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September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
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Will Modern Orthodoxy Survive?

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In light of all this, let us address the points made in DovBear’s post.

1) Yes, Modern Orthodoxy is losing some of its youth to secularism. Indeed some kids are doing half‐shabbos (although this phenomenon is not limited to MO) and some are leaving orthodoxy altogether. It is probably also true that this is partially self‐inflicted by not providing a proper religious education thereby not providing sufficient inspiration to our youth.

I don’t think this applies to RWMO education. To the extent that it exists, it provides just as intensive a Jewish education as does the moderate Charedi world… with the added benefit of instilling in their students a high value for secular subjects and a permissible attitude towards the general culture. Unfortunately there aren’t too many schools like that. So as I said, most RWMO will choose a moderate Charedi school over a left wing MO school.

I agree, however, that to one degree or another – the rest of Modern Orthodoxy not doing a good job with respect to providing enough inspiration for our youth.

2) It is very true that MO is losing some of its youth (and some of its young couples) to Ultra‐Orthodoxy. And that this too is partially self‐inflicted by exposing our youth at their most impressionable time to Ultra‐Orthodox hashkafa and learning.

However, the unfortunate reality is that Modern Orthodoxy by its very nature does not produce that many Mechanchim. They produce knowledgeable Baalei Batim who choose more lucrative careers outside of Jewish education. So, as I said, most RWMO professionals feel they have no choice but to enroll their children into good moderate Charedi schools and subject them to that Hashkafa.

3) Yes, YU is in desperate straits. But to paraphrase Mark Twain, the news of YU’s death is greatly exaggerated. I do not see it closing its doors any time soon.

4) Although some of its leaders have some Charedi tendencies, most of them are nevertheless in the RWMO camp. Although I’m sure they don’t like being put in any camp.

5) What impact will the obscene and constantly increasing costs of Jewish education have on the future of MO? I don’t know but the current situation is unsustainable. My guess is that new schools will pop up that will have less frills and lower tuition. But this is more of an issue for the left where those tuitions are indeed obscenely high. As I said,RWMO will opt for the somewhat less expensive moderate Charedi schools.

6) That LWMO is pushing the envelope of Orthodoxy so far is certainly a disturbing development. In my view they have not as of yet crossed a line that would put them outside the pale. My hope is that they never will. But if they do, they will no longer be in the MO tent.

So are we in the death throes? I wouldn’t say that. RWMO will evolve together with moderate Charedim and both will constitute mainstream Orthodoxy. I call this new entity the ‘new centrists’. They are the wave of the future. Does it really matter whether they are called MO or not?

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.


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4 Responses to “Will Modern Orthodoxy Survive?”

  1. Rafi Finkel says:

    I work on a college campus (hence my choice to be anonymous), the truth is college modern orthodoxy is dead. They come from the MO yeshivas here with their kippahs and tzizus. With lines like, if we dont challenge ourselves how will we survive in the real world. Within 2 weeks they lose their yarmakahs, many engage in premarital relations many with non jews. Some are in frats and sororities, and many have the challenge of missing a test during yom tov. It is not much better at YU at least in the lower sections (BMP, IBC). On my campus i would say only 15 percent of those kids coming from MO backgrounds are frum throughout college. I would highly suggest the parents of these kids man up and make the choice between Secularism and Judaism . The truth is most of the readers here have really conceded Secularism has won. This is why MO is dying . The truth is in the push to be involved in the world you forgot Judaism . Please if you are smart let you kids go to Ner Israel and Hopkins . Sacrifice a few thousand dollars for your kid to remain a religious Jew

  2. George Harsanyi says:

    Other than the chasidism every other Jewish denomination loses significant number of young people to secularism.

  3. Modern orthodoxy is also losing its youth to anti-Zionist orthodoxy

  4. no clear answer but I hope it will!

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Binyamin and Chaya Maryles, uncle and aunt of Emes Ve-Emunah author Harry Maryles.
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