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.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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