Friday, February 22, 2019

Once Upon An NCSY

Here's a treasure: Someone in Los Angeles was going through old stuff and discovered a vinyl record from 1973. It's a young Rabbi Maurice Lamm z"l, then Rabbi of Beth Jacob, introducing people to NCSY. The description of NCSY's activities is followed by a beautiful song, recorded by my father-in-law Lee Samson, who had just founded the West Coast Region of NCSY, and my uncle Dr. Ernie Katz, who was the youth director at Beth Jacob. You can listen to it here:

It's a real trip back in time!

29 comments:

  1. Like today, certainly true back then as well, co-ed education doesn't work. The system is bankrupt. Trying to educate Jews in an environment antithetical to Torah will never work. This type of setting robs Jews of experiencing authentic Judaism. How I know this.....in a once vibrant Modern Orthodox community of thousands less than 10% now keep family purity. One need only to ask the Mikvah lady to corroborate this fact....I say all this with much saddens, while chareidim have many problems of their own, they are clearly successful in this regard. So unsuccessful is co-ed education that many of the largest co-ed Jewish schools in New York have abandoned co-ed education.

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    1. "many of the largest co-ed Jewish schools in New York have abandoned co-ed education"

      Details and sources please?

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    2. Sorry, gotta call BS on that one. As someone who moved his kid from a separate school to a co-ed one, and feel that it is much better for my child both from an educational and a jewish perspective, I think it's ridiculous to claim that co-education is somehow less authentic. We have many forms of Jewish education today, none of which is in any way similar to what Jews did historically, so the entire discussion about authenticity in this regard is moot.
      The fact that chareidim claim authenticity does not make that claim true. Chareidi ideology is only about 100 years old, less if we are referring to the kollel system.
      Additionally, I must take offense at the ridiculous comment about taharat hamishpacha in the modern orthodox community. The only words that come to mind are: HOW DARE YOU!!!
      That is probably the most disgusting chareidi lie I have ever heard.
      I agree emphatically with your comments about the poor quality of the education that you received, as you clearly were taught neither Torah nor derech eretz, but that has nothing to do with it being co-ed, I'd imagine.

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    3. I suppose you can explain how in a modern orthodox community of 50,000+ only 1 Mikvah exists!
      It not for naught that for many, modern orthodoxy and not keeping family purity are synonymous.

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    4. I can't believe you are not giving up on this one!
      Then again, I'm guessing your rebbe probably said it, and you consider it to be Torah Mesinai...
      As for your actual claim, I have no idea which community you're referring to, and so far you have not shown yourself to be much of a fact checker, but let's assume you're right, shall we?
      So, for a community of 50k, let's assume 25k women. The average modern orthodox family has about 3-4 kids, let's assume 3.5, so we're down to about 9k adult women. Of those, (depending on the particular community demographics) a 40% are between the ages of 25-45, when they are likely to be married and still require a mikveh regularly. So we're down to 3.6k. of those, approx. 20% were never married, and another 20% are widowed, divorced etc. Aside from that, about 15-20% have irregular periods and would not require a mikveh regularly. So we're down to about 1960. Let's divide that by 30 days per month, and we arrive at approx. 65 women per night, which, depending on the size of the mikveh in question, is very reasonable.
      Besides, us apikorsim have a little thing called birth control, which, depending on the type used, can cause mikveh usage to go down to once every 3 months (some ICPs) or even not at all (some drug eluting IUDs). add in nursing mothers to the equation, and in the community you're talking about there are probably less than 50 women requiring the mikveh every night.
      Your Co-ed school was not too strong in math either, I see...

      I don't what God you believe in, but mine tends to have some rather harsh words for those that are Motzei Shem Rah on Klal Yisrael...

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  2. Disclaimer on my previous post:
    In a previous life I attended a co-ed Jewish day school, hence I am intimately knowledgeable of what I speak. I will reiterate, the system is dysfunctional and bankrupt.

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    1. Every school is different. A given school with different faculty/administration may work differently than it did before. That is a given, regardless of what genders are in the classroom at a given time. If there is such a loss of MO to nonreligious (still unproven), it is not that "the system" is broken, but rather perhaps a few schools faltered, a few principals struggled, or a few teachers couldn't cope.

      Similarly, different students need different things. For me, I enjoyed being in a co-ed elementary school, yet despite my being MO, I chose to go to a single gender high school. It was the right choice for me - and yes, the single-gender-ness was indeed part of the reason I went (ie not in spite of it). It was not the right choice for some of my friends who went to mixed schools and are - gasp - still frum today!

      What IS missing, I believe, is ANY exposure of chareidi kids - certainly teenagers - to members of the opposite gender. Why is not speaking to half of the world's population a good thing? There should be some outlet for learning about the other - yes, in a kosher environment. If not school, then after school; if not Shabbos morning then Shabbos afternoon.

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    2. The ideas you promote of single girls hanging out with single boys NOT for the sake of shidduchim, is ignorant of the basic biological principles of men. Your suggestion to encourage Contact between girls and boys is why the hospitals are full of babies born out of wedlock....The very notion of encouraging 'playful' behavior in a 'light' setting indicates the typical ignorance of modern Orthodoxy. The line between yichud, negiyah etc. Is indeed shaky or non existent in the modern Orthodox community....
      Are the modern Orthodox really smarter than chazal who continually enacted fences to protect from Biblical transgressions. "Schor, schor uli'karmah lo sikrav"
      This is indeed the failing of modern Orthodoxy, they feel they know better, hence there is no need for boundaries.
      As to the comments about chareidim, I don't proclaim to be one or to identify with all of their ideologies. If there is truth in ANY community I will accept it. Bashing chareidim in the context of this discussion, is merely a distraction from the discussion about modern Orthodoxy, which was directly related to the post about NCSY which is a modern Orthodox educational organization .

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  3. That brings back memories. I am not old enough to have been at that event, but I was an NCSY participant in high school (1983-1987) and cherish the memories of attending dozens of Shabbatons throughout northern New Jersey during that time.

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  4. @Modern_Orthodox: My kids are in single-sex schools, but you are spewing nonsense. As an aside, mikveh ladies don't generally moonlight as sociologists so the stats they give you are similarly without foundation. (I also went to co-ed schools growing up.)

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    1. Unless one's mother happens to be a mikvah attendant.....
      The abysmal state of modern Orthodoxy is no secret.....

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    2. Even if the Mikveh attendant is a your mother, she is still not a sociologist and has conducted no studies.

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  5. Hate to break it to you, but that photo is from the mid-1960s. I recognize it/the people in it. I'm probably just out of screen view.

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  6. In truth, the whole notion of Modern Orthodoxy is hypocrisy and antithetical to authentic Judaism. In the language of the Ramban "naval berishus HaTorah" in other words, doing things permitted although not in the spirit of the Torah. The Gemarah in Succah describes the "tikun gadol" that they did in the Beis Hamikdash - namely that of separation of the sexes. When you have opposite sexes mingling, this is the opposite of purity. This area alone is where Modern Orthodoxy went awry and failed. Modern Orthodoxy has/had so much to offer Judaism in terms of dealing with the modern world we live in - but sold itself short in Kedusha - purity.
    Don't attack the messenger, attack the message I carry if you disagree.

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    1. I absolutely disagree. Your notions of kedusha have been polluted by Christian values. While at some point separation was deemed to be a Tikun Gadol, we had 400+ years of bayit rishon and about 250 of bayit sheni where nobody thought that was the case.
      Modern Chareidi notions of Kedusha developed as a result of the influence of Christian purity ideas and sabbatean kabbalistic mumbo-jumbo.
      While a certain degree of separation between the sexes clearly exists in Judaism, you folks have blown it way out of proportion.
      But of course history is not your thing either, right? Just Emuna Pshuta in the Gdoylim...

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    2. No sense in replying to those who seek to rationalize promiscuous behavior. This is not about chareidim being more holier-than-thou, it's about the failing of modern Orthodoxy to protect that which is holy. Either by keeping the laws of family purity or other harchakos that protect the modesty of the Jewish people. The Torah clearly describes the modesty of our matriarch Sarah, "behold she was in the tent". Somehow modern Orthodoxy believes that this portion of the Torah is no longer relevant due to the "changing of times". I suppose they feel they have a horaas shaa, to be Mevatel modesty. I won't even get into a married women covering her hair which the Gemarah deduces is a biblical commandment. Yes, some supposedly great women in Europe pre World War 2 didn't cover their hair......that's not an answer to violate Torah because others have....

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    3. Naval b'reshus haTorah, you mean like putting a huge burden on wives to be full-time mothers AND workers while husbands schnor away in kollel beleiving their mere presence there keeps the world spinning? Naval b'reshus haTorah like not reporting your marriage to the government so families can collect welfare they otherwise wouldn't qualify for? What do you make of spitting on soldiers and women, or throwing rocks at cars? Maybe it's naval bli reshus haTorah....

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    4. Also, the situations are vastly different. The revelry of Simchas Bais HaShoevah is not the same as the seriousness of a classroom. I'm not sure even the most vocal MO co-education proponent advocates mixed dancing...

      (And let's all remember that the "Ezras Nashim" in the Mikdash was so called NOT bc that's where the women stood during davening [bc such davening as we do today did not exist] but bc that's as far as women were permitted to go. The next space, the Azarah, is where Jewish men could go, and then beyond that only Kohanim could go. I apologize if my details are fuzzy.)

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    5. Yaakov Tolwin, please educate us Chareidim as to which aspects of separation of the sexes are normative Judaism and which are influenced by Christians. You seem to have clarity on these guidelines.

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    6. Bit of a long answer, really, as it involves going through all of Jewish history and trying to understand what was considered normative by whom, and when. Not exactly blog comment stuff. But what is clear is that we have evidence, such as the mixing in the beis hamikdash for most of the time in which we had one, and the aforementioned girls dancing in the vinyards, which shows that chareidi concepts of Kedusha did not exist in Temple times. There is much evidence, both written and pictorial, which would seem to show that it did not exist until much later. While there were always some writings (as far back as the gemara) which held to a more stringent concept, it does not seem to be mainstream, and lacked the mystical connotations attached to it today.
      Most of the chareidi Kedusha concepts begin to appear in their current form a few hundred years ago, around the time of the spread of Protestant puritanism on one hand and the spread of kabbalistic ideas to the common people (in a great part due to the sabbateans) on the other.
      Needless to say, it did not truly become mainstream until after the holocaust, when the modern Chareidi 'revolution' took place, which was (and still is) greatly influenced by christian conservatives and Evangelical apologists. I freely admit that I am not a historian, and if you want to spend the time you can find the references, as the effect of Christianity on kabbala is quite well known in academic circles.
      Veidach Zil Gmor...

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    7. Actually, women were permitted in the Azarah when they were participating in the Avodah. The Mishnah in Zevachim points out that women may shecht Kodshim and, for the more yeshivishly inclined, there is a Tosphot in Kiddushin. And we did allow women to perform smicha on their korbanot.

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  7. @Modern_Orthodox suggests that since he attended a co-ed Jewish day school, he is therefore intimately knowledgeable about them, and his opinions should be trusted. Since I also attended a co-ed Jewish day school AND send my children to them, apparently I should be believed even more than @Modern_Orthodox. All schools have their problems, but I would like to I say that the co-ed Jewish day schools I have been involved with provide wonderful Jewish, religious, and moral education to their children.

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  8. @Modern_Orthodox, "Don't attack the messenger, attack the message I carry if you disagree." Ok, then I suppose we can just disagree about the "message". You believe that the Modern Orthodox world is filled with nveilus birshus haTorah and are terribly lacking in kedusha. I don't see that generally in my modern orthodox community, and am sorry that you had such a terrible experience in yours.

    You might consider finding better supporting halachose. The gemara itself you quote suggests that some kind of separation was made in *the beis hamikdash* as a tikun gadol. Do you believe that until the tikun gadol, outside the beis hamikdash everything was separated, and only in the beis hamikdash did the sexes mix? That is perverted. The implication is that whereas outside the beis hamikdash the sexes mingled, as a tikun gadol the sexes were separate *in the beis hamikdash*.

    Also, please don't forget about the mishnah that describes single woman dancing in white dresses to attract the attention of suitors. On Yom Kippur!! Let us remember @Modern_Orthodox as being the first to call out the mishna as condoning neveilus birshus hatorah!

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    1. The mishnah in Taanis is describing the method of "dating" used for singles (older or rejected singles perhaps even?) The fact that MARRIED men and women convalesce together I suppose is very 'holy' indeed. The immodest dress in the modern Orthodox community is clearly emanating from 'Kedusha' as well I suppose. I suppose women wearing pants is another indicator of extreme modesty. This laxity in the modern Orthodox community is blatant, nothing the Community at-large is embarrassed of or attempts to hide.

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    2. You see, that is exactly the sort of thing chareidim do. You have no problem perverting the Torah when it doesn't match modern conservative values.

      By the way, there is absolutely no problem with women wearing pants. Pants can be more tznius than skirts, and most women's pants are clearly identifiable as female clothing, such that lo yilbash does not apply.
      The difference between us is that we recognize that things change over time, and we try to remain true to the Torah in doing so, whereas you guys make up the rules as you go, and than try to pretend they were that way all along.
      The way chareidim have corrupted the concept of Kedusha is a sin against Judaism, in my humble opinion...

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    3. Older or rejected singles:
      Like the daughters of the Cohen Gadol and of the King (obviously not later bayit sheni, that was the same.)
      Yes, there is mention of problem singles, like no yichus and 'unattractive'.

      No mention anywhere of married couples, though the Navi in yechezkel mentions cohanim would marry (widowed) ex wives of other cohanim, what we would today called a 'limited market'.

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  9. I agree. I thought the boy's eyewear and ties were 1960s style, not 70s. Also their hair would have been longer as was the style in the 70s. It was probably selected to show a picture of Rabbi Lamm and was probably not taken from the album cover.

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    1. No, that's Rabbi Stopler. (I didn't know he used to have a goatee. He happens to be alive and well, so the curious can ask him for the details of the photo. He also once intimated to me that he sided with RDNS about STORC - no surprise, but please think carefully before confronting him for his opinion on that.)

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