Sunday, May 22, 2005

How Dedicated Are YOU?

If you were told right now from a plausible and reliable source that Hashem is giving you the option of giving up all the mitzvot and it'll be totally fine, you don't have to be Jewish anymore, what would you choose?

This came up in a conversation with a friend of mine, and I'm curious what people think because I'm not so sure that Jewish day schools (at least the Modern Orthodox ones) are very good at teaching their students to love Judaism. My passion for Judaism was imbued not in my 13 years in a Modern Orthodox yeshiva, but in Michlala, and I certainly don't know how I would have answered the above question beforehand. It's a scary thought, but how dedicated to Judaism are most of us? How dedicated to Judaism are all the kids in all the frum high schools?

But then again, how do you make your kids love Judaism? How do you teach them the beauty of Judaism? And whose responsibility is it anyway?

[Dedicated to a certain someone who knows who she is.]


At 5/22/05, 7:28 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Having been educated in "black-hat" schools throughout grade school and beyond, I can tell you that they weren't any good at it either.

At 5/22/05, 9:26 PM, Blogger EN said...

A teacher was speaking and said that we must teach the love of torah because if one would ask a class if they could push a button that would make them non-jewish, 70% would push it. After the lecture another teacher passed by and said, your wrong; 100% would push it.

The love and beauty of Judaisim can not be taught in a day or week, it takes years, by excellent role models and parents. Its shever tuzayn a yid (it's hard to be a jew) has turned off many people even when the parents stayed frum. They would come home after giving up a job not to be mechalel shabbos and say a remark that would make the children think, what do I need such pains for. Yidishkeit is not easy, but we must strive to find love for it daily.

At 5/23/05, 7:52 AM, Blogger Chaim said...

This is an excellent topic, and question, we used to ask it like this. If you found it tomorrow by some error in your genealogy that you were NOT Jewish, would convert and continue as everything is the same it was, or would you just give it up. Since you had no obligation to continue.

It's something we used to talk about when I was in tenth grade in yeshiva also, we had 15 kid in my class, once we had a serious and frank discussion, and decided to do a secret ballot to see what the answer would be. out of the 15 votes. the anonymous lots cast. 8 said they would give it up. I always thought that was freightingly high number.

At 5/23/05, 10:01 AM, Blogger Jewish Atheist said...

Very interesting post. My opinion is that Orthodoxy in general is suffering from a missing the forest for the trees syndrome. It's very concerned with how much matzoh one is required to eat during the seder and not concerned with the deeper questions of life and spirituality. (I'm speaking of Orthodoxy in practice, not in theory.)

One place you do see a focus on these matters is in outreach organizations -- NCSY for the kids and yeshivas and seminaries for the older students. (Yeshivas & seminaries are outreach organizations in the sense that most of them are trying to make their students more observant.)

At 5/24/05, 12:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't see how this makes sense to anyone.

Following Judaism is an extention of our dedication to Hashem. If He says to stop it, why wouldn't I?

If all of a sudden Hashem would say, "Ok Jews, today we'll be trying something new. Do whatever the hell you want, get it out of the system. No strings attached." Wouldn't you?

The book means nothing without an author to authenticate it. What's Judaism worth without Hashem?

At 5/24/05, 6:05 PM, Blogger Karl said...

Most will tell you, that to love something, you need to experience it. Teaching the cold, dry facts of dedcation to Judaism wont imbue a passion for it like experiencing a comprehensive Shabbos. The sad fact is, there are many people teaching who dont have that dedication anyway, so how can they transmit it?

BTW, what has happened to STX? - blog seems to have dissapeared.

At 5/24/05, 7:03 PM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Jewish Atheist, I think you're wrong. I do think that there is not enough of a focus on the spirituality and the beauty of Judaism - on the stuff that breeds dedication and passion and commitment for our religion, BUT I also think the halachot are important.

The key, then, is to teach it all, to teach it right, to teach how the halachot contribute to the beauty of Orthodox Judiasm because you cannot have one without the other.

How to do that, though, is another issue, and one for which I have no answer. Personally, I was not taught the halacha or the beauty of Judaism until seminary and that is a sad fact.

At 5/24/05, 7:54 PM, Blogger Fraggle said...

You asked how dedicated to Judaism people are.

I have a friend who teaches at Cheder, rather "taught" there before they released her. She taught Hebrew there but the girls kept giving her problems. They all wanted to learn Hebrew, but they wouldn't work for it, ate during class, mouthed off and even called the teacher a Goy because she used Burger King as an example in a lesson (regardless that it is kosher in Israel).

What I see in Jewish Day schools is that when a Conservative Jew chooses to go to school in an Orthodox school, they work harder than the Orthodox do. Because they chose it. I don't see the Orthodox or rather the Lubavich working hard for anything. They see no relevence to Secular studies or Hebrew, no matter how relevent we all know that it really is. In the real world you do work with nonjews and Jews of varying observance levels. It's a part of life. Oh yes, and in Israel they speak Sephardi Hebrew, not Yiddish and Ashkenaz Hebrew. I'm sure that will be a big wake-up call to the graduating seniors.

And on the topic of choosing to be Jewish or not... I find it sad that a Jew would take for granted what they were born with, wheras there are those who are not born Jewish but have to work very hard to become a Jew. These are the Jews who truly understand what being a Jew is. I wish that everyone could take a look at what others feel.

At 5/24/05, 8:30 PM, Blogger EN said...

I don't understand your question whose responsibility it is to teach the beauty of torah. Obviously it all the Jews. It is mitzvah and commandmant of the torah to imbue a love of torah in their children. As it says Veshinatem lebanechem. This also applies to themselves. As we have the seder and all the yomim tovim and 613 mitzvos. (Including the women...I can't prove it yet but I know it is true.)On the question of how to make them love: each child is different. You must find what makes a child click and make that person respect you and (the) torah. There is enough variety in the torah to make everyone happy. Even the most liberal person. Love is a tricky subject and you will have to give a better definition of how you want to love the torah. (Dancing, singing, blogging...ect. are all good examples.) Teaching is when you share information not previously known to another person. You teach beauty by giving a chance of experiencing and talking and appealing to the common sense and emotions of a person of how torah is great and makes life in this world and the next into a peaceful place and not chaotic as the world may seem when we experience difficulties and pain. Dedication to anything is built through habit. By constant repition and overcoming the lazy spirit. Most kids are lazy and that is why people drop out. It happens to everyone. Some however do it out of necessity. G-d doesn't judge anyone beyond his capabilities. We wont know until we get there.

At 5/24/05, 9:50 PM, Blogger Stx said...

Karl--Nope, not gone. I'm here. I'll b'n get back to blogging soon...Just needed a break after finals, no more writing for a week or so, but the week's up tomorrow...

Eli7, Anon#1, and Fishstix--I dunno...I've asked this question to many people, and I've seen a range of responses. It seems (and this is from a VERY SMALL sample surveyed) that BYB girls tend to estimate that fewer would take the challenge than their counterparts from other schools. The other schools happened to be MO, not BY. They also happened to be NY, not "out of town."

Now, that could mean a lot of things. It could mean that:

-Baltimorons are more optimistic than NYers
-BYers are more optimistic than MOers
-Baltimorons are more blinded to truth than NYers
-BYers are more " " " " MOers
-Baltimorons are less likely to drop Yiddishkeit because they're instilled with an appreciation of it's value more than NYers
-BYers are less likely """"""""""""" MOers
-The small number of subjects skewed the results

What do y'all think? Hmmmmm

At 5/24/05, 9:53 PM, Blogger Stx said...

Two corrections:

1) The word is "its," not "it's"

2) "Take the challenge" is a negative thing here. It doesn't mean "take the challenge of sticking with Yiddishkeit."

Just thought I'd mention that.

At 5/25/05, 6:28 AM, Anonymous Essie said...

I think out of towners are usually exposed to all different stripes of Judaism in their schools (BY and MO) and therefore can gain a greater appreciation for the beauty of Judaism. Most NY'ers only know "their kind" and can easily become cynical or disinterested in the 2-facedness of most NY'ers. (I know am making some generalizations and I do not think that this is 100% the case, but rather, an observation.)

At 5/25/05, 8:57 PM, Blogger EN said...

STX-You write "Now, that could mean a lot of things"
It means they are lying :)PERIOD.

At 5/26/05, 11:15 AM, Blogger Eli7 said...

Hmmm. I kinda would like to blog about this when I have a little more time to sort out my opinions on the matter.

What I gathered from all the responses is that nobody does a particularly good job of teaching the beauty of Judaism and maybe that's because it's a hard thing to do, and no one knows the magic formula that turns out good, dedicated kids, and maybe that's because there isn't a magic formula.

But there has to be more than just seeing what happens and I do believe it can be done. Any ideas, oh brilliant bloggers?

At 5/26/05, 2:13 PM, Blogger EN said...

Create a blog to show the beauty of torah! And how you got that "nobody does a particularly good job" is beyond me, it is is pretty negative way of looking at things. People have free will and g-d put us down here in different situations to grow. We don't question that. We accept what we have and learn more.


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