Thursday, February 6, 2014

All of the Benefits, None of the Kool-Aid: A Review of D. Gutbezahl's Article on Kiruv

     I recently had the pleasure of reading David Gutbezahl's article "Eat the Food Without Drinking the Kool-Aid: How to Get the Most Out of Orthodox Outreach Programs." After telling readers about his background--David Gutbezahl fits in somewhere between Conservative and Reform and has spent time studying Judaism at Pardes in Jerusalem--he informs his readers that his desire to learn more brought him to consider, and ultimately take part in, the Lakewood Fellowship, an ultra-orthodox study program in Lakewood, New Jersey. One of Gutbezahl's concerns was that he "would have to spend a week living in the homes of extremely observant orthodox Jews, experiencing the way they lived."1 He tells his readers "I was definitely a bit nervous, I think my parents might have been more scared, but I went along with it...."2 Having heard many stories from parents of college kids who opted to study at ultra-orthodox institutions and ended up "frumming out" (becoming religious,) I can completely understand both his and his parents' concern. However, Gutbezahl appears to have clearly understood that this is the program's goal--to bring people into such a world and hopefully convince them to make the move to an ultra-orthodox lifestyle. He states:

Don’t get me wrong.  I think they all actually would like to see me start wearing a black suit and white shirt. These sort of programs don’t just exist as a way to teach a little Torah and get us to be more accepting of their lifestyle—that is a goal, but there is a further agenda too. Torah Links is a kiruv organization, meaning they are Orthodox outreach, and their goal is to “convert” people into Baalei Teshuvot, secular Jews who have “returned” and become more religious.3
     Gutbezahl advises people attending such kiruv/outreach programs to go in with a healthy level of self-confidence. He wisely tells us that "if you go in with no confidence in the way you live your life, convinced that your beliefs and your Judaism is wrong or inferior to theirs, guess what? You’ll likely suck up everything they say, leaving no room for your ability to think a bit for yourself."4 Sadly, in some programs, mentors will often stick negative quips about other forms of Judaism into their lectures, so participants who are already unsure of their Judaism may fall prey to their own lack of confidence in their own belief systems. While I completely agree with Gutbezahl's advice, I can easily see how those with minimal exposure to a Jewish life can fall victim to ultra-orthodox outreach. If kiruv professionals undermine the way prospective recruits were raised (whether they were raised as secular, cultural, Atheist, Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Humanist, etc.,) and those recruits aren't too sure about their own beliefs for whatever reason, they become an easy, or easier, target than those who are already sure of their beliefs or lack thereof.
     Readers are also advised to "think with your brain, not your stomach."5 This is invaluable advice. I remember going to someone's home for a Shabbat meal when I was in college and remarking that the chicken was delicious. I was told that it was good because it was on a higher spiritual plane due to it being kosher. That's not why it's good, folks. It's good because it's been soaked and salted. Anyone can brine a chicken. It has nothing to do with elevated spirituality.
     David Gutbezahl reminds us to "remember while you’re having fun, or after really, that half the fun and half of what you’re seeing is partly just show meant to get you to want to adopt this lifestyle."6 This is the most important thing that non-orthodox participants in outreach programs need to really internalize. Families that may seem perfect while you're a guest in their homes may be wonderful people and may really love their lifestyle, but that doesn't mean their life is perfect, or that they aren't struggling in some way, or that they walk around blissed out on regular day when they have no guests. Adopting an ultra-orthodox life doesn't suddenly absolve people of their problems, just as being secular, or Christian, or Buddhist (you see where I'm going here?) doesn't suddenly absolve people of their problems.
     While Gutbezahl tells us that he can see himself being more observant (but not orthodox) after taking part in the Lakewood Fellowships, it seems that this outcome wasn't a direct result of this program. He appears to be someone who has been Jewishly inspired throughout his life, and was looking to find another learning opportunity. I believe that his advice to those interested in these programs is sound. Gutbezahl was already aware of the purpose of  outreach programs and this awareness enabled him to go in with an open mind, as well as a clear strategy for walking away with only what he wanted to gain from the Lakewood Fellowship. For people in his shoes with his wisdom, these programs can serve to enhance one's life. It's those lacking this awareness, and lacking the self-confidence that David Gutbezahl writes about, who may end up having their lives changed in ways they weren't necessarily expecting.


1. Gutbezahl, David. "Eat the Food Without Drinking the Kool-Aid: How to Get the Most Out of Orthodox Outreach Programs." New Voices. January 21, 2014.
2. ibid.
3. ibid.
4. ibid.
5. ibid.
6. ibid.

46 comments:

  1. As someone who ran what you call an "ultra Orthodox" outreach program for many years, I must say that your comment "I can easily see how those with minimal exposure to a Jewish life can fall victim to ultra-orthodox outreach".

    The term "fall victim" sounds like someone sneezed in your face with a bad case of the flu.

    These programs never demonize other factions like reform, conservative, reconstructions etc...because they already know that these movements are such a dismal failure in inspiring Jews that its not necessary. Everyone knows the best way to turn a Jew off to Judaism is to send them to a reform or conservative hebrew school program.

    The great and holy Jews of Lakewood all know that one just has to start learning Torah (with a Talmid Chacham-that is the crucial thing!) and a person will easily see the endless wonders and depth of Torah. That is the kind of program Torah Links is and it is similar to my program. The Torah sells itself. The food and music is really not as necessary as people think. In Lakewood you see Yidden who live and breath Shas and poskim. An Jewish neshama even one who has digested years of non kosher food will be affected by what they see.

    Again comments like "falling victim" are really not necessary here. Unless you mean falling victim to your holy Jewish neshama which you can't escape.

    Everyone who runs these programs knows that not every person will become fully observant. The whole "fully observant" thing is a silly goal anyway. Very few in Lakewood are "fully observant". Every "frum" Jew has areas of observance to improve upon myself included. The goal is just to inspire one to grow and appreciate Torah more. The growth in observance is usually a natural outcome of the experience. This is what occurred with David Gutbezahl.

    Also, you should be aware, that statistically those with a stronger background in Jewish life, like David or even just one who grew up being active in a reform or conservative temple etc... or keeping kosher in the home are generally easier to bring to Orthodoxy than those from completely assimilated backgrounds. One of my good friends was a national leader of NIFTY (reform youth group) throughout high school and college. After one or two weeks in an Orthodox yeshiva learning Gemara and that was it for the reform movement. He started calling it on his own without any promptings from the Rabbi's he met the "Deform" movement. He is now a very wonderful talmid chacham.

    All people generally need is learning. For men it is a generally a case of "boy meets gemara". For women it is generally a case of deciding not to be an unpaid harlot as most are in the secular world. (i.e relationships w/o marriage). Women are actually and always have been statistically the majority of baalei teshuva contrary to what most would think. Righteous women have always saved the Jewish people-Nashim tzidkanios!

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    1. Mitch, you are pretty accurate on this point: The term "fall victim" sounds like someone sneezed in your face with a bad case of the flu. May I use the analogy, because it pretty well sums up what having kiruv inflicted on one's life is like. I also agree with Bec about the term "falling victim." That is exactly what happens to naive college age kids when they are wowed and impressed by charismatic kiruv workers.

      Delete
    2. Actually, Mitch, you're wrong.
      "Falling victim" is a term that makes sense when talking about deceptive kiruv. The fact that a participant in Lakewood Fellowships felt compelled to write an article about how not to be brainwashed by kiruv programs more than justifies my use of that term.
      You state "These programs never demonize other factions like reform, conservative, reconstructions etc...."(sic) Oh really? And you've sat through every lecture in every program ever given? I've sat through several in which other denominations were openly insulted.
      By the way, keep it coming, Mitch. I enjoy your comments.

      Delete
    3. Wow. Are you for real?
      "The great and holy Jews of Lakewood?" "the "Deform" movement?" Women in the secular world are "unpaid harlots?"
      Just... wow.

      bec, I think this comment does more to warn people about the dangers of kiruv than anything you could ever write.

      BTW, Mitch, do you think that women don't get anything out of sex? That's what calling them "unpaid harlots" for having sex outside of marriage implies: that they aren't getting anything out of it. That the only reason for a woman to have sex is to appease her husband or for money.

      Delete
  2. Better to be "wowed and impressed by charismatic kiruv workers" than secular liberal professors who will lead them to an empty, meaningless life.

    May it G-ds will that all Jewish college kids are "wowed and impressed by charismatic kiruv workers". May it be that they all come home to a life of Torah and mitzvos. May they give our people true pride and nachas. May they break all the chains of secular liberalism that have been tied around their necks since birth. May they escape the clutches of the media, the sewer of the college campus and the shallow instant gratification, materialistic American culture for a life filled with love of G-d, Shabbos, family, growth, inspiration and true simchas haChaim-joy in life.

    If you know any of these kids on campus please have them contact me. They are invited for Shabbos!

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    1. Mitch, I wonder if you can hear yourself? Do you have the capacity to empathize or to even hear what other people say? We are saying loud and clear that we do not want this lifestyle. We are saying loud and clear that it is wrong to trick people. We are saying that you sound like a nut. If you proselytized on a campus the way your are here you would probably be arrested. People send their kids to college so they can make their own way in the world, not to become acolytes of the likes of you.

      Delete
    2. I'd rather take them to a bar so you can't try to influence them with your sickening vitriol

      Delete
  3. Well, I think any term that denigrates any stream of Judaism is a chillul HaShem because you are necessarily denigrating other Jews. That said, tactics of delegitimization are used all across the spectrum, and shouldn't be. My rebbetzin got my total respect one evening when a group of women had gathered because a former Reform synagogue member began trashing the local Reform congregation but before she could get all wound up, the much-younger rebbetzin cut her off bluntly with "We're all Jews and no one should judge another." It never happened again because the rebbetzin set the tone and wouldn't permit it -- we should all be like that.

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  4. Yikes, Chillul Hashem? I have nothing against the Jews who are reform except I wish they would all go to kiruv seminars. Just the leaders of the movement who are practicing and preaching a religion that is not Judaism. That's all. Its an intellectual argument not a judgmental one. The tenets of reform Judaism are not Jewish. Christianity is closer to Judaism than reform.

    When one disagrees with another "movement" it is not called a Chillul Hashem. It is called disagreement. Nothing at all to do with a chillul Hashem.

    It really does not matter anyway because the reform movement is on its last legs anyway. The members of the temples are more than half non Jewish at this point. These non jews who think they are reform Jews are the ones who have been deceived and duped a thousand times more than "orthodox kiruv" program ever. Talk about deception. Wow. That's the real deal.

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    1. So, when you refer to the Reform movement as "deform," you believe that isn't a chilul Hashem? It doesn't sounds like you're making "an intellectual argument, not a judgmental one." It doesn't even sound like a disagreement, Mitch. It sounds like nasty playground name-calling by a bully who needs to insult others in order to feel some modicum of value.

      Delete
    2. What are the basic tenets of the Reform movement, Mitch?
      I'm almost willing to bet that you haven't the slightest idea. The Reform movement actually makes some very significant theological arguments, and many of which are far more reasonable than the crap you guys spew at your Discovery seminars

      Delete
  5. Personally I would love to be brainwashed at a Lakewood kiruv program. Does anyone know how I can sign up? Please wash my head as much as you can! Pass the soap, the kool aid, the cholent or whatever it takes!!! I would love to have all the garbage in my head cleaned out. I only wish it was possible. I wish I could take away all the terrible things I have seen.The University, the internet, MTV, CBS, NBC and all in between, all the negativity, all the darkness, all the garbage in my system. Oh how I wish I could be brainwashed in Lakewood.

    I have started writing a new book. Its called "Brainwashed in Lakewood". Perhaps I will put out an album "Brainwashed in Lakewood". I like the title. It will be songs of redemption, songs of hope, of sanity, of making something of yourself in this world. Perhaps I could get New Jersey legend Bruce Springstein to guest on a few tracks.

    Very excited. Thanks for inspiring these projects!

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  6. Making fun of reform is halachically permitted. Its not loshon hara. Its loshon tov.

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    1. Oh please, we're not stupid. However, you do a good job of making yourself look stupid. Keep up the good work.

      Delete
    2. Do you think non Orthodox people should be courteous of you? That is a serious question. I assume you do, but I am trying to wrap my mind around the double standard you present. Orthodox Jews can make fun of Reform Jews, but Reform Jews should be respectful and tolerant of Orthodox Jews. There is an eerie similarity between this line of thought and what I'd expect to hear from a White Supremacist. You are doing Orthodoxy no favours I'm afraid.

      Shmuel

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    3. We should not make fun of reform Jews (except their leaders) just reform ideology which is a clear historically, statistically proven failure. But its not even necessary as the average non frum Jew could care less about his/her reform temple. Best thing is to invite them for Shabbos and to learn with them.

      Delete
  7. Mitch sounds like the unsuccessful type of kiruv clown who had the religion virus sneezed into his face rather badly.

    Having learnt in Ohr Somayach Jerusalem myself, I was disgusted by their demonization of the chilonim, even back then. And this was pretty standard, all the way up to Reb Mendel Weinbach.

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  8. Bec, you really hit the jackpot here with Mitch. I think I might consider your earlier theory of his "real identity". Even if it's not true, perhaps ignorance is bliss in certain situations :/

    AM

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    1. AM,
      The absolute irony is that I'm only opposed to deceptive kiruv; Mitch seems to be dead set on making people hate all kiruv and orthodox Jews. I don't even think he realizes that he's doing more harm than good.

      Delete
    2. If you are only opposed to deceptive kiruv why are their links to all sorts of off the D, anti Torah, anti orthodox blogs posted all over your site?

      Busted.

      Delete
    3. Oh! You've caught me, Mitch! I was openly being open about some of the blogs I sometimes read!
      But thanks, there's one I need to put up, so I'm glad you reminded me about my much neglected sidebar.

      Delete
    4. As if I was not nauseas enough from the ones you already have posted. Its like the losers hall of fame over there.

      Still hoping you will take this site down. Or at least the sidebars.

      Once you have failed messiah up its an open sign you are working for the dark side.

      Delete
    5. I'm on your side, Mitch.

      Delete
    6. Take the site down and replace it with site about the greatness of living a committed Torah life, full of love, learning, chesed, ahavas Hashem, Yeras Hashem. Until you take this site down you are not on my side.

      Delete
    7. Hey Bec--here's the real challenge--How about an article about the real deceptive kiruv as I stated earlier "It really does not matter anyway because the reform movement is on its last legs anyway. The members of the temples are more than half non Jewish at this point. These non jews who think they are reform Jews are the ones who have been deceived and duped a thousand times more than "orthodox kiruv" program ever. Talk about deception. Wow. That's the real deal."

      Consider yourself challenged. Cmon that has to be worthy of a "stopkiruv" site. I am looking forward to the article and will check tomorrow to see if you have posted it. Thank you and G-d Bless.

      Delete
    8. Okay, sure, Mitch. You provide the balanced research materials to adequately prove your thesis. If you can send them to the email on the sidebar within the next five minutes, I'll write it up for you for $800. That's my going rate for a rush job on this topic.

      Delete
    9. Looks like you missed your chance to have me write that article up, Mitch. But if you'd like to write something up about it as a guest post, let me know. You can send your finished article to the email on the sidebar. And I won't even charge you for it.

      Delete
  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  10. Wow thanks for another blast of inspiration: The new name of my band is:

    "The Kiruv Clowns".

    First album "Brainwashed in Lakewood".

    First single "Cholent Flavored Kool-Aid got me High" (sort of a post/punk.hip hop ode to the truth of life)

    If Matisyahu can make it why not me. Got to go. Have to book studio time. This thing is gonna be huge. THANKS!

    :):):)

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  11. Everyone should read the actual article. It paints a very honest and complete picture of the experience of a true "Kiruv" experience in an UO environment. Gutbezahl concludes:

    "I’m really not trying to scare you away though, I honestly think that anyone who has a chance to go on a program like the Lakewood Fellowship absolutely must do it. So long as you put your head on straight before going, it can be an amazing experience that can truly enrich your life. I can say for sure that I have grown since going to Lakewood."

    As a Mekarev, I myself (and others whom I know) actually tell my students the exact same thing before I send them on trips. (Of course, many do not, hence this blog). Too many young people get starry eyed and ask "how high?" whenever someone says jump. Most people feel that their lifestyle is the most legitimate or meaningful, and it's natural for people to try and recruit people to their team - like with sports, politics, or music. When I send a student to Lakewood or any Haredi environment, I want them to understand that they are there to learn Torah and have a fun experience, not to re-construct themselves in a Yeshivish image. Thank you Bec for this post.

    AM

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    1. AM you sound sincere but the fact is that kids attend yeshivas and kiruv trips to Europe & Israel do not just happen to flip out all by themselves. I read somewhere that some of the seminaries boast a 90%+ "success" rate of getting kids to flip. So while your words sound nice, it's just more soothing kiruv BS. Neither do I believe that you happen to be the one kiruv worker out of all of them out there who explains the danger and consequences of flipping out to kids in a way that they understand it. The sentence "you need to be careful" can take on many meanings depending on how it's said. Merely uttering the words with a great big smile on your face is essentially lying to whomever you say that to.

      Delete
  12. AM: Good points. Well thought out. I tell my students the same thing. You can't lose yourself and become something you are not. You will fall apart. The goal is to keep all the good things that you do and enjoy and now add more good things, get rid of the bad and just keep learning and surrounding yourself with growth oriented people.

    Please remember though, you are not a Mekarev. Only Hashem decides who is coming close or not.

    It sounds like semantics but it is a crucial hashkofa.

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  13. OK Mitch, whatever you say. Now toddle along & don't let us keep you from your students.

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  14. Mitch, how can you afford to spend all day on the computer complaining about this blog? Most of us have jobs to go to. Do you?

    Mohammad

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  15. To Anonymous 4:21 PM,

    Fair points. Even telling students that an environment is magnetic and that they should proceed with caution can be deceptive. Maybe it is just a tactic I use to ease their minds to allow for the deception to occur. Maybe, but that type of thinking can continue ad absurdum. What would I have to say that would be acceptable? Consider this. I do want them to go and learn Torah. I do want them to incorporate those values into their Weltanschauung. I do want them to see a living example (albeit extreme) of an opposing view to western Materialism. BUT, I do not want them to be brainwashed (as opposed to Mitch's Ode to Clean Brains above). I do not want them to reject their internal sense of right and wrong. I do not want them to think that everything they knew is a lie and now they have seen the light. I do not want those things because I believe they are untrue, not because I am afraid that their parents will now hate Kiruv and start a blog and put me out of a job. I walk a fine line, I know. I do not expect you to believe that I am a lone saint. There is a spectrum of views within the Kiruv world. I have MANY friends and colleagues who think like me. There are many who do not. There are nuances. Just as not all OTD Jews are Atheists, not all Kiruv Rabbis use cult tactics. Again, some do. Many do not. The reason why this article is so profound is because it allows for a nuanced view of reality, one closer to Truth. Is there something that any Jew can gain from spending time in a place such as Lakewood and experiencing that culture? I believe so. Can it inspire someone to a closer connection to Judaism even in a non-Orthodox way? I believe so. Will some people be "mystically" attracted to that way of life and therefore reject the Judaism of their childhood? I believe so. Is that always bad? Always good? Probably neither. The key is for people to be informed. That is the most that I can do. I have the right to my opinion that secular college students have a lot to learn from the Orthodox (even UO) world. I have the right to encourage them to experience it first hand. I have the responsibility to be upfront about what they are going to experience. They have the responsibility to make informed decisions.

    As I have commented here before, I understand the skepticism towards what I am saying. Who knows more than me that many Mekarvim think that they are saving poor, lost, souls from meaninglessness, wasted lives. But say what you will, I do not think like that? You may disagree with me in respect to my positive views of exposing Jews to Orthodoxy, and I respect your right to do so. But please don't accuse me personally of lying and deceiving when you do not know my intentions. You can postulate theories about others' motives, but if you want to know mine, I'd prefer if you just ask me.

    Respectfully,

    AM

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  16. I am starting to like you AM. You sound very sensible. I take the same approach when I meet people. My comments on this blog are much more intense than I am in person. I am only playing this role here because this is an anti-Torah site with an underlying attitude of pure hate. (see sidebar links for proof-preferably before you eat as nausea will ensue). Hence I am giving over clear unambiguous generalities. I realize I may offend, but that is ok because every single thing I have said thus far is true. It will make a roshem eventually. In person I am a mellow, calm and (some would say) cool guy. I answer everything straightforward but I don't care if I am not understood right away, as long as a roshem (impression) is set that is fine. It may be five ten years before I am understood. (parents have to do the same with their children btw) I can live with that. Its taken me many years to understand things my Rabbeim have told me as well. We are all works in progress. We are filled with so much potential to grow. Let's all keep moving forward b'simcha!

    Yasher Ko'ach! Hatzlocha rabbah!

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    1. So you're admitting to being a fraud?
      Now, people reading your comments will be hesitant to trust any kiruv professionals, figuring that based on the examples you've set, you say and act one way yet believe and act differently, depending on your audience. There are a lot of readers who see this blog. (Check the page views at the bottom.) It's incredible that you believe in kiruv and Judaism, yet are willing to chance turning so many people off.
      Would you like another shovel for the hole you've been digging?

      Delete
  17. Of course that is not true. No fraud here. Who could come up with such a character like me. This is the real deal. Strange you would call this a fraud when I just mentioned that everything I have written is true?

    All good educators play to the audience they are speaking to. This audience and this site needs the kind of writing I have been providing to give a fair counterbalance to the misinformation/anger/hatred of Judaism they will receive on this site.

    You are using your own personal shovel and vendetta that you have and your own personal negative experiences to try and dissuade people from a life of Torah.

    This whole site is nothing but a way to deal with your pain. To actually start a blog about this issue must signify that you are in great pain. I feel for you and wish you true comfort.

    However, I do not believe one's own bad experience justifies a public assault on an entire community and way of life. Especially one that has miraculously existed through blood, sweat and tears for 3500 years.

    I wish you well and hope that you will make the right choices in the future.

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    1. Typical response. I've seen this all over the place--when you disagree with, leave, or are critical of the orthodox community, people are often labeled either anti-Semites, self-hating Jews, people in pain or suffering from bitterness, mentally ill, or a whole host of other things, in order to release the orthodox community from any responsibility for their own behavior. Of course, not everyone in the orthodox community is like this, but there is an unfortunate prevalence towards the exact behavior you've been illustrating here. It was really just a matter of time until you tried this well-worn tactic.

      Delete
    2. mitch, i am in pain because i can't believe my coreligionists (orthodox) are such ding dongs.
      before kiruv i thought judaism was this incredibly on-the-mark religion because it did not believe in something as stupid as a messiah (I was pretty ignorant.)
      it did not believe in a literal G-d given Bible.
      It did not believe that one would lose out on an afterlife if one didn't conform.
      it did not believe in censorship, fear of evil-ution, creationism, young universe.
      then i met very nice ding dongs like yourself. i like you, i have friends and family like you, i enjoy the company.
      but you are all just ding dongs who fear the world, cannot allow anyone inside the shtetl to read or gain exposure to outside views and voices, fear college, fear difference, can't have any of your claims of a superior religion be tested or evaluated.
      it's ridiculous. you're a good guy i'm sure -- but it's all built on never getting an education, just being indoctrinated, having outside views suppressed, omitted, or distorted. using inspirational speeches to get people to stop thinking about any of it.
      it's just nuts and ridiculous and yes, a lot of fun in some ways and powerful in some ways. but that's what the commies said in russia when they had their rallies for a worker empowered world future -- and they did the same nonsense: no one could leave the country ever. no one could view outside material of any kind. any one who dissented from the party line was in trouble and sent to a labor camp.
      and all the while they said "communism is obviously superior and the truth, and the west decadent and materialistic and weak."
      it's so obviously a ding-dong controlling authority that can't afford exposure to the outside world -- and orthodoxy is organized the same -- what are you defending???
      My cousins are kiruv people and are utterly controlling and absurd on the level of intellectual debate. they do it because it makes them feel good about their choices, keeps them up and involved.
      look: you're a good person i know. but really, look in a mirror and say: Mitch my boy, you are a control freak! And get back to me.
      Tuv

      Delete
    3. > This whole site is nothing but a way to deal with your pain. To actually start a blog about this issue must signify that you are in great pain. I feel for you and wish you true comfort.

      Oh please.

      “Your whole kiruv effort is nothing but a way to deal with your pain. To actually start an outreach organization to try and convince other people that your way of life is the “right” one must signify that you are in great pain and deeply unsure about your life choices. I feel for you and wish you true comfort.”

      Anyone can play this game.

      Delete
  18. I wish you menuchas hanefesh, simcha, love, nachas from your family and all good things.

    May we all merit to grow into the sweet and beautiful people we would like to become.



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  19. They just want Jews to become law-abiding citizens, from a Jewish point of view. It's like when the gov't takes out public service messages saying, like, pay your taxes, buckle up, etc. If you don't think it's important, and aren't interested in why other people think it's important, then ignore them. If you want to hear why they think that Jews have to follow Jewish law, then listen to what they say. It's not going to harm you.

    Do you really think our motto should be "timeo Judeos et dona ferentes"?

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    1. Regular law (e.g. The right to bear arms, prohibition to cross a red light) are universal and serve clear-cut purposes. All the little itty bitty details of Jewish law that are being force fed in kiruv (e.g. Tzniut) are not. In fact it isn't even clear-cut what the actual laws are, what people do is build 20 fences around fences presenting it as God given law.

      Delete
    2. You have a rosier view of regular law than I do, after 20 years in the field.

      Laws are not universal. They vary by jurisdiction. Can you easily access an abortion in a clinic? Can two people of the same sex get married? Can you treat a child with severe epilepsy using medical marijuana? Can a teacher paddle a student? How much child support or alimony will be ordered in a divorce case? These answers will be different depending on where you are.

      Not every country has the right to bear arms, and the only clear-cut purpose that I see to it is to keep gun-related death higher in the US than in Canada or the UK.

      As for itty bitty details - have you read tax law or the detailed regulations to any law?

      Delete

Your respectful comments are welcome.