Friday, February 27, 2015

Adopt a Kollelnik, the Torah Way

Over the last few years, we have been discussing the ever-worsening poverty crisis in the charedi world, its potential to harm the rest of Israel, and the refusal of charedi leadership to try to solve the problem. We've seen charedi apologists insist that charedim have a right to require the rest of the country to support them. And we've seen well-meaning but deeply misguided activists attempt to raise funds from the US in order to prolong the current disastrous kollel system.

What can we do about it? There are many of us who want to help, and who are willing to contribute to address this crisis, but only in a way that truly helps, not in a way that just makes things even worse further down the line.

We need a charity fund that will work according to Chazal's values. We need to not adopt a kollel, but to adopt a kollelnik, and to adopt him like a parent adopts a child. After all, he is indeed like a child, having never been taught how to fend for himself. We need to be like parents - with the parents' obligation, as per Chazal, being to teach their children to be financially self-sufficient. And, like parents, we need to impart Chazal's values to our adopted children.

In practical terms, this means as follows. There needs to be a charitable fund that will not simply give cash or food handouts to people in kollel, but rather will prepare them for the world of work. The very worthy organization Kemach already does that, but we need a fund that will also insist that its recipients will not make the same mistakes with their children, and that they will follow Chazal's directive to prepare one's children to be financially self-sufficient. This means that they will not send their children to schools that do not teach secular studies and that indoctrinate the students towards a kollel lifestyle.

Ideally (but not essentially), this fund would also work in a way that could be directly targeted. In other words, if a kollelnik comes to your door to ask for money, you could offer to help him, and specifically him, within the framework of this charitable fund. This would mean that you need not feel guilty about not helping him, and it would give him an incentive to change. You could say, "I am willing him to help you a significant way, provided you are willing to follow Chazal's values." I've been speaking with someone about setting up such a fund.

Meanwhile, if you are looking to give matanot l'evyonim in a worthy and meaningful way, then I can recommend Lemaan Achai. They focus on rehabilitating people into being independent, rather than giving handouts. And they provide an option of a "Smart Matanot L'evyonim" program in which half the money will be given on Purim for the mitzva of the day and the other half set aside for more important needs. I can't praise Lemaan Achai highly enough!

28 comments:

  1. While I agree that the Chareidim should take steps to get trained so they can enter the job market and help the situation, it is a myth that education alone can eradicate poverty.
    https://radicalscholarship.wordpress.com/2014/08/08/education-as-great-equalizer-deforming-myth-not-reality/ - equate Chareidim with Black Americans
    You are not giving any value of Yeshivah education in terms of education and developing thinking skills. I don't see a BA in the Arts etc giving a person more skills than a Yeshivah education.
    The problem is more about the willingness to go out into the work force and prepare oneself.
    Secular education in most schools today is not worth much except for the piece of paper you receive at the end. Ask Sir Ken Robinson or Alfie Kohn.

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    1. Someone with a BA in arts also has high school math and a science and English. Which israeli charedim don't have.

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    2. Who said anything about a BA in the Arts? I think trade school is the target model here. None of that icky chochma yevanis that way.

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    3. Most people not only have forgotten their high school maths, but at least 92% of the pop never will use math , even accountants never use math , at most the first semester in algebra. Science the same. English I agree is a problem even for Israelis who do 4pts Bagrut , it does not buy them very much. The reason employers might take a BA graduate is they assume they have the ability to learn and be taught and thinking skills . R' Natan - people like you should be showing the value of people who can learn a blatt of Gemorah instead of glorifying secular education. If the progressive educationalists don't think much of secular education , why do you ?

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    4. Fair point. But I remember reading that a large number of the Chareidim who enter Chareidi job-training programs end up dropping out. Wouldn't you agree that if many Chareidim can't make it in a job-training programs that cater to *Chareidim*, that there must be something seriously deficient in their knowledge and skills when it comes to employment?

      Andy

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    5. Another issue: I believe that most yeshivas do not test and grade the progress of the , and they don't give out diplomas with transcripts. How would an employer be able to tell the difference between a yeshiva man who has demonstrated the ability to learn and be taught and thinking skills through deep study of Gemorah, i.e. an "A-student", from someone who is a yeshiva man in name only, i.e. a "D or F-student"?

      Andy

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  2. I would also suggest the Israel Free Loan Association.
    www.freeloan.org.il

    It helps low income working israelis to support themselves and provides interest free loans to families and small businesses.

    Full disclosure.. I work there.

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  3. If I didn't think you were being facetious, I would tell you we have way too many charity programs already. We just need changes in attitude.

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  4. I'm not being facetious. And I don't know of any charity program like the one I proposed.

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    1. Speak to the good people in Karlin-Stolin. English speakers. They have such a fund and plan for yrs, but it's fizzling due to lack of funds. Why don't all the concerned bloggers help them out???! They will help any frum people, Chasidim or Litvish, Sefardim or Teimani, if they only had enough $$

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  5. This post is far too smarmy and paternalistic for its own good. Make your point without being condescending.

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  6. I absolutely agree with you R. Slifkin, however some degrees are more practical than others.....
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n9L1eFMMenM

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  7. Didn't the commenter "Gershon" (sans "Pickles") make this very proposal in a post several weeks back?

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  8. Here's the comment from Jan. 25:

    "If it's really true that many in the younger generation are open to escaping this type of miserable life, then maybe the time is right for a grass roots effort from people like us who really care about saving these people.

    "I'm thinking something along the lines of a counter to the disastrous adopt-a Kollel program. How about an adopt-a-family program where people like you and me sponsor a family to get job training and ease into a more normal and responsible lifestyle?

    "I'm sure there are avrechim that read this that are desperate to get out of this poverty stricken future that awaits them. I'll put my money where my mouth is. If anyone reading this is serious about wanting a better life for their family, email me at gershon.distenfeld@gmail.com"

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  9. The deja vu here is unintented.....I only disagree with your tone. There's nothing more condescending than to approach an adult as if he were a child; and you won't get anyone to listen if you come across as condescending. In addition, many of these Kollel men have a deeper understanding of Tanach/ Shas/ Poskim etc. that they could help US with.

    Why not approach it more as buddy system, each helping the other; or, at the very least, as one friend offering the other advice/ mentoring on how to get and keep a job?

    Andy

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  10. Out of curiosity, what trade did you learn, Natan?

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  11. After high school I "flipped out" in yeshivah and became very charedi for about ten years, so I abandoned my original plans to go into computers. Fortunately I managed to work things out as zoorabbi. I got lucky; I will try my hardest to make sure that my kids go to better yeshivos.

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  12. Other than the "smarmy and paternalistic" attitude already noted by others, your idea is untenable for one simple reason: You are asking these avrieichim to commit to send their sons to schools that do not exist. I could probably count one one hand, and definitely on two hands, the amount of schools in Israel that offer secular studies and cater to a chareidi crowd. In addition, almost all of those schools are intended either for people from English speaking homes or for students who did not make it in the regular system, due to either academic or behavioral shortcomings. Unless you expect these avreichim to send their children to dati yeshivot tichoniyot, the change will have to come the other way around, with educators willing to open such schools for the chareidi public first.

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    1. Rabbi Slifkin is an educator, so why doesn't he open a school or shul that will teach people the 'values of Chazal' as he sees them. If it is good, and people are impressed by his products; by their Derech HaChaim, their Torah knowledge and their way f life, then certainly such insitutions will flourish and he will develop Talmidim in his image.

      Of course, such a thing will never happen, so we are left with him constantly knocking the Charedi world for their educational approach. Nothing positive can ever be achieved in this way.

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    2. I am sure that Rabbi Slifkin would be very excited to be able to start a yeshiva had he the financial resources. Got a few million to spare that could get him started?

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    3. I have been teaching people the values of Chazal I see them for many years, in yeshivos, shuls, and in my writings. I don't see why you would discount this merely because I do not have my own school or shul.

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    4. Rav Slifkin has certainly taught me a lot, even if it wasn't by physically sitting in a beit midrash. Technology has given teachers like him the ability to reach far more people than teachers in the past have done, and in a way that allows feedback. No doubt some people fear this, preferring to simply give pronouncements from on high, which explains to me why the opposition to the internet in certain circles.

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    5. Perfect. Undoubtedly, your Torah movement will spread and you can enjoy the rewards of being Marbitz Torah B'rabbim. Now, why can't you just leave the Charedim alone, and get back to your own learning, then?

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    6. 1. Because they are harming the rest of us
      2. Kiruv

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    7. 1. PLS explain how there are harming you? (We all know this is not the real answer you just feel a need to take swipes at this community because they banned your books and then you claim it is all the values of chazal. haha)
      2. I think you mean richuk kerovim.

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    8. 1. I will let Jonathan Rosenblum explain it. http://www.rationalistjudaism.com/2015/01/rosenblum-we-all-need-charedim-to-get.html.
      (Actually, I am very sympathetic to my books having been banned, and I even wrote an essay defending the ban.)
      2. I know, it's hard for you to imagine that some people actually don't see the charedi approach as the correct derech. Nevertheless, that is indeed the case.

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    9. It is actually not very hard for me to imagine/see that some people actually don't see the chareidi approach as the correct derech. Im just wondering who exactly do you think you are mikarev by posting this stuff online. Maybe go outside the mir and do you so called "kiruv" to bachurim walking in.

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    10. Hopefully I can be mekarev you! ;-)

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