Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Sabavta!

This is why I love the National-Religious community in Israel.

Recently, the 21-year-old son of a neighbor of mine called together some of the teenagers from the neighborhood. Most of them are/were madrichim in local youth movements such as Ariel, which teaches them to lead people in various projects. He said to them, "OK: you're going to do something that has major impact. Figure out what." So these teenagers put their heads together to think what they could do. And they came up with: Sabavta!


"Sabavta" is a contraction of Saba and Savta. The tagline is mechubarim ledorot, "connected for generations." It's a project that brings together teenagers and the elderly. The teenagers bring tables, chairs, food (including a stove to make hot drinks), and board games to the park. There, they meet with elderly residents of the neighborhood to play, eat, chat and have fun together!


As my 16-year-old daughter, who is an Ariel madricha, explained to me: "There used to be a stigma about special-needs children; everyone's gotten over that. But there's still something of a stigma about the elderly. So we are working to overcome that and encourage teens to spend time with the elderly."


My dear mother, who is 82 years old, had absolutely zero interest in going. But my daughter dragged her there, and she had the most amazing time. She was so impressed at how the teenagers were so friendly and attentive; one of them even went home to get milk so that she could have a British cup of tea!


Sabavta (see their FaceBook page here) started last week in Ramat Beit Shemesh and is already spreading to other cities in Israel. And Ariel is just one of the many National Religious institutions here in Israel that focus on character development, on Am Yisrael, and on making the world a better place for everyone. Ashrecha Yisrael!

74 comments:

  1. The National Religious community still hasn't figured out how to deal with the mingling of sexes at events such as these. However noble the idea, it is tarnished by the lack of proper separation of genders. I would say the greatest failing of the National Religious community is in the area of tzniyut. They are such a great community otherwise, does anyone have an explanation for this phenomenon?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do you think Jews did for the last 3300 years? Do you think that when the young men went to watch the girls dancing in the vineyards, that this was the first time that they socialized? Total separation of genders is probably a very recent artificial phenomenon.

      Delete
    2. How bizarre. What do you think is going on here, a bacchanalia? Theres one person obsessed with sex here, and it's not these kids.

      Ariel *is* separate, by the way.

      Delete
    3. @Historian,

      I think much of modern Charedi culture can be traced back to Christian, especially Puritan, roots. The hyper-focus on sex is just one example.

      Delete
    4. It seems to me that the initial separation was in the Beit Hamiqdash and subsequently the meheztah for praying.
      I once saw and heard on Fri afternoon in Geula, which is packed to the max, a car with'ultra-orthodox' screaming on the loud-speaker 'beware of the yezter/satan in 'mixing'.
      Until they announced this everybody was busy preparing for Shabath and they 'remind' of something not on their minds?
      There is a saying[ I am paraphrasing a bit] that the Satan has done an amazing job of convincing the world that he does not exist but the community mentioned above just wants to make sure that the people don't forget even if it is not germane.

      Delete
    5. This issue of the mixing of the sexes should be a no brainer on a blog that lives and dies by evolution and I should not be spelling it out.

      The proverbial and mysterious yetzer hara is nothing other then man's biological instincts, which are out of his control. The acknowledgement of the reality of the mixing of the sexes lead some societies all over the world to institute gender separation to various degrees. The meaning of Rambam's comment on Pirkei Avos that every conversation between a man and a woman is בענייני משגל has to be interpreted in the sense that there is always a sexual tension present in the interaction between the genders. This is what makes it attractive in the first place. This tintilating tension can be discerned from the photographs on the Sabavta Facebook pages. The problem with the so called 'National-Religious' camp is that they either ignore or deny the reality and its consequences. Evolution isn't only the dinosaurs and it has no morality. There is a wide range of attitudes from the Australian aboriginies to Saudi Arabia, but let's not deny the reality, which is right here in front of us.

      Also, and this should be very clear, not a single Sabavta bochur has any צורה оf a talmud chochom, nor can he be expected to have one. Not everyone can be one, but these are made into amaratzim mlecharchila.

      The kids are good kids, but the rabbies and the parents in charge of their education are פושעי ישראל.

      I vividly remember kissing my neighboor when we were in the first grade. We were acting on instinct and it was totally amazing and I dont beleive that we were sinning it doing anything evil. That was evolution in action! What can be said about 16 year olds, who are at their reproductive peak?

      All this is very simple.

      Delete
    6. "Yakov" and "Setting...",

      Utter narishkeit.

      Only a truly perverse mind could turn something as decent and wholesome as children spending quality time with senior citizens into some sort of twisted sexual taboo.

      Incidentally, not even according to the strictest interpretation of [normative] halachah are these people violating any isur by spending time together in public, in the presence of other people.

      Also, "tintilating" is not a word.

      Delete
    7. 1. It's not easy to figure it out when in a modern state women are half of the workforce and you harness religion to serve the state. 2. They try to be a large tent and a bridge between the secular and the religious, not to push people away with humros. This is also a tough balancing act. 3. Also, a part of that camp sees the mixing as lechathila.


      I've heard an old Mizrachi rabbi say jokingly: 'We are like a duck, who swims, runs and flies, but cannot do anything properly.' True words, if there ever were ones. Going over to that camp is putting your children's Yiddishkeit על קרן הצבי.

      Delete
    8. 'Only a truly perverse mind could turn something as decent and wholesome as children spending quality time with senior citizens into some sort of twisted sexual taboo.'

      My dear friend, there is nothing absolutely nothing, that is stronger or more wholesome then a drive to procreate. We were being selected for it since forever. To deny that it is so is a unique feature of the 'national-religious' community.

      Delete
  2. Bizarre, nothing better to do then to play board games? This is why I'm ambivalent about the National-Religious community. They are a strange mix.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Did you take a course in missing the point?

      Delete
    2. No Nachum, it comes naturally to Yakov and his ilk.

      Delete
  3. Also these youth movements isn't something I understand. Are the for problem kids? Spending a day in the yeshiva or school isn't enough control? You want to have a youth movement wasting your precious free time on silly activities now? I don't understan this.

    It makes sense to have a youth movement to prepare future revolutionaries to overthrow the democracy and establish a totalitarian state, but there is no such thing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Um, have you ever heard of the Boy Scouts? That's what Israeli youth movements (which include the Scouts) are.

      And I take it you've never heard of Pirchei.

      Either you're being obtuse, are completely ignorant of what goes on in Israel, hate anything not in your world, or all of the above.

      Delete
    2. You must be Charedi, if you don't understand Bein Adam L'Chaveiro and Kibud Zkeinim.

      Delete
    3. Youth movements teach teenagers values like responsibility, organization, caring for others, and financial responsibility.

      Putting teenagers in charge of activities (whether a tiyul, an afternoon program, a camp, a regular minyan, or a Chesed project) teaches kids important life skills that will help them in their personal and professional careers, and gives them a love for the values of the movement (in the case of The RZ Zionist youth movements, that would be a love of Am Yisrael, Torat Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael)

      The skills and values that I learnt as a Madrich in Bnei Akiva 30 years ago are still valuable to me in my professional, personal, and family life.

      Delete
  4. "There used to be a stigma about special-needs children; everyone's gotten over that. But there's still something of a stigma about the elderly. So we are working to overcome that and encourage teens to spend time with the elderly."

    Misuse of the word stigma is a pretty reliable sign that someone is doing leftist indoctrination on your children.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Given that the word was used correctly, as understood by every other English speaker, would you care to share your unique definition, by which you judged the excerpt?

      Delete
    2. Nope. It doesn't make sense in context. What "stigma" is there about elderly people?

      Delete
    3. Unless you mix with exceptionally unusual people (the Khymer Rouge perhaps?) there is no stigma about elderly people. When was the last time you heard someone say 'look at that old guy, how gross'?

      Now, perhaps she meant that there is a stigma about young people fraternising socially with elderly people, which is true enough. But that only proves my point. 'Stigma' is a leftist buzzword; promiscuous and imprecise use of the word by children is a very strong indicator that they have had a leftist lecturing them for extended periods. This should be a red flag to any parent.

      Delete
    4. Gavriel,

      Can you please cite for us a single example of your bizarre assertion that "Misuse of the word stigma is a pretty reliable sign that someone is doing leftist indoctrination on your children"?

      Delete
    5. Agreed with Gavriel M. There is no "stigma" about special needs children, either. They are disabled, period. To recognize that is not to "stigmatize" them.





      Delete
    6. @Just Curious

      If your kid came home one day and started babbling incoherently about wine turning into blood, then you would be well advised to investigate why and how he/she was having conversations with a Christian missionary. This is exactly the same, only much worse.

      Every parent should be aware of the signs that your child is being exposed to leftism. It's one of you most basic duties.

      Delete
    7. @DF,

      If you think there has never been a stigma regarding special needs children, you live in a smaller bubble than most Charedim. I have a sister with Downs. I've seen the change in culture with my own eyes. The stigma which absolutely existed is encountered far less often today.

      Delete
    8. Gavriel,

      What I asked for was for you to provide a single example of your bizarre assertion that "Misuse of the word stigma is a pretty reliable sign that someone is doing leftist indoctrination on your children".

      What I did not ask for was your own strikingly incoherent babbling.

      Delete
    9. Everyone knows that 'removing stigma from [X]' is a major rhetorical trope of leftism. (It's also a major trope of the mental-health industry, which is mostly the same thing). Normal people don't use the word stigma in ordinary conversation, and certainly not in the vague an inaccurate manner cited here, unless they have been groomed by a leftist for extended periods of time.

      Mostly it's a waste of time listening to the arguments made by young people because they are incoherent, but it's important to pay attention to whose buzzwords they are using, because that shows you who is doing their programming.

      Delete
    10. This is hilarious. How exactly is my daughter, growing up in a hard-right Israeli environment, being groomed by a leftist for an extended period of time?!

      Delete
    11. R' Slifkin,

      I would agree with you that it is hilarious, if it weren't so bizarrely unhinged.

      Delete
  5. Well, chesed is ubiquitous in all Jewish communities, but the charedim have an upper hand. My girls went to Beth Yakov and all had activities to visit the elderly and the infirm. I went to a non-Jewish public school and we also had such activities. I think that the התנשאות in this case is misplaced. This project is unique in it's own way by being more inclusive, and I wasn't criticizing it. Not sure what point is being missed here.

    Having said that, it's sad to see people at this age playing board games like children. In our tradition זקן is interpreted as זה קנה חכמה. And it's not only in our tradition. What's the meaning of מי זקנים אתבונן?

    Also in the charedi society it's mostly, but not exclusively, the girls that are in loved in this type of chesed. The boys are supposed, and I'm saying supposed, to be learning. This is really an issue that unites everyone, or at least this is what I think.



    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What do "good" youth groups, like the one in your PS and like your daughters', do instead of playing board games?

      Delete
    2. There are many board games designed for adults. It's a shame you went straight from child to cranky-old-man, but most of us like a little entertainment now and then.

      Delete
    3. "Well, chesed is ubiquitous in all Jewish communities, but the charedim have an upper hand."
      Huh? You later admit that it's only charedi girls who do chessed, not boys.

      Delete
    4. My 12 year old chareidi grandson goes to yeshiva from 7am to 6pm. What chesed can he be expected to do after homework? My 'national-religious' grandson comes home 3-4 and plays computer games. Maybe he should be doing chesed or maybe he needs his down time after a stressful day in a yeshiva. I dunno. There Tom's of charedi chesed organizations that you should be able to easily identify, but boys are streamlined primarily into learning, not organized chesed activities. This comes later as the non-learners become older.

      Delete
    5. One day the Meitscheter, one of the great gedolim of a century ago (if you never heard of him, look him up) took the subway from his home in Brooklyn to the Yeshiva (i.e., Yeshiva University), then on the Lower East Side, accompanied by some talmidim. It was one of the first days of spring, and when they got to the yeshiva, early before shiur, the younger boys were all out in front of the school playing stickball in the street, enjoying the sun, and having a good time.

      R' Polachek turned to a talmid and said, "Why didn't we play ball when we were kids in Volozhin and Brisk? We would have been the same geonim we are today- but we would have had a youth!"

      Delete
  6. @Michael Sidley

    Good answer, but after being in a controlled environment for the best part of the day, I, like many other kids, needed to be free to do my thing. A counselor was nothing in my eyes, but my boxing coach was larger then life.

    Scouts maybe good, but are these scouts? Do they learn survival skills and how to defeat their country and who the enemies are? I don't think so.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. These weren't Scouts, they were madrachim in Arial. Not sure what survival skills are relevant, but looks like these teenagers developed many life skills from this experience, including the following:

      - Cooperating with each other to come up with an idea
      - Marketing the idea and getting people of different ages to be aware of the program and willing to take part
      - Dealing with bureaucracy (did they need to obtain permission from the city to use the the park)
      - Financial Planning (if there were any costs involved)
      - Identifying a need in the community and looking for a solution
      - Encouraging young people to spend their time productively.
      - The importance of being sensitive to the needs of other members in the community

      These are all important skills as these teenagers grow and set up a family or look for a job. That is the benefit of having teenagers active in a youth movement (whether Arial, Bnei Akiva, Ezra, or any other youth movement)

      Delete
    2. @Michael Seadly

      Good points. I'd missed out on that.

      Delete
  7. There is good and bad in the NR world.

    There is good and bad in the haredi world.

    ReplyDelete
  8. My husband ted aka goldsmith the silversmith is having the most fun and would stay longer if he could We need to look forward to cooler weather and think about a indoor facility. Thnx from all of us seniors to Tovia and friends Shana Tova to all Kol tuv havivah

    ReplyDelete
  9. TLDR: Kids and senior citizens get together to play board games and socialize.

    Whiners on this comment section:
    1. The genders aren't separated!!!! (because they're going to engage in sexual activity at the park?)
    2. They're playing board games!!!! (what would you suggest instead? It's about quality time, not necessarily activity, and board games are fantastic for socializing)
    3. The boys should be learning!!!! (How do you know that they aren't talking about Torah? Doesn't respect for your elders factor into priorities?)
    4. Too much structure!!! (Participation in these groups is VOLUNTARY)
    Seriously. Is it really that hard to be positive and encouraging for the 5 whole seconds it takes to read this blog post?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Only on the Slifkin blog and comments can the report of a youth group activity become an opportunity to bash Charedim. I am sure that your daughter is wonderful, but one might have thought that afer fifteen years you would give it up already and move on.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Who has bashed Charedim? RNS hasn't.

      Delete
    2. Since Rabbi Slifkin never mentioned Haredim, perhaps you should have someone look at that persecution complex. It has you seeing ghosts.

      Delete
    3. There is not one word about charedim, bashing or not, in R' Slifkin's post. You imagined it. Go back and read it again.

      It is the charedi commenters who bizarrely showed up and started bashing.

      Delete
    4. Not quite, the post starts with: 'This is why I love the National-Religious community in Israel.' The implication is clear. Had it been just a post about the Sabavta, I would've had nothing to say. The inappropriate gender mixing is a feature of that community and not something that needs pointing out.

      Incidentally, the great benefit of being aware of the evolution by natural selection is in understanding genetic differences between races and genders, not in believing in dinosaurs and fossils. What have we been selected for in the past and what are we being selected for now? What's that mechanism?

      Delete
    5. You do know that most of Israel is neither, right? Maybe this is a chiloni-bashing post. (It isn't, but that's not the point.)

      Delete
    6. If you think that saying "A is good" means "not-A is bad", you don't understand language or logic, and you have a persecution complex. There is help available to remedy all these deficiencies.

      Delete
  11. If this effort (or a similar one) was performed by the Haredi community, would you make such a post?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Why should he? He's talking about good things in his community. Other communities can promote themselves, if they can.

      Delete
    2. Are there any communal chessed efforts done by Haredi boys?

      Delete
    3. @Nachum Why should praising kindness be limited to one's own community? If RNS didn't have a history with the right wing elements in orthodoxy I wouldn't think twice. Unfortunately, it's not hard to read between his (obsessive) lines.

      @DT I believe there are. See https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.jpost.com/Israel-News/Haredim-more-likely-to-volunteer-donate-to-charity-than-other-Jews-study-579894/amp

      Delete
    4. of course! they volunteer for Tomchei Shabbos, collect tzedakah for different causes, but for them the emphasis is on learning whereas the haredi girls have more time for hesed projects

      Delete
  12. The issue raised here in the comments is something I am genuinely interested in. I identify with the NR community more than the charedi one, though living in the UK gives me the benefit of not really having to choose, and hence straddling both (to a degree).

    When I consider the strengths of the community (the NR) I was raised, to a large degree educated, and continue to actively operate, in, I keep coming back to the issue of mingling of the sexes. I struggle to get my head around it. To me its patently obvious that boys and girls mixing from the teenage years until they are ready for marriage, is a recipe for spiritual desensitisation. Its a reality of human biology, for most people at least.

    It also seems clear to me that in parts of the NR world, even some strong parts where people are passionately connected to Torah and mitzvoth, there is a relaxed approach to this issue. I have seen, what appears to me, to be the consequences of this policy in friends and acquaintances who maintained this kind of socialising through their post high school years (because it was acceptable in their yeshivot). Perhaps I am blinded by my biases and any detrimental spiritual consequences I perceive are either imagined or unrelated to the liberal approach in this area. (For those tempted, please don't chime in and comment on what appears to be me judging others' spiritual stature; I am well aware that no individual, let alone me, has the right or ability to scrutinise another in this fashion. However, to discuss halacha/policy issues on a society wide level, one must, to a degree, form an impression from the external acts of a group of individuals, in particular where they are common among a given group and repeated over decades).

    Could Rabbi Slifkin perhaps research and write on this issue. I don't think its as clear cut as some of the earlier commenters argue it is (in particular those claiming its an invention of a sex obsessed modern charedi society), and hence I think it would benefit from a measured and nuanced consideration.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You only need to look at the extortation in the mechaber end of hilchos yom tov to defeat all the historical revisionism of the MO when they claim mingling of the sexes was commonplace in history, and seperation is a chareidi invention.



      Delete
    2. You only need to remember the Rambam that I'd brought above: כל שיחה בין איש לאישה היא בענייני משגל.

      The reason that it is so is that evolution selected for passionate lovers because they had a survival advantage. When charedim make fun of romantic love, I tell them that nothing in the world is more real then love and that we all are descendants of lovers.
      Both chilonim and charedim understand that mixing of the sexes is כאש בנערות. It's the mizrachnikim that skid the issue and mislead their youth. This is why I call their rabbies פושעי ישראל. You can accept evolution or not, but you can't fight it. In the struggle between ideas and biology, it's the biology that will carry the day.

      It's just dawned upon me that there are people reading this post that don't realize that boys join these girlish activities to be with girls not so much for doing chesed. This doesn't make anyone bad, just that like I've said that biology inevitably trumps ideology.

      Delete
    3. You do know that when a Torah source (or any other historical document, like l'havdil church ones) condemns something, it means it was widely done, right? Otherwise they wouldn't have to condemn it.

      Delete
    4. You don't have much experience with the National Religious world, do you?

      Oh, and you know one result of not mixing? A singles "crisis."

      Delete
    5. Nachum,

      True. So what? Of course it was widely done (or at least creeping in). Bit like shops open on Shabbos. The rabbonim had to go around begging the owners to shut up shop as the sun set on Friday. By your logic, that means its really ok to keep a shop open Friday night.

      Delete
    6. Nachum

      The MO have just as a match a crisis. There are whole blocks in NYC full of Jewish MO singles. One is the 'shidduch crisis' one is the 'singles crisis'.

      I don't know if the yeshivish/chareidi in Israel have a shidduch crisis. In chul they do. Chassidim certainly don't.

      Delete
    7. Yes, it works for chassidim. The crisis is a result of the yeshivish (and kal v'chomer the MO) trying to use the same shidduch system, which was not built for either of community.

      Delete
  13. For the historical background, in many European shetel's men and women walked on separate sides of the street.
    The mingling of sexes started with the enlightenment in Germany.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Who is anyone to say what was being spoken of while the board games were out? Or during the rest of the visit? And even if no Torah was discussed, who is anyone to assume they aren't kovea itim? The tagline of the organization is "Connected for generations." It's a way for youth and seniors to brighten each others' day and invite the other into their world, which believe it or not can be done without a gemara present. I'll be dan l'chaf zechus the people making some of these comments are trolls.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Why is the elephant in the room being ignored?

    Tons of NR are going off the derech. And tons more are becoming less observant.

    The desire of many NR people to adopt outlooks which are rooted in the secular world and not the Torah carries a heavy price.

    This may be happening in the haredi world, but not to the same extent.

    None of this is to deny the many problems in the haredi world.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. NR kids are brought up above all to be goody goodies, as this post demonstrates. This makes them good neighbours, good employees, and good tax slaves, but it makes them absolutely useless at collectively organizing for their own interests, let alone shaping the direction of the state as a whole. Because of their catastrophic dropout rate, they are barely able to maintain themselves as a fraction of the population. Meanwhile, in the rest of Israel, the cultural and moral decline that is the defining feature of democracy ('the free society') proceeds apace. The RL community has gaslighted itself about this, convinced that the electoral dominance of the so-called 'Right' means that are winning in some way.

      The bottom line is this: Religious Zionism will never, can never succeed in its goal of making zionism Jewish. That will come, if it comes at all, from the Haredim, like it or lump it.

      Delete
    2. David,

      Please provide evidence for your assertion that "ton of NR" are "going off the derech".

      While I don't have the figures in front of me, I believe I have read that, percentage-wise, a higher proportion of chareidim wind up abandoning Orthodox Judaism than do "NR"/modern/centrist Orthodox Jews.

      The reason for this, I have heard, is a perhaps best analogized by the Talmudic aphorism, "le'olam yehei adam rach kekaneh velo kasheh ka'erez": the non-Chareidi Orthodox are much better equipped to bend with the "winds of change" than are Chareidim who are unfortunately more likely to "topple over".

      Delete
    3. Gavriel,

      This is just too rich: a chareidi (or at least chareidi admirer), a community that seems to value nothing more highly than conformity, bashing the NR for producing conformists!

      Delete
  16. I'm 60 and I'm not aware of any old age stigma. One of the things that strikes you when you observe the charedi society is the absence of the generation gap. All generations have a common language. I don't know how it is today in Israel on other communities because I'm out of touch. For lonely old people it's very exciting to socialize with the young, regardless of weather there is a stigma or not. My girls used to visit a nusrsing home every Shabbos. That was one of their chesed projects in Beth Yakov.

    Someone asked what chesed I was doing in school. Nothing. The school was doing something for the veterans, which I fully identified with, and I think some kind of animals, which I didn't give a hoof about. I was very busy with my life and couldn't stand the school anyway. My family had plenty of veterans, so I felt I was yoize.

    ReplyDelete
  17. What's interesting when you look at their Facebook page is how many boys are part of this basically girlish activity. I think that not many 16 year olds can remain indifferent to girls in miniskirts doing chesed. Both Rambam and Darwin fully agree. I, in my own little way, must say that had the only way to meet the opposite sex was to visit veterans or feed animals, I would not have missed either. Lolz.

    National-religious education is very sick.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A person educated to believe that interactions with the opposite sex must (always?) lead to sex are sick. The health of the education is not really relevant.

      Delete
    2. That's not what was said. My interpretation of the Rambam was that it always has the element of sexual tension, which is what makes it enjoyable. What is your alternative explanation?

      Delete
  18. Amazing! A Judaism FOR THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE.

    ReplyDelete

Comments for this blog are moderated. Please see this post about the comments policy for details. ANONYMOUS COMMENTS WILL NOT BE POSTED - please use either your real name or a pseudonym.

Are Mammoths Kosher?

There were some fascinating comments that came in, both online and by email, to my previous two posts on mammoths: Woolly Mammoths And The...