As for the suggestion that one simply avoid classes that are controversial, this is just another example of how frum individuals choose to put their heads in the sand rather than equip themselves to deal with controversy. Avoidance, like living in a ghetto, does not an answer provide. Orthodox Jews have got to stop trying to avoid that which calls our beliefs into question and instead start to grapple with these issues.
Dr. Robert Solomon Brooklyn, NY
Karen Greenberg Responds: I wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Solomon that students in these classes should not feel threatened by material that contradicts Torah Judaism. I am merely suggesting that students should enter university aware of what lies ahead and be prepared to actively filter through the material presented to them, using Torah as a guide.
My article comes from personal experience, and so I clearly am confident enough in the value of madda as well as the strength of my yeshiva education to remain in these classes. Furthermore, I would not say I feel “threatened” – I am simply thinking critically about what is being presented to me. Based on this experience, I have concluded that it is advisable for Orthodox students to immerse themselves in such material only after careful consideration of what the consequences may be regarding their Judaism.
The Power Of An Idea
Not too long ago a few of our shul members were discussing what to do to bring a little excitement back to our synagogue.
You see, our shul – Etz Chaim of Flatbush, located on East 13th Street between Avenue P and Kings Highway and which for decades was a vibrant, growing force in the community – has been the unfortunate victim of a shifting Jewish population. Over the past 20 years or so, many of the younger generation have moved on to other areas – Marine Park, New Jersey, Eretz Yisrael, etc.
During our discussion, the concept of an Oneg Shabbos came up. Some members said, “Why bother? It will never work.” Others said, “Let’s try it and see.”
We tried it, and we’ve all been shocked.
Seven weeks ago we had our first Oneg Shabbos and drew about 20 people. The following week we had 30. Each week we would have about 5 to 10 more people than the week before. Last Friday, December 30, Parshas Vayigash, we had close to 70 people.
We come together, have nice conversations, younger people play chess or checkers. We serve food, have a speaker, and generally are amazed at how nicely we all get along. We actually look forward to the Oneg Shabbos.
So don’t let anyone tell you an idea isn’t worth pursuing. With a little preparation and some work, we can make things happen.