Haterz Gonna Hate

Standard

Not how I would have phrased it but I’ll embrace the message nonetheless. There is an over-representation of an anti-outreach, anti-orthodox population that didn’t exist in my mind last month and are now my nearest and dearest. They’re like a cute grumpy old man that you just want to hug. I’ll dub them “Uncle Leo” (if you missed that reference- no biggie). In my last post I took all their complaints and questions and boiled them down to two “core issues”. Here’s my post if you missed that:

https://thiswaytoeden.wordpress.com/2013/12/25/playing-defense-in-a-war-that-need-not-exist/

Any-who, apparently this was not what they wanted at all. I want to summarize some points of theirs and responses of mine for posterity.

Let’s break it down. Here are Bec’s points (I call her ‘Bec’ now because we’re just tight like that):

She Asks:  I have no problem with people coming to orthodoxy by their own volition. The problem I have is when people are willfully misled by kiruv workers who teach that the all-encompassing cozy blanket is “just Judaism.” It is not “just Judaism.” It is specifically an Ashkenazi brand of orthodox Judaism.””

I Answer: Rebecca makes an interesting point. The Torah – written and oral law was given thousands of years ago. In the early 19th century, the reform movement was created and as a reaction to that, in around 1850, the conservative movement began. Most non-orthodox practicing Jews are practicing a relatively new form of Judaism that doesn’t match up with the authentic tradition given over in 2448. That original version of Judaism is “just Judaism”. I am absolutely pointing Sephardi Jews towards experts in Sephardi customs and Sephardi groups. I have no intention of dictating customs. There is, however, a basic list of expectations Jews observe and then beyond that minimal set of laws- it’s up to the person how they want to practice. I always tell my students to be true to themselves (they should also be true to Judaism). Side-note: “Willfully misled”? Isn’t that an oxymoron?

She Asks: If Ms. Eden’s children were to decide that they no longer believed that orthodox Judaism was the way to go, and instead, opted to live as Humanist Jews, would Ms. Eden be as accommodating to their needs as she expects non-orthodox parents should be to the needs of their BT children? Let’s assume that her children are simply following their own path in Judaism. Would she “commend [her] own parenting efforts because, after all, [she] taught them the importance of being Jewish which led to this self-discovery?

I Answer: Another nice point, Bec. The above image “Just Be You” is me being facetious. I’m not typically one of those facebook posters who paste a cliche into their status bar. If you are, no judgement- sometimes I even enjoy reading them. If my children, God forbid, decided to live as “humanist Jews” that wouldn’t be self-expression. Let me explain. I believe God created the Torah as a guide to living for all Jews in every generation. Just like when my husband and I married, we created an understood exchange of expectations (ex/ we come home every evening, know for the most part each other’s whereabouts, pool our money together, are faithful to one another, etc). My children also know I have expectations of them (speak respectfully, eat health food usually, clean up after playtime). God created expectations for our benefit – and our benefit alone. Hashem doesn’t need us to do this stuff- this stuff is how we keep spiritually healthy. After we do everything we need to do to keep spiritually healthy, we can start to consider self-discovery, creativity, more spiritual outlets. But there’s a minimum standard as I said before. I’m happy to accommodate my children as long as they’re being healthy. If there are parents who think practicing a Torah-observant life is unhealthy, I’d like to hear why please.

She Asks: Within the last post, I also posted claims made by another (anonymous) person in kiruv which seem to contradict your claims. “AM” (“Anonymous Mekarev”) states that:

1. It is the firm position of Halachic Judaism that all Jews have a responsibility to influence others to the realization that there is a creator of the world and that there is a correct code of conduct for human beings in general and Jews (as His reps to the world) in particular.

2. We are to do this by any peaceful means including persuasion because we are held responsible for others’ actions and welfare to the amount that we can influence them for the better. We have a moral obligation to educate people about this code of conduct who – through no fault of their own – do not yet understand what is incumbent upon them being born as Jews.

I Answer: Firstly, I’m one of those annoying people that don’t enjoy reading anonymous posts. I just don’t see why a person gets to state an opinion and not stand behind it proudly. That said, I’ll oblige since Bec and I now go way back.

  1. I never considered kiruv a responsibility though maybe that’s bad. I feel really fortunate to have investigated Judaism at a time in my life when I could create a home and family on the basis of my conclusions. I feel fortunate to be born into a religious with a built in infrastructure for how to live life to its fullest and grow every day. I feel so fortunate that it seems wrong not to share what I benefit so much from with others.
  2. I don’t agree with Anonymous’ point here at all. “We are to do this by any peaceful means”? “We are held responsible for others’ actions”? No and no. There are boundaries. There are lines. There are no-nos. Anonymous needs to back up what s/he is accusing – a dangerous accusation- with some evidence and there’s not a shred of it. My husband and I would never manipulate anyone or pressure someone to be a frum Jew. Before our desire to educate people about Judaism is our obligation to be upright people. Anonymous sounds like a rabble rouser and I’m suspicious of this person’s credibility.

She Comments: While yes, there are key issues within the blog as a whole, it was my understanding that we were actually discussing specific points we were each making within the body of discussion.

I React: If there are specific points to address, I’m game. However, my guess is there are a couple underlying themes that once we identify we can cut right to the chase. For example, now that I’ve had so many interactions with your readership I now have the hunch that these anti-kiruv people are actually anti-orthodox.

She Comments: I’m also really curious to know about these “outrageous comments and points that are too ridiculous and off-the-wall to address.”

I React: One example is when you paralleled my work in Jewish outreach with rape. For starters.

She Comments: I’ve also asked a lot of other questions within the latest post.

I React: Can you please re-post in case I’ve answered them here?

tumblr (2185) Animated Gif on Giphy

If they have anything else to add, I am still here and honored to play poster-child for the kiruv world. Ask away. Angry messages in my inbox? Fill ‘er up. I gotta be me. And Haterz Gonna Hate.

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26 responses »

  1. The haterz gonna hate tag is cute. It’s a kiruv thing, right? You don’t actually listen to that kind of music do you ? Just wondering if the students you are exposing to Orthodoxy know that they can’t listen to this kind of music if they adopt the Torah values you promote. Actually, I’m wondering how you would be familiar with music that talks about “players”?

    • Hi Autumn, thank you! Haterz gonna hate isn’t a kiruv thing- it’s a pop/urban culture thing. I don’t listen to pop, rap, etc – that’s correct. I absolutely tell my students (brag to my students!) that I don’t listen to soul and psychologically damaging music (which is what I consider most rap to be) – though it does have a catchy beat! I hate to break this to you but most religious people are familiar with this lingo even those in the more insulated communities. This type of slang permeates into most corners of the USA, religious communities (perhaps sadly?) included.

      • It’s a way of connecting to the students you are trying to reach but in my opinion is a bit of a false front. You are presenting a “cool” image so that they feel they can relate to you- but the image is a sham. You don’t relate to pop culture or rap music or any other music, (possibly Jewish music), and not only do you not relate to it you consider those who do spiritually or psychologically damaged? You speak and act differently than when you are on your “home turf” in your own orthodox community. And yes, people do this in different parts of life, but you are using their culture to entice them into yours- where they will have to abandon their culture….. Do you see why this feels dishonest?

      • I didn’t title this to attract my students to my uber cool image- I don’t need ebonics for them to know how cool I am 🙂 The title was for me -and anyone who’d appreciate my humor- just an ironic title to bring a little levity to a heavy topic. Not some agenda wrapped in dishonesty. Sorry to disappoint! 😉

  2. You paraphrase this person. You say “She says this”. But you don’t link to what her original writing so we can tell. This is both cowardly and dishonest. Until you correct these flaws nothing you say can be trusted, and you bring Judaism and Torah into disrepute.

      • I’m actually being gentler than an academic journal or newspaper editor would be. If a position is worth defending it should be able to withstand the existence of contrary points of view. Hiding them is at best unprofessional. At worst it fatally undermines one’s position. I have every confidence that thiswaytoeden can make a good case for her views in an honest, professional manner.

      • Actually, this isn’t the first time Ms. Eden has left out identifying information that would give her readers access to the words to which she’s responding. She has consistently left out the name of the blog she’s quoting and the full name of the blogger she’s quoting.

      • This is true- I don’t insert your last name or a link to your blog though it would be all too easy for any reader worth his/her salt to scroll down to the comments section to find out. If you ever want to start blog about your life or almost anything (instead of trying to a halt an incredible movement), I’ll gladly help you spread the good word.

      • @ Todd, do you write for an academic journal or edit a newspaper? This blog and article are about one person’s search for a meaningful life for herself. She has not published it in a journal or a newspaper, and, I’m sure, was not expecting this kind of attack on what she wrote. So, how about just chilling out a little bit.

  3. “I’m happy to accommodate my children as long as they’re being healthy. If there are parents who think practicing a Torah-observant life is unhealthy, I’d like to hear why please.”
    Actually, it is you who are saying that being a Humanist or otherwise not Orthodox Jew is unhealthy

    • Let’s be very clear. What I’m saying is that the Torah’s boundaries set forth are for the health of every Jewish person. There are many Orthodox Jews and Humanist Jews who are unhealthy. I’m not commenting about that. What I AM saying is that observing the mitzvot is in the best interest of all Jews.

  4. Hey Rachel, I consider it really disrespectful of you to not link to the blog you are attacking. So I am going to donate a post to Bec thrashing NCSY for their continued deceptive behavior – something I haven’t done in years — because of this disrespect. And to teach you there is sometimes a cost for such behavior.

    You have a couple of days to link to Rachel’s blog to avoid escalation.

    • Thank you for your comment. You have every right to support Rebecca’s blog just as I have every right to not support it by sharing. Just for the record, I was attacked and have been defending myself- not the other way around.

      • Michele, David’s comment is very off-putting especially when he threatens to escalate matters. Given that I don’t know David- I also don’t know what he’s capable of or how vicious his intent is.

        That said, I want you to know I didn’t accidentally leave out her link in my original articles. I purposely did. I have many friends and connections who aren’t religious and the anti-kiruv blog Rebecca created can bias a person who doesn’t know the other side well.

        I do “approve” comments from people who post links to her site because I don’t want to censor.

  5. Rachel, the comments that you are getting on this blog are so nasty and full of venom. Have you thought about shutting down this discussion due to all the rudeness? A productive discussion with people respecting one another is okay, but this is really taking it to another level. Have you considered closing some of these articles to further discussion or deleting rude posts?

    • Agreed. I’m not fond of deleting posts- even rude ones- because the upside is others get to see others’ intense negativity. The point of this particular debate was to find some kind of common ground and connection and I decided to make my most recent article my last in debating Rebecca. Oh well. It was fun while it lasted.

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