Potpourri

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(1) Charles Hall and Lawrence Kaplan asked in response to my early post “A Torah Revolution in Need of Troops” whether Ayelet HaShachar would accept volunteers from the national religious world to learn by phone with non-religious Israelis. The answer is yes, and they will even give priority to volunteers from that community in matching with new study partners.

The one condition is that any mentor has to be someone who can convey the feeling that the Torah has within it the power to transform one’s life and home. They must have a certain passion — though that passion need not be outwardly expressed. There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access. While these may be very rough measures of the sanctity of a particular home, it is important to have some criteria. Unlike other Ayelet HaShachar programs in which those employed work with constant contact and supervision, once the telephone pairing is made, there is little opportunity for supervision, and so there must be criteria for who can become a mentor (there is no blanket acceptance of every chareidi volunteer who contacts the organization either).

(2) I still have not fully investigated the rabbinic edict against some of the continuing education courses offered by the Bais Yaakov seminaries in Israel, either to assess the anticipated impact or the reasons behind the ban. But one thing is for sure, the edict will do little to lessen the trend towards young women obtaining some form of post-high school advanced training. The reason is simple: the economic situation of the chareidi community. At present, that economy is predicated on the assumption that the wife will contribute significantly to the family’s total budget. And there are simply too few jobs within the community that are sufficiently remunerative that do not require some form of academic training. If anything, one of the unintended consequences of the ban may be to drive young women from the two-year post-high school programs in the Bais Yaakov Seminary. Though those programs are styled as teacher-training programs, the actual percentage of graduates who obtain teaching jobs in the main population centers is relatively small. The seminaries are also meant to serve as a protective environment. In recognition of these facts, the seminaries have in recent years begun offering training is fields like computers and accounting. If they can no longer do so (a big if at this point), there will inevitably spring up new training programs catering to the chareidi population in these fields. The big blow, then, would be to the seminaries.

(3) Who won the El Al showdown continues to be a subject of dispute. The front-page of yesterday’s English HaModia claimed an impressive victory for the unified stand of the chareidi community. Yated’s response has been relatively muted — no triumphant editorials. Meanwhile articles in Globes (Israel’s leading economic newspaper) and Maariv claimed a victoryfor El Al. According to the latter, El Al made no commitment, in the event of future Shabbos flights, to waive the cancellation fee for chareidi travellers who cancel their tickets with El Al. The only disincentive to El Al flying again on Shabbos (other than the subsequent loss of chareidi business) is that it may become liable to make a contribution to a fund to supplying medicines not covered by Israel’s health basket. And even that is not certain. Apparently the contribution would be made by wealthy chareidi businessmen from New York, who would then somehow have a right to sue El Al for the amount donated.

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32 Responses

  1. Gary Shuman says:

    Regarding:Comment by Jewish Observer “Would it be fair to propose as a standard of heimishkeit the following two practices – keeping one’s tzitzis out and sporting payos? One could surely argue that the frumer folks do this.” The frum guys that I know may not be even wearing yarmulkes. They may be sporting olive colored berets. Their tzitzit are covered by their clothing and they may not be wearing a gartel for davening. However on their shirts is emblazened Zahal. Inside their tank will be gemorahs that are used work permitting. In their hearts is the determination of bchal nafshecha, being willing to give their lives for avodas Hashem. These guys are yeshiva bochrim from the Hesder Yeshivot like Kerem B’Yavne and Har Etzion. To me these guys are the frumacks.

  2. Willi says:

    Dear Rabbi Rosenblum,

    why don’t you mention Rabbi Eli Gewirtz from ”Partners in Torah”,

    http://www.partnersintorah.org/index.htm

    An organization from Tora Um’Sorah, that started this idea to organize telephone Torah partners all over the world years ago?

  3. GB says:

    What does this ban mean for the frum Jewish woman teaching in Israel? It means that an American Bais Yaakov girl who received her BA in chutz l’aretz will now have a job teaching in Israel, since the education ban does not (yet) apply outside of Israel.

  4. Rivka W. says:

    IMO, such a ban may and will lead to at least some programs for Charedi women being opened by none other than Touro College

    Like this program? Or perhaps this one, currently in the late planning stages.

  5. Sammy Finkelman says:

    If you wantesd some “objective” measurements you could think of something better than that – unless you really think those are key or they are looking for a certain hashkafah.

    A possible measure could be either giving or receiving certain minimum amount of Tzedakah in the last two years from Jewish religious institutions. And that actually would be more objective than TV or Internet which people can lie about.

  6. Jewish Observer says:

    Would it be fair to propose as a standard of heimishkeit the following two practices – keeping one’s tzitzis out and sporting payos? One could surely argue that the frumer folks do this.

  7. SM says:

    But to frame the debate like this is to give way to fear. The people proposing this are suggesting that the way to prove a positive (love of Torah etc) is to establish a negative. Not only doesn’t that work – but the message it sends out is awful. You are to be judged on what you DON’T do. Bad mistake.

  8. Ori Pomerantz says:

    If you’re a potential volunteer and don’t like Ayelet HaShachar’s criteria, couldn’t you just ignore them and do it on your own>? Go on an Internet forum, join the discussion, and wait until a contentious social issue comes up (given how argumentative Israelies are, it shouldn’t take too long). Then explain the Torah view, and then offer to teach people who respond and are interested in private.

  9. Bob Miller says:

    There is no mechanical check-list substitute for actually understanding other people.

  10. Gary Shuman says:

    TV and internet access are the litmus test for Charadei. So even if a person is Chardal Charadi Dati Leumi he is still Charadi. The small print in the contract probably has an affidavit to be signed by the mentor to not use the words Medinat Yisrael as opposed to Eretz Yisrael in conversation with the study partner and a provision never to talk politics. The winds of religious revolution are moving from the mountains of Afghanistan through the plains of Iran right into the streets of Yerushalayim and Bnei Brak. G-d is Great.

  11. Binyamin says:

    All of the comments about internet access are missing the point. Interent is socially stigmatized, maybe more in Israel than in America (and regardless of how many people actually use it). It should have gone without saying that it would be a criteria, and it is hard to blame the organization for using it. (Many schools here also will officialy not accept kids from such homes, though in practice they do).

    The debate is entirely appropiate as a discussion of community attitudes or social standards, or similar issues, but it is out of place when we are discussing a particular organazation which has accepted what has become (at least outwardly) an assumed condition for a committed chareidi lifestyle.

  12. easterner says:

    tv and internet would be a good indicator that the teacher will tow an unyielding fealty to the moranan vrobanan, which in the end is more important than any other factor. if one was moved to become chabad, modern O, or dati leumi, that wwould be equal to being not frum. so some criterion must be used to measure someone who will guide potential BT’s to the Only Derech acceptable…..

  13. Barzilai says:

    Had we world enough, and time, and we could determine the Torah character of each home on a case by case basis, I would agree with the sentiments of those who disapprove of the tv/internet litmus test. But we don’t. This is not a shidduch issue, where one can and must dig deeper and see the truth under the surface. Unfair as it is, public policy rules have to be blunt instruments. As the gemara says, when you weed your garden, you will lose some good seedlings.

  14. Dr. E says:

    There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.

    Interesting, that those criteria are selected as the litmus test to “teitch someone up”. I don’t know for sure the statistics in Israel regarding this. Could the criteria be a proxy for a distinction that splits along Chareidi-Dati Leumi lines?

  15. Steve Brizel says:

    I also side with those who object to the absence of a TV or net access for children as setting some sort of passion for Torah. Dikduk Bmitzvos and a dedication to Tefilah BTzibbur and a set time for learning IMO seem far better criteria.

  16. Jak Black says:

    I second Harry’s comments, and would expand them to include the responsible use of Playboy magazine. I caution my children against looking at the prohibited pages, steering them toward layouts that one might consider merely “racy.” The articles are top-notch, and the fiction has a wide reputation for its excellence. There is no reason that a home that subscribes to Playboy or similar magazines should be excluded from this program.

  17. Barzilai says:

    It is brave of you to include the tv and internet requirements. It was inevitable that the people who are not so inclined would consider it an attack on their life style. The same happens when people want to establish community standards involving hair covering, clothing, and wedding expenses. The attacks often invoke “you have nothing better to do, that you are focusing on such superficialities,” or “my rosh yeshiva/father does/has/allows” and the like. It really all boils down to “I don’t want to get rid of mine,” or “I would like to try it, but my husband/wife doesn’t let me.” Nobody likes being told what to do, and some addictions elicit self deluding rationalizations and reaction formation, but I think most would agree that some changes, however uncomfortable, are for the best. I remember when the no-tv campaign came to my neigborhood, and you could find thrown out televisions in the alleys; not one of the people who accepted the mussar and threw out their tvs have bought one since, and they wouldn’t dream of going back. If you’ll miss CSI, read Patricia Cornwall, and if you’ll miss America’s Best Home Videos, read Flannery O’Connor.

  18. Dati Leumi says:

    Ezzie and Ahron I agree with your criticism of the TV/internet proviso, but to be fair it’s mentions internet for children not adults.

  19. Ezzie says:

    There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.

    This line is extremely troubling. I don’t know where to start. But I’ll focus on a couple of ironies: This is being discussed on a charedi-leaning website that shows much passion for Torah; and this measurement disqualifies my charedi, Rosh Yeshiva cousin in Eretz Yisroel who speaks all over the world.

  20. mycroft says:

    There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.

    Both were before the time of the internet-but Rav Ruderman ZT”L had a TV-and certainly there was a TV in Rav Soloveitchiks apartment in YU-perfect test I guess to test for passion for Torah.
    Written by one whose parents did not have a TV at home until after I left home and hardly ever watched it after I left.

    Re El Al-I travelled on a couple of El Al flights during the controversy-there were a fair amount of Orthodox Jews on both flights.

  21. Ahron says:

    >“There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.”

    I am unable to sufficiently articulate the astonishing silliness of this proviso–nor does it need to be expressed. “There is no good way to measure passion for Torah”–aside from measuring the electromagnetic signals emanating from one’s residence, that is. Well good. I’m glad somebody’s finally found a way…

    Nearly the entire readership of Cross-Currents and hundreds (if not thousands) of Orthodox rabbis apparently don’t measure up. That single condition on its own tells me alot–too much–about the orientation and goals of Ayelet Hashachar–a program that I assumed to be worthy until now.

    >“But one thing is for sure, the edict will do little to lessen the trend towards young women obtaining some form of post-high school advanced training. The reason is simple: the economic situation of the chareidi community.”

    In other words the chareidi leadership has issued an(other?) edict that is impossible for the public to abide by. Some thoughts come to mind. They include terms like “counterproductive”, “out of touch”, “hermetic isolation” and “endemic poverty”.

  22. Boruch says:

    Harry

    I agree with your comments.

    What I find puzzling is this organization’s distinguishing criteria re: the internet “… they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.”

    If internet access ostensibly compromises sanctity of the home why distinguish between adult and child use. Treyf is treyf. One could argue that the distinction for the internet ought to be made for TV along the lines of your comment ie program mentors may be permitted to come from homes with tv’s because adults need it to monitor MSNBC and the news and this neccessary use will not breach the sanctity of the home.

  23. Steve Brizel says:

    Let’s assume the worst-that the new ban on women obtaining any secular training even with the protective atmosphere of a seminary or BY is Pshuto KMaashmo-a ban on such programs for whatever reason. IMO, such a ban may and will lead to at least some programs for Charedi women being opened by none other than Touro College-which also underwent similar criticisms from certain RY for such programs in the US and which draws would be kollel wives from such venues as Lakewood, Flatbush and Monsey in droves. Don’t be surprised if such a program opens up with a title like Machon HaParnassah or some other parve type nomenclature.

  24. Dati Leumi says:

    “While these may be very rough measures of the sanctity of a particular home”

    These are virtually no measure whatsoever. All these restrictions measure is the narrow-mindedness of the measurers.

  25. LAWRENCE KAPLAN says:

    I appreciate Jonathan Rosenblum’s response to the question posed by both by Charlie Hall and mysef, even if I, like some of the other bloggers, have serious doubts about the appropriateness of the criteria he singles out for determining a woman’s eligibility for participating in this program.

  26. Jewish Observer says:

    “It was a tactical error on the Charedi side to insist/suggest/reccomend that travellers already holding EL Al tickets do not use them.”

    how can you call it a tactical error if the reason to not fly El Al was sakonas nefoshos?

  27. Menachem Petrushka says:

    Dear Rabbi Roseblum

    I believe the real losers of the El AL/Charedi battle were the individuals who paid cancellation fees and certainly those who had to forego non-refundable tickets.

    It was a tactical error on the Charedi side to insist/suggest/reccomend that travellers already holding EL Al tickets do not use them. The boycott would have been as effective in the long run if those who wanted to protect Shmiras Shabbos would have just stopped booking new flights on the airline.

    Cancellations not only punished the tens if not hundreds of G-d fearing Jews; they benefitted EL Al and prolonged the dispute. The Charedi Leaders realized that the half a million dollars in cancelltion fees that El Al collected could not be allowed to remain with EL Al or the Choteh(the sinner ) would be Niscar(come out ahead). Thus after the Shabbos issue was setlled, the issue of the cancellation fees became a sore point and was not “settled” and the boycaott continued for at least one of two more weeks.

  28. Harry Maryles says:

    a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access.

    That’s too bad. You cut out a lot of good people that way. Why is a passion for learning Tirah and adhereing to a Torah lifestyle contingent on whehter one has a TV in the house, or if one allows a child access to the internet? I know many Bnei Torah that have TVs in their homes and allow access to the Internet (filtered and monitored) who are very enthusiastic about their Yiddsihkeit.

    I know all the arguments agaisnt TV and the Internet. I even agree with them. But I disagree that these two media be entirely boycotted and if someone chooses to use them responsibly they should not be an impediment to one who desires to learn Torah with secular Jews who are interested in doing so.

    It seems to me that these conditions are the wrong criteria for membership in a learning partnerships program between secular Jews and religious ones. The real criteria should be the level of commitment to the values of Torah and the willingness to give of one’s time to impart the knowledge and values of Torah to others.

  29. joel rich says:

    (1) Besides the internet and TV (lack thereof) are there any other objective criteria being used? If so, please post the details so we can discuss the whole picture.

    (2) Do you have access that will allow you to clarify the alleged ban? If so, please post when you get the details so we can discuss or move on.

    (3) Great end to a war – everyone declares victory and goes home :-)

    KT

  30. Jewish Observer says:

    “but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access”

    – Chazal say: “Ein apotropus l’arayos”. How can a home have sanctity if the parents have access to the Internet?

  31. Nachum Lamm says:

    So the whole El Al story boils down to a question of who “won” and the great god Mammon? I thought the sanctity of Shabbos Kodesh and the Jewish character of the State of Israel was at stake.

  32. Jewish Observer says:

    “There is no good way to measure passion for Torah, but a minimal requirement of both chareidi and non-chareidi volunteers is that they not have a TV in their home and do not allow their children Internet access. While these may be very rough measures of the sanctity of a particular home”

    – I agree that TV and Internet are more a (rough) measure of sanctity than of passion. Rough measures of passion for Torah might include: regularity at shul, steadiness of chavrusos, monetary support of Torah learning, abstinence from loshon hora, hisachdus with am yisrael.