web analytics
October 31, 2014 / 7 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance
Blogs
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Modern Orthodox Dropouts

For Modern Orthodox Jews - the way to get the best of both worlds and remain observant post high school is to attend a yeshiva like Yeshiva University.
Orthodox dropping out

Photo Credit: Yori Yanover

There has been a lot of discussion about young people abandoning Mitzvah observance (going OTD) over the past few years. A lot of that discussion took place here.

Indeed it has been declared a crisis by some. The focus of this issue in the religious media has been primarily in the Charedi world. Many theories have emerged as to why children go OTD. Among them: being sexually abused and the negative reactions to it by family and community, dysfunctional family situations, faulty educational environments, teachers unprepared to deal with questions of faith, or being overly sheltered from the world so that rebellion occurs when they are exposed to it unprepared.

I’m sure I missed a few reasons, but suffice it to say there are many reasons or combination of reasons to explain the phenomenon in the Charedi world. This problem is non discriminatory and touches even the best of households. Much ink has been spilled on horror stories of good and decent parents who have one child who has completely crashed and has become – not only OTD, but even a societal outcast (e.g. use of hard drugs and generally dropping out of society).

What has not been discussed much is the phenomenon of Modern Orthodox children going OTD. As though it wasn’t a problem for them. Of course that isn’t true. MO kids go OTD too. But I was amazed to find out the rate. According to an excellent blog post by Rabbi Steven Pruzansky there is an unpublished study claiming that 50% of Modern Orthodox high school graduates go OTD within two years of their graduation!

That is a shocking statistic. It almost justifies claims I often hear by the right that whatever problems they have with OTD, it is a drop in the bucket compared to our problems with it. My answer to them is that their drop is a very large drop which has been declared a crisis by many of their own leaders. But their point is well taken if that 50% statistic is anywhere near true.

But let us examine what is really going on with a statistic like this. Just as is the case by Charedim, there are many reasons why someone may abandon his religious observance. Some of them probably overlap. But there are definitely reasons that are unique to Modern Orthodoxy. One very plausible explanation is that many of the children attending MO schools are not from religious homes. When a child doesn’t see and live at home what he is taught in school, there is little chance of him remaining observant – if he ever was. But I don’t think anyone believes that is the entire reason.

Rabbi Pruzansky proposes another reason which I think is completely valid – although I don’t think it is the only reason by far.

He says that one has to look at the home first. What kind of role models does a child see in his or her parents?

I have long ago contended that the many MO Jews are what I call MO-Lite. This means that they are socially religious. They live in MO Neighborhoods and go to MO Shuls. But they are not really all that into their Judaism in any serious way. They observe Shabbos and Kashrus because that is how they were basically raised. But their observance is more social that idealistic – and outside of those two main Mitzvos – picking and choosing what they do and do not observe.

MO-Lites pay as much (if not more) attention to their lifestyle choices than they do religious choices. So when the two conflict – the lifestyle choice may win. Not that they will purposely violate Halacha, but they don’t look at their Judaism as the primary part of their lives. As Rabbi Pruzansky points out:

Children who see their parents prioritize shul – not once or twice a week, but every day – see shul as a value. Children who see their parents attend shul once a week and primarily socialize and converse while there see shul as a place to meet their friends. When older, they can just bypass the middleman and just go straight to their friends.

Similarly, children who see parents learning Torah during their leisure time perceive learning as a value. Children whose Shabbat is different than the other days of the week – the Shabbat table is different, the conversation is laden with talk of Torah, ideas, values, and zemirot instead of idle chitchat, sports, and gossip – experience a different Shabbat. It’s just a different day. When Shabbat is not observed as a different day, it stops being a different day.

I have noticed that there are teens who simply do not daven – they will converse the whole time – and invariably they are the children of fathers who themselves don’t stop talking in shul. Children who roam the halls of the synagogue Shabbat morning are invariably the offspring of parents who roam the halls. Like father, like son.

Rabbi Pruzansky gives some more examples like this. I think that these parents represent precisely the kind of Jews I have called MO-Lite. It should be no surprise to them if after high school their children attend a college away from home and eventually abandon observance altogether. And these are the kinds of schools pushed by these parents who value the ivy league university experience over the religious experience.

Try remaining observant in a university campus social setting away from home. It’s pretty difficult to do without any support. It can be done. And it is done in many schools. But it takes effort and determination that is learned in the home via the parents as teachers and more importantly as role models. If a parent is casual about his Yiddishket (MO-Lite) than his child will be at great risk for going OTD. Of course this isn’t always the case. But I’m pretty sure it is a big factor.

There are of course many exceptions all over the place. For example there are MO-Lite children who end up being very sincere about their Judaism. Often via their experiences in Israel (although sometimes the reverse happens too).

There are also kids from seriously religious homes of any stripe that go OTD anyway. But I think there is a lot to be said for the MO-Lite phenomenon as one cause of the problem. I would also add that “Lites” exists among Charedim too which I am sure also impacts on their OTD problems.

My guess is that if one were to look at the rate of dropouts based on the seriousness of the parents in both MO and the Charedi world, the dropout rate might be about the same. For me the issue is not whether a student has an MO education or not. It is about how serious his parents take their Judaism.

For Modern Orthodox Jews – the way to get the best of both worlds and remain observant post high school is to attend a yeshiva like Yeshiva University. That may not solve all the OTD problems – and one size does not fit all – nevertheless putting a child in a Torah environment is certainly better than putting them into the promiscuous environment of the university campus.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

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.

No Responses to “Modern Orthodox Dropouts”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
Current Top Story
Jo-map
So You Thought The Arab Israeli Conflict Was About Land? Here Is Why You Are DEAD Wrong!
Latest Blogs Stories
Jo-map

Let’s cut to the chase! The people who call themselves Palestinians are simply Arabs (Muslims) who came to this area from several Islamic regimes. This is not my opinion but rather what their leaders clearly say.

YG

Please pray for a complete recovery, רפואה שלימה for Yehuda Yehoshua Ben Rivka Ita Breindel Glick.

12

Obama/Kerry hate Bibi, because he is what they aren’t: smart and was a real soldier in the top unit.

Adolf Hitler and the representative of the Palestinian Arabs, the Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin al-Husseini, December, 1941.

Palestinian anti-Semitism in 2014 is more extreme and mainstream than German A/S in the 1930s.

Here are 5 quick facts that prove Jerusalem was NEVER A Muslim Holy City.

For further proof that there’s no justice for Jews in this world, the United Nations Security sic Council is planning to meet about Israel’s building plans. (Reuters) – The U.N. Security Council will hold an emergency meeting this week on recent tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in East Jerusalem due to Israel’s plans to build more […]

When is it a good idea to accept a “draw” and when is it better not to do so?

The AlephBet soup of American Jewish organizations must demand an apology and retraction from the Obama Administration to the Jewish People for this crass and vulgar insult to the leader of the Jewish People.

How bad is it? It is a battle royal tearing at the very heart of the yeshiva world.

Zionism brought Yesha to life, attracting Jews and Arabs to the area.

The “bag tax” is eco-terrorism against the Israeli consumer. Have our MK’s reviewed any studies on its environmental impact, or is it all just touchy-feely?

MS. PSAKI: He asked me if we thought he (molotov-cocktail throwing Arab-US citizen was a terrorist, and I said no.

Abbas’s charge of racism spans the entirety of Israeli society.

Why do people often sabotage their own success ?

The best locations for more housing is Yesha and Jerusalem because of convenience and low land cost

Weeping for the heroism of our soldiers, the miracle of our return home, the endless years of exile

More Articles from Harry Maryles
siamese chareidis

How bad is it? It is a battle royal tearing at the very heart of the yeshiva world.

The New York Times building is only the cover page for what goes

In the vast majority of cases, they are truly people in need, the fraudulent have been weeded out,

Kids bring in the light and let out the darkness through breathing exercises; it changes people.

If I make a million dollars in 2 weeks, how can I observe something like this and sit by quietly?”

“Shuls that are full on Friday night were fuller than normal, looking more like Yom Kippur”

I can’t blame these people for seeing women that way, it’s how they are raised-I blame the Hashkafa

Though the Talmud doesn’t give instructions, Metzitza has always been done B’Peh – by oral suction.

If not scared by God be scared by man; Hopefully ethics will integrate into lives for proper reasons

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/haemtza/modern-orthodox-drop-outs/2012/10/24/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: