Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Setting non-shomer people up

I was in a kiruv program at HS (I believe I mentioned this before) that was part of a "regular" all girls school. The program was very small, and we became extremely close to many of our teachers. To this day I keep in touch with three of them.

Anyway, because we were so close, we used to go into long conversations about our families, and how they reacted when we decided to become frum and so on. So one day, I mentioned my uncle, who at the time was about 25. He had just broken an engagment with a shiksa the year before, and so at the time -after he went on birthright, and had decided he only wanted to marry a Jewish girl, I took it as a 'project' to find him someone (I was like 14, and 25 seemed old to me!). So when I mentioned this, I was like "OMG, Mrs., you're very into kiruv, your husband works with a lot of BT guys, which means he meets their families. So he probably knows their sisters, cousins and relatives that may not be frum, but want a Jewish guy."

So she was like "yes, we know a few girls, plus we know of many girls generally."

So I was like "OMG!!! You should totally look for someone for my uncle! He is very smart and good-looking. He's laid back! Come on Mrs. F, you must no someone!"

And so, I expected her to say something like "well, I'll keep him in mind" but what I got was totally unexpected ...

"Well, I would keep him in mind, but since he is not religious, then he is not shomer, and our policy is not to set up people who aren't religious because they may break the laws of shomer negiah."

I was like "Wouldn't you rather the guy be guaranteed a Jewish wife, and Jewish children, as well as a continuation of his lineage? Isn't that more important than keeping shomer? I mean his kids may not end up Jewish at all."

She was like "No, we don't set people like that up"

I continued "but he has no Jewish friends, he lives in the middle of nowhere NJ, where he doesn't socialize with Jews! I mean, I want Jewish cousins!"

And she was pretty adamant about it, because she never asked about my uncle! And now he is 31, dating a shiksa, and we suspect he wants to marry her, but he fears our reaction (my mom -his sister- is probably his favorite family member).

The logic my teacher used just makes no sense to me. She does kiruv. As long as a Jew is single, they can continue on doing kiruv. If they marry a Jew, they can continue doing kiruv on them (I know a few families where only one person became frum, and they remained married, because the other side "compromised), but you're just not going to do kiruv on someone who married a non-Jew, because its inhumane to encourage divorce (should they turn frum) nor is it halachicaly permissible to encourage the spouse to convert!

89 comments:

Anonymous said...

i heard this before used by very high level kiruv professionals, and its more then just negia, its niddah, and other laws that pertain to marriage. I didn't know Mrs. F's husbannd works with BT's...in what capacity? :)))

anony.
p.s...I obviously had free time today.

frumskeptic said...

anony: "I didn't know Mrs. F's husbannd works with BT's...in what capacity? :)))"

He used to, while he was a learner. He used to help out and such and visit the camp the programs principal ran for the boys.

Jessica said...

I have a cousin who was married to a shiksa (had a kid with her too). For whatever reason, she wanted him to start learning more about his religion (judaism, obviously). he started learning and is now frum, married to a frum woman and has 8 frum children.
Your teacher was being an idiot, but your uncle isn't necessarily lost forever.

Stacy said...

does she ask frum people if they're shomer before setting them up?

Moshe said...

I understand refusing to do a kosher huppa, but this?! Wow!
Does you teacher even understand how many Jews will be lost if your cousin marries a shiksa and that the judgment will fall on her?
Break the laws of shomer negiah? Who doesn't in one way or another? Nidda is a problem but it would be a problem regardless.
Stupid, brainwashed frummies who have lost all capacity to think and to consider the consequences of their actions.

frumskeptic said...

jessica: that leaves me with some hope. :)

stacy: Lol. No idea, I know she asked me. But I told her I was,so I don't know if she woulda refused to try and set me up otherwise.

And she didn't ask me as like a check-list thing. I mean, it might be because she's a "friend", I don't know. WE were just discussing modern vs. yeshivish guys, so shomer neigah came up, so she asked.

Moshe: your comments always put a smile on my face. lol :)

Moshe said...

You seriously think yeshiva guys are shomer?!

frum single female said...

wow , that's very scary . in my mind if your uncle marries a gentile this teacher gets the aveyrah.

Skeeta said...

I heard about this rabbi who was doing kiruv, and one thing he couldn't persuade his people not to do was premarital sex. so he figured, as long as they're doing it, they ought to go to the mikva so at least they aren't breaking nida. but the local mikva wouldn't let them use the mikva, because they didn't want to encourage premarital sex! so what they ended up doing was encouraging nida. idiots. if someone's willing to keep one thing, then they should let them go as far as they can, instead of being all or nothing.

FedUp said...

yet another major flaw in the system. Kiruv hurts many people. They practically force them out of serious relationships with non-Jews and then they refuse to help them find a new partner if they aren't frum enough. AHH!!!

It's truly maddening. These kiruv people should be FORCED to be up front and honest. "You won't be able to find a shiduch. I'll be using your emotions to get you frum.(shabbas experience) You will always be thought of as second class since you're a BT. I'll be lying to you about the truth of all religions. etc"

Kiruv should be asur. I really hate kiruv. Why can't all the kiruv people just accept all Jews for who they are, no matter what their level of observance is? Why must they convert them? Why can't kiruv people just be nice and leave the indoctrination and emotional terrorism for Bible beating Baptists?

Moshe said...

Good for me that I go to a Russian BT shul and most people marry each other or someone Russian from one of the other Russian shuls.

Jersey said...

That's screwed up. Not setting someone up because they're not shomer? I could keep going, but I'm just gonna end up echoing everyone else anyway. Feh. That's just so stupid.

frumpunk said...

Oddly enough, my brother claims that the purpose of kiruv trips to Israel and elsewhere is to get Jewish boys and girls to hook up so at least they'll marry Jewish, even if they don't become frum. (I'm not mentioning the organization he went with).

frumskeptic said...

punk: I always figured that kiruv trips were for - first they get you to marry Jewish, and then they can easily continue on having you "frum up"

Its not like you would do any form of kiruv and expect the non- frum people to remain shomer!

Jessica said...

fedup - I'm a BT, as well as nearly all of my family and we are not second class citizens by any means. Some kiruv people may go about it the wrong way, but kiruv is in no way wrong.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: FedUp is right.

Amongst the more yeshivish crowd it is near impossible to get a date if you're a BT. The shadchanim set you up exclusively with other BT people.

Not that I care, I'm not Yeshivish, and I'd prefer a BT anyway. Just pointing out that this is true.

Over shabbos I was reading the Yated, and they mentioned (I didn't read the original story, but I saw the letters) how readers should learn NOT to judge by whether or not someone is a BT or a Woman! Because what happened was (from what I understand, I only read the Readers-write, because its hilarious), the Yated started putting pictures of the columnists next to their columns, so that readers could put faces to the names. So the readers wrote back that they didn't want that, because then they'd feel more compelled to listen to the people based on the way they look (ie, bearded, black hat -oh and this was mentioned, didn't go by the stereotype myself!).

And then another letter was discussing how judging by whether someone is a BT or a Woman is not right, and judgment of their columns should be based by substance not by when they became frum or by their gender.

Moshe said...

I'd prefer that they do put up pics and say if the person is BT or FFB. That way we can avoid reading about FFB minchagim and 2 year BT psychos ;-)

Jay said...

can't understand why perfectly normal people fall for the gefilte fish-chicken soup-challah-kugel-cholent-sing along with Moish crap!

Moshe said...

none of those in my house.
fish and chips, caviar and cured salmon instead of gefilte fish.
yemenite soup with 3lb of beef instead of chicken soup.
no room for kugel.
dafina, sometimes with veal tongue, instead of cholent.

Jessica said...

FS, I still disagree. But, I was not brought up in NY. These things are New York Jewish community issues, not general issues with the entire Jewish community. There are only two BTs (that do not live in NY) that I know of who have actually had trouble getting shidduchim. One of them is because he has a mental illness. The other is because she's a woman in her 30s (and whether or not you're frum, it is much harder for an "older" woman to find a husband).

Moshe said...

You're right, these are NY issues. We, however, live in NY and that's why we rant about them.

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: It is a hardcore major issue. Even my Rabbi, who is american, FFB, admits that this is a major problem in the community.

And he constantly tells me how I should see the "good" in the community. And gives examples of all the kiruv thats being done.

So i tell him exactly what FedUp says "Why do they do kiruv? So that they can just make themselves feel better that they were born that way? So that they can avoid the people they "turned'?"

And he was like "you're right, but you should still see the good."

Well, no...I don't think I should see the good. I'm super anti "commericial" kiruv. Most of the people I konw that run or work in any form of "chesed" organization only do it because its an amazing way to get out of the house. Most frummies don't care. They need an excuse to do something. And it wins them brownie points for shidduchim for their kids...

its all about shidduchim!

frumskeptic said...

Jessica: Here is a quote from one of the things Chananya Weissman has written about for his organization Endthemadness.org. I couldnt find the link directly from endthemadness, so I'm linking to frumsatire, where he copied it word/word onto his blog...was easier to find.

"One should preferably not date a ba’alas teshuva because one would then not have observant in-laws to visit for Yom Tov."

http://frumsatire.net/2007/10/19/when-will-the-shidduch-crisis-be-eradicated/

frumskeptic said...

Incase someone reading this is unaware, endthemadness was specifically started to show how retarded the current shidduch scene is... Chananya Weissman didn't say that, he's just telling over what he heard as a way to show how ridiculous this all is.

Moshe said...

correct link for above

In-laws to visit?! The frummies are such parasites! How about inviting your in-laws over instead?
Get married to rich girls because then you can pretend to learn and do nothing while their parents pay. Don't marry daughters of people who actually learn but aren't rich because they can't host you on yom tov and can't pay for your slacking off. This is the complete opposite of what gemorah says.

frumpunk said...

Moshe said...

none of those in my house.
fish and chips, caviar and cured salmon instead of gefilte fish.
yemenite soup with 3lb of beef instead of chicken soup.
no room for kugel.
dafina, sometimes with veal tongue, instead of cholent.


Please, please, please invite me to your house. :D

Moshe said...

Sure, any time you want. If you coming with friends or family, let me know a week in advance.

frumpunk said...

Alright, see you next shabbos lunch. I'll be bringing my brothers and housemates, so around 18 of us.

Don't worry, I'll bring the Kedem.

Moshe said...

I have a chumra of not allowing kedem in my house.
Seriously though, if you gonna be in the neighborhood, Midwood, go ahead.

frumpunk said...

If I'm ever in New York I'll tell you.
Thanks.

Moshe said...

And you'll finally be able to drink something not produced by Kedem. Though imported by them...they kinda import about 90%, if not more, of all kosher wine under the name of Royal Wine Company.

FedUp said...

Glad to see my comment sparked some conversation. It's a major problem and I've even seen it addressed in the Jewish Press.

Good Luck to you and your family, Jessica. I'm glad you and yours have been spared the discrimination.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Fedup. We need kiruv like, uh, a fish needs a bicycle.

OFS, I really think you should talk to a rabbi about this.

Ichabod Chrain

The Candy Man said...

Ugh. I hate that word, shiksa. It's the definition of lashon hara. What's wrong with you guys, using that word? Miriam was struck down with leprosy for such language.

Your uncle is old enough and has suffered enough in relationships that your fam ought to just wish him happiness in his relationship. A lot of hearts have been broken unnecessarily because of this racist mishegos.

Moshe said...

I hate the word treif. A lot of people go hungry because of that word.

Jessica said...

moshe - I get that. That' why I didn't say "stop talking about it."

FS - I get that it is a problem in NY. Outside of NY though, this isn't an issue. And its not just that it didn't happen to my family. It just doesn't happen outside of NY. If you are at all worried about not getting a "good" shidduch (though, like you said, you're not looking for a yeshivish person, therefore you're not looking for a good person :-P ) then you should look outside of NY. Or even if you don't want your future children to have to worry about this crap, get out of NY.

Jessica said...

candy man - we say shiksa because its much shorter than writing "non-jewish woman". Not everyone views it as having a negative connotation. Sometimes they're just words.

mlevin said...

"Your uncle is old enough and has suffered enough in relationships that your fam ought to just wish him happiness in his relationship."

CandyMan - you have no idea what you are talking about. This is not a surprise occurance. This is a total disregard toward Judaism and Jewish responsibilities.

He went out on a date with a shiksa. He knew he should not be doing it, but he went out. But that is not an end of the story. You know what happened next? He went on the second date with her. Yes, he did, though he knew it was wrong. And then he went on a third date...

Now let's fast forward to a few years later and FS's uncle is thinking about getting married to her. Why? Because they were going out for years. Yet, he knew from get go that it's wrong, but he still went out. There is no love on the first date. There is no love on the second date. There is no love on the third date. Why do something that is doomed from the beginning? He knew what he was doing, but he didn't care about consequences. So, please don't tell me "he suffered enough" that suffering was his own doing.

"A lot of hearts have been broken unnecessarily because of this racist mishegos."

Let me repeat myself, you can't have a broken heart without there being a first date in the beginning. People act irresponsibly and later on they pay for their mistakes. Period.

Being against intermarriage is not a racist mishegos. You are just saying it to exuse your own behaivor, or behaivor of your friends/relatives. If intermarriage was permitted, Judaism would have disappeared ions ago. I suggest you brush up on Jewish history, first and then speak about racist mishegos.

Dave said...

The root of Shikse (or the these-days less common male form Sheygetz) is the Hebrew sheketz.

So, if you think "detestable" or "loathed" is a polite way to refer to someone, go for it.

((While goy is about as close to neutral as you can get for a word that means "people who aren't us", shikse/sheygetz are clearly not))

Dave said...

mlevin:

I believe that the Uncle in question is not observant.

So your claims that he "knew it was wrong" and "did it anyway" are hardly applicable.

From over here in the Haskoleh, there isn't anything wrong about intermarriage.

Moshe said...

Russian Jews, even when not religious, know that marrying a goy is wrong.

Orthoprax said...

Dave,

"From over here in the Haskoleh, there isn't anything wrong about intermarriage."

As a member of the 'Haskoleh' who still values his Judaism, the fact is that by intermarrying you are taking away from your children the most powerful and defining factor of how they will identify themselves and understand their heritage - the Jewish home.

Only if you don't care about the next Jewish generation does it not matter if you intermarry.

Dave said...

Why?

Clearly, the values that are important to me (both those that have their origins in the Jewish faith and those that have their origins in the Enlightenment) would be passed on.

The values that I don't believe in (whether they arise from Orthodox observance or Talk Radio) are not part of my home.

In my particular case, it is a moot point anyway; my wife and I decided long ago that we didn't want children, and decided instead to be an influence on the lives of our nieces and nephews. (*)(**)(***)

(*) It's like going straight to Grandparent.

(**) So watch what you say in Yiddish, you may find that some nice goyische kid will understand you.

(***) Trust me, it's the "no grandchildren" part that bothers my mother, not the intermarriage

Orthoprax said...

Dave,

"Clearly, the values that are important to me (both those that have their origins in the Jewish faith and those that have their origins in the Enlightenment) would be passed on."

Yes, passed on to a next generation which isn't Jewish or has a weak Jewish identity.

"In my particular case, it is a moot point anyway; my wife and I decided long ago that we didn't want children"

Well then I agree. It is moot.

mlevin said...

Dave - just as Moshe said

I don't really care what you are doing. You decided to throw away your Jewish heritage by marrying a shiksa and by deciding not to have Jewish children. So, whatever you teach goyeshe children is irrelevant. There are many goyim who understand Yiddish, many are German since two languages are so much alike. And there are many Jews who do not understand Yiddish (I'm among them) since it's a dying language.

Moshe said...

On the Lower East Side, there was a Jewish restaurant whose waiters were Chinese immigrants. They spoke perfect Yiddish, these Chinese. One day, a marveling customer said to the owner, "How in the world did you get these Chinese to speak Yiddish?!" The owner looked around, put his finger to his lips, and said, "Shh: They think it's English."

The Candy Man said...

dave,
The root of Shikse (or the these-days less common male form Sheygetz) is the Hebrew sheketz.

So, if you think "detestable" or "loathed" is a polite way to refer to someone, go for it.


Thanks for saving my having to write this.

From over here in the Haskoleh, there isn't anything wrong about intermarriage.

Beautifully put. Do you have a blog?

mlevin,
You decided to throw away your Jewish heritage by marrying a shiksa and by deciding not to have Jewish children.

You're the one who is speaking out of his proverbial tuches. First of all, matrilineal descent has no basis in the Torah. Second of all, half-Jews are here to stay, and they're making a major, novel contribution to Jewish society.

Besides which, why not just encourage the woman to convert? That's what they did in the days of the Bible.

It is my belief that this racist mishegos is what's killing Judaism, not intermarriage. Judaism must stay relevant to survive, and racism and absolute-truthism is no longer relevant. We need a sustainable Judaism, not one that thrives on words like shiksa.

Dave said...

Yes, passed on to a next generation which isn't Jewish or has a weak Jewish identity.

The Reform movement has gone by descent from either parent along with a desire to affiliate as Jewish for almost two generations.

As far as a weak Jewish identity, you cannot have it both ways. If you view me as someone who cares about his Judaism, and they get the same identity, then you haven't lost ground. But again, in my particular case, this is hypothetical.

It's fairly clear to me that parents attempt to pass on to their children the values they think are important. Which means the crux of your complaint is that our values aren't the same. Which while entirely accurate, isn't going to convince me to change mine.

The people who think that intermarriage is wrong aren't going to intermarry. The people who don't have a problem with it may intermarry. This shouldn't be a surprise. That's why I objected to the claims that the Uncle was "doing something he knew was wrong".

Anonymous said...

Dave, do you and your wife have dogs? I find most "enlightened" people have dogs instead of kids...I'm really not trying to be sarcastic or sound rude, just asking a question on a hypothesis, and if you don't have dogs and/or find this question not appropriate then I, in advance, sincerely apologize. But, seriously, do you have dogs?

Candyman...How come (you) Liberal Jews defend the Muslims right to choose to marry only other Muslims, however for Jews they feel this is wrong and racist?

Fav. Anony.

Dave said...

Anthony: Two dogs, one cat.

And while I won't pretend to speak for CandyMan, I honestly don't care who other people choose to marry.

If religion is a deal-breaker for them, then it's a deal-breaker for them. If a love of the outdoors is a deal-breaker for them, then it's a deal-breaker for them. If how they handle money is a deal-breaker for them, then it's a deal-breaker for them, and so on.

I do object when people claim that their deal-breakers should be universally applied (or applied to a subset of society that they choose).

Dave said...

Anony even.

mlevin said...

1. It is in the Torah (Bible is a Christian book with Christian translations, use Torah or Tanakh or Nakh instead). Hashem told men not to take women from other nations for wifes last they bring idol worshipping with them and their househole [children].

2. Jews/Hebrews did not force anyone to convert to Judaism. Exception was one period and these "forced" or "easy" conversions resulted in King Herod. His evil equaled that of Stalin.

3. Reform Judaism by definition is no longer Judaims. They RE FORMED IT. ie they changed it. Just like Christians changed Judaism. It is a new religion now. Just like Moslems changed Christianity. It is a new religion now.

4. There is no such thing as half-Jew. One either Jew or not. Take Mike Douglas for example. I remember hearing things from him about Jews and all that stuff, but when he married his latest wife, he immediatly answered all critics that he's not Jewish and there is no problems with the marriage. All half-Jews are happy about their Jewish half as long as it does not interfair with their lives. Then sunddenly they are not Jewish. (There are exceptions, I know, but they end up converting and becoming full Jews)

5. Your believe what is killing Judaism could stay your believe. I don't care. But here are the fact. Jews have survived living outside their homeland for 2,000 years. Do you think that survival would have been possible if they all intermarried? At one point every 8th person in Spain was Jewish. Sephardim that are living today are the ones who refused to intermarry. Intermarried ones have a tradition of lighting candles on Friday or something similar, but otherwise they do not consider themselves Jewish, nor does anyone else.

Dave said...

Well, if you're willing to write off the largest Jewish group in America as "not Jewish", then I guess you don't have to worry about whether or not I intermarry, since by your standards, I was never Jewish to begin with, having been raised Reform as the family left Orthodox usages sometime in the early part of the 20th century.

Dave said...

(Ok, that was, in retrospect, an insanely long run on sentence.)

mlevin said...

I didn't say if you were Jewish or not. I said that you do not practice Judaism

Dave said...

I didn't say if you were Jewish or not. I said that you do not practice Judaism

Well, I could have told you that part. I'm at best a hopeful Deist -- it would be nice if there was Someone out there to catch us at the end, but I'm not counting on it, and I don't believe in a benevolent interventionary Diety.

If I wanted to affiliate, that would definitely put me in the Secular Humanist Judaism camp, which is rather to the left of Reform in terms of observance.

Anonymous said...

Dave, (as per what Reform Judaism is today, not 30 years ago) perhaps you are not Jewish.
Reform Judaism accepts congregants whether they are really Jewish, or even believe in God. So perhaps you grandfather who was originally Italian saw a cute girl (you Grandmother) walk into a reform Temple. Perhaps they dated and eventually married and raised a reform Jewish home.
But here's the catch, your Grandmother could've just been going to that reform temple because she was a nanny of a Jewish family and she was perhaps originally Polish. What I am getting at is...the problem with reform Judaism open acceptance policy is that many people are not really Jewish, not do they care to be (Since you can be an atheist and a reform Jew). So perhaps you aren't really Jewish. And if you are not, why does any of this matter to you?

Oh and if you choose to defend your Jewish heritage, then I gotta ask, why defend it?

apparently anthony :)

Dave said...

Could it be? If you go only by group affiliation, I suppose. As it happens it isn't the case, but just based on affiliation, you could wonder.

Of course, the problem with that is, it's true for the Orthodox too. It just gets pushed back further. There have been enough periods of assimilation, wide conversions (up to 25% of the early Roman Empire was Jewish), and what is arguably intermarriage over the past 2000 years to make it an interesting question.

You can have all the yichus anyone could want, but if in your maternal line, 1800 years ago, your many-times-great-grandmother was a prosylete who never fully converted to Judaism, well, I guess you come from a long line of goyim who davened. But that's ok, the Reform will accept you.

As to your last question, like many in the secular Jewish world, I find it entirely possible to appreciate my cultural heritage without being Orthodox.

mlevin said...

Re 25% of Early Roman empire was Jewish. Who's statistics are you quoting Jewish or Christian. Let me remind you that yearly Christians considered themselves Jewish.

Anonymous said...

I heard at max it was 10% (at max). I hear what your saying, but in any case, my question is: whats the point of appreciating your past Jewish cultural heritage? Really, shouldn't you appreciate more your American heritage? Why appreciate being Jewish? Why appreciate thousand of years of backwards behavior on the parts of your ancestors?

Also (I understand this doesn't apply to you personally, but) How many generations would you expect descendants of people who share your views to appreciate YOUR cultural heritage? Does appreciation end with you? And if you want it to continue to your descendants, what do you have to offer them?

anony.

Moshe said...

Heh, how about appreciating your Russian heritage?
You said Russians should integrate into American society, he says Jews should integrate into American society, sounds similar.
btw, do you also believe that Gorsky and Bucharian should also integrate into American society or is it only for us white devils.

Anonymous said...

Your right. I think that Russians should integrate, to create a unified orthodox Jewish community. This includes Gorsky and Bucharians - and I do not appreciate you implying that I am anti Sfardi Russian Jews in any way.

And I do appreciate my Russian heritage. You are looking for an argument because we had different views previously. However if you paid attention to what I wrote, you would see that I simply don't like Russians separating themselves from the klal and using russian kiruv organizations as a crutch.

anony.

Moshe said...

The orthodox community is not unified. There's like 20 sects in it or more. All the different chassidim, different siffardic groups, all the ashkenaz groups, the 3 lubab groups, etc.
Go tell Syrians that they should integrate.
And my shul is not a kiruv organization and I don't use it as a crutch. Most people in shul are frum.

Dave said...

If I recall correctly, Fremd had it at 10%, but in "Yiddish Civilisation: The Rise and Fall of a Forgotten Nation" Paul Kriwaczek had it at closer to 25%. There may also be numbers in Dovid Katz' "Words on Fire: The Unfinished Story of Yiddish".

And to answer your question, I do appreciate my American heritage. Earlier I described my view as "out here in the Haskoleh", and the formative American values are very much rooted in the Enlightenment.

As to what I expect, I expect my nieces and nephews will learn from me what I do (as well as what I say), and that my values will influence theirs. It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized that many of the core values I had "discovered" when I was in college were those that I had learned from my family all along -- but as a typical adolescent I had to find them somewhere else.

Will I control those values? Of course not, any more than my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles controlled mine.

Will they value what I teach them? Some of it, I'm sure. All of it, I would be very surprised.

Anonymous said...

Moshe I didn't talk about you or your shul personally. Go start your Russian school.

Anonymous said...

Dave, I understand about your values, however my question addressed your "cultural heritage" not "core values" . I sincerely want to know how people with your view expect to pass down their appreciation of their cultural heritage.
I happen to be "orthodox". However my niece and nephew are not orthodox (and I am not taking up the challenge to "convert" ). But, I would like to pass down a non-religion based cultural appreciation to them (at least). So my question to you again is...how will you pass down cultural appreciation (not core values)?

Anony.

Dave said...

Now that is an interesting question.

I'm assuming that you want something more than Bagels and Lox and similar things (the equivalent for the Irish being corned beef and cabbage and wearing green on St. Patrick's day).

Two of my interests are cooking and music. But I'm as likely to be cooking Thai or Chinese food as I am to be cooking traditional Ashkenazic food, and I'll step out on a limb and argue that curing my own bacon probably doesn't count as traditional.

And for music, I'm more likely to play Irish or Scottish music than Klezmer.

So both of those are out, or rather, they aren't areas where my focus is on cultural heritage.

I let my Yiddish rust away very heavily, but have been working on getting it back.

In my case, they'd be more likely to learn Yiddish (or at least the interesting words, I guarantee that telling them to pour something out will amuse them to no end), and an appreciation of the largely secular Yiddish culture of the early 20th century. Yiddish films, Yiddish literature, and what is very much the history of Jews in America, especially from the late 19th century.

Through that, if they were interested, they would end up learning more about Judaism (you really can't appreciate Yiddish literature or culture without having some degree of knowledge about the Jewish faith and history -- you miss too much nuance).

But much of what I believe has dual roots. I was raised in the expectation that what you were able to do to help others was an indication of what you should be doing. How much of it is Tikkun Olam, and how much of it is the influence of purely secular groups like the Arbeiter Ring? How much of the expectation that you would study hard and excel came out of the typical immigrant experience at striving to make a better life?

mlevin said...

Moshe - Gorsky and Bucharians are not sephardim. Gorsky are same Turkish Jewish. They share culture and language. Bucharians are a culture of their own. The only reason they claim to be sephardim is because it is not ashkenaz.

Among the rest of the Russian Jews there are also huge differences, although we are all ashkenaz.

So, when you speak about creating a Russian Orthodox School you should figure out which Russian Jews are your main target. Is it Oddessa type? Moldova/Rumanian type? Carpassian type? Kiev type Moscow/St.Petersburg type? Baltic Type. Keep in mind there are cultural clashes between these group and unless you pick your side from the begining this school is doomed.

Then there are religious considerations. Russian Jews are Chassidic, RW, MO, Black Hat, Knitted kipa.

Are there enough Russian Speaking Jews to fill up one such school, whatever it's leanings.

Moshe said...

Actually, I was thinking more in terms of a school for people who don't want to send their kids to the current yeshivas with all of their bs, bans, high tuition for low education, rules, etc. And girls' schools are even worse.

mlevin said...

Neah, Girls schools are better, at least they provide "secular" education. Boys who graduate from boy high school are lacking in basic skills.

But you can't have school without bs, there are always politics. My shul, which was voted the friendliest shul in US has many politics and its own cliques. Your school will have it, too. The question is what and how much are you willing to tolerate.

The Candy Man said...

1. It is in the Torah... Hashem told men not to take women from other nations for wifes last they bring idol worshipping with them and their househole [children].

Really? All nations? Where is this verse? Last I checked, *certain* nations are not allowed to marry into the Jewish people... Moabites, Egyptians, etc. But other nations are permitted.

And show me your prooftext for matrilineal descent, please.

2. Jews/Hebrews did not force anyone to convert to Judaism. Exception was one period and these "forced" or "easy" conversions resulted in King Herod. His evil equaled that of Stalin.

Wrong again. Read Deut. 21:10-14. I don't even have to look that up... I can cite that sucker by heart.

Since you are unlikely to know what the heck I'm talking about, I'll spell it out for you: the forced rape of the gentile captive woman. It's right out there in the Bible... oh, I'm sorry, "Torah!"

3. Reform Judaism by definition is no longer Judaims. They RE FORMED IT. ie they changed it. Just like Christians changed Judaism. It is a new religion now. Just like Moslems changed Christianity. It is a new religion now.

The Pharisees also reformed Judaism. Thank god. Otherwise we'd still be doing all the barbaric crap which the Hebrew Bible is full of. Like an eye for an eye.

4. There is no such thing as half-Jew. One either Jew or not. Take Mike Douglas for example.

This isn't worth responding to.

5. Your believe what is killing Judaism could stay your believe. I don't care.

What?

But here are the fact. Jews have survived living outside their homeland for 2,000 years. Do you think that survival would have been possible if they all intermarried?

They did intermarry, and yes, it survived. It survived because it was meaningful, and people believed in it.

People like you are so worried about Judaism surviving, you've forgotten that it needs to be meaningful. Give it meaning, relevance, and it will survive. It may even be a useful force for good in the world. That's the basis of Reform, my friend.

Anonymous said...

Mlevin, your shul was voted the friendliest in the US? When, where and by whom did this vote take place? :) that just made me smile! :)

Dave, unfortunately I truly don't believe that the answers that you provided will keep the next generation appreciative of their cultural past.

I feel that the best way to pass on Judaism to the future is Torah (even if just in a cultural sense), as in - this is what ancient Jews did. You take that out of the equation and our past looks silly and dirty (for some reason when I think of the word yiddish, I think of shtetle, then I think of dirt. Granted, this is my personal bias).

I hope you find a successful way to leave your niece and nephew a part of your Jewish legacy.

Anony.

mlevin said...

CandyMan - it's almost shabbos. I will respond afterwards

Anony - if you'd go to shul to daven more often instead of looking after your children, you'd know.

Anonymous said...

LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Who voted the shul the friendliest LOL! mlevin and glevin? LOL! thats just too funny...good shabbos!

frumskeptic said...

anony: In defense of mlevin (and glevin ;)) I bet I can find a few other ppl who would "vote" the shul as "the friendliest shul in the US" however...as far as I know, there was never an official election.

lol :)

but the shul does have some major problems... friendly is prob one of the only positives it has.

Moshe said...

Which shul is it?

artie said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
artie said...

two out of three people prefer Mlevin's shul to other shul's. Ofcourse they only asked three people.

Actually they asked a fourth, but the vote was invalidated since the person didn't have a valid ID (thank G-D)

mlevin said...

1. “Last I checked, *certain* nations are not allowed to marry into the Jewish people... Moabites, Egyptians, etc. But other nations are permitted.”

No, this verse is talking about after conversion Moabite men are still not permitted to intermarry. That was the problem with Ruth, although she was a Moabite, she was a woman, and that’s why she was permitted to marry in.

2. “Wrong again. Read Deut. 21:10-14. I don't even have to look that up... I can cite that sucker by heart.

Since you are unlikely to know what the heck I'm talking about, I'll spell it out for you: the forced rape of the gentile captive woman. It's right out there in the Bible... oh, I'm sorry, "Torah!"”

Actually I do know what you are talking about. Let’s discuss the original situation. These soldiers went through the battle and are pumped up on adrenaline. One of the spoils of war is women. He sees an attractive woman and wants her than and there. (Until very recent years, I mean after WWII, women were raped during/after the battle on regular basis. It wasn’t even considered a crime. I spoke to WWII veterans who saw nothing wrong with releasing themselves on German women).

Going back to original scenario, instead of permitting or forbidding that act, Torah gives a different venue. Take her home, give her different clothes (in case her clothes were overly sexual attire), shave her head and cut her nails. In other words, make her look least attractive. Live with her, but do not have sex with her, for 30 days. If you still want her after 30 days, you may marry her, otherwise let her go.

So, please tell me how is that scenario rape? And let me remind you that by Jewish law a woman can say no to marriage. So, if she does not want marriage she could just say so. Yes, she is captured, but definitely not raped.

3. “The Pharisees also reformed Judaism. Thank god. Otherwise we'd still be doing all the barbaric crap which the Hebrew Bible is full of. Like an eye for an eye.”

Again let me remind that Bible is a grossly mistranslated christian book, we Jews don’t have a bible, we have Torah, Tanach, etc.

Eye for an eye was never taken literally. I dare you to find a single occurance where eye for an eye judgement was issued.

4. “They did intermarry, and yes, it survived. It survived because it was meaningful, and people believed in it.”

Throughout history most intermarriages resulted in a Jew becoming one of them via conversion and lifestyle change. So, those intermarriages do not count since they did not add numbers to Judaism and did not impact Jewish life.

Moshe said...

The whole procedure with the captured woman is only if she's against it. He can make her his slave, release her and then marry, all in one day. I believe she was also allowed to freely convert, in which case he could also marry her same day.
I don't remember exactly, but I believe there are 3 easy ways to circumvent the procedure stated in the Torah. Also, I believe in the end the decision rested with her because once she's Jewish she can refuse him. We had this in Daf Yomi but I don't remember where, gotta look it up.

The Candy Man said...

mlevin, it's clear to me after reading your response that we are starting from two very different points of view. I take a completely "p'shat" view of the Hebrew Bible. Your interpretations are based on midrash and the Oral Torah. I was raised with your point of view, but rejected it long ago when I started learning Tanach in earnest.

No, this verse is talking about after conversion Moabite men are still not permitted to intermarry.

Here's the way I understand it on the level of p'shat. You are right that this verse forbids 'converting', whatever that meant back then. At the same time, it is also a ban on a much more common phenomenon: intermarriage. However, the Hebrew Bible only restricts intermarriage with specific nations.

Note that there was no formal conversion process in Biblical times. Even Orthodox rabbis agree on recognize this.

That was the problem with Ruth, although she was a Moabite, she was a woman, and that's why she was permitted to marry in.

From my perspective, "Moavi v'lo Moaviya" is only a midrash. The Torah blanket forbids any intermarriage with Moabites, male or female. Ruth's "conversion" was therefore in violation of Biblical law.

No one really cared what the Bible said back then, anyways, so it was all kosher.

I spoke to WWII veterans who saw nothing wrong with releasing themselves on German women

This is interesting, but disgusting. Rape is a serious crime no matter the situation. It's no laughing matter.

So, please tell me how is [the captive gentile woman in Deut 21:10-14] scenario rape? And let me remind you that by Jewish law a woman can say no to marriage. So, if she does not want marriage she could just say so. Yes, she is captured, but definitely not raped.

The Hebrew Bible calls it rape in 21:14... quoting from

lo tit'amer ba, tachat asher inita

you shall not sell her, having raped her


The verb root ENH means "afflicted," but where sex is involved it means rape. Examples are the stories of Adonijah/Tamar and Shechem/Dinah, where the root means rape.

As for the Talmudic interpretation, giving her an option, that's nice, but it's not p'shat in the Chumash.

Eye for an eye was never taken literally.

Really? Take the following verse:

And your eye shall not show mercy: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, arm for arm, leg for leg. (Deuteronomy 19:19-21)

Your contention is also incorrect from a Talmudic standpoint. True, the Babylonian Talmud (B. Kamma 83b-84a), based on early Mishnaic sources, interprets these verses as referring to monetary compensation for injury, claiming that “an eye for an eye—[this means] monetary compensation.” However, it does not accept this interpretation without challenging it. In fact, it challenges this interpretation for two full pages. One rabbi of the Mishna, Eliezer, is quoted as saying “an eye for an eye—literally.”

Moshe said...

It's pointless to argue with people like candy man because you're not even arguing about the same thing.
Judaism is based on both oral and written Torah. Reform is based on a screwed up understanding of written Torah. Anything you say, he can say that he doesn't believe in that or reject the source.
Don't see any reason for him to argue, though, since he doesn't believe in divine origin of Torah or in existence of G-d. For him Judaism is nothing more than a country club. I'd say he's same as the frummies, going out of his way to show how smart he thinks he is.

mlevin said...

"No one really cared what the Bible said back then, anyways, so it was all kosher."

I have a big problem with this specific statement. Mind elaborating? I can't just go past this statement.

mlevin said...

Moshe - you're right, it is pointless to argue with someone like candyman. He insists that "eye for an eye" was taken literally in those days, but when I asked for historical examples, he sites someone from a talmud who argued for literal interpretation. Again, it is all academic if it was never implemented literally.

The Candy Man said...

"No one really cared what the Bible said back then, anyways, so it was all kosher."

I have a big problem with this specific statement. Mind elaborating? I can't just go past this statement.



Sure. My impression of this is based on the apparently widespread violation of Torah that is portrayed in the Tanach. For instance, Passover was only really kept in the days of Josiah and Hezekiah... it was forgotten for all the interim years. Nehemiah talks about opening up the Torah in the days of Ezra and rediscovering the holiday of Sukkot. I believe there may be a similar thing happening by Solomon's Sukkot.

The holidays were a concept, but they weren't widely observed. This is just one example.

The Candy Man said...

He insists that "eye for an eye" was taken literally in those days, but when I asked for historical examples, he sites someone from a talmud who argued for literal interpretation.

My main proof was from the verse. It says, "Your eye shall not show mercy." That only makes sense if lex talionis was meant literally.

Skeeta said...

my rabbi mentioned a tshuvah about marrying people who aren't going to keep taharas mishpacha. the decision was there's nothing wrong with it, because if they wanted to break that halacha they could, with or without the rabbi marrying them. the law of not helping someone break a halacha only applies when they're "across the river" - that is, when they can't get to it without help. clearly with your uncle this is not the case. if he is not allowed to date a jewish woman, he'll just date a non-jew.

The Babysitter said...

Frumskeptic: I haven't read through all the comments yet, I'm not so familiar with this topic. But I can see your point.
But still, why does this teacher have to be the only one that can find him a Jewish girl/woman?
Maybe she just didn't want to go looking, was too lazy, so she gave that response as an excuse.