Charedim and Dov Lipman

By Harry MarylesTo Unify a Nation

One of the biggest assets of the Charedi community in Israel is someone that hails from a Modern Orthodox background in the United States. He is a Talmud Chacham with a fine secular education. But he has bought entirely into the Charedi mindset in Israel. I consider him a friend. And I think he would say the same about me.  But one would not know that by one angry comment (among many) he made recently on my blog (in response to my own comment to him). He calls himself Dan (not his real name). I post it here in its entirety:

I’m absolutely horrified that Orthodox people don’t give a hoot about the undermining of religious issues in Israel as defined NOT by Charedim, but by ANY Orthodox Rabbi. Laws by Yesh Atid had to be blocked time and again by Bayit Yehudi because Rabbis such as *Rav Druckman* said they are anti-Torah.

Lipman has had plenty of chances to explain his views, and I don’t care what Lipman considers himself. Supporting a law that allows non-Jews to adopt Jews (and that IS part of the law, for all those falsely claiming I misrepresented; it goes BOTH ways) is supporting Shmad. Period.

He is horrified?  Well, I too am horrified. I am horrified that his children (and virtually all other Charedi children) will never receive the education he did. That they will not be prepared for the outside world in the slightest. That they will be sociologically forced to sit and learn Torah for as long as possible without the slightest bit of preparation for the work force during that time.

I am horrified that the skills their own father learned in the US which affords him the opportunity for a decent job will not be available to his children for a lack of learning them. I am horrified that his children (and all other Charedi children) are being told that their first choice in life must be to abandon working for a living since there is so much Torah to learn. They therefore need every available moment of study to be geared towards that.

I am horrified that even children that are not as much suited for Torah study as they might be for some other field are being told to ignore that and continue studying Torah for as long as possible. Continue reading “Charedim and Dov Lipman”

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Can education alone save the Jewish People?

by Robert Eli Rubinstein

Since biblical times, we Jews have been a famously contrary lot, and the erosion of traditional values in the modern period has only deepened the divisions. Yet there is a single article of faith proclaimed with startling unanimity and certitude by all who profess to care about the survival of the Jewish people.

From one end of the broad Jewish spectrum to the other, from secular humanists to the most rigidly devout, Jewish education is promoted as the key to securing the Jewish future. In last week’s CJN, Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman added his powerful voice to the chorus. As he put it, “Nothing is more crucial to advancing this goal [of ensuring the continuation of a strong Jewish identity] than Jewish education. At all levels, from the earliest age in the home, through formal and informal education at all levels, there is no alternative to exposing the next generation to Jewish values, traditions and identity.”

I began entertaining doubts about the conventional wisdom regarding Jewish education years ago, and these have only increased as I raised my own children and became ever more involved in the lay leadership of the Jewish schools they attended. Let me make clear that I am not saying I no longer value Jewish education. Rather, what I mean is that in the distant past, the lives of our people were suffused with a critical mass of Jewish content, and this preserved in them a strong sense of self as Jews. Today, however, the great majority of Jews wish to replace the actual practice of Judaism with mere knowledge of Judaism. As a consequence of this shift, we tend to have overblown and unrealistic expectations regarding the efficacy of Jewish education in building Jewish identity.

In 1986, the Canadian Jewish Congress, Ontario region, commissioned a “Task Force on Assimilation, Intermarriage and Jewish Identity”, which I was privileged to co-chair. Following an intensive investigative process, the taskforce issued a report setting forth recommendations for counteracting the erosion of affiliation among Jews. Looking back, I am struck by the fact that almost all the recommendations involved promoting Jewish education in one form or another. In the years since, our community’s deep conviction that Jewish education is the panacea for assimilation has continued to grow, as reflected by its ever-expanding investment in Jewish educational facilities and resources. Yet parallel to this trend and notwithstanding our heroic efforts, we have witnessed a relentless increase in the rate of attrition.

Some years ago, I was visiting in Borough Park, a Brooklyn neighbourhood heavily populated by readily identifiable chassidic Jews. While strolling along the main street on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I came across a group of Continue reading “Can education alone save the Jewish People?”