Friday, May 27, 2011

Orthodox Jew asks: Does acknowledging being out of touch with reality help or hinder us?

One of the participants at the White Conference on abuse made the effort to contact me to clarify a number of points I made at the Conference. One of the comments she made struck me as a very cogent expression of what many Orthodox Jews think or act as if they hold such a view. I wasn't sure how to respond.

Lastly, it was repeatedly stated that we, orthodox Jewry, are out of touch with reality. Though this may be true (examples cited were scrutinizing others during the matchmaking process and being involved in irrelevant details such as tablecloths) does it actively help us? Does acknowledging this provide any practical benefit? Might it deflect us from properly addressing these problems and allow us to accept the situation as it is? It seems that it might simply dismiss the problem. Is it possible to clarify what benefit this sort of statement brings?


  1. Part of being out of touch with reality is not knowing which problems are big ones, which not to focus attention on, and clouds our ability to find the problems' real causes.

    For example, I never met anyone who really asked about tablecloth color. Is this a widespread phenomenon, a symptom of a broader issue? Or is it only exhibited by an extreme few and can be ignored?

    How do we solve the kids at risk issue without knowing how widespread the various causes are? How many are dyslexic or ADD boys who can't handle being told that to be a good Jew they have to excel at sitting in front of a book? How many were betrayed by an authority figure? And of them, how extreme of a betrayal? And what if we find out that the number of Kids at Risk who stay off the derekh into adulthood is small? Do we reprioritize where to put our money?

    How large is kiruv? Are we wisely investing our money when we double what we put into kiruv -- as we did in the 2nd half of the past decade -- or is the money better spent on educating our own children? Or in some other place?

    How good are we really in helping the poor among us? Are the gemachs sufficient?

    I could do this ad infinitum.


  2. Not sure if you linked to the recent piece in the Forward, but I think it's very important that you do. The Agudah's position on reporting child abuse to rabbis is very very relevant to the admirable work you're trying to do.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. I'm not sure that R. Eidensohn would be proud to receive kudos from Pelta, as Pelta recently announced he no longer believes in G-d as is stopping to maintain Orthodox Judaism.


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