Why Be A Secular Jew?

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Back when I was young and knew everything, I saw Judaism as a binary option: either you adopt Judaism completely or not at all. If not, you might as well just go out and assimilate into the gentile majority. Those who did not do so, who continued their involvement with the Jewish community without committing to full religious observance, were acting irrationally, although we could not point that out to them out of hope that they or their children would eventually adopt full Judaism. In reality, there are good reasons for those who do not believe in all of Judaism’s truth claims to maintain deep connections to their religion. Three books from the past few years offer, directly or indirectly, reasons for these secular Judaisms.

Nothing Succeeds Like Success

Steven L. Pease is not Jewish but has long been fascinated by the incredible members of the tribe who surround him in business and society. Noting the success of so many Jews, he set out to document the disproportionate achievement of Jews in the twentieth century. His book, The Golden Age of Jewish Achievement: The Compendium of a Culture, a People, and Their Stunning Performance, catalogs by area the success of Jews and offers some of their many incredible stories. Ranging from inventions to literature to business to philanthropy, Pease finds the most objective measure of achievement (e.g. Noble Prize, membership in the Equity Hall of Fame) and shows how Jews greatly surpassed their proportionate level.

This alone is interesting but fails to compel. The most important part of the book is Pease’s exploration of why Jews have succeeded. In his introduction, he credits Jewish culture: “The point is that culture matters, and all cultures are not equal, no matter how much we might wish it otherwise.” His final chapter digs much deeper. Because he makes no claim to sociological expertise, Pease’s survey is delightfully full of humble investigation. His thorough research uncovers every theory, which he presents along with questions and critiques that have been posed. He offers no conclusion because he has no way of knowing which of the competing explanations is true. However, his clear and comprehensive overview of the literature leaves no stone unturned.

In the end, all you can say is that, for one reason or another, Jewish culture, history and genetics has yielded a remarkable story that should make every Jew proud. Pease does not say anything about Jewish identity but the implication of his research is that if you want to be a part of the incredible story he documents, you have to embrace your Jewish side. Celebrate, don’t suppress, Jewish culture in your life. Study Jewish history and become a part of it. And marry Jewish so your children will continue this incredible story. Pease’s secular Jew is proud of his community’s incredible success and desirous of joining and continuing that remarkable story.

Judaism As Excitement

Ze’ev Maghen takes an entirely different tack in his mistitled John Lennon and the Jews (the book has almost nothing to don with the Beatles). He sees Judaism as an incredibly fulfilling religion whose laws and customs create a dynamic spiritual life. This book, which is structured as a Jewish response to Far Eastern philosophy, is not a religious apologetic. Maghen is irreverent and iconoclastic. With his relentless passion, effortless philosophical depth, and incurable devotion to 1980’s pop culture, Maghen creates what seems to me to be the most viable non-Orthodox theology today (this non-Orthodox book by Maghen, who by the way is my sister’s neighbor, was positively reviewed by Tikvah-funded Jewish Ideas Daily: link).

To Maghen, Judaism is a delightfully irrational religion that adds meaning and spirituality to life. Who wants to worship a purely rational God, he asks, who is so perfect that we can’t relate to Him? Who wants a religion that is easy and boring? He loves the challenges of Judaism, the endless Talmudic debates and contradictions. He wants to wake up ridiculously early to bake matzah and then stay up late singing songs, telling stories and eating the matzah he worked so hard to make. Judaism is a great religion that brings joy to life and deepens our connections to our family and community. And who can live without family and community?

If I had to label Maghen’s approach, I would call it Reconstructionist Judaism for the twenty-first century. He champions the power of Jewish religion to create better people, regardless of its truth claims. You don’t have to believe it in order to love it. His weak point, though, aside from his light humor that masks both profundity and the occasional superficial argument, is that not everyone loves Judaism as much as he. Some people find it a troublesome burden. Maghen has little to offer them. But those who enjoy Jewish traditions will find his passionate and humorous book inspiring, a reason to be a proud and active Jew.

The Salad Bowl

Unlike the previous books, Doron Kornbluth’s Why Be Jewish? does not have an approach. Recognizing that everyone has a story, Kornbluth devotes each of the twenty chapters of his book to allowing very different people explain why Judaism is important in their lives. While the device of him writing in other people’s voices is somewhat artificial — his choppy colloquial style is evident throughout — the result is powerful. I saw people I know in his words. I know those Jews who are proud that Jewish experiences have formed their personalities; and those who want to pass on the ancient torch that was passed to them; and those who enjoy seasonal rituals and celebrations; and those who only later in life begin exploring the rich intellectual heritage of Judaism; and those who were overwhelmed by the ancient holiness of the land of Israel; and many more of the very different proud Jews who pass through this book.

Kornbluth’s book does not provide a reason to be Jewish. It provides many reasons, some intellectual and many emotional. Implicit in many, but not all, of Kornbluth’s stories is the idea that people’s personalities — their attitudes, preferences, mannerisms, emotional attachments, etc. — develop in their formative years and forever connect them to that culture of their youth. For me and many fellow Jews that means that we have Judaism in our kishkes, integrated into our personalities. I find that a compelling reason to affiliate Jewishly — I am Jewish to my very core. Regardless of this idea’s appeal to you, I suspect that most readers will find themselves touched by multiple characters in this book and will emerge more committed to exploring their Jewish identities.

Every Jew is unique and connects to his tradition in his own way. Sometimes he does so subconsciously, without fully understanding why Judaism is so important to him. These books offer assistance to understanding your reasons for being Jewish.

About Gil Student

Rabbi Gil Student is the founder, publisher and editor-in-chief of Torah Musings.

73 comments

  1. “Judaism is a delightfully irrational religion that adds meaning and spirituality to life”

    One of the reasons that rabbinic Judaism appeals to me is that it is a very rational religion!

  2. And it is a very rational religion that adds meaning and spirituality to life.

  3. I didn’t want to go into too much detail in this post but I found his chapter on the irrationality of Judaism to be the weakest in the book. He picks on minor customs and then blows them out of proportion with narrative skill.

  4. Championing secular Judaism is like championing the Jews who didn’t leave Babylonia, the Jews who Hellenized, the Jews who became Roman citizens. and the apostates to Christianity: They had no intention of establishing a world in which Hashem’s Torah is a blueprint for humanity, but allow humanity to subsist within its own functional framework. There has to be affinity and dedication to the idea that Jews believe in Jewish practice as being the cause of their success and preservation, even if they cannot directly attribute this to Hashem. Secular Judaism has to hold onto some primordial belief system (perhaps “that old time religion”) to distinguish it from assimilation attempts of the past: why IDENTIFY Jewishly

  5. Gedalia — how survivors responded to the Shoah is a good way to explore the question you ask. Isaac Bashevis Singer’s “Shadows on the Hudson” is an interesting window into that generation.

    http://www.nytimes.com/books/97/12/28/daily/singer-book-review.html

  6. Moshe Shoshan

    What makes maghen’s approach non-Orthodox? from what you presented, it seems like a variant of a common kiruv argument.

  7. Moshe: Perhaps I didn’t sufficiently highlight Maghen’s rejection of authority.

  8. A Little Sanity

    “One of the reasons that rabbinic Judaism appeals to me is that it is a very rational religion!”

    Actually, at its core, rabbinic Judaism makes claims that are certainly not rational (defining a “rational” claim as one that can be proved or otherwise demonstrated by reason), starting with the claim of the existence of a deity. Lack of rationality doesn’t make a claim false. I believe in God, but I don’t make the unfounded claim that my emuna is “rational”.

    And for so many today, their version of rabbinic Judaism entails assertion of so many “facts” plainly contradicted by the available evidence as to render any assertion of rationality risible.

  9. Back when I was young and knew everything,
    ===================================
    I hope this leads to the post everyone is waiting for – when did you realize you didn’t know everything, what led you to this revelation and once there, how do you (one) know that one knows anything?
    KT

  10. How many people actually choose to be secular Jews? First of all those of us who are born of Jewish mothers did not choose to be Jews but rather are chosen. As to choosing to be secular,except for the minority who are datlashim (datiim lesheavar=off the derech) the others are secular by default,tinokot shenishbeu ben hagoyim. Their choice is a limited one, between secularism and assimilation.

  11. ברוך שלא עשני בור

  12. ברוך שלא עשני נודניק

  13. ברוך שעשני

    KT

  14. Actually, Jeol, isn’t the maskanah of the gemara more or less against that bracha. (Machlokes about whether it would have been better not to have been created). Of course, you could say that just as one blesses on the good one blesses on the bad, but that has not been the theme in this regard.

  15. David,

    I believe that by secular R’ Gil means actively pursuing a Jewish identity and Judaism in some way. Meaning, why dont those tinokot shenishbu ignore religion entirely.

  16. Former YU,

    No, as in something is better than nothing at all.

  17. r’mdj,
    so then why shelo asani goy? (I would’ve actually added krtzono but was cutting and pasting letters)
    KT

  18. Former YU and Aiwac: Meaning, from the perspective of someone who does not believe Judaism’s truth claims, why embrace their Jewish identity?

  19. R. Gil,

    “Meaning, from the perspective of someone who does not believe Judaism’s truth claims, why embrace their Jewish identity?”

    That’s pretty broad. What about someone who believes in God form the Conservative or Reform perspective? What of cultural Judaism?

  20. Rafael Araujo

    What of cultural Judaism?

    I always believed that cultural judaism ie. bagels and lox, chicken soup mit knaidlach, etc. is secular judaism.

    In Toronto, there is Oraynu. Here’s the link: http://www.oraynu.org.

  21. That’s why I called it “secular”. If you believe in C or R, then you have every reason to identify as Jewish.

    This post is essentially about cultural Judaism, which becomes less appealing the farther we get from immigrant status.

  22. Ah. Well, the problem is that a very large proportion of Jews in the states are indeed not affiliated at all or “just Jewish” whatever that means.

  23. Look, while many of us may not relate to it, there are serious cultural Jews. Stereotyping them as tinokot shenishbeu or as “bagels and lox Jews” is no different than their stereotyping Orthodox Jews as superstitious fundamentalists.

  24. Classifying them as tinokos she-nishbu is not the same as stereotyping them as “bagels and lox Jews” or them classifying us as superstitious fundamentalists.

  25. Rafael Araujo

    “That’s why I called it “secular”. If you believe in C or R, then you have every reason to identify as Jewish.”

    Really? The only difference between secular jews and C and R jews is affiliation. In lifestyle and outlook, the difference is minimal or there is no difference.

  26. Gil — how is it different?

  27. IH,

    Tinokot shenishbu (or “kahal shogeg” as suggested by R. Bin-Nun) is a technical-legal classification that helps take the various laws of apikores lehach’is, mechalel shabbat befarhesya &c.

    More importantly, IIRC the Chazon Ish spoke in terms of the lack of revalation and clear word of God being a cause of inevitable skepticism and doubt so it is the present reality which is “shoveh” non-religious Jews, and not any assumptions about their intellect.

  28. I should have added “off the table” at the end of the first paragraph. My apologies.

  29. Aiwac – you do not have to be affiliated – I assume you mean with a synagogue- to identify as being Jewish. Just Jewish would mean they identify with the Jewish people but through institutions of the past. Wha t is so hard to understand? Also, they are not ashamed of being Jewish or want to assimilate either.

  30. Ruvie,

    I’d like some actual proof for that besides a categorical statement.

  31. …and “not want to assimilate”? With a 72% intermarriage rate for non-affiliated Jews? Really?

    http://www.pjvoice.com/v34/34800parenting.aspx

  32. aiwac — Prof. Kellner demolishes this apolegtica in “What Must A Jew Believe”. I am away from my bookshelves, but per Google Books I think it is on pp. 117 – 120.

  33. What apologetica? I asked for hard proof that everyone who calls themselves “just Jewish” is indeed not willing to assimilate. I’m still waiting.

  34. Joel,
    That bracha says, or at least can be understood as saying, as long as you created me, thank you for making me Jewish. Yours says, thank you for creating me. A very different thing.

  35. aiwac — I was responding to your tinok shenishbu comment of 4:10pm. In regard to self-identity, see the recently released regional Chicago demographic study: http://www.jewishdatabank.org/Archive/C-IL-Chicago-2010-Full_Slide_Set.pdf

  36. Prof. Kellner only says that the term “tinok she-nishbah” is offensive, nothing more. Despite his objection, it is eminently reasonable to call a rabbi and scholar a tinok she-nishbah when he was raised and educated with a counter-halakhic viewpoint. Kellner doesn’t demolish anything.

  37. Rafael: Don’t confuse those who belong to a C or R synagogue with those who truly accept the beliefs. The latter strongly identify.

  38. IH,

    I read the study, and it’s not as unambiguous as you might think. The number of intermarried Jews who want to raise their kids as “Jewish only” is about half – far from Ruvie’s categorical statement that seemed to include every non-affiliated Jew.

    Also, there are other facts here such as the following statements:

    -Few Intermarried Jewish Respondents Feel It Is Important
    to Learn More About Being Jewish or Judaism (p 117)

    – Intermarried Jewish Respondents are Much Less Likely
    to View Being Jewish as Very Important (as opposed to somewhat important or not important at all). (p 100)

    – Emotional Attachment to Israel Is Relatively Low
    Among the Intermarried (p 126)

    I’m not saying there isn’t what to work with, but the all or even most “non-affiliated Jews” wish to pass on their identity is far from certain, esp. keeping in mind that Chicago is more intensively Jewish than many other locales according to the study.

  39. Gil — you gloss over his explanation of why it is offensive (quoting R. Sacks if memory serves), but in any case my question of 4:01pm stands (aiwac’a intercession notwithstanding).

  40. IH,

    I can certainly understand why it’s considered offensive, but at present halacha doesn’t really have other, more PC categories to use.

    At any rate, far from being an apologetica, I thought the CI’s actual full psak was a fair and sympathetic statement that merely acknowledged the obvious (that without Divine revalation, it is absurd and unfair to treat Jews who doubt or deny when they have no proof as those who rebelled during say, Bayit Rishon).

  41. aiwac — huh. You were the one claiming “unabiguity”, not I. The point I was making with the study, is that intermarriage is not as simplistic a metric of identity as you make out.

  42. IH: I’m only working from memory but recall being extremely underwhelmed by his discussion of this issue. They may be offended by it but that doesn’t mean it’s incorrect.

    It isn’t a stereotype but a useful halakhic classification.

  43. aiwac — it seems we’re talking past each other (for a change). Perhaps tomorrow…

  44. Gil — sorry, but Halacha wasn’t the issue we were discussing, Rewind to David Tzohar on September 8, 2011 at 10:55 am please.

  45. No, Ruvie was. I pointed to the study to show the problem with this. I admit that the Chicago study shows that its more complex in areas like Chicago, but it still does not justify a blanket “‘Just Jews’ don’t want to assimilate” – not by a long shot.

    More to the point, that same study you presented shows a very strong correlation between affiliation and a combination Jewish educational activities – which in turn ensure strong Jewish identities. Most of those who are intermarried had relatively little to no Jewish contact outside of some after-school activities.

    Bottom line – affiliation with O, C or R and enrolling in their institutions is a proven way (according to the studies) to maintain Jewishness. Those who opt out and become “just Jewish” may still wish to retain attachments, but nowhere near as much as those who are afiliated.

  46. IH: Oh, yes, he was speaking derisively. I ignored it.

  47. “Gil — sorry, but Halacha wasn’t the issue we were discussing, Rewind to David Tzohar on September 8, 2011 at 10:55 am please.”

    T’would seem to me that you are the one who insists on sticking to one particular understanding of ‘tinokot shenishbu’ that fits your purposes rather than discussing other interpretations.

    “aiwac — it seems we’re talking past each other (for a change). Perhaps tomorrow…”

    Considering your custom of moving the goal posts of discussion to wherever you see fit, this isn’t surprising…

  48. aiwac — for someone so concerned with masculinity: be a man!

  49. “for someone so concerned with masculinity: be a man!”

    Wha…?

  50. aiwac – my error – “Just Jewish would mean they identify with the Jewish people but through institutions of the past.” should have read: “not through institutions of the past” (i was in a hurry and didn’t proof read – my bad).

    i was commenting on your statement of: “Ah. Well, the problem is that a very large proportion of Jews in the states are indeed not affiliated at all or “just Jewish” whatever that means.”

    when i mentioned “not want to assimilate” i was relating to the people themselves (not about the percentages that intermarry – that is a separate issue). they are not ashamed of their jewishness nor do they hide it like in the 1950s or 1960s (think gentleman’s agreement – another great movie). they affiliate jewishly differently than in the past – they eschew institutions. i also believe sometimes they fall into the category of reform (but not affiliated with any of those institutions) because many associate reform with not being religious at all and not having any beliefs (this is just my opinion). i believe the demographics bear that out over the last 10-15 years. there are others on the site that know the numbers far better than i.

  51. Ruvie,

    Look, no-one would be happier than me if that were the case. However, from the study IH gave us, at least, it is not just a lack of institutions that characterize non-afilliated Jews, but a far more distant feeling of connection on multiple levels – to Israel to Judaism and to raising their kids Jewishly. (Since the non-affiliated intermarriage rate among Just Jews is around 70%, I assume a loose correlation between them)

    It’s very American (esp. post-1960s American) to stress the individuality of people and hold institutions as cumbersome at best and intrusive at worst. Yet from what I’ve seen, including in the link I showed and the study IH brought, affiliation (O, C or R) with a community with institutions and fellow Jews is very, very important for maintaining Jewish identity. Just Jews abandon this anchor at their peril.

  52. aiwac – Bottom line – affiliation with O, C or R and enrolling in their institutions is a proven way (according to the studies) to maintain Jewishness. Those who opt out and become “just Jewish” may still wish to retain attachments, but nowhere near as much as those who are afiliated.

    don’t disagree – but the old system is broken and welcome to the new world. new methods are needed to reach the unaffiliated. and its not thru the old institutions.

    people equated Jewish identity with measures of traditional Jewish observance and affiliation with the organized Jewish community. these categories (of years past to an immigration mentality) in today’s reality is of limited use. in america, people pick and choose how to create their own jewish identity.

    see tzvi blachard’s How to Think About Being Jewish in the Twenty-First Century: a New Model of Jewish Identity Construction
    http://www.bjpa.org/publications/details.cfm?PublicationID=1205

  53. ” the idea that people’s personalities — their attitudes, preferences, mannerisms, emotional attachments, etc. — develop in their formative years and forever connect them to that culture of their youth. For me and many fellow Jews that means that we have Judaism in our kishkes, integrated into our personalities. I find that a compelling reason to affiliate Jewishly — I am Jewish to my very core.”

    From where I stand, this is the one observation that renders all others on this thread — or any other of similar content — almost risibly irrelevant.

    Only those who haven’t yet absorbed the full force of this reality will find themselves in need of further ‘explanation’.

  54. Like it or not, RAYHK and the CI both used the term Tinok Shenisba not in a derisive manner, but as a halachic term that was useful to explain the changes in the Jewish community and how a Torah observant Jew should relate to not yet observant Jews. IMO, that is very similar to RYBS’s use of Klapei Pnim and Klapei Chutz. As far as affiliation with either heterodox Jewish groups is concerned, IMO, a simple question should be asked-, to paraphrase a query propounded by the Ponevezher Rav ZL, how well do such groups maintain members for the following generations?

  55. Peter Fischer

    With all due respect to the author of this article but Noble Prize instead of correctly Nobel Prize is unacceptable. Remember his name was Alfred Nobel!

  56. I am sure that I am not the only reader who has read more than one heterodox or secular Jewish study or article that discusses “Jewish continuity” but which studiously avoid discussing the essence of the same-a committment to living a life rooted in Torah, Avodah and Gmilus Chasadim. Far too many articles and studies discount or don’t view a life committed to the same as feasible simply for no reason other than the ideological basis of the author.

  57. Ruvie-I read R Blanchard’s article. It is interesting sociology, but hardly IMO a strategy for anyone who views Kiruv or Chizuk as serious business.

  58. steve b – it doesn’t have to be all or none and the jewish institutions don’t understand that. its america not the shtetl. it silly to believe that kiruv really works – the numbers say we loose as much or more than we gain and remain the minority of the jewish people. its not the answer in educating jews about their heritage and the meaning(as well as commandments) of being part of the jewish people.

  59. Ruvie wrote:

    “it silly to believe that kiruv really works – the numbers say we loose as much or more than we gain and remain the minority of the jewish people. its not the answer in educating jews about their heritage and the meaning(as well as commandments) of being part of the jewish people.”

    How easily we dismiss so many Mitzvos of the Torah. Moreover-whose numbers are you using in saying that Kiruv woes not work? Once again, we see a MO raising his antipathy to “the best means of educating jews about their heritage and the meaning(as well as commandments) of being part of the jewish people”

  60. steve b. – use anyone’s numbers. i was speaking in general and am not antipathetic to kiruv (actually i have many bts for shabbat/yom tov meals over the years). kiruv does not reach many people in general and our heritage is too important for only those willing to do mitzvot. it should be taught to all that are part of the jewish community in a non kiruv way as well.

  61. ruvie,

    Maybe a better way of looking at ‘kiruv’ is not viewing it through the prism of whether or not it makes people completely frum, but whether or not it is ‘mekarev’ them to any and all aspects of Judaism and Jewish life. If we go by that yardstick, I’d say that kiruv tends to be pretty successful.

  62. Aiwac – what’s the data? By your definition birthright or any education of our Jewish heritage is kiruv. I do not think steve b. Or anyone else will agree with that definition. I think educating Jews about their common heritage and culture is important whether they become religious or not but I have no idea if what you alluded has been successful as well as when and where.

  63. Ruvie,

    I was arguing that we should change the definition.

  64. Ruvie-I think that IMO you are viewing Kiruv from the admittedly heavily Charedi oriented Kiruv programs in Israel. At Beyond BT, I have argued that there is a wide variety of Kiruv programs ranging from NJOP and NCSY to Aish and beyond simply because of the adage of “different strokes for different folks.” I would divide these programs between judgmental and non-judgmental with respect to their goals and orientations. It is IMO a tragedy that except for NJOP and NCSY that MO has essentially yielded the responsibility for Kiruv to the Charedi world and failed to present the perspective that one can be a committed Ben or Bas Torah in the most profound sense of those abused terms and have a college education and profession

  65. steve b – i am viewing all kiruv including njop and ncsy and agree that we may not do enough in the mo community ( i have no idea why you think my lens was through charedei kiruv in israel – no knowledge of that). do you have any stats on what percentage is chabad/charedei/mo? just curious. but outside the major 3 cities its only chabad (my assumption). but how many do we reach in total vs how many have no knowledge of their heritage but may be willing to learn about it without the demand of being religious? shouldn’t we try – or have an obligation – to educate all jews about our heritage regardless if they plan to keep the mitzvot?

    btw, i wonder how many jews become frum via their local synagogue? i am sure many here (at least me ) know of many families (children usually first)from their youth that became more religious without ncsy or other kiruv organizations but through their local rabbi and day school. i wonder if the numbers are meaningful.

  66. Ruvie-thanks for the clarification-in many cities and college campuses, Chabad is the O presence. In some cities, you will also encounter community kollelim. See R D Adam Ferziger’s article on community kollelim. I think that most, if not all, kiruv programs in the US are predicated on whetting a participant’s appetite for knowledge about Judaism and helping the person move forward-if they so choose-based on Shabbos meals, shiruim geared to participants’ interests and backgrounds, etc.I don’t think that there are any real numbers in the sense that you are seeking, but it is no secret that some communities in the US such as Passaic are absolutely loaded with BTs. The OU has many officers and directors who are NCSY alumni. In KGH, we have no shortage of BTs whose initial exposure to Torah observance was via NCSY.
    Most local shuls,rabbanim and day schools work hand in hand with NCSY, so I can’t vouch for the numbers of successful BTs who were reached thru a local rabbi or day school.

  67. Ruvie-Jewish education IMO means a Torah rooted and based program of the same with both formal and informal content. Based on my own experience as an NCSY alumnus, IOW, a Shabbos meal with a family plus shiurim or chavrusa style learning rooted in what a participant is interested in on a gradual basis strike me IMO as infinitely superior to a program that demands that one immediately become observant. I use the analogy of learning how to swim-one first must become accustomed to walking in the shallow water before one takes lessons in becoming fully acclimated and swimming on one’s own.

  68. Steven,

    Let me put it to you this way: Let’s say a large proportion of people who participate in kiruv programs don’t become frum, but nevertheless commit to the following:

    1. Marrying in.

    2. Doing some of the Mitzvot, whether bein adam lamakom or lachaveiro.

    3. Sending their kid(s) to a Jewish school, maybe even a day school.

    Would you consider that a success (because I would)?

  69. Aiwac-I would answer emphatically yes-because all of the above are major statements of one’s positive affiliation with Torah and Mitzvos , and which can serve as a basis or platform for becoming a Shomer Torah UMitzvos, regardless of any hashkafic label.

  70. Aiwac and Ruvie-For a long time, at Beyond BT and elsewhere, I have maintained that kiruv is a highly individualistic step by step, mitzvah by mitzvah process, as opposed to some sort of process whereby Torah is marketed like toothpaste.

  71. Aiwac and Ruvie-If you would have told me when I attended my first NCSY Shabbaton that I would have children who not only attended day schools, were Shomer Torah UMItzvos , who attended seminaries and then Touro and SCW, I would have told you that I was certainly interested in being a Torah observant Jew, but I that I had no idea where my explorations in observance were going to lead me. Contrary to both the sociologists and the kiruv stories that you may have read from time to time-each BT’s story is highly individualistic in nature.

  72. “Aiwac and Ruvie”

    What are we, a comedy team? 🙂

  73. why is it so hard to see all the comments? Particularly, it is nice to see the beginning of the comments, without having to click further and further back to get to the start. a quirk in an otherwise well organized blog.
    tuvia

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