Volume 23 Number 03
                       Produced: Wed Jan 31  0:46:16 1996

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Kollel (4)
         [Aaron Gross, Schwartz Adam, Elozor Preil, Alan Cooper]
         [Meir Shinnar]
Responses to Charedi and Dati
         [Carl Sherer]


From: <aaron.g@...> (Aaron Gross)
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 1996 21:57:20 -0800
Subject: Re: Kollel

Zale L. Newman <ce125@...> wrote:
>Perhaps the whole kollel issue can be solved as follows:
>We look at the issue as if we are supporting those who are taking from
>the community and are contributing nothing in return. It is as if we are
>giving and they are receiving.
>Perhaps we can solve the situation by having the kollel student agree to
>spend one year in service to the Jewish community (chinuch, kashrus,
>etc.) for every year that they get paid to sit and learn.
>Thus WE are now receiving as the kollel students will be building our
>community's religious infrastucture,teaching our children, building our
>eruvim etc. Thus in effect We will be receiving far more than what we
>are giving.
>Personally, I concur with this approach. One who gets from the community
>should be willing to give back to the community.

I like the idea, but... I have some questions.

This may present some serious political problems.  A community whose eruv 
(or other communal element) relies upon a card-house of halachic leniencies 
may not particularly appreciate the more stringent standards that kollel 
rabbis might insist upon.  (Would a member of a kollel participate in the
upkeep of an eruv he does not hold by?  Would the community then withhold 
funding from a kollel whose members refuse to maintain the eruv?)

There may be other areas of building the religious infrastructure that are
not so frought with politics as an eruv.

Another point... wouldn't the additional years of community service also
need to be paid for, thereby doubling the community's contribution to
the recipient?  The proposed community service should probably not be
looked at as a cost-saving measure.  Worthwhile, definitely, but not a
cost-saving measure.

Finally, looking at a practical scenario, let's say someone spends the
ages of 20-28 in a kollel.  As you propose, the person would be
obligated to the community until he is 36.  If he got an offer, at the
age of 30, in another community that would greatly benefit his family,
the proposal would effectively prevent him from pursuing that
opportunity, and he would be required to maintain a kollel-level
standard-of-living well into his most productive years.  I don't think
this is the aim of your proposal.

Perhaps, to prevent a community from abusing the situation, and
artificially underpaying its kollel-graduates, it would have to match
any legitimate competing offer or release them from their obligations.

   Aaron D. Gross     <aaron.g@...>  

From: Schwartz Adam <adams@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 10:46:35 +0200
Subject: Re: Kollel

Zale L. Newman <ce125@...> wrote
>Perhaps we can solve the situation by having the kollel student agree to
>spend one year in service to the Jewish community (chinuch, kashrus,
>etc.) for every year that they get paid to sit and learn.

This is the system that has always been employed by Yeshivat Mevasseret
Zion, known by the acronymn "Meretz".  (no relation to the political

Meretz mainly caters to people who have completed Hesder (or that 6th
year), or the 10 year yeshiva & army program that's associated with
Merkaz Harav Kook. The students are, by contract, required to spend as
much time doing religious community service as they spent learning in
the yeshiva.  The service primarily consists of outreach to uneducated
and unobservant communities in Israel although people have been sent to
S. America and the CIS.  They are 'officially' allowed to learn for a
maximum of 4 years but I've heard that this is routinely extended.  I
have no first hand knowledge of their 'success' rates, however you want
to measure that, but many Meretz graduates stay on at their posts well
beyond the time required of them.

I think Meretz has been around for ~15 years.  I'm sure there are many
others like it.  If anyone knows of the other yeshivot by name, please
post them to the list.


From: <EMPreil@...> (Elozor Preil)
Date: Tue, 30 Jan 1996 00:48:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Kollel

I agree with your approach that ideally Kollel fellows should actively
contribute through teaching to the Jewish community.  I would just like
to point out that in a meta-physical sense Kollel men ARE contributing
to the welfare of their communities and to Klal Yisrael simply by virtue
of the Torah they are learning.  Tis is the justification for Yeshiva
exemptions to the Israeli army - the concept that yeshiva bachurim are
indeed "serving" their nation through the Torah they are learning.  I
remember when I was in Kol Torah at the time of the Yom Kippur War, the
entire Yeshiva was called back into session immediately after Simchas
Torah (one week earlier than scheduled) because all "soldiers" (and
please, I on no way mean to dishonor Tzahal or Hesder) must serve
without breaks during wartime.

Elozor Preil

From: Alan Cooper <amcooper@...>
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 06:29:53 -0800
Subject: Kollel

Zale L. Newman writes:
>It is interesting to note that the Kollel Avreichim in Toronto which
>claims to be the first "community kollel" in the world, is now marketing
>itself to potential donors as the organization that prepares the future
>Rabbis, teachers etc. for the Toronto community. They understand that
>donors which to know that they are receiving something in return for
>their tzedaka "investment".
>Personally, I concur with this approach. One who gets from the community
>should be willing to give back to the community.

I have followed the discussion of kollel support with great interest,
since I work for an institution (not a kollel) that is supported by the
Jewish community and continually struggles to maintain its base of
support, and because a new kollel has just opened where I live.  This
kollel has presented itself in precisely the manner Zale describes, and
at least at this stage, its members seem to be genuinely concerned with
community involvement and outreach.  That attitude, in turn, appears to
be helping the kollel to overcome some local suspicion about the nature
of the enterprise.

Zale's concluding statement seems unexceptionable as a generalization; I
use it myself to appeal to donors not to shift their giving from Jewish
institutions of higher learning to the "Jewish Studies" programs of
secular universities.  But one must be careful about applying it
unequivocally.  Self-interest and the profit motive should not be the
community's *only reasons for supporting learning (wherever it takes
place--not just in the kollel).  Ask the many scientists who contribute
to this list what happens when the only research that gets funded is the
kind that is likely to yield bankable results.  What do you do with a
baqi with a shy demeanor, or one lacking the necessary interpersonal and
communication skills to serve as a congregational rabbi or teacher?
Force him to serve as a mashgiach in order to "give back to the
community," or be content to let him sit and learn?  The question is not
merely rhetorical, because I know that the community's resources are
limited, and that priorities have to be set. Whatever the pragmatics of
the situation may be, however, we should not lose sight of the absolute
value of pure learning.

With good wishes,  Alan Cooper


From: <meir_shinnar@...> (Meir Shinnar)
Date: Mon, 29 Jan 96 09:34:54 EST
Subject: Kollelim

Zale L. Newman wrote
>Perhaps we can solve the situation by having the kollel student agree to
>spend one year in service to the Jewish community (chinuch, kashrus,
>etc.) for every year that they get paid to sit and learn.

There are two major problems with this solution.  The first is that
there are far more kollel students than there are positions available.
I am told that there is a fierce competition now to get a position as a
rebbe in a day school.  To the extent that going to kollel has become
the norm in the haredi community, there isn't enough work out there.

The second problem is that a major problem in Jewish education has been
that many teachers have gone into education by accident.  The criteria
by which we judge the learning of a kollel bahur is far different than
the criteria needed for whether he would be a good teacher. However,
after finishing kollel, the only thing many felt qualified for was
hinuch, regardless of any aptitude or training in educating children.
We are now finally starting to have people who have specifically trained
for hinuch, rather than gone into it as the only option available.
Going back into viewing dayschools as an employment agency for kollel
bahurim would be a disservice to the community.  Furthermore, the part
time commitment envisaged is also not good for creating a quality day

>It is interesting to note that the Kollel Avreichim in Toronto which
>claims to be the first "community kollel" in the world, is now marketing
>itself to potential donors as the organization that prepares the future
>Rabbis, teachers etc. for the Toronto community.

I am glad that at least one kollel is realizing that the Zevulun
Yissachar drasha is not enough to justify the continuation of the
kollelim, rather, that their role is the creation of future leaders and
servants of the community.  To the extent that elite kollels help create
the next generation of morei horaah, and other kollelim help to create
the teachers and community leaders, we can get to a more rational and
halakhic basis for supporting a far more limited number of kollelim.  In
Europe, at the height of the yeshiva movement, they would never have
dreamed of the type of system currently in place.

Unfortunately, the major basis of most kollelim is, as Esther Posen puts it
>one chooses a social system, despite its imperfections, because one
>thinks its benefits outweigh its drawbacks.  The benefit of the kollel
>system is that its members by and large learn!  

It is precisely the view that one's personal benefit of being in a Torah
environment and learning justifies community support that so many of us,
as well as the Rambam but also most classical poskim, find
objectionable.  I suspect that few members of most kollelim would eat a
hashgacha that relied on the type of heterim needed to justify support
of the current kollel system.

Meir Shinnar


From: <sherer@...> (Carl Sherer)
Date: Tue, 23 Jan 96 7:55:25 IST
Subject: Re: Responses to Charedi and Dati

Another poster writes:
> furthermore, what jobs are being discussed.  most American
> blacks don't even have a high school diploma, can not write a decent
> sentence, have no knowledge of geography or high school mathematics, and
> no real computer training.  Do you know of blacks who want to do road
> work and pick oranges?  How many of them have a high school diploma or
> equivilency for English?  

I've edited the above paragraph to say American blacks instead of
Israeli charedim because I think that the analogy is a valid one in the
sense of a group which is distinguished by its appearance being
stereotyped as being uneducated, uninterested in being employed, etc.
Has the poster done a survey? On what basis does he make his scientific
assertions that Charedim can't put together a sentence (assuming that
the poster was not born in Israel my guess is that they can write better
sentences than either he or I could in Hebrew and I practice law here).
And since when is fluency in English a job requirement in Israel? And
how many Israelis are fluent in English (note - I said "are fluent" not
"think they are fluent" :-). How much geography does the average lawyer
have to know? How much high school mathematics does the average lawyer
have to know? In both cases next to none, which is exactly the point -
different people in the job market require different skills and to say
that Charedim as a class have *none* of those skills strikes me as
overbroad at best and malicious prejudice at worst.

> Furthermore, in the specific case in Israel, you
> obligate charedi religious Jews to support institutions many of which they 
> feel foster promiscuity and atheism, due you think that this fosters 
> understanding between the two camps? 

Again I have turned the poster's words around (he spoke of forcing
anti-religious Jews to support institutions which foster draft dodging -
I also added the words "many of which" so as to minimize steretyping),
but my reversal makes clear that the same arguments go both ways.  The
fact is that for better or for worse nearly every institution in Israel
is in one way or another on the government dole.  And if the Kibbutzim
are to be supported (to the tune of eight *billion* shekels over the
last three years, not counting gifts of real estate) then why shouldn't
those who study in Yeshivot be supported? Do they pay any less taxes?
Funny, last time I went to the grocery no one asked me if I was dati or
charedi before they tacked 17% VAT onto my bill.  My employer didn't ask
my religious affiliations before deducting income tax, health tax and
mational insurance from my last paycheck.  So why shouldn't the
institutions "we" believe in be entitled to the same support as the
institutions that "they" believe in.

Then the poster writes:

> I understand the morality of the dati- mizrachi arguement and sense of
> outrage, not the chareidi one).  

Since when did Sinas Chinam (free hate) become a "moral" position? And
beyond that, what makes the poster think that the datiim (or for that
matter the charedim) who serve in the army are viewed any differently by
secular Israelis than those who don't? From comments I've heard there is
just as much resentment among chilonim for the Hesder boys (who do about
a year and a half of army service sandwiched between three and a half
years of learning) as there is for the charedim who don't do the army at
all.  Not to mention all the dati women who don't do the army.  What
makes the poster think that we have anything to gain by being "outraged"
at each other? This was exactly the point of my first post - a lot more
unites us than divides us and IMHO it's high time we started placing the
stress on what brings us together.  If the Israelis can't or won't do
it, maybe the olim should.

-- Carl Sherer
	Adina and Carl Sherer
		You can reach us both at:
                        NEW ADDRESS: <sherer@...>


End of Volume 23 Issue 3