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For A Viable Modern Orthodoxy, Center Must Hold


Long ago, W. B. Yeats had an apocalyptic vision – a vision that captures the current climate of Modern Orthodoxy in America:

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Our challenge, to paraphrase the historian Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr., is to make sure the vital center holds and grows, as the best hope for our future lies in the widening and deepening of the center of Modern Orthodoxy. We cannot afford to continue letting loose the blood-dimmed tide. Our best, not just our most extreme, must display a sense of conviction with passionate intensity.

About the Author: Rabbi Shmuel Hain is spiritual leader of Young Israel Ohab Zedek in Riverdale, N.Y. and serves as the rosh beit midrash of Yeshiva University's graduate program in biblical and Talmudic interpretation for women. He is conference chair of Orthodox Forum 2010: The Next Generation of Modern Orthodoxy, to be held next month at Yeshiva University.


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