Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Is Oorah's Girl Zone Camp Ethical?

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Previously I posted a letter sent around to orthodox college students, inviting them to engage in kiruv programs with non-orthodox students. The idea was to create friendships for the sole purpose of outreach. The letter in this post is from Oorah's Girl Zone Camp, which is specifically a kiruv/outreach camp, explains the requirements of prospective counselors who are required to do the same.
     The letter itself, sent to those looking to work at the camp, is very honest about the organization's goals, stating that "
Since the 1970’s, Horav Chaim Mintz,shlit”a, has been reaching out to our uninformed brethren to share with them our rich heritage of which they were previously unaware. Horav Chaim encompassed the total kiruv spectrum; making contact, inspiring, encouraging parents to send their children to Jewish schools, funding when necessary, educating parents, being their connection to frumkeit, supplying them with Yom Tov needs, and most importantly, giving them full moral, social, and spiritual support for the journey towards a Torah way of life"(page 1.) The goal of this camp is to groom children (not college students) for an orthodox lifestyle and the letter even states that the Oorah had grown immensely: "Horav Chaim is still the inspiration and guide, but now he is assisted by hundreds of others who reach out, stay in contact and help fund this massive kiruv initiative"(page 1.) Again, this letter does not go to the parents of non-orthodox children.
     On page two, we read that "[Oorah] want[s] our campers to experience Yiddishkeit and a Torah way of life during their stay at GirlZone that will inspire them and show them that a life of Torah and Mitzvos can include all the things every girl likes to do"(page 2.) That's wonderful news! You can be orthodox and still go to summer camp, but when the counselors and staff are following up throughout the year with these kids, and they find out that "Caitlin" is on the co-ed soccer team and singing in her school's mixed chorus for the Winter Choral Presentation, are they supportive of this? (I honestly wonder about this.) I also know that the activities that are done at an all-girls orthodox summer camp are very different from what is often done in orthodox communities of mixed genders. But that's another argument and off-topic.
     This paragraph, also on page two, makes me very uncomfortable:
The relationship between staff and campers just starts in camp. Our summer program is only a jump-off point for our year-round Kesher program. Each staff member in GirlZone is assigned a Kesher partner with whom she will be expected to maintain weekly contact throughout the year. We keep their kesher to Yiddishkeit and the GirlZone spirit alive throughout the year with Chol Hamoed trips, Shabbatons, parties and other get-togethers. GirlZone staff members participate and help run these events(page 2.)
After summer camp, it's natural to keep in contact with your counselors and friends if you so choose. But in this case, those employed by the camp are told that they must have a kesher (a connection) with a child that is maintained after the camp ends. They are assigned a kid to continue to influence on a weekly basis throughout the year. This kesher doesn't sound very kosher to me. It sounds very contrived. Even if it ultimately feels natural and a true friendship develops, the basis of this friendship is to bring these children (not college students) "towards a Torah way of life"(page 1.) Here is what is meant by the term kesher.
Kesher- Each staff member is assigned with one or two campers with whom she will develop a kesher. This includes a daily session of learning/schmoozing with each other during camp, a weekly phone call throughout the year, joining her at the various get-togethers throughout the year, whenever possible, (such as chol hamoed trips, shabbatons, birthday parties etc.), and keeping a specific interest in the welfare and growth of that particular girl(page 3.)
That sounds ridiculously involved for a camp counselor once summer camp has ended. Why all of this involvement? Because this is a kiruv camp, meant to bring young non-orthodox students to orthodoxy. This camp is heavily subsidized so that parents who want to send their kids to camp, or even specifically a Jewish camp, can afford to do so. The question is, how many realize what this camp's motivation really is?
     Page four offers this statement: 
You will develop a close kesher with a camper and become her guide, mentor, support and source of advice and encouragement in an effort to prod her along the path to a Torah way of life. You will become a proud member of the Oorah organization, an integral link in the chain of full spectrum kiruv work. You can gain from the warmth and guidance of Horav Chaim Mintz, shlit”a, and Rabbi Avi Davidowtiz, shlit”a, and others who are masters in kiruv and mentors to developing yiddishe neshamos(page 4.)
     Oorah is training its counselors for kiruv work. They're practicing and perfecting their techniques at summer camp on unsuspecting non-orthodox kids. In the comments' section of this blog, it has often been debated whether college students are fully adults or even if they have the experience and knowledge needed to make informed choices in dealing with kiruv, deceptive or otherwise. In this case, we have children who certainly don't have the experience or knowledge, and who generally accept what adults tell them. The question I ask is whether or not this is ethical. Do parents fully understand the point of this camp? Or are they lured in by the fact that it's Jewish, beautiful, and affordable, not realizing that there is another motivating factor behind this camp's existence?

Update: It has since been brought to my attention that Oorah uses different terminology and this may not be their most recent letter to counselors--making a kesher is really making a Torahmate. Regardless of the cute wording, the point is still the same.

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46 comments:

  1. I think the key point when it comes to everything Oorah does, from their Kars 4 Kids funding mechanism to Girl Zone, is their dishonesty and utter lack of transparency to the public (donors, potential camp parents) about their goals.

    The letter you posted is hardly a surprise, but at least they're being upfront with their prospective volunteer counselors as to what they're all about. It is amazing, though, to compare the content of the letter with their public website (http://www.thezone.org/about.asp), which makes no mention at all about their aims, but positions their programs as just a nice healthy Jewish summer camp.

    What is clear is that they know that if they were to be honest and upfront about their aim publicly (even if they were to use the usual whitewashed kiruv language about re-connecting Jews to their heritage and history) they would not be able to achieve their kiruv goals.

    Nauseating.

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  2. Oorah is awesome. And I think your letter is a little out of date as well. Speaking as a mother of two campers over the past six years.

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    1. Thanks for your reply. You're right--some of the language has been updated to some degree--making a "kesher" is now making "Torah Mates." I've updated the post at the bottom to let readers know. Regardless, there is still an issue with much of the language used here. My problem isn't the "kesher" but the reason for the connection. Thanks for your input.

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  3. Also, the site reflects exactly what goes on at camp. its low pressure. the staff mostly lead by example. they do discuss various stuff and put some ideas into kids heads but on the other hand, my daughter was never told that their way was the only way. staff don't disrespect the families the kids come from. they live their lives and if it appeals to a kid, they help them learn, but often times the family is also learning and interested
    oh and the camp goes to age 26, so you might want to reconsider that aspect of it.

    its a very good organization and they have taught be more about a lack of judgementaism than my secular upbringing ever afforded to religious jews.

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  4. Wow what a hateful blog you have here. Self hating Jews at their best.

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    1. Thanks for the informed comment, Anonymous. Is there a reason why people shouldn't be presented with another perspective or additional information in order to ultimately form their own conclusions? Or is it better to just help create a bigger chilul Hashem by labeling those with opinions that differ from yours as "self-hating Jews?"

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  5. Dear Anonymous, I have always wondered what the definition of a self hating Jew is. I am a secular Jew without any religious training and don't know what the term means. Will you define that for me?

    Sincerely,

    Curious Jew

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    1. A "self-hating Jew" is someone who speaks openly about the corruption that is rampant within the frum world, forces frum Jews to confront challenges to their belief system and threatens to loosen their fragile hold on the security blanket.

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  6. How sad your life must be to actually open a blog about Kiruv and the "damage" it does.

    Do yourself a favor a find a different hobby.

    sincerely A Former Oorah camper

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    1. Is your comment an example of the middos they taught you there?
      Just curious.

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    2. I find nothing wrong with my middos by trowing you the truth into your face.

      A little reality won't hurt you

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    3. Thank you again, Anonymous, for your follow-up comment. You haven't demonstrated any truth in your personal attack. If there is another side to this story, feel free to share it. Otherwise, your comments, which are supposedly representing this organization as "a former Oorah camper," are just reflecting poorly on Oorah. Between you and me, Anonymous, your comments are doing them more harm.

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    4. I find nothing wrong with my middos by trowing you the truth into your face.

      A little reality won't hurt you


      Please. You wouldn't recognize either truth or reality if they walked up to you and introduced themselves.

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    5. As a former Oorah camper I can confirm that the methods they use to indoctrinate people are dishonest, brainwashy,anti intellectual and unethical. Maybe ill make a blog post detailing it.

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  7. Bec- As a result of Former Oorah Camper, I have an actual question though that I want you to think about? And maybe others here can comment as well. The fact is that this blog has an interesting affect. People on it, complain about their relatives experiences with Kiruv, their own experiences with Orthodox Judaism and their overall issues with religion in general. You yourself have stated that you were religious a couple times, but that you didn't have much interaction with Aish or the Campus Kiruv movements--so I would love to hear more from the people themselves who were negatively impacted to understand the problems? Bec, I have no doubt you were negatively impacted by OJ, but since this blog is devoted to Kiruv, I want to understand how people were deceived so we can actually focus on the target of this blog? Does that make sense?

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    1. Aish straight up either lies or is criminally ignorant in their discovery seminars, especially in reference to bible codes, but to a lesser extent concerning the Kuzari "proof"

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  8. Thank you for your comment. What I am presenting in this blog is evidence of such deception. For example, in this case, the letter from Oorah to potential staff. The contents of this letter and the way it is presented differs greatly from anything found on Oorah's website geared at parents of campers. In my opinion (which this blog consists of and which I try to back up with evidence--I have footnotes and sources all over the blog,) it seems that this camp, which sounds lovely (yes, I really mean that--they have animals and all sorts of great stuff that kids love,) does appear to push a certain agenda which they clearly outline to the staff in the cited letter. This should be available to parents to peruse.
    As for the contents of the rest of the blog, all of the topics that I focus on (Aish, campus kiruv, etc.,) are usually based on information that I readily give to readers (again, with sources, etc.) There are comments from people who have been affected, and, along with a regular barrage of email denigrating me, I also receive a fair amount of email from those praising these efforts and who claim to have experienced the topics covered. Deception here can be interpreted as leaving out important information, misleading people, and even the traditional bait and switch. I also discuss deceptive advertising and marketing.
    Many people do assume that I'm against orthodoxy which I'm not. It was something that didn't fit in with my life and yes, I did try several different times and approaches. I also have no problem with "kiruv" before it was bastardized by large organizations. You know, your neighbor down the block who you see all the time who invites you to his Hanukah celebration or Shabbat meal. It's the mass-approach to change people's lives that I have issues with.
    On another note, a problem that I've had in getting people to write about their experiences is that I do know people who fear the ramifications (within their communities) of publicly denouncing certain organizations. However, I am always open to guest posters on these topics and I often ask people to write. Getting people to actually do so is another story.
    I hope that this addresses your questions.

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  9. Bec, what I don't understand is this letter is on Oorah's website. They aren't trying to be deceptive. Anyone can read these letters or get this info. So why are you trying to make it seem more shady. You are reading into things and putting them in a particular light but its not like these are top secret documents or anything. These are things that they publish for everyone to read.

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    1. The most recent letter for the staff application is here http://www.thezone.org/forms_gz_staff.asp and reads nothing like the letter I posted. Unless I am mistaken (in which case, please provide a link from Oorah's camp site so that I can update my post,) there is no link from the website to this letter.
      Anyone can read this letter if they then do a Google search to locate it, but i'm not sure that most parents would even think that the staff letter on their actual website would not be the same as this other staff letter.
      By the way, I completely agree with you in your point of view that anyone can get this letter (although I don't find a link to it on the website.) In that case, my opinion regarding the wording and the content shouldn't really be much of an issue since it's publicly posted on the internet for all to read. I am simply being critical of this letter. I hope that this organization is not trying to be deceptive, as you've stated. But I also think that a discerning parent who is choosing to send their child to camp should be able to access as much information as he/she can, before sending a child away for the summer. A responsible parent is going to look for information as well as positive and negative reviews of the camp, their mission, as well as the experiences of other campers. As a parent, I know that reading the website wouldn't be enough for me to make an informed decision about a camp. I'd hope that others might look critically at an organization before making such a decision.

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    2. Knowing a few people who send kids to BoyZone and GirlZone I can tell you that if they're trying to do any kind of indoctrination they are doing a lousy job. Yes there is an attempt to maintain a "kesher" during the year but it's more a "let's stay in touch" than any serious attempts to do kiruv. In addition you should be aware that at least half the kids at the camp are already frum and are there because it's so cheap. So perhaps odd letters like this exist but in practice it's not anything like that.

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    3. Thanks for your comment. If in fact this camp is nothing like what they've expressed in their letters, then my question to Oorah is why such letters as these would even be used?

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    4. To recruit staff, of course. Also to maintain the image in the frum community so they'll continue to be able to have fund raisers and rabbinical approval. It's all about image.

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    5. Calling bullshit here. As someone with recent firsthand experience, the brainwashy methodology operated at the zone has serious effects on people

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  10. Ok, there is alot being said here... as someone whose husband is a product of ncsy, I guess oorah seems great to me. Being given a torah partner makes it all easier... oorah donates thousands to pay for yeshivah costs for unafilliated families. . Ncsy has its own paired program. Our synagogue participates in partners in torah-which pairs ppl up to learn whatever they want at thier own pace. Sorry, I'm blind to the problem. If you have no interest in this, then don't use thier camp, or tuition assistance. I don't believe they are hiding anything. Or at at least here in staten island and brooklyn. I can't spk to the program outside of those two boroughs.

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  11. Im seriously shocked and disgusted that you could even write this, Seriously? Maybe you're just jealous that there are people out there that are actually open to change and to helping others grow. Not sure what your point is - why would you write such a thing? You don't know a thing about Oorah and how much it does....I personally have seen first hand how everything you said is completely not true...You should be ashamed do disapprove something that so many Gedolei Yisroel approve of...
    -A proud Oorah staff member

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    1. Thanks for your informed reply, Proud Oorah Staff Member. I may be mistaken, but is it possible that you might be biased?

      You state: "You should be ashamed do disapprove something that so many Gedolei Yisroel approve of..."
      I'm not at all ashamed, and why should I be? Are people not permitted to disagree and form their own opinions? Are they not permitted to access information that may be critical of an existing organization? I sincerely hope that you, as a "former Oorah staff member" didn't discourage kids from disagreeing and forming their own opinions. My views are my own, and I stand behind them. I'm sure that there are many things that the Gedolei Yisroel disapprove of that I believe, and that's fine. I don't fault them for not seeing things my way, and I encourage them to find their own truths. Hopefully, they're looking critically at the world and forming opinions based on existing facts.

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    2. Yes, people can have their own opinion. However, it comes to a point where it is pointless, lashon hara, and shows something extremely negative about someone when they speak this way. You know what they say: "If someone puts something else down, it's only becuase they need to use it as a stepping stool to make themselves higher"...no offense but yea...And yes, as a oorah staff member, i did not and do not discourage kids from disagreeing and forming their own opinions - however we show them the right way to view things...Ok you obviously are very firm in your belief...I see that you're closed minded and nothing I say will make you change your mind so I'm just gona stop here. Have a great day:)))

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    3. What makes this lashon hara?
      You put me down several times. Does this statement of yours "If someone puts something else down, it's only becuase they need to use it as a stepping stool to make themselves higher" apply to you as well?
      You wrote: "however we show them the right way to view things..." What is this "right" way? Is it your way? What makes your way the right way?
      This made me laugh: "I see that you're closed minded." I believe you're projecting. :) Thanks for further clarifying your comments. I wish you much hatzlacha.

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    4. I want to add that you never even gave any concrete evidence to back up any of what you said. You just launched a bunch of ad hominem attacks--and you did so as a representative of Oorah. How does that help people who read this blog see Oorah in a positive light?

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  12. I do not mean what I stated previously in a bad way, please don't be offended. I just felt I had to stand up for this unbelievably amazing organization. You must have gone through something in your life, or just have a sad life to have said this...

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    1. You state: "You must have gone through something in your life, or just have a sad life to have said this..."

      Are you saying that people who disagree with your point of view have something wrong in their lives and/or that there is something wrong with them?
      This statement may be even more offensive than your previous statement. Please tell me that this is not how you represent an organization that you claim is "unbelievably amazing." I think you may be doing them more harm than good.

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  13. "i did not and do not discourage kids from disagreeing and forming their own opinions - however we show them the right way to view things..."

    So, it's OK to form their own opinions because you'll fix them to the "right" way to view the world? Is that what you're saying? I'd be embarrassed to have anyone think I was that righteous, arrogant and closed minded.

    Your statement also proves Bec's original point that Oorah is a brainwashing camp. By saying that their way of viewing the world is wrong and that your way is "right" is just unspeakably wrong. Your mission is to make people view the world the way you do, whether they sign up for that or not. Whether it's deceptive or not.

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  14. As a former oorah staff member,
    I would like to say I have never received a letter looking like your sample letter, nor do I believe the program is hiding anything. In fact, there are photographers employed to video and take pictures of every aspect of camp in order for the parents to see exactly what their kids are doing. Oorah has given me a lot it teaches tolerance and love, in fact there is even an optional early morning "coffee club"
    for any camper or staff who would like to talk about the importance of being nice, accepting, and the power of hurtful speech. And that is just one of the programs... I loved the camp, I adore my torahmate, and it is my PRIVLIDGE to keep in touch with her! i'm sorry you have issues with it, maybe go for a day and check it out and see what an awesome place it is :-)

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    1. Thanks for weighing in, Anonymous. Glad you had a great experience!

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    2. The constant ear aching blasting of music with lyrics like"Shabbos Shabbos we keep Shabbos" or "kippa kippah kippa how I love my kippa it makes me feel closer to Hashem" are akin to classic brainwashing. That sort of thing associated with fun activities will lead to strong triggers in the mind to religious behavior. It's fundamentally anti free will, and anti intellectual

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  15. An oorah staff memberSeptember 18, 2015 at 4:24 PM

    As someone who spent this past year in one of Oorah's camps . I will try to shed some light on what Oorah tries and successfully does. The Kiruv that is done is not by "brainwashing" them to think what we want them to think. But rather by living an example of a proper Torah Jew. When the campers see middos that most of them don't find in their house. And feel at the same time they are in a much healthier and happier environment. The also want to be like that. The devoted staff members of Oorah create the "kesher" you talk about by genuinely caring about every camper by having a sensitivity that you don't see many other places and by having endless amount of patience. Since many of Oorah's campers come like is very normal outside the frum world from broken homes . When they come to a camp that has close to ratio of one staff member per a camper. And they know these staff members are there for anything they need they grow and blossom in ways like never before. Is it then such a wonder that many of the ones who are not already in a Jewish school want to switch out from public school. During the year many of these campers feel like they don't matter to anyone. And than during the summer because of the Torah values that the staff members share they feel that everyone around them cares. Is it really then so shocking that these kids dream summer to summer. Torah mate call to Torah mate call. While I was learning with my Torah mate this summer he turned to me and said "Did you know if you come back next year we get to be Torah mates with each other again." This kids can't imagine a world with out Oorah and it's wonderful staff. Oh which by the way doesn't get paid. When the parents of these kids see the more refined way their kids act they to get involved in Oorah. To respond to your hateful attacks on their staff guide book. You may allow yourself to get a major misunderstanding when you read. But when the ones who it was written for have a four hour orientation on the 1st day of camp. No mistake is made on what they're supposed to be doing. These kids become frum because they realize it as a better way of life. And hating on other people is not going to make this world a better place. Looking forward to spending succos in the Zone.

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    1. Thanks for commenting and welcome to this blog. I read your comment and I have to say that I'm not shocked by your response.

      You stated, An Oorah Staff Member, that "Since many of Oorah's campers come like is very normal outside the frum world from broken homes."
      Please explain how Oorah and Oorah staff members define "broken homes" and the percentage of children who are accepted from such. I'd also like to know the ratio of licensed therapists on staff who are equipped to provide these children from "broken homes" with the support that they need to heal.

      You state: "And they know these staff members are there for anything they need they grow and blossom in ways like never before. Is it then such a wonder that many of the ones who are not already in a Jewish school want to switch out from public school."
      Actually, it is a wonder and I'll tell you why. Camp and school are very different. Children, on their own, don't equate the two. Unless Oorah's staff is consistently indoctrinating these children over the summer and grooming them to equate going to summer camp with attending a Jewish school, then there is no reason for them to make that leap. What is it that you're telling them that makes them suddenly believe the two are equal?

      You state: "During the year many of these campers feel like they don't matter to anyone. And than during the summer because of the Torah values that the staff members share they feel that everyone around them cares. Is it really then so shocking that these kids dream summer to summer. Torah mate call to Torah mate call."
      Let's break this in two. What makes you say that these kids feel that they don't matter to anyone? Are interviews done? Please provide proof of this. Otherwise, it sounds like you've been indoctrinated to believe that children from non-orthodox homes are suffering in some way, and you are treating them as if they are victims. It sounds as if you've bought into the tinok shenishba myth.
      As for children looking forward to camp during the school year, that sounds similar to so many non-orthodox camps! Kids have a great time AND they spend all year excited to go back to camp and excited about camp reunions. Mazal tov, you have a nice camp program. Maybe lay off the indoctrination.

      You state: "These kids become frum because they realize it as a better way of life. And hating on other people is not going to make this world a better place."
      No, these kids are too young to be able to make huge lifestyle choices. If your younger siblings were sent away to an exciting fun-filled summer camp for several weeks that was run by Jews for Jesus--with a caring staff who insisted on making a kesher with each camper and following up all year, as well as teaching them on a 24/7 schedule about how their values are better than that of their parents, do you really believe that they wouldn't fall prey to these influences and come home wanting to be like the caring people at camp? They'd see it as a better way of life as well--because of these influences and would probably react the same way you are hoping these non-orthodox campers will react--with excitement and a desire to be like their counselors, and the urge to get their parents to change their lives.

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    2. I also want to address your use of the term "hate."

      You state: "To respond to your hateful attacks on their staff guide book.... And hating on other people is not going to make this world a better place."

      What has been said that is hateful? Please copy and paste the exact statements made in the post that you believe are hateful.
      It seems that you have been taught to believe that criticism is equivalent to hatred. This seems to stem from the same school of thought that believes that any criticism of Judaism or more specifically, orthodox Judaism, is equivalent to anti-Semitism and/or anti-orthodoxy. Criticism is simply an analysis of something's qualities. If you were to make a kugel that wasn't particularly good and someone told you what was wrong with it, would you accuse them of being hateful? Or would you just accept that they are criticizing your cooking--possibly so that you'll possibly understand that maybe there are mistakes you're making? Telling you to reduce the salt isn't hateful, it's helpful criticism and can help you to improve your cooking.

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  16. What you describe, An oorah staff member, is a cult recruitment technique called Love Bombing. You shower the kids with love and attention and presto! they glom onto you. It is contrived, pre-meditated & done for the purpose of recruiting new members. There is nothing honorable or honest in what you're doing.

    Been There Heard That

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  17. An oorah staff memberSeptember 18, 2015 at 5:34 PM

    Here are some of the parts of my original post you may have intentionally not read.

    "But rather by living an example of a proper Torah Jew."

    "When the parents of these kids see the more refined way their kids act they to get involved in Oorah. "

    "When the campers see middos that most of them don't find in their house. And feel at the same time they are in a much healthier and happier environment."

    "These kids become frum because they realize it as a better way of life."

    That's beside for the point that yes for a child growing up feeling loved is in important. And yes it does usually come from the people that care. Just like hate usually comes from the people that don't.

    Can I ask if you are you ALSO speaking from personal experiences in the camp?

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    1. What kind of elitist, bigoted BS are you spewing, An oorah staff member? You sound like a caricature of Miss Manners ("When the parents of these kids see the more refined way their kids act they to get involved in Oorah.") News flash, the rest of the world is not undisciplined or unrefined. If you were selling a Jewish version of Cotillion I'd roll my eyes and leave you alone. But you're not, you're tricking kids into rejecting their own families in favor of a life that you, in your haughty arrogance, aparently deem more righteous. How dare you!

      Been There Heard That

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    2. An oorah staff memberSeptember 19, 2015 at 9:33 PM

      Although I am defending Oorah I can not I can only give mine not Oorah's definition of "broken homes". Here is the following statistics that showed up when I googled "what percentage of kids parents are divorced."

      General children divorce statistics

      50% of all North-American children will witness the divorce of their parents. Almost half of them will also see the breakup of a parent's second marriage. (Furstenberg and others -Life Course-)
      One out of 10 children of divorce experiences three or more parental marriage breakups. (Gallagher -The Abolition of Marriage)
      40% of children growing up in America today are being raised without their fathers. (Wade, Horn and Busy, -Fathers, Marriage and Welfare Reform, Hudson Institute Executive Briefing, 1997)
      50% of all the children born to married parents today, will experience the divorce of their parents before they are 18 years old. (Fagan, Fitzgerald, Rector, -The Effects of Divorce On America-)

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    3. An Oorah Staff Member,
      I'm assuming that your comment is in response to a comment I posted earlier in which I stated:
      "Please explain how Oorah and Oorah staff members define "broken homes" and the percentage of children who are accepted from such. I'd also like to know the ratio of licensed therapists on staff who are equipped to provide these children from "broken homes" with the support that they need to heal."
      The statistics that you've provided about divorce rates in North America have nothing to do with Oorah, their summer program, or this post or comments. Even if this is in response to your own comment about children coming from broken homes, it doesn't prove anything. These statistics cover all Americans, and are not limited to any one specific population. In this case, people from all walks of life--including orthodox Jews--are covered in these statistics.

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  18. I find this entire conversation very disturbing. Obviously, the mentors in any mentorship program will be given a different perspective than that which will be given to the children of that program. Such is the nature of any mentorship, it needs to done with tact. If a mentor for a school dropout would come and say to the kid "Hi, I'm here to help you get back to school and pull your life together" the kid would obviously not be interested in any sort of interaction with that person. The mentorship needs to be cultivated properly. That does not make it deceitful or insincere. The mentor can truly care for the child, and it is that care which ultimately creates the connection.
    Everything in life can be looked at from different perspectives, it is all about how you spin it. We can take every marriage and say that the love is insincere, because it's based on physical attraction, we can say the love of a parent for a child is based on pride, etc etc. But such is the way of the world, people connect and share what is important to them with the people they love, and relationships develop. The mentors of Oorah care for the children they are helping, and share what they consider to be the most important thing which they can share, namely the jewish heritage and a stable life.
    If you don't find these ideals to be important, I respect that , and you don't have to follow them. But how can you condemn people for sharing a rich heritage with children whom they honestly care about, especially when it is the fact that they care for these children which pushes them to share this heritage?
    I consider this to be a gross case of closed mindedness, where someone else's opinion is so unimportant in your mind, that it can be given no validity at all.

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    1. Your whole argument can be used by Jews for Jesus or any other missionary group to justify their own missionary tactics. Surely, based on your comment, you have no problem with these groups doing outreach to your children. After all, they also care for the children they are helping and they, too, share what they consider to be the most important thing which they can share. Would you condemn Jews for Jesus for promoting programs aimed towards children? If yes, I must ask you--just as you've asked me "how can you condemn people for sharing a rich heritage with children whom they honestly care about, especially when it is the fact that they care for these children which pushes them to share this heritage?"

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  19. My kids went to Oorah and had a great time. It's just a great camp and they have fun without the pressure of "tznius" rules and rigid requirements. They also have fun keeping in touch with counselors and bunkmates throughout the year. No brainwashing. Definitely sending them there again. My kids go to Jewish day school and there were a lot of kids similar to them- modern orthodox etc. in their camp.

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Your respectful comments are welcome.