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Is There an Orthodox War Against Modern Orthodoxy?

Reading Flipping Out? Myth or Fact: The Impact of the "Year in Israel”

June 30, 2008

by Professor Shaul Magid

Indiana University/ Bloomington

 

Modern Orthodoxy is arguably one of the great success stories of American Jewry in the past forty years. Although it dominated American Orthodoxy before the Second World War, the arrival of haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Holocaust survivors coupled with less stringent traditional Jews who migrated toward Conservative Judaism because of its ideology of Americanization after the war resulted in a decline of Modern Orthodoxy in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. In the wake of Identity Politics in the late 1960’s and 1970’s, the mainstreaming of multiculturalism, the Baal Teshuva movement and its own strong program of outreach, Modern Orthodoxy made a comeback.1 Its day-schools flourished as did its summer camps, youth movement (NCSY) and it seemed Modern Orthodoxy had survived the onslaught of its haredi challengers and the defections of its more liberal constituency.

 

Given that success, it is still the case that the two most influential branches of Orthodoxy in America today come from the haredi camp: American Habad and ArtScroll. The former is an articulation of Hasidic Judaism and the later an articulation of the Mussar movement. Yet even given the prowess of these two giant corporations (and they are, in many ways, corporations) it seemed there was sufficient space for Modern Orthodoxy to continue flourishing in the tolerant and multicultural landscape of late twentieth-century America.

 

I argue here that the ostensible symbiosis between American Modern Orthodoxy and its more right-wing (both religious and political) cousins in Israel and the US is beginning to crack. I base my argument on a recent book entitled Flipping Out? Myth or Fact: The Impact of the “Year in Israel” authored by Shalom Z. Berger, Daniel Jacobson, and Chaim I. Waxman (New York: Yashar Press, 2007). As a frame for my analysis, I begin with two other recent instances where this fissure is evident.

 

As is well-known, one of the more vexing issues in Israeli Orthodox politics is the question of “who is a Jew?” It is vexing for many reasons, one of which has to do with the ritual of conversion. David ben Gurion made a pact with the religious parties in the first Knesset that if they would join his coalition he would grant them exclusive rights to marriage, divorce, and control over conversion. For Ben Gurion this was an easy bargain. First, he didn’t think Orthodox Jews, especially ultra-Orthodox Jews, would attain much power in the secular Jewish state of Israel. Alternatively, he assumed many would become secularized through the state. Second, there was either sufficient sentimentality toward tradition or an utter disdain of it among new Israelis that Orthodox sovereignty in these matters would not matter. Remember, there was no non-Orthodox Judaism in the nascent state of Israel to contest Orthodoxy hegemony on matters of religion. Secular Israelis that rejected Judaism wanted the Judaism they rejected to be Orthodox.

 

Until recently the Orthodox Rabbinate, which has become increasingly haredi, has accepted Modern Orthodox conversions from the Diaspora while rejecting out-of-hand non-Orthodox conversions. While the acceptance of non-Orthodox conversion in Israel, if performed outside Israel, is now a matter for the Israel Supreme Court (largely due to the growing influence of non-Orthodox Judaism in Israel) there is also a crack in the reflexive acceptance of American Modern Orthodox conversions in Israel. The Israeli Rabbinate is seeking to extend its control over conversion to American Modern Orthodox courts, demanding that the Modern Orthodox RCA (Rabbinical Counsel of America) set up formal “conversion courts” that would first need to be sanctioned by the Israeli Rabbinate. One proposal would even require American Modern Orthodox rabbis who would be on these courts to undergo a course in Israel run by the Israeli Rabbinate.2

 

This put the RCA in a difficult position. On the one hand, its commitment to Zionism and respect for the Israeli Rabbinate (and their desire to be accepted by them) inclined them to work with the Rabbinate to accommodate their demands. On the other hand, the very notion that the official Rabbinate of Israel would question and subsequently demand oversight over Modern Orthodoxy’s own “halakhic” standards was understandably offensive.3 Finally, Modern Orthodoxy invested much energy in demonstrating how they are different (that is, more legitimate) than non-Orthodox Judaism in America (in particular, Conservative Judaism) supporting the Rabbinate’s de-legitimization of Conservative conversions. Although not accused of being illegitimate like Conservative Judaism, the Rabbinate’s demands exhibits distrust in Modern Orthodoxy’s halakhic standards. Recently, the RCA issued a strong response claiming that the Israeli Rabbinate’s de-legitimating some Modern Orthodox conversions was “beyond the pale of accepted halakhic practice” and “a desecration of God’s name.” To reject the official Israeli rabbinic establishment’s demands seemed awkward (given Modern Orthodoxy’s Zionist commitments) but to accept such a criticism would exhibit a failure of its own autonomy and halakhic legitimacy.

 

The second part of the frame of this essay involves one fairly influential haredi rabbi in Monsey, New York named Leib Tropper. Aside from running Yeshivat Kol Yaakov, a Baal Teshuva yeshiva in Monsey, Rabbi Tropper runs an institute called Eternal Jewish Family that is devoted to the conversion of spouses of intermarried couples.4 Recently, he made the news because he revoked a conversion that he made himself, rendering the woman in question not, or no longer, Jewish which included de-Judaizing her children and making her marriage to an Orthodox Jew “Jewishly” invalid.5 The reason Rabbi Trooper gave for this odd decision was that the woman had converted in bad faith because she did not maintain standards of observance she agreed to at her conversion. What sins had she committed? According to the essay by Shmaraya Rosenberg and David Kesley “Ultra-Orthodox Rabbis Reversing Conversion by the Fistful”6 she wore pants and, when leaving the Jewish neighborhood where she lived, she sometimes uncovered her hair. In other words, she embraced one popular form of Modern Orthodoxy. This Modern Orthodox lifestyle was apparently enough for Rabbi Tropper to rescind her conversion, the conversion of her children, and render her marriage invalid. While Rabbi Tropper is not a part of the Israeli rabbinic establishment (although he is very well-connected and respected in haredi circles in Israel) I contend his decision is a piece with the Israeli Rabbinate’s attempt to control the Modern Orthodox courts.  Both serve as examples of what might be called a war of attrition against Modern Orthodoxy by a haredi Judaism flexing its muscles in the US and in Israel. Having found a safe place in American Orthodoxy, having survived the challenge from Conservative Judaism in the 1950’s and 1960’s, Modern Orthodoxy may be under a new attack from a another formidable foe, a re-energized haredi Judaism. This brings me to Shalom Z. Berger, Daniel Jacobson and Chaim I. Waxman’s book Flipping out? Myth or Fact: The Impact of the “Year in Israel".

 

Israel looms large in the ideology of American Modern Orthodoxy. From its inception, Modern Orthodoxy was committed to Zionism, vociferously supported the establishment of a Jewish State before 1948 and continue to ardently support Israel today. In fact, studies show that Modern Orthodox Jews remain the strongest American Jewish advocates of Israel (often with a right-leaning in orientation).7

 

In part as a response to Zionism and in part due to Modern Orthodoxy’s concern about its ability to re-produce its complex and sometimes contradictory accommodating, but not compromising, religious lifestyle, it began sending its young men and women to study in Israel between high school and university.8 The reasons were, of course, varied, and the one year Israel programs initiated by Rabbi Zvi Tabory of the Jewish Agency in 1957started slowly. By the time we entered the twenty-first century, a high percentage of graduates of Modern Orthodox day schools spend at least a year in Israel studying in one of the many programs available.9 In fact this phenomenon has become a cottage industry in Israel. Roshei yeshiva tour the US annually speaking with parents and “drafting” high school seniors to their program. It is quite a competitive market. Many of the great yeshivot in Israel now have one-year programs for American men and women. In the 1970’s and early 1980’s most of the yeshivot that catered to American youth were Baale Teshuva yeshivot. With the waning of the Baal Teshuva movement in the 1990’s and the rise of the “Year in Israel” programs in Modern Orthodoxy, the American programs in Israeli yeshivot are now focused on a new constituency.10 

 

This phenomenon has produced much fruit for Modern Orthodoxy but has also produced significant tension. The Israeli yeshivot are generally not Modern Orthodox (at least not American Modern Orthodox). In fact, Modern Orthodoxy generally does not have “yeshivot” but day schools where the children participate in a dual curriculum of Torah study side-by-side with secular subjects.11 The very notion of a “yeshiva” is in some sense anathema to the Modern Orthodox integrative and accommodationalist perspective. In any case, the more “yeshivish” of the Israeli yeshivot often teach against integration and accommodation into secular society (even while remaining observant) and generally frown upon secular studies, including university.12 In part, this reflects the distinctive nature of Yeshiva Orthodoxy in Israel that never experienced the kind of enlightenment and subsequent accommodating nature of observant Judaism in a democratic society with religious freedom and almost no anti-Semitism. Thus, they often exhibit a basic mistrust of liberal secular values and view secular tolerance for religious practice with skepticism.

 

The more Zionist yeshivot often push aliyah (immigration to Israel) in subtle ways, planting in the impressionable and enthusiastic minds of their American students that they should re-consider their futures as “compromised” Jews living in America (i.e., golus or exile) and consider immigrating and spending their lives immersed in Torah and Erez Yisrael.13 Not dissimilar from the RCA’s anxiety about contesting the Israeli Rabbinate on the question of conversion, many Modern Orthodox parents are in a quandary about what to do when their children come home talking about aliyah, abandoning Columbia or Penn for Yeshiva University or Touro College, or taking on dietary stringencies (e.g. halav yisrael) that makes eating in their parent’s home a complicated matter. Remember, we are not talking about Baalei Tesuvah who come home and kasher their mother’s treif kitchen. The parents of these returnees are already Orthodox, that is, they live a life of halakhic observance that they take to be in accordance with Orthodox standards. Now they must contend with their children, in some way acting as surrogates for either “ultra-Zionist” or “Torah True” Orthodoxy (more on this below) who tell them they are not living fully halakhic lives. On the one hand, these parents want their children to take Judaism and Torah seriously and they want them to have a love for Israel and Erez Yisrael. Yet they are not sure if they want that at the expense of their children’s financial well-being and their children abandoning the American dream they worked so hard to provide for them.

 

Of late, some parents, like the RCA on conversion, are fighting back. This appears to be the background of Flipping Out?. Written by three well-known professional observers of American Orthodoxy Flipping Out? is a collection of essays; statistical, historical, sociological, and psychological about the ostensible fissure between the American Modern Orthodox parents, their children, and the yeshivot they send them to in Israel. Its audience is clearly the concerned and even agitated Modern Orthodox parents who, at least as implied in the book, are torn between their own religiosity, their own paths not chosen, and the welfare of their children. The books claims to occupy an objective perch but, as I will argue below, I believe it is also hiding a more subtle agenda, one that underscores the on-going battle for the mantel of Orthodoxy in America.

 

There are two main concerns Flipping Out? addresses: first, the question of American Modern Orthodoxy more generally and the impact the “Year in Israel” has on returnees and on Modern Orthodoxy. This includes the adaptation of a haredi life-style among at least some of these returnees. And second, the place of Israel as a life-choice (and not simply an ideal) for American Modern Orthodox young adults.

 

In a recent review of Flipping Out? Steve Brizel rightly notes that the returnees from the year of study in Israel greatly benefit American Modern Orthodoxy by strengthening Torah values in their communities.14 This sentiment filters through much of the book. However, as opposed to Brizel’s (and the book’s) positive rendering of this phenomenon I suggest there is a subliminal critical, and even subversive, edge at play. What appears to be expounded here is the need for a corrective to contemporary Modern Orthodoxy in America, a corrective that can be provided by these young men and women who become immersed in “non-Modern” Orthodoxy and then return to their “compromised” homes.15 Thus, instead of worrying about why my son or daughter will no longer eat “triangle K” (a particular kosher label that has come under some controversy) I should question why I eat foods with that label. In other words, contemporary Modern Orthodoxy has slid away from its own values and their children now come to hold a mirror to their faces. So when a reviewer like Mr. Brizel talks about these returnees strengthening “Torah values,” whose Torah values does he mean? While the study of Torah more generally is something “Torah True,” “Centrist” Orthodoxy and Modern Orthodoxy (in addition to non-Orthodox Judaisms) share, “values” is more complex terrain. Modern Orthodoxy, constructed in large part by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik – himself somewhat enigmatic – espoused a particular kind of symbiosis between Torah and secularism whereby Torah would enhance one’s appreciation for the secular and secular knowledge would play a role in understanding Torah. It is not at all clear that this is what these young men and women are bringing back from their year in Israel. Is it not, rather, a more maximalist vision of Torah that marginalizes, if not de-legitimizes, secularity? This would not be surprising as this does, to some degree, exemplify many of the yeshivot.16 The one exception is, at least in some of the ultra-Zionist yeshivot, the (secular) State of Israel. In any case, I found this book engaged in a subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) attempt to reverse the parent’s anxiety in two ways. First, by arguing that their sons and daughters have come to correct their own “corrupted” Orthodoxy. And second, by showing them that their children’s turn toward a more maximalist tradition, and away from their values, is subconsciously implanted in the very Orthodoxy they grew up with.

 

This last point deserves some attention. Modern Orthodoxy is a complex project. In many ways, it has elitist roots transplanted from the heady days of Weimer Germany when Eastern European Jews like Rabbi Soloveitchik discovered Kant and Kierkegaard which they combined, in their minds, with Talmud and the Jewish tradition.17 This is combined with a traditional Judaism fostered in an American society that respected (or, at least tolerated) diverse expressions of religiosity. There has been much written on the precarious yet exhilarating possibilities of maintaining the dialectic Modern Orthodoxy espouses but the question of how such an “ivory tower” understanding of Torah and Judaism would translate in the “Orthodox street” is another matter. Most Modern Orthodox Jews (like most Jews and Americans more generally) do not fashion themselves as intellectuals nor did many in a previous generation have opportunities even if they had such an inclination. Thus the Modern Orthodox dialectic holding modernity and tradition in such fragile tension often devolved into the more banal realm of Torah and popular culture (sports, music, fashion etc.) or, in the parental generation, Torah and the fast-paced and often a-moral world of urban American business and commerce. In some Orthodox synagogues Modern Orthodoxy is perhaps better described as Business Orthodoxy. This is meant more descriptively than critically – in fact I think it is part of Modern Orthodoxy’s success. Had Modern Orthodoxy retained the high intellectual standards set by Rabbi Soloveitchik it would still be with us but it would likely be much smaller. In any event, when ideological accommodation becomes practical compromise an insecurity sometimes sets in, a feeling of inadequacy and a gaze toward the more strident and less nuanced practitioners of tradition.

 

In Flipping Out? I suggest the author’s argue in various and often subtle ways that contemporary Modern Orthodox youth’s integration of a more strident religious life resulting from the year in Israel is, in fact, just as much an outgrowth of subliminal messages transmitted during childhood that reflect, in some sense, a deep ambivalence of Modern Orthodox more generally. This is to posit, in short, that while the Israeli yeshivot may have facilitated the changes that now concern some Modern Orthodox parents, the conditions were provided by Modern Orthodoxy itself.

 

Another important dimension of Flipping Out? is its attempt to “re-educate” American Modern Orthodox Jews about haredi Judaism arguing that contemporary haredi Judaism is actually more “modern” and accommodating than in the past. The obvious point here is to convince these parents to be more sympathetic to the haredization of their children, and perhaps American Modern Orthodoxy more generally, by de-bunking what the authors claim are misconceptions about contemporary haredi Judaism.18

 

The first step is to cite numerous statistics suggesting – contrary to conventional wisdom -  that contemporary Modern Orthodoxy follows a trajectory of assimilation similar to non-Orthodox Jews albeit at a much slower rate. For example, we read a 1990 NJPS survey stating that the intermarriage rate among children who were raised Orthodox “and had twelve or more years of day school education…was statistically insignificant.” But in a 2001 NJPS survey the intermarriage rate among the same population rose to five percent (192, 193). Chaim Waxman then suggests the conventional wisdom that Orthodox-raised Jews in America don’t intermarry is no longer true. More pointedly, he writes, “….what is surprising is that so many in the Orthodox community believed – and many still believe – that the behaviors and trends within American Orthodoxy are inherently different [than non-Orthodox Jews].” (193). While a five percent rate of exogamy is not alarming in absolute terms, for a community the prides itself on being categorically “different” than non-Orthodox Jewry in these matters, this at least shows a crack in the Modern Orthodox armor and may call for correction. The same essay notes the falling birth-rate among Modern Orthodox Jews and the “rate of defection from the Orthodox community” (194). What is implied here is that the dike of Modern Orthodoxy does not seem to be holding in the first decade of the twenty-first century and the increased religious observance and commitment to Torah exhibited by those returning from the year in Israel may provide the necessary corrective to a troubling trend. It may also illustrate haredi Judaism’s growing strength in America and Israel that may now be encroaching on the terrain of Modern Orthodox society.

 

Another part to this argument is exhibited via a claim that the haredim have become, or are becoming, closer to what Modern Orthodoxy intended to be. In fact, Waxman writes, “despite chumrazation, the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews in the United States hardly qualify as haredim according to the usual definition of the term.” (173). Many haredi youth attend college and many organizations in the haredi world (e.g. Agudat Israel and also Rabbi Tropper’s Eternal Jewish Family) have become more active in outreach and more engaged in the wider society. Responding to the fact that the haredim who do attend college do not do so to receive a solid western education but solely for the purposes of employment (“getting a good job”) Waxman cites data suggesting that most American youth today attend university for that reason. In fact, while the haredim have engaged more with the wider world Waxman suggests Modern Orthodoxy has become more insular. He does not tell us the underlying reasons for this counterintuitive observation but some possibilities can easily be suggested. Modern Orthodoxy’s turn to the “right” is surely complicated and due to many factors. One of these factors may be the realization of its own inability to stem the tide of attrition given the complex and precarious nature of its ideology combined with the shifting sands of a post-multiculturalist America.19 Haredim, on the other hand, live with a world-view much less complex in regard to secularism and thus they are better able to extend themselves to the outside world without the same fear of attrition among its ranks. Implied in all this is that Modern Orthodoxy needs to re-assess its own ability to maintain its values and the influence of haredism from those that spend a year in Israel may prove fruitful. The question is whether, in fact, the influence of haredi Judaism filtered through the one year programs is correcting Modern Orthodoxy or undermining it core ideology of constructive accommodation expressed through a healthy religious/secular symbiosis.

 

On the question of Israel, Zionism, and aliyah there is similar argumentation. On the one hand, the authors all argue that Zionist ideology is taught in Modern Orthodox day schools (e.g. pp. 52, 53, 147-150) and the ultra-Zionist yeshivot in Israel are simply confirming what these students already were taught to believe. It is true that the ultra-Zionist yeshivot do not readily accept the compromised notion of being a Zionist in the Diaspora. For many of these Zionist maximalists immigration is a condition for “living” as opposed to simply “being” a Zionist. On the other hand, the authors provide data suggesting that most aliyah among Americans today is from the Orthodox camp (many of whom are not graduates of a year in Israel program) stemming from, among other things, Modern Orthodoxy’s economic success and an increasingly globalized economy.20 Hence, the Israeli yeshivot push for aliyah is not the sole – or even primary -  factor determining young Orthodox Jews moving to Israel.

 

One could go on as there is much rich material in these essays. In general, I think the book makes a compelling case; the question is, a case for what? Clearly it is defense of the one year programs and the Israeli yeshivot more generally. Yet it also a case for a much needed correction to Modern Orthodoxy, part of which can come through these youth who venture outside (to the “right”) and then return with a new sense of purpose and commitment to Torah. But this study may be part of a large phenomenon; the steady encroachment of ultra-Orthodox Judaism on Modern Orthodoxy in America, in this case through the (re) education of its young men and women. While the reasons may be understandable, the price may be high. “Torah values” is not a value-free term. Orthodox and non-Orthodox Judaisms in America claim to embrace “Torah values,” each having very different understandings of what that means. Is Modern Orthodoxy abandoning its principles by succumbing to the “Torah values” of a religious community that has a very different relationship to modernity, a crucial part of Modern Orthodoxy’s dialectical world-view? What are the long-term implications of the RCA agreeing to the demands of the Israeli Rabbinate on conversion? Can the new “Rabbinic Fellowship” alternative to the RCA conversion courts, part of Rabbi Avi Weiss’ “Open Orthodoxy,” grow in light of the on-going de-modernization of Modern Orthodoxy occurring in part through the one year Israel yeshiva programs? While there are no easy answers to these questions, Flipping Out? should become part of that larger conversation.

 

 

Shaul Magid is the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Religious Studies at Indiana University in Bloomington. He is the author of Hasidism on the Margin:  Reconciliation, Antinomianism, and Messianism in Izbica and Radzin Hasidism, (Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2004) and From Metaphysic to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation to Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala (Indiana University Press, 2008). He writes regularly for Tikkun Magazine and Zeek Magazine. This is his first contribution to The New Vilna Review. He is also the rabbi of the Fire Island Synagogue in Seaview, New York.

 


1 See Chaim Waxman, “American Modern Orthodoxy: Confronting Cultural Challenges,” Edah Journal 4-1 (2004).

2 See, for example, The Jerusalem Post, February 21, 2008 at http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull&cid=1203605147501.

3 This controversy has inspired two RCA members Rabbi Marc Angel and Rabbi Avi Weiss  to institute an alternative Modern Orthodox conversion court known as “Rabbinic Fellowship”. See, “Rabbis Form New Orthodox Organization,” The Forward, March 6, 2008 at http://www.forward.com/articles/12864/ . Most RCA members, however, seemed to “capitulate” (these are Rabbi Angel’s words) to the Israeli Rabbinate demands.

5 There was understandable outcry in the US and Israel about Rabbi Tropper’s move. Scholars of Jewish Law such as Professor Zvi Zohar claimed this was unprecedented and  Rabbi Yoel bin Nun, a respected halakhic authority and popular rabbi of the settlers wrote an essay “There is not Precedent in Halakha for Nullifying a Conversion,” [in Hebrew] Yediot Ahronot May 2, 2008.

6 This article appeared on the Jewcy website, May 14, 2008.

                7 See Steven M. Cohen and Ari Y. Kelman, The Continuity of Discontinuity:: How Young Jews are Connecting Creating, and Organizing Their own Jewish Lives at www.acpb.net.  Habad has a long and complex history with Zionism. The sixth Lubavitcher rebbe Joseph Isaac Schneersohn was adamantly anti-Zionist both in Europe and after this immigration to the US in 1940. His son-in-law and the seventh rebbe Menahem Mendel Schneersohn did not share his father-in-law’s vehement hatred of Zionism but it would be hard to label him a Zionist nonetheless. ArtScroll Judaism’s main American influence came from the leaders of the “Moetzet Gedolei ha-Torah” (The Council of Torah Sages), in particular rabbis Aaron and Shneur Kotler the roshei yeshiva of Lakewood Yeshiva, the largest Lithuanian-style yeshiva in the US. The Kotler’s were not Zionists either, not in principle nor in practice, and their teachers, for example, Rabbi Elhanon Wasserman, were mostly vocal anti-Zionists. See, for example. “Torah True Jews Against Zionism,” at http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/.  

8 On this phenomenon, see Tradition 32.4 (Summer, 1998).

9 The notion of a second year of study (known as Shan Bet) is becoming more and more popular and raises all kinds of practical issues because most universities will only allow a student to defer for one year. Therefore, many students who return to Israel for Shana Bet either have to re-apply to university or attend one of the Orthodox universities (YU, Stern, or Touro) who will give credit for yeshiva study during the second year.  In brief, see Flipping Out? pp. 61-77.

10 There are various yeshivot that began as Baal Teshuva yeshivot and have transformed themselves to yeshivot that now also cater to post- high school programs. For example, “Brovinders” or Yeshivat ha-Mivtar now located in Efrat, West Bank.

11 It is noteworthy that the Maimonides day-school in Brookline, MA founded by Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik, the architect of American Modern Orthodoxy, calls itself “Yeshivat Rambam” (as it is written in Hebrew in the entrance to the school alongside Maimonides in English) but it is not called by that name by most of the parents or students.

12 See, for example, Janet Aviad’s  Return to Judaism: Religious Renewal in Israel  (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985). Yeshivat Har Etzion was, until recently, led by Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein who holds a doctorate in English literature from Harvard. Gush is arguably the exception and not the rule in today’s more variegated market.

13 Whether the students choose to live in Israel or return to the Diaspora is not the basic point. The lasting affect of such an approach is a feeling of inadequacy and compromise for simply choosing to live where one was raised.

14 Steven Brizel, “Flipping Out?: A Review in Cross Currents, December 13, 2007 at www.cross-currents.com/archives/2007/12/13/flipping-out-a-review/. I want to thank Alan Nadler for bringing this to my attention.

15 Even the more “modern” of the Israeli yeshivot, for example, Gush Etzion, do not embrace the kind of Modern Orthodoxy of many of its American students. See, for example, Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein, “The Future of Centrist Orthodoxy,” in ??.

16 Thus I take issue with Menahem Friedman’s notion of an “Orthodox global village.” See, Flipping Out? p. 168 note 161. While I agree that there has been confluence between Modern Orthodoxy in America and Israeli Orthodoxy, the subtle differences are quite pronounced. And, in fact, these differences and the tension they are causing are precisely what inspired writing this book!

17 For two recent re-assessments of Modern Orthodoxy from very different periods, see Rabbi  Shlomo Riskin, “Where is Modern Orthodox life is at – and where is it going?,” Jewish Life, spring 1976, pp. 27-31; and Rabbi Avi Weiss, “Open Orthodoxy” A Modern Orthodox Rabbi’s creed,” Judaism 46-4, Fall 1997, pp. 409-421. Both are cited in Flipping Out? pp. 74 and 76.

18 For example, Flipping Out?, pp. 173-178.

19 For other reasons see Flipping Out? pp. 172. 173.

20 Waxman cites an interesting and, in my view, troubling, statistic that  at present thirty percent of olim (new immigrants) from the US has a family member who commutes to work in the US. See Dobi Tobina dn Chaim I. Waxman, “The Transatlantic Commuter: Living in Israel, Working in the States,” Jewish Action Winter 5766/2005, pp. 44-48.  http://www.ou.org/pdf/ja/5766/winter66/LivinginIsrael.pdf. This may be the beginning of the first “post” Zionist aliyah in that these families are not committed to being fully a part of the Zionist project. They want the benefits of living in Israel and the benefits of working in the Diaspora. They are consumer of Israeli society but are not part of the national work force. In some way this is the inverse of the Second Aliyah (1903-1914), pioneers who often gave up professional lives in Europe to become day laborers and build the Jewish state.

 

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