Saturday, July 19, 2008

Kiruv III - Antisemitism reduces kiruv?/Kiruv is not formal Yiddishkeit

Jersey Girl comment on "Kiruv II - Paradigm change for outreach workers":


The US economy is very bad. Anti Semites the world over are blaming the Jews (and Israel) for rising fuel and food prices.

Lately everywhere I go, I see swastikas and hateful grafitti toward Jews (ie gas station, bank, clothing store, synagogues, schools, bus benches etc).

Anti Semitism is definitely on the rise in the US as evidenced by the growing numbers of cemetery desecrations and synagogue vandalisms and arsons throughout the US.

While I CERTAINLY do not welcome increased anti Semitism, it does tend to solve the problem of non Jews who want to be Jews filling up kiruv programs.

Not only have I noticed that many of the outreach synagogues have emptied out lately, but I think that this may unfortunately include many Jews who would rather just "blend".

I predict that Klal Yisrael is not going to have to worry about legions of Gentiles who want to be Jewish. We have to instead focus on retaining and inspiring our own children to want to continue to live according to Jewish tradition and to marry other Jews.

Yeshiva education is averaging, at I believe 16k per child this year, I think that it is time to stop providing tuition assistance to non Jews in hopes that they will want to convert and instead use the resources of the Jewish community to address the tremendous responsibility of educating Jewish children.

Recipients and Publicity has left a new comment on your post "Kiruv II - Paradigm change for outreach workers":


And hence, that is why kiruv is so different to formal religious life and ritual and can be so successful as it introduces people to Yiddishkeit without stressing them BUT ALSO can become the subject of abuse for a lessening of Halachic standards. Kiruv is thus a two-edged sword and it takes great skill and responsibility to be used correctly and for the correct aims and results that will lead to a Kevod Shomayim and not to a Chilllul Hashem.

To Jersey girl, kiruv/outreach never was and still is not based on "outreach synagogues" when in fact as any kiruv professional knows synagogues, of any denomination, are the LAST place you want to send someone that needs all the initial stages of kiruv/outreach work! And that is why in kiruv it is the outreach CENTER, in the form of PROGRAMS and SEMINARS, preferably in board rooms, (hopefully NOT bedrooms!), hotels, seminars that may or may not use the SOCIAL HALLS of synagogues such as NCSY programs.

The most successful kiruv program in America is run by Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald's National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) with its highly successful "Crash Course in Judaism" and "Crash Course in Hebrew Reading" each in five or six one and half hour lessons only.

In 20 years NJOP has been at the forefront of Orthodox kiruv, and with that as the symbol of the controversy about how Orthodox kiruv rabbis should deal with the decline in Halachic standards by others around them, as will be explained below.

NJOP's official posek is the well-known and popular American posek, Rabbi Dovid Cohen who is the Morah De’asrah of Gvul Yaavetz in Brooklyn. He is also the posek of Aish HaTorah in America as well as the shoel umeshiv of AJOP conventions, the Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals (now "Programs") and of OHEL. In a well-documented effort, with the help of Rav Dovid Cohen, Rabbi Buchwald was able to obtain a "heter" for NJOP to run its programs in Reform and Conservative synagogues even though Rabbi Buchwald and NJOP are under (Modern) Orthodox auspices, and even though in 1997 the Agudas HaRabbonim went balistic and made a public declaration that Reform and Conservative are NOT Judaism, clearly aimed at NJOP's ploy, yet because Rav Cohen obtained the signature of Rav Zelik Epstein of the Shaarei Torah yeshiva in Queens NY one of America's senior Rosh Yeshivas, NJOP has been able to keep up its alliance with Reform and Conservative synagogues on the condition that they not run religious services in them and just host meals to "celebrate" Shabbat in the "Shabbat Across America" programs.

The problem runs far deeper because there have been many cases of issues relating to conversion that result from this form of "outreach" and the consequences are still ongoing. The matter has not received the serious attention it deserves.

Bottom line, unlike Jersey girl's assertions, kiruv of all shapes and sizes as well as increased interest in Judaism and demand for conversions is on the rise, and the role of anti-Semitism in America is very small at this time.

Jews are too-well cocooned to feel any real hate towards them. They are in a fool's paradise as usual...

To be continued.

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