when I send them to Charedi schools, which I do because I find it easier to let the schools shtup them with an emphasis on Torah and their friends are from socially conservative homes where Internet access is at least strictly supervised, and let me deprogram them from whatever bigotry they're exposed to in the process - rather than send them to schools where the chevreh they're hanging out with is pulling them towards gashmius, iPads, socializing with the opposite sex, etc.

    We need schools, shuls and support groups for people who fall into this bracket. I don't care too much what the label is, but we have to be able to able to stand up and say that we are "..." and proud, and we have our own, independent derech that we view as our perfection and not as a sort of watered down "Israeli Charedi". The "extreme middle", to quote Pogo (for anyone who recognizes the cultural reference).

    There's already a paradigm for what I'm talking about - Chabad. It's neither Charedi nor Da"l; it has a life of its own, and has no inferiority complex with respect to other streams. But I'm a Litvak, not a chassid; I don't share their general hashkafa or their messianic tilt. So I want to see a new movement that embodies all the values we've been talking about, and doesn't keep looking over its shoulder to see whether the Israeli Charedim approve.

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    1. Mmmm, but if you give them a Charedi education you are already condemning them to an inferior education in everything except Torah, socialization which verges on the xenophobic and elevates a single so-to-speak-career path, social welfare payments and charity, above all others. This will make it very difficult for them to make their way anywhere except in the Charedi world. And they will have a very tough row to hoe there since you haven't completely bought into the lifestyle. Not saying you can't thread that needle, but it is going to be very difficult for your kids later on.

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    2. There are places for this. try kiryat moshe in jerusalem, try nofei ayalon, yad binyamin, neve daniel, try moreshet up north. try being part of a garin torani all over the country if you are young enough! Try

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  8. I was on my way in that direction at one point. I don't think I would have ever drank all the Kool-Aid as their non/anti Zionism was a non-starter for me. But I did buy into a lot of the other stuff. Then I moved here (Bet Shemesh) as a "Chardal" and stared face to face into "real" Chareidism. That (and what they did to you and Rav Kaminetsky) was all it took to eliminate the "Char"... B"H.

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  9. Fwiw and in my opinion, Charedism is not Judaism. They conveniently ignore whole sections of Halacha in order to focus on a new form of worship. They have substituted aggadita for Halacha. They have commandeered the printing of seforim in order to revise them according to their ideals. They invent new laws and requirements. They mock those with whom they disagree. They declare a chillul hashem to be a kiddush hashem while trampling the laws between man and his fellow.

    The masses have been snookered and bamboozled.

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    1. Jacob GoldenbergApril 8, 2014 at 8:46 PM

      Anti- chareidi bashing for no reason. And you claim that others are "trampling the laws between man and his fellow". No, that sounds like you.

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    2. Actually, every one of my statements is factual and easily documented.

      I make no ad-hominem attacks - I am complaining about a movement that is forcing change on Jewish society in a very, dare I say it, insidious manner. Under the guise of piety this movement is actually introducing novel ideas as if they were God's ideal.

      Do you believe that spitting on girls is not trampling the laws between man and his fellow? Do you believe that physically attacking people because they do not dress to you standards is acceptable? Do you indeed believe these things??

      If you can refute my claims, please do. I wish I was wrong in my assessment.

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    3. Rabbi Zvi, spitting on girls and attacking tziniyus violaters is very much NOT the norm amongst charedim.

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    4. Rabbi Slifkin -

      True - I used the extreme to make a point, perhaps I should have been more circumspect. It has not, to my knowledge, been widely condemned in the Chareidi world.

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  10. I once read a flyer that was distributed that consisted of quotes of all different rabbonim vs. Rav Steinman. One that I remember went along the lines of, "I davven for him three times a day--in the berachah "ולמלשינים אל תהי תקוה"." That's pretty strong to call him a heretic. What are the other charedi rabbonim so incensed about?

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  11. SGB - B"H, there are plenty of wonderful Torani communities here in Israel, and they are exactly as you describe:
    http://ourshiputzim.blogspot.co.il/2009/12/you-just-might-be-religious-zionist.html

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    1. We have found several, but they all require a minimum $450,000 and up for the cost of housing

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    2. aint that the truth.
      horrible, I agree.

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  12. clued in: Please. They admire people who can make a lot of noise. The only talmidei chachamim they admire are those from their camp, and they admire plenty of ignoramuses as well so long as they fit the bill. Anyone Anglo, quadi-moderate, whatever is suspect. It's still a nebach, but nu.

    SGB: First, few if any people are consciously "pushing an envelope." Sure, some people are lax (although some of the items you list are simply not signs of laxness to some), but it's laxness, that's all.

    And what to do? Simple: Do your own thing. I know this sounds stunning to charedim, but it's actually possible. Yes, you can be a fully modern person and completely and strictly observant. Lots of people do it, and mostly on their own- there's no "movement" to join or even create.

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  13. Mrs S. - As the commenters on your blog there note, it's all well to say that these communities exist, but it's not much good without giving a list of them.

    I would consider moving into a "Religious Zionist" suburb or yishuv, if the overwhelming majority of its residents were medakdek in mitzvos, including tznius in dress and social life, kvias itim l'torah, and relating to the Internet with the due care and concern that such a powerful force deserves. Unfortunately my overall impression of many such Da"L areas is that the flow is towards pushing the envelope of Halacha to permit more and more in the name of modernity. I am not comfortable with that.

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    1. Wow, you really are afraid of making your own way. Why can't you live in a community with people that aren't EXACTLY like you?

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    2. SGB I used to be of your mindset. I grew increasingly annoyed when I could find so few people outside my (former) community that met my "standards". Some years later it finally dawned on me: if someone was lax in fulfilling a mitzva of bein adam l'chavero, it affected me. But if someone was lax in fulfilling a mitzvah bein adam l"Makom, it was exactly that: between that person and HaShem, NOT between me and the person, and therefore not for me to judge. To adopt such an attitude of not getting emotionally involved in someone else's bein adam l'Makom is incredibly freeing. Your blood pressure will go way down, you will be more at peace, and you will concentrate much more on your own personal / religious/spiritual growth than someone else's. You will become more tolerant and much more likeable. You will develop friendships with all sorts of people, many less "religious" than yourself (and possibly not religious at all). If your own sense of emuna is strong, you will not be in any way "threatened" or "endangered" by being around someone less religious than yourself. And here's the really amazing thing: you may get to know certain secular individuals that are so incredibly outstanding in terms of their integrity, sensitivity, and kindness (yes - even though they may not keep kosher nor wear long-sleeved shirts), that it may force YOU to become a better person too.

      I am speaking from personal experience! Live and learn. And grow.

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  14. If the Anglo charedi converts are not able to change direction in life, one can only hope that they will positively influence the full-blooded charedim around them. Unfortunately, this is unlikely, since true charedim don't really respect Anglo charedim as charedim

    Which makes one wonder what your goal and purpose is with all this Chareidi stuff. You once wrote that it was to teach. What's the point?

    Lion of Israel wrote Not exactly, as many Chardalnikim are as close-minded about the rest of society as Chareidim

    I have news for you. Being closed minded has nothing to do with your affiliation. Most people are closed minded. Period. I found that out many years ago when I got fed up with the Chareidi cheider my eldest son was in and sent him to a datai leumi torani school (את חטאי אני מזכיר היום). They were just as closed minded as the chareidim.

    Sure, there are problems with Chareidi society, even major problems and the Anglos are essentially clueless especially the ones who are recent olim. (Guess what. We're not in Kansas anymore!) But the rest of Israeli society is no less flawed. Dati Leumi has it's own set of serious problems, not least of which is the 20-30% noshrim rate. Why do you suppose that is? Could it have something to do with the wonderful data leumi education. There is such a stress on army service that in a survey I read several years ago, in answer to the question, "Would you prefer your son to serve in the army even if he became non-religious or would you prefer for him to remain religious and not serve in the army?" a large percentage (I don't now recall how much but it was significant) answered the former!

    So Rabbi Slifkin, you want to be identified as a Religious Zionist, gezunter heit, there's plenty in the Religious Zionist camp for you to work on.

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  15. But many do not want to admit to such problems with their chosen path. As a result, many Anglo charedi converts engage in denial.

    These people refuse to discuss the statements made by Gedolim and rabbonim of the Rav Steinman/ Rav Auerbach camps about each other.
    ========================
    We all deal with cognitive dissonance in our own way-iiuc the easiest way here is daat torah - I don't understand, but I follow.

    I might also point out that there are serious mo/dl who feel a dissonance(albeit of a different nature) in their own communities' philosophy vs. practice. At some point one needs to declare a home, the key imho is then to try to improve it rather than just accept the shortcomings.

    R'sgb- someone (r'ya?) over at cross currents says that middle way is where they are, I haven't seen the evidence of its existence.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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  16. SGB-
    I sympathize with your situation, however I became observant in the 1970's nad I was never part of the Haredi community, having been attracted to Torah by Zionism and awe at the miracle of modern Israel's rebirth. What I like about the DL-"Torani" community is that there is no pressure to conform. I see that you seem to feel that children need to be exposed to a certain amount of conforminst pressure from teachers and/or friends to keep them away from the internet and the such. The DL-Torani community and schools (Noam, Tzvia, Yeshivot Benei Akiva) are pretty open about things (there is a lot of emphasis on girl's dressing according to the rules of tzniut, however) regarding raising the children with the proviso be that the family is Shomer Shabbat. Given this, by looking at my neighbors and their children, I must say virtually all the children grew up to be religious, many studied in Yeshivot Hesder and Girl's Midrashot and they are now passing on these values to the next generation. I saw this last Shabbat which I spent in the Garin Torani of young families in Lod. The system works! I understand your reservations but an alternative does exist. A lot dependes on what sort of example and personal influence you have on your children, and one should not expect the school and society to do all the work.

    Regarding the "New Haredim" movement which is related to the Anglo-Haredi Converts society Rav Slifkin referred to....I see it having a lot of problems. IT DOES NOT HAVE A TRUE IDEOLOGICAL BASE. They want to be socially haredim but to enjoy the benefits of modern Israeli soceity. But then the problem arises with THEIR children, whom they insist on raising in Haredi school, where they will be taught that their parents are NOT living up to the true Haredi values. Thus, they are planting a conflict with the next generation and the problems will start all over with many kids rejecting their parents and their relatively "liberal" values.

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  17. Let me cast my vote with Nachum's point that ultimately being religious in the modern world is a "do-it-yourself" project. You ultimately have to decide what is important to you. I have seen secular Jews and non-Jews, for that matter, that have important values that they educated their children to cherish, and these values are at odds with modern society, and yet they succeeded in turning out children who respected these values.
    Tne neighborood I live in (in a suburb of Tel Aviv) is majority secular, but there is a signficant religious minority and there are numerous shuls in the vicinity that give a variety of shiurim, including the Daf Yomi and they are generally well attended. This is the community that I referred to as being largely successful in raising their children to be religious.

    BTW-one thing I have found to be important was to openly point out inconsistencies in my own behavior or beliefs and to discuss them openly. I thing this shows the children the importance of constantly evaluating their own behavior and not depending on external pressure to enforce certain standards of observance.

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  18. new wave thinkerApril 8, 2014 at 1:08 PM

    Well, I wish you all much luck in your attempt to establish a new movement that will change and impact all of religious society, if not the entire world. Of course, you will need a place to daven and learn, and schools for your children.

    It seems that you require a leader, a man who can be a great rabbi and teacher, who will be able to spread the new Torah to his adherents, and indeed attract and inspireI a newman generation.

    Hey, I have an idea! Why not you, R Slifkin?! Please, won't you consider opening a shul or a Yeshiva instead of a new mueseum? Please! Be our leader!

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    1. He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy. Now go away!

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  19. Y Ben David wrote, "Regarding the "New Haredim" movement which is related to the Anglo-Haredi Converts society Rav Slifkin referred to....I see it having a lot of problems. IT DOES NOT HAVE A TRUE IDEOLOGICAL BASE. They want to be socially haredim but to enjoy the benefits of modern Israeli soceity.

    The real problem with the Anglos is that religion in chu"l means something totally different that what it means here in Israel. In chu"l religion is a primarily personal/community endeavor. In Israel it has national connotations. The problem with Chareidim in Israel is that on the one hand they deny the national aspect of Judaism as it manifests in a state and all that that entails while at the same time benefiting from said state.

    For the Anglos it's culture shock in the extreme. Until coming to Israel and living here most Anglos don't think about it too much. But here it's impossible not to. It's right in your face. You're forced to deal with it but unfortunately don't have to tools to do so. Which leads to some pretty weird situations one example of which is the stuff Anglo Chareidim were saying during the recent election in Beit Shemesh.

    But then the problem arises with THEIR children, whom they insist on raising in Haredi school, where they will be taught that their parents are NOT living up to the true Haredi values.

    It depends on how far from Chareidi values you are. Obviously, if you want your kids to go to hesder Yeshivas, your going to have a problem if you send them to a Chareidi Yeshiva Ketana. However, if you basically agree with the Chareidi line but also have a healthy attitude towards working for a living, tolerance for others who are not like you, etc. it's possible to overcome that part of Chareidi education at home. We've done it successfully after an initial period of acclimation during which it took several years to figure out what's going on when we first made aliya 30 years ago.

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  20. "If the Anglo charedi converts are not able to change direction in life, one can only hope that they will positively influence the full-blooded charedim around them. Unfortunately, this is unlikely, since true charedim don't really respect Anglo charedim as charedim, just as sources of money."

    Which makes one wonder what your goal and purpose is with all this Chareidi stuff. You once wrote that it was to teach. What's the point?


    My goal is to influence the Anglo charedi converts, not the Israeli True Charedim (whom I don't have the ability to influence).

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  21. I can strongly identify with the issue being discussed in this article. In fact, this very point is a contributing factor to my family's decision to move back to Chutz l'Aretz.
    Unfortunately over time I have discovered the sad reality that currently in EY there is no community that caters for the needs and beliefs of 'Anglo Charedi Converts' like myself. For those who prioritize with the following values: an intensity towards davening, a strong commitment to learning , an uncompromising stance towards halachic observance, sensitivity regarding issues of Tznius and exposure to technology, there is no other community in EY that exemplifies these ideals as well as the Charedi World. On those grounds alone, many of us would never consider DL, Chardal (despite each one's undeniable qualities respectively). Having said that, I can't happily live in a world where I feel ashamed of my beliefs that aren't fully compatible with Charedi EY,living in fear of exposing myself and being labelled as a kofer who challenges the charedi system. Rav Aaron Feldman said at a conference for Chutznikim raising kids in EY that a major cause of kids going OTD is the problem of confused identity. He insisted that if you don't subscribe to the Charedi model, if you don't relate to the gedolim with awe and trepidation you have no place in EY. The charedi world in EY is black and white and if you can't fully integrate your views, Rav Feldman advised living in America because even if everyone else can be fooled by your facade, your kids won't and will only suffer from the mixed messages they receive from school and home.

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    1. This seems to me to be a reflection of a lack of value of living in Israel as a mitzvah. Perhaps the existence of a Zionist state affects this attitude- "It's not Eretz Yisrael, it's Israel" is the mantra. But whatever the cause, it seems a bit bizarre to me to counsel leaving Israel (which at most is a big bidieved) because you can't be charedi to Israeli standards.

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  22. Y. Ben-David: A lot depends on what sort of example and personal influence you have on your children, and one should not expect the school and society to do all the work.

    I don't expect the school or society to do all the work. Conversely, I am under no illusions that I can carry the burden 100% just in my role as a parent. I have seen how people I know and used to look up to, religiously speaking, have been influenced by choosing to remain in non-Jewish society in chu"l, or choosing to live in mixed secular/religious neighborhoods in Israel. The outside environment is an incredibly powerful influence, and even the parents are influenced by the overall direction in which the surrounding flow is moving, let alone their children. If you're continuously fighting against secular/materialistic/godless values from your surroundings, how can you expect to reach the same spiritual height as if you were living in a society of people who overwhelmingly have values that are aligned with yours?

    As a BT, I didn't grow up with Jewish values being my core values, and as such I feel a certain lacking in transmitting that to my children. That's where I feel that a schooling system that overdoes the Torah is better for my children, to make up for my own shortcomings. I did, however, grow up with a very strong emphasis on menschkeit, honesty, respect for others, etc. So it's of less concern to me if my son's Rebbe is an intolerant bigot, because I at least trust myself to instill him with my values against his Rebbe's example. But to put him in a situation where his social group is obsessed with iPads and iPods, freely surfing the Internet, dressing like hobos for shul, letting their hair grow wild, and socializing with girls? How can I counteract that? How can I expect my son to have the moral courage to stand up against his peers, just because I tell him to?

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    1. I did, however, grow up with a very strong emphasis on menschkeit, honesty, respect for others, etc. So it's of less concern to me if my son's Rebbe is an intolerant bigot, because I at least trust myself to instill him with my values against his Rebbe's example. But to put him in a situation where his social group is obsessed with iPads and iPods, freely surfing the Internet, dressing like hobos for shul, letting their hair grow wild, and socializing with girls?

      SGB, if the Rebbe is an intolerant bigot, most of the child's peers will be, too - because such rebbeim only last where intolerance and bigotry are accepted. So it's not just the rebbe's influence to worry about. If you raise your children with values of menschlechkeit, honesty, respect for others, etc., one of three things will happen: your influence will be weaker than his/her peers', and you'll have an intolerant bigot for a child: your influence will be greater than the peers', and you'll have a fundamentally decent child; or (and I think this is most likely) your influence and the peers' will result in a bitter and disillusioned child who decides that orthodoxy is mostly morally bankrupt because the bad examples clearly outnumber the good ones in his/her experience. I think this is most likely because that's more-or-less exactly what happened to me. Yes, I eventually came to terms with it (mostly) and re-embraced Torah and mitzvot, but I will not pretend that I don't have a somewhat poisoned outlook to this day. Just something to consider. (Of course, I also happen to disagree with you whether those things are problems in and of themselves, but I think that's beside the point - we can both agree that it's important to value Torah and avodat Hashem alongside derech eretz.)

      Delete
    2. Actually, no, the Rebbe would be the outlier in my case. My son has a group of mostly really sweet, eidel boys in his class. They ride bikes in the hills together for fun, and one evening every week they get together on their own time in the Beis Midrash to learn a bit, then go out for burekas afterwards. In all the years my son has been at the school, there's only been one Rebbe who has had an issue with spouting his obnoxious political views in class. In a "learning opportunity" moment, I specifically told my son my opinion on his Rebbe's opinions, and I told him he has my full permission to pull out a book in class and start reading if his Rebbe starts one of his loshon hora diatribes.

      Delete
    3. I see, then. You and your son are more fortunate in that regard than I was, it seems. Suffice it to say that it seems such places are hard to find in America.

      Delete
    4. > dressing like hobos for shul

      What does dressing like a hobo look like?

      Delete
    5. nice clothing is a cultural, not absolute, definition.
      DL all dress in nice shabbosdik clothing for shabbos.
      However, in DL circles that would mean, for example, a pair of light-colored "shabbos pants" for the boys. (For girls, a drapey dress over a longer, lacey white skirt is very common.)

      They are dressing in what is their fancy clothing and fulfilling the mitzva of kibbud shabbos in a perfectly mehudar fashion.

      if you come in and see their shabbos clothing and sneer "ugh, hobos", the problem in the equation is you, not them.

      (Same thing if you had that kind of snotty little reaction to, say, a bucharian wedding and the bride being dressed in something other than the MESOIRAH FROM AVROHOM AVINU of wearing a white dress. As if your cultural standards are the be-all end-all definition of "right" behaviour, when they have zero halachic basis.)

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    6. G*3, Adi - I wasn't davka referring to shabbos. An example of what I mean would be: flip-flops, short pants and old T-shirt bearing some semi-witty slogan or cartoon. That, to me, indicates a lack of sensitivity towards the fact that you have come to a personal audience with the King of Kings. Shul dress code is not my biggest complaint, though. If that was my worst criticism, dayenu! But it fits into a greater picture of general casualness and laxity in mitzvos.

      Delete
    7. In Israel, people wear shorts, jeans, and sloganed t-shirts to meet the President. He doesn't mind.

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    8. But shiny dress pants, an over-worn old jacket, and a hat that's been out of style for sixty years is respectful?

      You sound sincere, but at the same time share the Chareidi conceit that anyone who doesn't dress/act like you is a "hobo." Again, what's so bad about boys and girls hanging out together? Or not having a Chareidi haircut, or liking toys...

      Delete
    9. I identify with DL but I understand exactly where SGB is coming from.
      Let me give you some examples of the inappropriate dress that SGB is bothered by, from first-hand experience. I am referring to male attire that is worn to shul on Shabbat and Yom Tov:

      1. Two shirt buttons open, so that chest hair is exposed
      2. Indian shirts which lack collars, buttons and cuffs, sometimes very wrinkled
      3. Very wrinkled cotton pants that look like they were slept in
      4. Cargo pants ("Dagmach" in Hebrew) = pants that have large pockets on the legs
      5. Rubber sandals/Crocs on Shabbat and Chagim--one can wear the same footwear for (Pesach) Seder Night that one wears on Tisha B'Av, and no one cares! (Flip-flops are very uncommon on Shabbat, though) I was very surprised to see a Chatan-- a wonderful young man from a Hesder yeshiva--wearing rubber sandals to his own Sheva Brachot/Seuda Shlishit.
      Some men do not even own a regular pair of shoes--black sneakers are the most formal shoes that they own (New Balance is a very popular brand)
      6. Boys (even after Bar Mitzva) often wear sneakers with very bold colors, such as black with neon green. "Australian boots"--brown hiking boots--are also very popular.
      7. Bizarre combinations of elegant and sporty attire (e.g., a fancy white on white shirt and pinstriped slacks with rubber sandals or running shoes, White dress shirt with cargo pants)
      8. Sunglasses on the head during davening, even when serving as Chazan or having an aliya to the Torah (on Shabbat morning, some people only do that towards the very end of davening, similar to Chasidim who put their shtreimels on at the end of davening)

      You get the idea.

      I should say that in my kehilla, there are men/boys who dress in the aforementioned hypercasual style, along with men who wear suits (and even French cuffs!).

      I believe that with respect to K'vod Beit Haknesset--especially the aspect of dressing respectfully--many DL, in the interest of distancing themselves from Charedism, have thrown out the baby with the bathwater. But I am sure that most members of my kehilla would disagree; they would also disagree with SGB's association of laxness in dress with laxness in Halachic observance.

      Delete
  23. Moshe David Tokayer-
    What I was referring to regarding the potentional conflict of values between the "New HarediM" and their children is the fact that Hadarim-elementary schools are being opened which will NOT admit children whose fathers work (i.e. don't study Torah full-time) no matter how Haredi their life-style is. Thus, they are creating a caste-system. The kids will see their father is considered "sug-bet"-i.e. lower class since they are not allowed in school with the neighborhood friends who are really, truly "frum" according to these standards. This will create conflict in the family ("Abba-why aren't you like Chaim Yankel's Abba who studies Torah full-time"?) and between the kids in the neighborhood. Who needs this kind of situation?

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  24. According to an Israeli non-Chareidi Rav(I don't remember his name)who has studied the drop out rate in Israel, these are the statistics for drop outs:
    Dati 20%
    Chareidi 10%
    Torani 5%

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  25. Tom: in another study, it was proved that 74% of statistics are made up on the spot.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's a good one!

      The rav in question is Rav Melamed, and here is a link to his findings
      http://www.kipa.co.il/jew/52106.html

      Delete
    2. "אין בידי מחקר על כך"

      Good job buddy

      Delete
    3. With all respect to Rav Melamed, amateurs who dabble in statistics on the basis of anecdotal evidence and intuition will rarely ever come up with useful or reliable data. One of the biggest mistakes people make is relying on too-small sample groups. Samples smaller than about 400 for any kind of survey render the results practically meaningless.

      Delete
  26. Wow, I think the post title should've been "What I Think of Rav Yonasan Rosenblum", yes?

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  27. There's no reason why all charedim have to be the same or agree with one another. You can be charedi in dress and (mostly in) outlook, but agree with R' Slifkin on many political and theologial matters.

    So why not just see themselves as following the most moderate charedi gedolim, such as Rav Moshe (and even Rav Kook)? In any case, unless the "post-charedim" change the way they dress, they'll always be known as charedim -- just moderate ones.

    One more thought -- if Dov Lipman would have joined Likud or Bayit HaYehudi instead (while advocating the same policies) he might have had a larger moderate charedi following.

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  28. I'd like to add my experience to this fascinating debate. Having studied in Yeshiva high school, Hesder Yeshiva and black hat Yeshivas for extensive periods, I was always undeer the impression that the Israelis could not be properly rounded hashkafically as they were part of an existing system whereas I who had immigrated at age 12 could manage to dance between the stages and derive the best from both worlds. From my high school and hesder yeshiva I gleaned the sense of national pride and will to influence society positively and to serve in the army, but the shortcomings mentioned by SGB and the will to deepen my learning led me to the top yeshivot in the black-hat world, while maintaining my Zionist hashkafa quietly . You may call it cognitive dissonance but I actually enjoyed my individualism although it proved difficult to find a shidduch. My children find it much more difficult to maintain the middle ground -I married a Chardal type, served in Tzahal and have one son in hesder and others in a Chareidi Yeshiva high school.
    I doubt that a real FBN (frum but normal) group will emerge here as people on both sides are ignorant of the other's world, bigoted and socially challenged by the need to be different from everyone else. For me the moment that Chareidi and Dati Leumi gedolim will sit at the same table, affirm principles which Dati-Leumi_Torani and Chareidi-modern people can ascribe to and establish a real modus vivendi for dealing with the numerous issues facing society without kowtowing to false ideologies like Kollel for all will be the true rennaisance of religious Judaism in Israel.

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  29. SGB

    The issues you are trying to resolve have nothing to do with being a BT. I have the same problem and for the most part came to the same conclusion. I send my kids to more right wing Yeshivos and correct the hashkafa and midos at home.

    It is more difficult than I first thought it would be. I also do what Y. Ben-David does. My wife and I discuss our decisions and actions to evaluate what we are doing. We did this from the start before the kids arrived, because we were both raised that way ourselves.

    I think the problem is that the people on the extremes are the ones that are actively pushing their extreme views and building schools to meet their needs. Those in the middle were never so driven and were trusting that others would do things properly.

    I come from a Rabbinic family. Can you imagine my shock when I found out that people are actively altering seforim to validate their mindset? How could anyone who claims to fear the word of God dare do such a thing?!?

    So, I share your frustration and angst.

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  30. This is so funny! Some of you seem to be concerned that your children will socialize with the opposite gender - well, haven't you heard (a thousand times) that Rav Soloveichik approved of co-education at the Maimonides School? Certainly, nothing untoward will ever occur! Oh yes, R Slifkin has taught us rational folks that we shouldn't rely on Daas Torah.

    Well, if your daughter is socializing with boys, at least you can find comfort in the fact that he is likely a Zionist, and will soon be in the Israeli Army, the two Mitzvos that R Slifkin insists that G-d wants the Charedim to adopt. So, what could possibly be the problem if your daughter has a boyfriend like that? Mitzva Goreres Mitzva, no?

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  31. clued in: It's exactly the condescending, sanctimonious attitude of trolls like you that make people like me revolted with Charedi society. Are you trying to mekarev us, or just entertain yourself with how witty you are?

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  32. Oh, I see your sense of humor is on only when it is directed against others

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  33. r' yerida,
    "gather ye rosebuds while ye may" because in the USA imho it's simply a matter of time before "never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.”

    KT
    Joel RIch

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  34. What we are witnessing is the extreme trying to redefine normative practice. They didn't expect any pushback, hence they troll and scream in their attempt to strong arm the religion.

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  35. You may be reading way too much into this......

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  36. And let’s not forget the angst of the real deal parents watching their children go off on the charedi derech. This includes the Torani cream of this country, who served in the army, raised their children with real values, work in prestigious yet altruistic careers, and have to tolerate their yeshiva going children sitting during tefilah le’shlom ha’medinah.

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  37. I never understand those who say they agree with the DL or chardal outlook but can't associate with them because it's not frum enough. A person is as frum as he chooses to be. A person's kids have the standards he raises them with until they're independent. So who cares what your neighbor is doing? If you don't want to eat his hecsher, then don't.

    Why do we rely on a System to determine our values or to express them?

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  38. Rabbi Slifkin, I enjoyed the post, but as a proud alumnus of Torat Shraga, I believe that you are wrong when you say that Torat Shraga creates Anglo charedi converts. Most alumni of the yeshiva attend YU and consider themselves modern orthodox. The rosh yeshiva, Rabbi Avishai David, is a prominent rov in Beit Shemesh and is not what I would call chareidi. While many of the rabbeim are charedi, many are modern orthodox who have have served or have children who serve in the IDF.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A lot of people consider themselves modern orthodox and wear a hat. A lot of people at YU wear a hat.

      Delete
    2. Yosef Schick,
      That about describes the Ohr Yerushalayim of 20 years ago. It's not the same today.
      Heck, from what I understand Shaalvim has made the same transition.

      Jon,
      Many of those hat-wearing, modern-Orthodox YU alumni are "social hat-wearers" and, were they to make aliyah, would either go DL and ditch the hat or Chardal and keep it. Not full chareidi. Wearing a hat in the US is nearly meaningless today. I know lots of people who wear hats (on Shabbos, anyway) and eat non-Mehadrin hechsherim, go out to the movies and have unfiltered Internet at home.

      Delete
  39. yerida wrote, "Rav Aaron Feldman said at a conference for Chutznikim raising kids in EY that a major cause of kids going OTD is the problem of confused identity. He insisted that if you don't subscribe to the Charedi model, if you don't relate to the gedolim with awe and trepidation you have no place in EY.

    A talmid muvhak of Rav Yaakov Kaminetzky zt"l told me that Rav Yaakov said essentially the same thing about 45 years ago. In fact he discouraged people with school aged kids from making aliya.

    Y. Ben David, What I was referring to regarding the potentional conflict of values between the "New HarediM" and their children is the fact that Hadarim-elementary schools are being opened which will NOT admit children whose fathers work (i.e. don't study Torah full-time) no matter how Haredi their life-style is.

    I agree with you. It's unfortunate but bear in mind that this is not ubiquitous and it's not nearly the norm. I know it's true in Kiryat Sefer. It's not the case in Petach Tikva where I live. In Bnei Brak and Yerushalayim you can probably find all kinds of Chareidi chadarim.

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  40. According to an Israeli non-Chareidi Rav(I don't remember his name)who has studied the drop out rate in Israel, these are the statistics for drop outs:
    Dati 20%


    Rav Melamed: http://dossim.com/ContentPage.aspx?item=298

    I never heard about the other statistics.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Here's the link
      http://www.kipa.co.il/jew/52106.html

      Delete
  41. Moshe Dick writes:
    The vast majority of comments come from people who are living in Israel already and are therefore subject to the tensions that Rabbi Slifkin notes. Not living in Israel -yet!- it is difficult for me to understand some of the problems presented. As some commenters said - you can dress like a chareidi, yet think like a dati leumi. I am not sure why there is a need for a movement. Chabad has many shuls, the Carlebach chevrah is very welcoming and- gasp!- even some of the chassidic shtieblech are very welcoming to people of a different stripe. Less so the litvishe brand and it seems to me that there is where the problem lies. The simple answer for an individual is to leave that camp and join the myriad of other shuls and chevras across Israel. You can wear rabbinic or chassidic clothing and still say the mi sheberach for the medinah. Go and pray to a shul that you feel comofortable with and don't think too much of how you are evaluated. Be strong in your beliefs!

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  42. Ironically, after I published this post, I saw two articles by people in precisely the situation described - one on Cross-Currents, and one from a well-known Rav in Passaic!

    ReplyDelete
  43. SGB - "Unfortunately my overall impression of many such Da"L areas is that the flow is towards pushing the envelope of Halacha to permit more and more in the name of modernity."

    I have no idea where you got this impression, because I can assure you that it is quite false and, frankly, verges on hotza'at shem ra.

    "I would consider moving into a "Religious Zionist" suburb or yishuv, if the overwhelming majority of its residents were medakdek in mitzvos, including tznius in dress and social life, kvias itim l'torah, and relating to the Internet with the due care and concern that such a powerful force deserves."

    I repeat: B"H, there are many, many such communities - that fully meet all of your conditions - all across the country. I highly recommend that you spend a Shabbat in one of them and see for yourself.

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  44. yerida - "For those who prioritize with the following values: an intensity towards davening, a strong commitment to learning , an uncompromising stance towards halachic observance, sensitivity regarding issues of Tznius and exposure to technology, there is no other community in EY that exemplifies these ideals as well as the Charedi World."

    Sorry, but this is simply not true. Every. single. Torani community (and there are many of them!) exemplifies each and every one of the ideals you mention. The difference is that Torani communities ALSO value the mitzvot of yishuv haAretz, serving in the IDF, and ahavat Yisrael.

    ReplyDelete
  45. Mrs S, I didn't mean to give offence. But we clearly are not on the same wavelength. Either the "Da'L" communities I'm thinking of are not the same as the "Torani" communities you're thinking of, or else our respective metrics for what constitutes a strong, sincere, committed and Yarei Shamayim community are pretty far apart.

    You will have to give some examples of which communities you are referring to. I personally promise that I will not say loshon hora or motzi shem ra on any particular community you mention, but at least it might answer my question, one way or another.

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  46. So it's of less concern to me if my son's Rebbe is an intolerant bigot, because I at least trust myself to instill him with my values against his Rebbe's example. But to put him in a situation where his social group is obsessed with iPads and iPods, freely surfing the Internet, dressing like hobos for shul, letting their hair grow wild, and socializing with girls?

    I appreciate your thoughts, although I think that the after-effects of having an intolerant bigot for a rebbe last longer than the after-effects of a more modern social group. When the Gemara describes bad behaviour, there's no "Oy lechevraich" corresponding to the father and rebbe that (mis-)taught Torah.

    I also want to gently push back on your comments - Modern Orthodox kids may dress less formally for shul, and have longer hair, than their Chareidi counterparts, but my own anecdotal experience (acknowledging all of the limitations) is that my kids' MO friends are just flat-out kinder than the kids I grew up with in an Agudah shul. I value that despite their less-yeshivish dress, and (more importantly) the issues arising from more Internet exposure.

    My own observations aren't intended to convince anyone, of course.

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  47. Chevre, the solution may be simpler that you think.
    Moshav Matitiahu IMHO has the perfect solution. 100% of Anglo Haredim. Only one synagogue and one Rav (Rav Leff) who decides what is OK and what not. No Israeli allowed and no other Rabbi has a say on communal or halachic matters. People work,use colored shirts and speak English, while still Haredi and conforming to the rulings to a Rav who is a Hutznik and while a scholar and a tremendous Ire Shamaim, is really insightful and tolerant to Anglos necessities.
    We need more of those communities. Israelis have their communities, Anglo have theirs, everyone lives happy, you don't mess with me and I don't mess with you. Otherwise Anglos will be forced to conform to Israeli Haredi lifestyle or to live in a vacuum.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Rav Leff is not exactly Centrist Orthodox. He tells people that they have to vote for Charedi parties, and he is mashgiach of a high school from which virtually everyone ends up in long-term kollel and hardly any go the army or to college.

      Delete
    2. Living in Little America may be a solution for you but it is not a solution for your children or their children. At some point, they join the rest of the country.

      Delete
  48. R' Aaron,
    You might want to ask members of the Breuer's community in the US how that "being different" from other local chareidim works out long term.
    KT
    Joel Rich

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    Replies
    1. R' Joel,
      You may note that as a matter of fact Haredim are different. The way to survive is sticking to your mesorah, having strong leadership and building yeshivot to propagate your way of thinking. Of course Breuer's yekke tradition is wonderful, but what is your motivation to be a TIDE yekke when everyone studies and is indoctrinated in Lakewood or if even in YRSRH the hashkafah is Litvish? How do you want to have such values if your rabbi doesn't hold of them?
      Washington Heights is not exclusive to Breuer's but Matitiahu is. You decide if you gonna let people in who 20 years later will be badmouthing your Torah values.
      Anyways, if the Israeli reject the Americans and working people, so nothing more rational than having your own segregated kehilah and not being bothered,

      Delete
  49. Internet exposure, long hair, less-than-burka tzniut standards, colorful untucked shirts, iPads, boys and girls talking to each other ...not a single one of these things is actually a clear cut halachic problem. But being a bigoted jerk violates at least one (and probably multiple) clear Torah prohibitions. I would much prefer to shelter my children from those prioritizing social constructs over the actual Torah.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Avi, for saying what I was having trouble finding the right words for.

      Rabbi Slifkin, can you provide links or direction to the articles you mentioned?

      Thanks,
      Dov in NJ

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    2. The ones "by people in precisely the situation described - one on Cross-Currents, and one from a well-known Rav in Passaic."

      Delete
    3. The original poster was not being a bigoted jerk. The post was discussing a reality and looking for positive suggestions on how to navigate in a world that tends to the extremes.

      Delete
    4. Rabbi Zvi, the post referred to mentioned being less concerned with having a child's classroom rabbi be an intolerant bigot than with the child hanging out with people who are "obsessed with iPads and iPods, freely surfing the Internet, dressing like hobos for shul, letting their hair grow wild, and socializing with girls".

      Delete
    5. Rabbi Zvi, the original poster said he'd prefer a bigoted rav over a frei chevra. Thus, the bigotry referred to in the response is that of the hypothetical rav, not the poster.

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    6. Rabbi Zvi,

      No, he's not - not at all! But he is deliberately exposing his kids to teachers that are (his term) bigoted jerks, in the hopes that the love of Torah rubs off and the hatred for everything else doesn't. I disagree with that approach for the reasons I outline above.

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    7. Adi, none of what he describes is "frei."

      Delete
    8. Avi,

      Boys mingling with girls, long hair, Internet exposure, modesty, etc. are at the heart of kedusha for many of us and kedusha is at the heart of Judaism according to many Jewish thinkers. Erlichkeit and kedusha are not clearly defined categories, and so you may think we are crazy for valuing modesty, minimal mingling of the genders, etc. But if we're right that these items are central components of kedusha, then they represent the very heart and goal of Judiasm -- even if they're not "halachically" problematic.

      Delete
    9. Yehudah,

      But what if you're wrong? What if kedusha is all about being nice to each other, protecting the widow and orphan, not hating people? I know it's not politically correct to say this, but the Torah - and Nach, especially - really do emphasize issues of social justice over adherence to halachot bein adam lamakom. Hashem doesn't want our 100% mehudar chumradik korbanot if we're stealing from each other, taking advantage of the weak, etc. Kal vachomer Hashem likely cares less about enforcing current social constructs of dress, insularity, and gender interactions than these issues. If forced to choose between emphasizing social constructs over Halacha, I suggest choosing Halacha as the more likely path to kedusha. It won't make you "frum," though. That's a problem with the current definition of frumkeit, not with Torah.

      Delete
    10. Naturally, I could be wrong. Matters like ehrlichkeit, mentchlichkeit, and kedusha don't have "rules" to them. They consist of attitudes, dispositions, etc., and I suppose reasonable people can disagree. But these are part of Judaism. "Naval birshus haTorah" means a Jew can keep every law in Shulchan Aruch and still be a menuval. One can also keep every chumra and be an uncouth jerk.

      You choose halacha over everything, I choose kedusha and ehrlickeit over everything. Which is more important is a matter of debate. This generation puts a huge emphasis on the former. The last generation put it on the latter. (E.g., the old Lithuanian saying: "A galach is frum, a yid is ehrlich.")

      Like you said, and I agree, I could be wrong because there are no hard and fast rules for kedush, ehrlichkeit, etc. But just because I could, in theory, be wrong doesn't mean I shouldn't act based on what I believe, to the best of my ability, is the right thing.

      (By the way, in a recorded speech, Rav Ahron Lichtenstein, if I recall correctly, advised against co-ed school, l'chatchila, because it is harder to grow in kedusha when the genders are together.)

      Delete
  50. Aaron-
    I am glad that there is a community (Matityahu) that English-speaking Olim can feelcomfortable in, but history has shown that kids who live in all-English-speaking communities in Israel often have SERIOUS problems. It is important for kids growing up in Israel to integrate with the wider Israeli religious community. I live in a community that has a group of Americans who helped us considerabley when we made aliya 27 years ago, but they are a minority of the religious community in my town, and we decided not to belong to a shul that was dominated by Americans. I am very glad I did this and our kids blended in well with Israeli religious society.

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    Replies
    1. Dear Y. Ben-David
      I might be utterly disqualified to analyze how Americans blend into Israeli society. What I have observed (I learned in Telz-Stone) is that when you get Americans and put them into BYs and Chadarim of Israelis, the results are not beautiful. The cognitive dissonance between home and school- plus being a sug bet, children of both BTs and Americans) makes many reject Torah altogether. I, however, listen to your words- and would like to know what are the serious problems of living in a cultural sheltered environment in Israel, as virtually every haredi sect lives sheltered in their community, unfortunately.
      BTW- In your last sentence- do you refer to broad Israeli religious society or Haredi? Haredi is much more closed.

      Delete
    2. R' Joel,
      You have three options, in my point of view:
      1- Create Yeshivot Gedolot with this approach in Israel, as Matitiahu does..
      2- Look after Anglo Yeshivot Gedolot with this approach in Israel (barely any)
      3- Send your children to learn in America. While this may sound as craziness to many, it may be better to learn in Hutz Laaretz than having your children despise what you value.
      Bottom line, you have to be very commited to this derech, and to have in mind you're not a bedieved or sug bet, or anything. We respect everybody but our Hashkafot- as transmitted from several Hachme Israel- do not owe anything to anybody.
      I also think that politics are a great danger to such a model. When you're in a group as the Agudah of America- as Breuer was one of the main members- you often have to subscribe to what else the big players think (such as "no college conventions",etc.) While by one side you have an aggregated power to fight many issues, often small groups or minoritary rabbis don't have a talk). Take Chabad and Satmar as an example- by not being a member of the Agudah, you can be yourself and do not need the haskama of every othe single member- which BTW should be the right of any Posek...

      Delete
    3. See my reply above to "yerida," how it's a bit bizarre to counsel leaving Israel so as not to live apart from the charedi world. Odd.

      Delete
  51. R' Aron,
    My point exactly - while you may limit the new entrants, what Yeshivot will your grown children go to and what will they learn there about your approach?
    KT
    JoelRich

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  52. Natan, while I agree with your post I take issue with just one line. You write the "charedi refusal to acknowledge the value of work"
    From a western perspective where we have both been born & bred its definitely strange how a whole community studies ancient texts, but from a Jewish perspective, if on the one hand we are telling the charedim how in Biblical Israel there was an army to protect the land, we must also be consistant and admit the truth that in Biblical Israel the tribe of Yissachar were learning with the support of zevulun.
    That was one twelfth of the Jewish nation. Today with 50,000 kollel students it doesn't even make 1% of the Jewish Nation
    So its not a refusal to work per se, its following a tradition from ancient times, in the same way as your views on the importance of a jewish army would also be following the practise from ancient times.
    Danny Miller

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    1. There is very, very slim basis for claiming that the tribe of Yissacher were learning full time. The earliest sources to discuss it speak of Zevulun marketing Yissacher's produce, not supporting them in kollel.

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    2. One difference is that Zevulun willingly wanted to support Yissochar. Nobody is saying that if a group of rich people want to support a kollel than it shouldn't be done. The current situation in Israel is that the Chareidim are intentionally not working and receiving welfare payments that come from a population that pay taxes and does not want to support it. That is hard to defend.

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    3. OccamsElectricShaverApril 8, 2014 at 11:37 PM

      What are these sources? I'm really curious! I've asked before...

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    4. Not withstanding any current Kollel arrangements, according to this article in Hakira

      http://www.hakirah.org/Vol%205%20Buchman.pdf

      there does seem to be a basis that Yissachar was learning full time.

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    5. the same happens in the usa

      http://www.lohud.com/story/news/local/rockland/2014/04/02/child-care-subsidies-rockland-county-social-services-kollels-religious-jewish-schools/7235613/

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    6. Danny Miller -

      Yissachar may have learned full time (with the willing support of Zevulun) but are you trying to tell me Yissachar didn't serve in the army!?
      I guarantee you that a sizable percentage of the opposition to the charedi "way of life" disappears overnight if they begin, en masse, serving in the army bepanim yafos.

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    7. Am I the only one who noticed the mismanaged numbers Danny uses.
      He claims that historically 1/12 of the the Jewish people studyed in kollel- that is counting the entire shevet (man, women and children).
      He then says that there are 50K in kollel now (even if it is not much higher, which I believe it may be) - this is only counting men and does not count women or children. If you count the number of Jewish people in the Kollel "system" (i.e.- Kollel families) it is much closer to 800K or a million people. (Didn't they say there were 800K at the tefillah rally!) Moreover, with 35% of the kids in Israel part of this "system", we are looking at exponential growth in that figure.
      Besides all the other obvious objections above, one would hope that the charedi argument is more sophisticated mathematically than this...

      -RBS

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    8. Divrei Hayamim, when recounting the families that returned from Bavel, refers to many from the Shevet Yissachar as "Gibor Chayil".

      Make of that what you will.

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  53. Rav Natan, I really enjoyed this post. I found it to be qualitatively different from your other posts which are usually more centered around a Torah point. This was sociologically astute and full of very precise and sharp observations. I flirted in the past with many of the emotions and processes described here. Thanks!

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  54. "Yir'ei Hashem will speak together; Hashem will listen, and hear." (Haftarah of Shabbat HaGadol) People who wish to raise their children with Yir'at Shamaim must work together and put in the effort. Hashem will be on their side.

    As for whether Chinuch for Yir'at Shamaim is more important than Middot, which can be learned at home, we can also look at what the Navi says. When he lists people who do not have Yir'at Shamaim, this is what he says: "those who claim magical powers, sexual predators, those who lie in court, those who cheat their workers, take advantage of widows, defraud the stranger..." (Malachi 3:5)

    Malachi might have been reading the newspaper.

    Any Chinuch that condones that behavior cannot possibly teach Yir'at Shamaim..

    You don't see schools that teach the Torah values that you espouse? Make one. It is not easy, but it has been done. Israeli society doesn't understand you? They will learn. We have all heard, "ein davar kazeh ba'aretz", haven't we? Well, now there is. The Jewish World needs you. Stay and fight.

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  55. YT:

    I find it strange that people are criticising the "Dati Leumi" commitment to Torah and halakha. It goes without saying that in every group — be it chareidi or otherwise — there will be the strict and the lenient, those motivated by idealism and those by social considerations. This is especially true in religion, but across the board too. However, it is extremely misguided to paint a whole sect of orthodoxy with the same stroke as being fundamentally halakha-lite. That is certainly not ingrained in the ideology, and not reflected in practice.

    I learned for two years in Alon Shevut and in my experiences there I have never seen a more Torah-centric community, both in commitment to learning per se and all other Torah values both bin adam l'makom and l'chaveiro. It is a truly authentic Torah society.

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  56. SGB,

    I commiserate with you as the same problem exists in the USA. There doesn't seem to be a middle ground.

    Question to anyone who knows: Is there any remanant of the yekkish community in Israel? In America, yekkes are an interesting mixture of the two extremes. They take Judaism seriously in the cahredi sense but also believe in working, being aware of current events, education, etc.

    This community is shrinking in America; does it exist at all in Israel?

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    1. There's a large yekke community in Israel, possibly the only ones in the world still committed to the values of R' Hirsch. The Chorev school is a good example. Machon Lev to a great extent was founded by yekkes. Of course, many of them are found in the greater world- the universities, professions, and so on.

      Of course, this being Israel, most have intermarried with other kehillot.

      Also, they all became Zionists (if they weren't already) after 1933.

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    2. "The Chorev school is a good example"

      You'd think that, wouldn't you. It hasn't been that for decades. It's just another (very good) DL/Torani yeshiva tichonit.

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    3. I meant that it's a good example of a Yekke-founded school, in a country in which Yekkes have blended in to the Ashkenazi world in general.

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    4. Way back in the 80s we were living in Israel in a chareidi community. We had some serious conflicts with the schools (cheder-type) and ended up sending our children to Horev. We were visited by a committee of concerned mothers who out of "kindness" and "concern" came to warn us that we mustn't put our children in Horev because our children would be "ruined" and my daughter might even end up marrying a goy. Fast forward many years later; our kids are now in their 30s. My daughter is the mother of 7 kids (all shomrei mitzvot) and teaches limudei kodesh in a Bais Yaakov type of school. Her husband was in rabbanut (he had a small out-of-town congregation)and is now working in the secular world, but they are most definitely frum. My son has a masters' degree and works in a service profession in the non-Jewish world. His 12 year old son will be making a siyum on shisha sidrei Mishna. Ironically, some of those same women who visited us with their concerns about leaving the chareidi educational system have children who are completely disenfranchised from Judaism today. Go figure...

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  57. Aaron-
    The problems I referred to stemming from social isolation of children of English-speaking olim has affected both DL and Haredi youth. Some years ago there was media coverage of several instances of Haredi kids, some from prominent families , getting involved in self-destructive behavior leading to criminal activity and even real tragedies.

    Regarding the question of the drop-out rate of religious youth: I have heard from people who work in this area say the drop-out rates for DL and Haredi youth are about the same. Just because someone walks around in Haredi garb and talks using the Haredi lingo does not mean the person is particularly observant. The difference is that the DL community is much more up-front about the problem and the youth will be more open about taking off his kippa because the family will be more flexible in dealing with it than a Haredi family which will be more advserly affected psychologically.
    I have come to the conclusion that many Haredim do not have a very high level of "emunah", i.e. a real understanding of why we observe the Torah and what the role of being a Jew and part of Am Israel means, and are following the Torah more out of rote observance. Since there has been discussion of kiruv here in the past, I really doubt most Haredim would really know what to say to a secular Israeli in order to explain to him or her why being observant is relevant to them. Rav Cardozo is constantly repeating the point that many Haredi young people he talks to are incapable of explaining why they are observant. This is what lead to the mass abandonment of religious observance by the masses of Jewish youth in the 19th and 20th centuries. The pressure that lead to this can certainly occurr again.

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    1. The only reason they are observant at all is primal fear. "They don't mess around with kares!"

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    2. Examples of reports of off the derech Haredim who still look Haredi on the surface follow (I personally know Hasidic looking men who live in Boro Park and have not worn Tefillin or davened in years).

      http://www.theyeshivaworld.com/news/headlines-breaking-stories/194877/brooklyn-kiruv-rabbi-says-there-is-onslaught-of-frum-people-that-are-closet-atheists.html

      http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3944848,00.html

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/52858246/Ami-Magazine-April-6-2011-The-Impostors-Among-Us

      http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2011/04/ominous-treacherous-infiltrators.html

      http://hasidicnews.com/hn/?p=411

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  58. Just wanted to chime in with some personal experiences as someone who has seen his family make aliya. The family sent to the best DL schools. Torah content is very good (for girls we) tzniut for girls is a minor disaster and the overall yiras shamayim is there in the teachers but not the rov of the student body. That said there is a wing of the DL (mostly alon shvut the real R Aharon fans who are midakdek in mitzvot. That said there is a large segment of the DL worlsd (I'm currently in Yeruashalayim and I see it) that picks and chooses which halachot they care about. (

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    1. Let me add to B/c's semtiments. In my experience, you can see this in the dancing (and to some extent the music) at weddings. There's a huge difference between weddings of hesder/yeshiva gevoha students/graduates and other DL weddings. I have seen DL weddings in which the Chatan kisses the Kalla in public during the seuda and dances with her, which leads to mixed dancing by other young people. This is exactly what the Rabbi Akiva Eger (cited in a famous Mishna Berura) condemned in no uncertain terms ("שעירים ירקדו שם").

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