Sunday, August 10, 2008

Kiruv XIV - Aish HaTorah - Is there a better way?

Pole's comment to "Kiruv IX - Aish HaTorah as viewed by secular Jewis...":

If Aish is so open minded, how come everyone who is integrated successfully into their stream of Judaism comes out looking the same as all others in it, speaks the same as all others in it, wears a black kippah, swims with the tide of the social norms and is unable to think critically against anything that its rabbi's preach?

Upon attending one of their events in London, I asked a question that went against and challenged the thinking of the lecturer and what she was trying to convince her audience of. When the lecture finished and everyone was givent he opportunity to mingle and socialise with others in the audience, I was taken aside by one of the rabbis so as not to be able to mix and be a 'bad' influence on the others who perhaps may have become drawn to the lecturer's way of thinking. I was shocked.

Although my dislike for Aish is large however, I cannot help but feel my anger should be more aimed at those who should have been providing decent Jewish education to our children in the first place - that being the mainstream Jewish communities that run cheder curriculums and Jewish leadership as a whole. Aish and other kiruv groups like it are simply picking up the shattered pieces of Jewish identity and education which were left lying on the ground by the crappy education these teenagers (mainly referring to the UK) received as children.

It may be too late for there to be a solution to this organisation now as it would indeed be very hard to challenge the millions of kiruv dollars that are pumped into Aish and Ohr Sameach (students in London are now offered $600 to simply attend a 6 week lecture series during which they are fed the offers for free trips etc). I'm not saying that kiruv is necessarily bad but there is a long term way of doing it which requires foresight, strategy and leadership to carry out, and not a blizkrieg of Bible Codes and other nonsense to 'Wow!' someone into drastically change their whole lifestyle and thinking that more often than not backfires to return them to a similar, if not worse, position than they were in before.

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