There are many fine outreach organizations that try and feed that need and do so without such disparagement. Chabad, NCSY, Aish HaTorah are just a few on the many. But they can not possibly reach out to every Jew. With intermarriage at an all time high, the time is more than ripe for some out of the box thinking about this.
Ms. Kissiloff found another organization. It is called Elul. They rose to the occasion. One may recall Ruth Calderon. She is a member of Yesh Atid. She is not observant (at least not in the traditional sense) and she loves to study the Talmud. She co-founded Elul.
What makes this organization unique is that it is comprised of both religious and secular educators as well as secular and religious students.
By combining forces I believe outreach is possible at a far greater level than ever before. The temptation towards the kind of ridicule I mentioned earlier is reduced by the presence of a religious element. But even without that I think the deference of the Talmud by secular Jews is amply demonstrated by people like Ms. Calderon… who has publicly expressed her love of Talmud study. You can’t ridicule something you love! True, in her own life she ignores the most important part of it – the Halachic part. That is an unfortunate fact of her upbringing. She did not have the benefit of being raised in an observant home. But she nonetheless appreciates it and wants the same for other secular Jews.
As both she and her political mentor, Yair Lapid have said, the Talmud belongs to all the Jewish people, not just Orthodox Jews. Of course they mean that secular Jews should study it too, without considering the importance of its primary function as the source for Halachic observance.
But Ms. Calderon and this new organization accomplish something very significant. They replace apathy and ignorance of more than a few secular Jews with pride and knowledge. MiToch SheLo Lishmah – Bah Lishma. It wouldn’t surprise me if some of these secular Jews actually explored their Judaism a bit more after this experience and became more observant because of it.
Visit Emes Ve-Emunah . / Harry Maryles
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 email@example.com.
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