Volume 27 Number 35
                      Produced: Tue Dec 23  0:42:35 1997

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

Criteria for success in kiruv
         [Daniel Israel]
Differentiating characteristics of Judaism
         [Meylekh Viswanath]
Gerei l'chumra and mumarim
         [Aryeh Meir]
         [Seth Kadish]
         [Jordan Hirsch]
Purposes and Goals of Kiruv (v27 #27 )
         [Neil Parks]
         [Gershon Klavan]


From: Daniel Israel <daniel@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 21:58:31 -0700
Subject: Re: Criteria for success in kiruv

I'd like to comment on Rise Goldstein's (<GOLDSTN@...>) post:
> NOTE: I am not in any way trying to assert that we should ever
> _discourage_ someone from taking on more mitzvot.  However, using that
> as the sole criterion for success, when other facets of these
> individuals' lives may be going seriously wrong, and when they are
> unlikely ever to make a fully successful adjustment into the observant
> world given the things that are going wrong, may be rather
> short-sighted.

While I would never actively discourage someone from taking on more
mitzvos, I would suggest that there are times when it is appropriate to
encourage someone to slow down.  I would much rather see a person take
several years and become a deeply believing, educated, thinking frum
Jew, than a couple months to become the caricture of a shallow quickie

Unfortunately, I think there are many (though certainly not all) kiruv
programs aimed at transforming people from secular to Yeshivish in six
months.  This boot camp approach, IMHO, can produce people who appear
Yeshivish, but have affected only a surface change.  In addition to
having the unresolved personal problems that Rise mentions, they may
have to little understanding of what they are doing.  This can lead (at
one extreme) to an intolerance of others, and even harsh criticism of
people they see as mistaken, even when they themselves are the ones who
are mistaken.  And, at the other extreme, it leads to people who's faith
is based on shallow arguements leaving Yiddishkeit again to the next
persons shallow arguement.

Daniel M. Israel
University of Arizona		
Tucson, AZ			


From: Meylekh Viswanath <viswanat@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 15:09:42
Subject: Re: Differentiating characteristics of Judaism

In Vol. 27 #33, Russell Hendel says:

> And indeed, it is Talmud Torah -- the learning of the law...the
>perception that the reciting of regulations is Divine service... that
>distinguishes Judaism from other religions and other cultures.

That is, only Judaism treats 'the reciting of regulations' and the
'learning of the law' as divine service.  I don't think this is true.  I
would go further and hypothesize that any religion where oral traditions
are important will have a prominent place for 'the learning of the law.'
However, to refute Russell's point, I don't need to go so far.  I will
just cite the case of Hinduism, where Vedic recitation, and other kinds
of recitations are 'mitsves.'

Unless somebody is a comparative scholar, I think blanket statements re
other religions/cultures are unwarranted.

Meylekh Viswanath
P.V. Viswanath     Voice: (914) 773-3906  Fax: (914) 773-3920
Lubin School of Business, Pace University, 861 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville,
NY 10570
Email: MAILTO:<viswanat@...>         WWW: http://library.pace.edu/~viswanat


From: Aryeh Meir <ameir@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 15:53:58 -0800
Subject: re: Gerei l'chumra and mumarim

Recently I heard a couple of stories from a 'friend of friend'.

The person had chosen to undergo tvila before a beit din to remove all
questions regarding his jewishness.  I gather his status is one of ger
l'chumra.  His grandmother was Jewish but had intermarried and her daughter
had converted to Christianity and had married a Christian.  He didn't know
for the longest time that he was halahkly Jewish but since has found out
and become a hozer b'tshuva.

Is this ger l'chumra ceremony common?

What is the status of children whose mothers have converted.  Are they
mumarim as are their parents?  

Sources would be helpful in regard to the above.


From: Seth Kadish <skadish@...>
Date: Mon, 08 Dec 1997 18:07:46 +0200
Subject: Kiruv

I would like to provide an Israeli spin on the kiruv discussion.  The
unanimous responses I have read assert that, yes, any small move towards
Torah and avodat Hashem is a success in and of itself.  I have always
thought the same myself.  Most people in western countries involved with
kiruv feel the same way.  But in Israel, to my dismay, I have found that
less tolerant approaches are very influential.

I've come to the conclusion that, at least in Israel, the phenomenon of
"Hozrim bitshuva" (that's the Hebrew term used instead of "baal teshuva
movement") is a form of success that masks an even greater failure.
Because while thousands of Israelis are becoming more religious in
perceptible ways, millions are, at the very same time, becoming more and
more turned off imperceptibly.  Often they are turned off by the very
"teshuva" efforts applauded in the religious community.

For instance: Last year I taught Tanakh at a secular high school in
Netanya.  A ninth grade girl told me how her brother was becoming
religious.  He listens to tapes made by a well-known rav, a teshuva
activist; much of the tapes' content is, quite literally, that those who
don't try to keep all the mitzvot will burn in gehinnom.  She asked me:
"Why do the rabbanim want to terrify people?"  No amount of explanation
from my side can erase the negative impact of something like that tape.
So let's say her brother really does keep the mitzvot for the rest of
his life.  Still, what is the more significant impact -- his religious
lifestyle, or the hillul Hashem towards his sister and others?  (This is
public Hillul Hashem, because these tapes have been on the news, too.)

Another example: The following leaflet was distributed in a Netanya
synagogue where many of the members are not fully observant: "Daughter
of Israel!  Do not envy those girls who walk in the street in immodest
clothing.  Because God loves the modest Bat Yisrael; and those who are
immodest He hates HATES H-A-T-E-S!"  (No, I didn't make this up.  I kept
a copy in a folder.  The point is that many Israeli efforts calling
themselves "kiruv rehokim" are really "rihuk kerovim".)

Another example: Religious women stood outside the entrance of the
(secular) high school handing out teshuva literature.  I thought they
should leave.  On the one hand, maybe they will influence kids.  But on
the other hand, parents consider this "soul-snatching", and the anger
they display in response will never bring them closer to Torah.
Similarly: In Karmiel, instead of putting their tefillin stand in the
center of town, Habad put it directly in front of the entance to one of
the city's secular high schools.  Is this a kiruv "success" for the kids
they DO reach, or a failure for all the people (especially parents and
teachers) they risk turning off?

My experience in a secular Israeli high school taught me one thing:
There is very little opposition to Torah and religion per se among
Israeli (secular) youth.  There is certainly much ignorance and apathy,
but next to no negativity.  There is even quite a bit of interest in
Judaism, much more so than among average American Jews.  But on the
other hand, there is a tremendous aversion to percieved and real
coersion, and to the various forms of hillul Hashem that Israelis are
exposed to on the news on an almost daily basis.  (Whether or not the
Israeli press is biased against the religious public is not the point.
What is important is that we ourselves provide the material that becomes
hillul Hashem.)  It is a terrible feeling to know that while there are
many hozrim bitshuva in Israel, the religious community manages to push
away far more people than it pulls in.

I now teach in a very fine religious high school.  But the shock of a
certain discovery about Israel's educational system still hasn't worn
off of me: How many westerners know that the official policy of state
religious education in Israel is NOT to admit students from
less-than-observant homes, even if they specifically want a religious
school?  In American day schools, the opposite is taken for granted.
This fact is yet another example of how in Israel an "all or nothing"
approach is often taken that would be frowned upon in America.

Not everything about American Orthodox Judaism is perfect, but I think
this is one area where it has a lot to contribute to Israel.  Israel
imports quite a few things from America, both good and bad.  Importing
the American approach to kiruv that people have been writing about would
be a very welcome contribution.

Seth Kadish
Karmiel, Israel


From: Jordan Hirsch <TROMBAEDU@...>
Date: Tue, 9 Dec 1997 02:43:52 EST
Subject: Re: Outreach

<< s very different than my own. i too have been involved in kiruv for
 many years, and with ncsy since i myself was in 7th grade. (about 20
 years ago) the attitudes i saw and eventually modeled myself were/are
 very much in keeping with the discussions here.  >>

I dont pretend to speak for every NCSY advisor. In fact, I dont pretend
to speak for many NCSY advisors. All I'm saying is that the kind of
attitude that concerns me is more likely to show up in an organization
like NCSY, which employs younger, less well trained staff. I dont mean
to impugn the reputation of NCSY. Those on this list who know me know I
am a product of NCSY. However, that attitude of which I spoke has been
witnessed by me on a number of occasions in the context of NCSY, whether
at a public event, where kids are described as successes or failures,
depending on how frum they ended up, or in staff meetings, where the
same topic is discussed in much greater detail.  Binyomin, with all
respect, you may think that your discussion of going all the way as
opposed to being touched refutes what I say, but my point is a little
more all encompassing. I'm not sure I'm comfortable with framing the
discussion in those terms at all. Going all the way is measured
differently for every kid. It is theologically incorrect for us to
assume that we know what constitutes success or failure in the world of
Torah. As I said before, it is our job to present Torah learning and its
message as honestly as possible. As for results, I'll leave it to God to
 As far as the recent NCSY poll, I too saw the results. I must say that
as much as I love NCSY, I think that the poll results to which you
referred can not be taken seriously by anybody with any polling
experience whatsoever. It is pure fundraising publicity on the part of
the OU. The numbers were so incomplete that it is very difficult to draw
the conclusion that NCSY drew. That doesnt mean that what they asserted
isn't true, just that it would seem that the poll cannot back up that
claim. Truth is, I have even heard this view expressed by people within
the organization.


From: Neil Parks <nparks@...>
Date: Tue, 2 Dec 97 09:31:28 EDT
Subject: Purposes and Goals of Kiruv (v27 #27 )

>From: Anonymous
>My wife (a certified Tzedaikis -- putting up with me is probably more
>than enough for full certification) was Mekariv four women about a dozen
>years ago.  They were college students at Bryn Mawr, a prestigious and
>rather non-Jewish place.  These women had weak, if any ties to
>Yiddishkite.  Today, B"H, all four are married two Jews -- two wear
>Shietel's and are "black hatters" so to speak, two (along with their
>husbands) are active members of Conservative Congregations, keep kosher
>-- but are not, quite frankly, Shomre Shabbos.  My wife maintains a
>mother-daughter relationship with these women -- all four of them, and
>we are blessed with 8 ayniklach.
>Is this success, or is this failure?
>If we meet someone who we can lift up (only) a few steps, but most
>likely not more, what should we do?

You should do exactly what you did--lift them as high as you can.

Two of your friends who "had weak, if any ties to Yiddishkite" are now
frum.  Two others in the same situation are "active members" of their
congregations, they married Jews, and they keep kosher.

Do we wish that the two who are Conservative and not Shomre Shabbos
would become Orthodox?  Yes.  But have you "failed" because they haven't
yet reached that level?  No.

Because of the efforts of you and your wife, they are much closer to
that goal now than they would otherwise have been.

That sounds like major success to me.

All of us should be baalei tshuvah, always striving each year to reach a
higher level than we were on last year.  But we don't necessarily do it
all at once.  We do it step by step, and each time we reach a higher
level than we were on before, we should count that as a success and not
a failure.

...This msg brought to you by NEIL PARKS      Beachwood, Ohio
 mailto:<nparks@...>       http://www.en.com/users/neparks/


From: Gershon Klavan <klavan@...>
Date: Mon, 8 Dec 1997 12:38:49 -0500 (EST)
Subject: Shidduchim

Recently, Rav Welcher of Cong. Ahavas Yisrael of Kew Garden Hills devoted
his entire Shabbat morning drasha to the topic of the obligation of the
community to help arrainge shidduchim.  He found it quite disturbing that
there seemed to be such a lack of effort to help out in a community with
such a large concentration of singles - especially where people aren't
known 3 blocks away from where they live.  As such he suggested (nay,
commanded) that everyone has an obligation to introduce at least 3 sets of
people each year.  His basic argument was that too often people tend to
fear that they will be held responsible for anything that may occur, and
thus withdraw from helping.  His rejoinder to that was that he knows B"H
many fine happily married couples where many people refused to make the
shidduch because "they couldn't see it."

Admittedly, this approach may over trivialize the issue somewhat,(cf. the
number of postings recently about checking up, etc...)  it is
still quite encouraging to hear that the issue is finally beginning to
become recognized and publicized. 

A big Yasher Koach to all those out there who actively involve themselves
with the needs of the singles in their midst.

Gershon & Deena Klavan


End of Volume 27 Issue 35