Kiddush Clubs

The Orthodox Union dedicated last Shabbos to a national campaign to oust so-called Kiddush Clubs from shuls. In the past, Rabbi Heshy Billet, when he was president of the Rabbinical Council of America, also spoke out forcefully against kiddush clubs.

Their efforts have, needless to say, brought much merriment to scoffers and cynics. An op-ed piece in the Jerusalem Post this week, asked whether we do not have something more important to worry about, given the magnitude of the problems confronting Klal Yisrael today.

That response strikes me as misguided. The OU does not have it within its power to eliminate pervasive Jewish ignorance in the larger community — one of the problems mentioned by the Jerusalem Post writer. It can, however, strike a major blow at kiddush clubs. By dedicating a nationwide Shabbos to the subject of kiddush clubs, OU provided cover for local rabbis who are not sufficiently secure in their positions to lay down the law in the form of a personal psak.

Nor are kiddush clubs only a minor problem. Anytime a child observes his father talking during krias haTorah or spending his time in shul shmoozing about sports or stock prices, he cannot but absorb the message: my father doesn’t really believe the Torah is the word of G-d; in fact, he does not even find it particularly interesting or much of a guide to life. If his father absents himself during maftir and does not bother to return for mussaf because he is otherwise occupied getting soused, the message is only amplified. And that message is conveyed not only to children of the inebriates but to every young person in the shul that tolerates such kiddush clubs. What does the message that all this Torah stuff is just another instance of adult hypocrisy do to the chances of the young people in such shuls or homes of ever taking the Torah seriously?

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16 Responses

  1. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    GS, your comment is poignant and enlightening. Unfortunately, we have a tradition dating back to Moshe Rabbeinu of finding (more often inventing) fault in our spiritual leaders. If parents knew the damage they were inflicting to their own families when they indulge in this behavior, (to say nothing of the pain they cause to their selfless Rabbis,) perhaps they would be more circumspect.

  2. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    GS, thanks for your poignant and powerful comment. Finding fault with the Moroh DAsroh has been a popular activity since Moshe Rabbeinus time. If people would realize what they and their families lose when they do so, maybe they would think twice.

  3. GS says:

    Huh? Please explain how you come to this conclusion. Because someone doesnt treat a single religious requirement properly (and in the spectrum of religious requirements, its relatively minor), an observer (no, actually the persons child!) would conclude that such a perpetrator believes the Torah is not true?! Wow! Is that what you teach your kids?

    I believe the Chazon Ish writes in perek beis or perhaps gimmel of Emunah U’bitachon, that esentially there is only one mitzva – and that is to submit or not submit to God’s will. The tone of shock in your criticism of what was stated, might be because of the leap that Jonathan Rosenblum took from kiddush clubs to not listening to God. But I believe that he put it that way to make this precise point. It is a subtle one, but if you give kids credit for thinking, they may just draw that conclusion.

    I cannot mention my name, as you’ll soon understand why, but I can tell you that I personally went off the derech when I was about 12 for a number of reasons. One of the top on the list was watching the disrespect that many around me, and I’m sad to say, my father included, had for the rabbi of our shul and for prayer in general. When I read this article it was like a lightening bolt that went right through me, the memories of this hypocrisy are so vivid. Am I the only one that percieved it that way? I doubt it.

  4. Zev says:

    “There is no purpose for hard liquor in shul.”

    Don’t you need it to make a l’chaim?

  5. Zal says:

    Let’s not get sidetracked regarding the general issue of alcohol use (_that_ topic is probably more appropriate for a discussion on the increasing – and very serious – problem of youth over-indulging during Purim). Kiddush club is a bizoiyon, plain and simple. It denigrates the Haftorah (quite ironically, the very frequent theme of the reading is the need for t’shuvah!), it insults the Rav of the shul because his drasha is often missed completely by the participants, people usually miss Av Harachamim – a tefillah in memory of our Holy martyrs, they frequently miss Birkas Hachodesh, not to mention misheberachs for the medina (and in most MO shuls those for Eretz Yisroel and the tzahal), etc. There is absolutely no legitimate reason for defending a Kiddush club held during the middle of davening.

  6. Steve Brizel says:

    I agree with R Joel Rich-booze in shuls and at simchas is a problem. However, it ignores a bigger phenomenon within both the Charedi and MO worlds. Many of the next generation are either “flipping out” or “going off the derech” for a variety or reasons. Yet, despite the evidence, we see no real solutions, just suggestions that tinker with the problem as opposed to going to the root causes.

  7. Michoel says:

    There is has recently been a lot of reverential quoting of Tiferes Yisroel in the Jewish blogosphere. I suggest those that think shmoozing about sports during krias HaTorah is a relatively minor issue, look into what the Tiferes Yisroel would have to say about it.

  8. Menachem Yehuda says:

    Very much like the gun-control people, you want to take liquor away from those who use it responsibly. Its both legal and mutar, after all. As with guns, only the outlaws will end up having liquor in shul.
    ??????????
    I cannot believe that this comparison is even being suggested. There is no purpose for hard liquor in shul.
    We must work on the issue of kovod beis haknesses. There should be a serious discussion about what age is appropriate for a child to start coming to shul. If children spend their first 5 years in shul playing bottelcaps and hide and go seek, it is no wonder that they have no respect for the sanctity of a beis haknesses. If shul is just another social club then why not allow them to drink.

  9. David Brand says:

    DMZ,
    Your suggestion (which might have been tongue-in-cheek) to have the OU make liquor ossur is not a reasonable approach. Very much like the gun-control people, you want to take liquor away from those who use it responsibly. It’s both legal and mutar, after all. As with guns, only the “outlaws” will end up having liquor in shul. I know of a shul that naively tried this approach. Guess how many men started bringing fancy pocket flasks, some emlazoned with the owners’ initials, filled with their favorite single-malt?

    Rather than focusing on the liquor itself, perhaps the focus should be on the Rov of the shul simply communicating the importance of kriah, as well as the bizayon that happens when people leave to go out, socialize and drink. Perhaps, as in many cases, the Rov might only succeed in making people have pangs of guilt. Nevertheless, the point would be made without resorting to prohibition in shuls.

  10. Joel Rich says:

    If the OU really wants to play hardball, though, they should simply outlaw hard liquor in shul, period.
    ========
    WADR the liquor issue is a symptom. You can go to the OU website and read R’ Weinreb’s piece which gets to the root cause.
    KT
    Joel Rich

  11. Avi says:

    Anytime a child observes his father talking during krias haTorah or spending his time in shul shmoozing about sports or stock prices, he cannot but absorb the message: my father doesnt really believe the Torah is the word of G-d

    Huh? Please explain how you come to this conclusion. Because someone doesn’t treat a single religious requirement properly (and in the spectrum of religious requirements, it’s relatively minor), an observer (no, actually the person’s child!) would conclude that such a perpetrator believes the Torah is not true?! Wow! Is that what you teach your kids?

  12. Aaron says:

    Sorry Greg, I have no idea what you are trying to say. Do you suggest that if people are doing wong things, they shouldn’t be rebuked?

  13. DMZ says:

    I think Greg is right to point out that kiddush club members are not all raising their children badly (in fact, I know a few who are doing an extremely fine job of it!), but I would generally concur with the point that kiddush clubs aren’t helping anything. I, for one, will not shed a tear for the clubs. Let the “members” hear the haftorah like the rest of us.

    If the OU really wants to play hardball, though, they should simply outlaw hard liquor in shul, period.

    -DMZ

  14. Zev says:

    “Also, the logical conclusion of what you are suggesting is that we kidnap the children from their parents at a young age so they are not corrupted by the sins of the fathers.”

    That’s ridiculous. What he’s saying is that we should stop sanctioning the sins of the fathers.

  15. Eliezer Barzilai says:

    Rudy Guiliani’s success at improving the quality of life in New York demonstrated that serious attention to ostensibly minor annoyances contributes a great deal to the dramatic diminution of major problems.
    Kiddush clubs, of course, are indefensible. Im not sure that the novi is offended, but I can personally attest to the sinking feeling in the stomach a Rov has when he stands up to deliver the product of hard work and a group of people, usually the popular chevreh, walk out. It is a personal insult, and it can make a Rov feel unqualified and ineffective.

  16. Greg says:

    I find your final assertion incredibly simplistic. Don’t we see every day that sons of talmidei chachamim go off the derech, while sons of regular Joe’s go to become roshei yeshivos? I think you need to give more credit to the individuals here. Despite what their parents do in shul, kids do think for themselves. They might conclude that their parents are decent people who love being Jewish (after all, they are going to shul on Shabbos, as opposed to not, which is easy enough nowadays), but never gained a fuller appreciation for the finer points of Jewish religious experience. They also might realize that most people are frum because they were brought up that way.

    Also, the logical conclusion of what you are suggesting is that we kidnap the children from their parents at a young age so they are not corrupted by the sins of the fathers. While I would hope that this would sound ridiculous to any well-adjusted person, it does appear to be the direction we are heading in anyways.