web analytics
February 28, 2015 / 9 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post


A View of Observant Judaism by a Non Observant Jew

Most of us know right from wrong and live as though it matters because it does. This is what David Brooks reported.
Observant Judaism

I must say that I am both surprised and disappointed at the negative comments about David Brook’s op-ed column in the New York Times. And they weren’t few. They were many. The Forward, DovBear, Failed Messiah, and the many people who commented in the New York Times itself – all of them could not have been more upset about a positive article dealing with Orthodoxy.

I am upset too. Not by the article, but by all the negativity – some of it venomous! It is almost as if the entire column was some sort of a made up lie by an Orthodox cheerleader.

The fact is however, that David Brooks is not Orthodox. Nor is he a cheerleader. He is a respected journalist reporting on his impressions of a community which he is not a part of. Mr. Brooks took a tour of a Pomegranate, a ‘luxury’ kosher food store in the Midwood section of Flatbush a large mostly Orthodox Jewish community in Brooklyn. His guide was my old (…well maybe not so old) friend from Chicago, Rabbi Dr. Meir Yaakov Soloveichik.

The article was very positive. Brooks describes rather well what it means to be an Orthodox Jew living in the modern world. He explains quite nicely the primacy of Halacha in our lives even among the upscale Orthodox Jews who shop at a store like Pomegranate.

Expanding on his encounter with Pomegranate – he makes Orthodox Jews look like role models for all… suggesting that one could do a lot worse than following our ‘countercultural’ model. For example he quotes Rabbi Soloveichik on the Jewish approach to marriage:

“Marriage is about love, but it is not first and foremost about love,” Soloveichik says. “First and foremost, marriage is about continuity and transmission.”

He seems to praise our “deeper sense of collective purpose”:

They are like the grocery store Pomegranate, superficially a comfortable part of mainstream American culture, but built upon a moral code that is deeply countercultural.

He ends with the following paragraph:

All of us navigate certain tensions, between community and mobility, autonomy and moral order. Mainstream Americans have gravitated toward one set of solutions. The families stuffing their groceries into their Honda Odyssey minivans in the Pomegranate parking lot represent a challenging counterculture. Mostly, I notice how incredibly self-confident they are. Once dismissed as relics, they now feel that they are the future.

I think he’s got that right. Even if one looks only at the statistics he cites one can see a very bright future for Orthodox Jewry versus other denominations. At least in terms of population growth:

Nationwide, only 21 percent of non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are married. But an astounding 71 percent of Orthodox Jews are married at that age. And they are having four and five kids per couple. In the New York City area, for example, the Orthodox make up 32 percent of Jews over all. But the Orthodox make up 61 percent of Jewish children. Because the Orthodox are so fertile, in a few years, they will be the dominant group in New York Jewry.

British historian Arnold J. Toynbee must be rolling in his grave. This is how he explained our survival: The Jewish people are an ancient relic of a dead past. (He was corrected by Dr. Eliezer Berkovits who successfully challenged him on that notion.)

I felt really good about this article. But it did not take long for all the naysayers to come out of the woodwork – bashing it.

It’s not that any of the claims they were making against it weren’t true. Many of them are. In fact these problems are discussed right here fairly often.

No one screams louder than I do about the miscreants in our midst. Indeed these people are the cause of so much hilul HaShem – it is a wonder how any objective person could ever say anything positive about Orthodoxy. And no one complains more about how some of the more extreme segments of our world could use some serious tweaking.

Nor is Orthodoxy uniformly observed as one might erroneously conclude from this article. Indeed, there are Hasidic, Yeshivish, Lubavitch, Modern Orthodox, and Sephardi communities whose lifestyles are in most cases quite different from each other. Additionally each one of these has their own subgroups. And just like the non observant world, socioeconomic conditions play a very important part in how any of us live.

About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at hmaryles@yahoo.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

5 Responses to “A View of Observant Judaism by a Non Observant Jew”

  1. Chava Yocheved Burnham says:

    Bravo!

  2. Bruce Teleky says:

    young non orthodox kids are hooking up more and more and not building families. so is the country in general. while religious jews may be out of step, it appears as they want a future. that is a value worth of support. be fruitful and multiply and replenish……

  3. Bruce Teleky says:

    young non orthodox kids are hooking up more and more and not building families. so is the country in general. while religious jews may be out of step, it appears as they want a future. that is a value worth of support. be fruitful and multiply and replenish……

  4. WILL YOU CALL ME ???

  5. Bruce Teleky says:

    figured you get up at noon

Comments are closed.

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
18,000 Iranian Centrifuges
Reducing Iran’s Number of Centrifuges Makes a Bomb More Likely
Latest Blogs Stories
Herzog & Livni

AMERICAN INTERFERENCE in ISRAELI ELECTIONS is IMMORAL and 1000% CHUTZPADIK!

Baruch Marzel (left) and Hanin Zoabi

Extremism from Jews is considered a “danger;” Arab extremism and anti-Jewish terror is “legitimate”

Gaza-flood-300x168

It was in fact Israel, not Palestinians or journalists, who began spreading the older photos, in order to generate credibility for the “slander” angle.

3 Episodes from the Book of Esther

Next week we celebrate Purim, more relevant and illuminating in light of current events than ever

“They all attack each other” is how David described campaign tactics. “Welcome to politics, my son,”

Most Israelis think kowtowing to US demands to get on Obama’s “good side” won’t work and isn’t right

Big questions this week: Does materialism make people happy? Can one be happy with what they have?

A Rosh Yeshiva guessed 60% of bochurim in Israel’s yeshiva system belong there only 3-4 yrs post HS

Wednesday evening 25th of February there’s just the event for Anglos to attend, The Anglo Vote!

3 men pin the terrorist. In the white shirt is Jerusalem’s Mayor Barkat, taking a hands-on approach

The necessity for setting financial goals and how to realize your life’s dreams.

Not long ago Israelis waited nightly during campaigns for TV broadcasts of election campaign movies

I heard men singing…I saw men dancing. Can you imagine? It’s literally FREEZING out there! WOW!

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

Israelis don’t want anyone but Bibi as Prime Minister, no matter which party they plan to vote for.

B’Zechutan is the true Social Justice party, understanding the majority,the poor, the struggling

More Articles from Harry Maryles
Rabbi Pappenheim

Lapid is not anti-Haredi; He’s pro-Haredi in his way, wanting them to flourish. and join society

Copenhagen Great Synagogue

If Bibi is in the US already Pres. Obama MUST meet with the leader of America’s closest ally!

Sherut Leumi is the national service many women choose in lieu of military service-

My understanding of Footsteps is that they have no religious – or anti-religious agenda.

A violent confrontation between 2 groups erupted at the Ponevezh Yeshiva; dozens injured

There should be more information about intimacy disseminated to young people before they get married

Scenario: When you and your spouse got married you were on the same page religiously; now…

In the Hareidi world, Torah study is worshipped to the exclusion of all else. Nothing else matters

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/a-view-of-observant-judaism-by-a-non-observant-jew/2013/03/13/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: