Volume 55 Number 45
                    Produced: Sun Aug 19  9:35:50 EDT 2007

Subjects Discussed In This Issue: 

         [Perets Mett]
Hebrew Proficiency of US Yeshiva High School Graduates
         [Harlan Braude]
Hebrew Proficiency of US Yeshiva High School Graduates.
         [Batya Medad]
lying for peace
         [Ari Trachtenberg]
New Square
         [Perets Mett]
Orthodox don't contribute (2)
         [Bernard Raab, Meir Shinnar]
Uploaded New Learn Hebrew Video to YouTube and TeacherTube
         [Jacob Richman]
Using someone else's property
         [Bernard Raab]
         [Perets Mett]
Yerushalmi and Ashkenaz
         [Jonathan Baker]


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:07:07 +0100
Subject: Re: Assimilation

Leah Aharoni wrote:

> I have met American students who after 12 years of yeshiva and a year
> of seminary in Israel are not proficient enough in Hebrew to order a
> pizza!

In what way am I lesser Jew if I do not know how to order a pizza in  

(Not to mention that the word pizza isn't Hebrew anyway!)

Perets Mett


From: Harlan Braude <hbraude@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 17:30:39 -0400
Subject: Re: Hebrew Proficiency of US Yeshiva High School Graduates

Carl wrote:
> Regarding Pizza, words like "mushroom", "eggplant" or "pepperoni" (?)
> may not appear too often in their lemudei Kodesh.  Similarly, if they

I've been stumbling my way through the Mishnayos Kilayim and found that
- even with the assistance of the English Kahati - I've had a tough time
deciphering even some of the translated names of plants.

Oratch? Lupine? Lotes? Rue?

I ended up buying a book on Botany with photos to help me along. 

From: Batya Medad <ybmedad@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 11:36:04 +0300
Subject: Re: Hebrew Proficiency of US Yeshiva High School Graduates.

To be pragmatic, anecdotal reports are probably the most accurate.
We've met many graduates of the North American day school system, from
all over.  Most aren't comfortable with conversational Hebrew and don't
have the skills needed to do minimal shopping and small talk.  The few
who do have the knowledge, either because they visited Hebrew-speaking
relatives while they were growing up or they were just determined to be
conversant in Hebrew.  Only the rarest of rare Jewish schools make it a
required aim of their curriculum.

My NY Public School high school Spanish, with fewer years and teaching
hours, equipped me, who is not talented in learning foreign languages,
with sufficient skills to converse in that language by the time I

But most horrifying is that the one-year programs for day school
graduates don't expect the students to "know Hebrew,"* teaching them in
English from translated sifrei kodesh.  And I recently spoke to someone
in the administration of Stern College, and today's top level Religious
studies classes are taught in English.  Fluent Hebrew is not a

*by this I mean being sufficiently fluent to understand Hebrew texts,
 with just the backup of a Hebrew-English dictionary.



From: Ari Trachtenberg <trachten@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 14:58:54 -0400
Subject: lying for peace

There is a well-known phrase in the Mishna Brura (156:4), "mipnei shalom
mutar l'shanot" [purposefully untranslated due to ambiguity], which is
used to justify "white lies" for the sake of peace.

1.  Can anyone explain to me how this justification proceeds, since the
plain text does not seem to support this directly.

2.  How is this reconciled with the Biblical injuction "mid'var sheker
tirhak" (Sh'mot 23:7) [from a statement of falsehood should you distance


Ari Trachtenberg,                                      Boston University
http://people.bu.edu/trachten                    mailto:<trachten@...>


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 18:18:48 +0100
Subject: Re: New Square

Bernie R wrote:

> Of course, when an entire community is built as an Orthodox community
> from the start, such as New Square in Orange County, New York, these
> problems do not arise, (although a different set of problems do). New
> Square is a community of Satmar chasidim, and I am not aware of a
> modern orthodox community that has achieved anything similar, outside
> of Israel, that is, although some come close.

Just to note that New Square is a community of **Skverer** (or Squarer)
chasidim, and they are about to develop a second community as New Square
has run out of space for expansion.

Perets Mett


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 00:47:40 -0400
Subject: RE: Orthodox don't contribute

From: Anonymous
>I live in a fairly densely Orthodox suburb of New York City.  I have a
>neighbor (not Jewish) who was on the local Board of Ed for over 10
>years.  She reiterated to me time and time again that they would love to
>have Orthodox kids in the schools (though she fully appreciates why that
>does not happen and why it will never happen).  The problem for our
>town, and for at least some other heavily Orthodox communities, is that
>the local school districts serve communities with a wide socioeconomic
>base, and in general the Orthodox Jews are not moving into the
>economically depressed areas.  Rather, they are taking a larger and
>larger slice out of the middle and upper middle class areas, and so the
>entire school demographic can shift literally within a generation and
>the entire character of the school can change very quickly.

I am grateful to Anonymous for explaining how public school demographics
are negatively effected by a large orthodox influx. In such communities
we may have a condition under which a new paradigm might be enabled;
namely, the mixed public/private school day. In this model, students
would attend the public school for a half day and the private school for
the other half. In a school district such as the one Anonymous
describes, the school board should be willing to adjust the curriculum
to accomodate the needs of those who wish to leave somewhat early, such
as before the lunch break. This would then allow time for a true
Yeshiva-level curriculum in the afternoon.

I fully realize that this may appear to be a return to the justifiably
discredited after-school cheder school model. Certainly, for those who
can afford a full-day private school, this is probably still preferable.
But considering the crushing financial burdens put on many families,
especially large families, or those who would otherwise choose to have
larger families, shouldn't this be a model worthy of reinvention on a
much-improved basis? Rather than turning to synagogue schools, as in
years past, we now B"H have well-developed yeshivot in most orthodox
communities which understand and can deliver this curriculum without

The yeshivot can be expected to oppose this idea, but that would be a
serious mistake. Just as Hollywood discovered that television did not
destroy their industry, as many predicted that it would, but rather
enlarged it enormously, so will the yeshivot benefit from a much
enlarged demographic. In addition to the financially stressed orthodox
families, I believe that there are many other families who would welcome
a serious Jewish studies program for their children in the pre-college
years, but who find the tuition completely unthinkable, or who fear a
de-emphasized secular curriculum, or who otherwise shy away from the
full orthodox committment. These children are now mostly unserved and
are pretty much lost to Jewish life. The Birthright program of free
trips to Israel for such young people is usually a last-ditch attempt to
rescue them Jewishly. The fact that that program has experienced some
success is testimony to the desparately unserved need.

I know that many orthodox families will fear the influx of
less-committed families into the schools, and the possible corrosive
effects of the "wrong influiences", both in the public school and in the
yeshiva. Of course this is a legitimate concern, but should only serve
to strengthen the influence of the home, which is paramount in any case.

 Can it work?--Bernie R.

From: <chidekel@...> (Meir Shinnar)
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 01:39:11 +0000
Subject: Orthodox don't contribute

Frequently, one of the unstated implications of saying that the Orthodox
don't contribute is racial.  In a town with a significant minority
population, if a significant part of the white community is Orthodox -
and doesn't send their kids to school - it will impact on the racial
balance of the school - sometimes leading to majority minority school -
making it less attractive to non Orthodox whites - leading to a cycle of
even greater effect on the racial balance.  Increasing Orthodox has, in
some ways, the same effect on the schools as white flight (albeit for
different reasons).

Now, this is not a very pretty thing to say, and here the Orthodox
community is not guilty of racism - but the critics are, and it is
easier to just blame the Orthodox for a decline in the schools - because
publicly stating the real issue would be (properly) viewed as racist.

Meir Shinnar


From: Jacob Richman <jrichman@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 03:05:59 +0300
Subject: Uploaded New Learn Hebrew Video to YouTube and TeacherTube

Hi Everyone!

I just uploaded a new Learn Hebrew video to YouTube and
TeacherTube. The topic of the new video is Human Body Vocabulary

The YouTube address is:

The TeacherTube address is:

The list of previous uploaded videos is located at:

Enjoy the video and have a good day.


From: Bernard Raab <beraab@...>
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2007 01:38:30 -0400
Subject: RE: Using someone else's property

>From: Elazar M. Teitz
>There is an exception regarding using an object for a mitzvah, where the
>object will not suffer damage from use, because the halacha presumes
>that one is happy to have a mitzvah performed with his possession.

Can we conclude, then, that the use of the left-behind batting helmet
(the question that started this discussion) would be permitted as a
matter of mitzvah (pikuach nefesh), since the person who left it behind
can be presumed to want it to be used to prevent injury to another

--Bernie R.


From: Perets Mett <p.mett@...>
Date: Thu, 16 Aug 2007 17:52:13 +0100
Subject: uveshokhbekho

> or maybe uveshokhbekha but certainly not uveshakhbekha.

Martin Stern (in response to a previous contributor) wrote:

> This type of a sheva after a shuruk arising from a vav hachibbur is a
> matter of dispute among the ba'alei dikduk. Obviously Artscroll
> changed its mind at some stage and adopted the opinion of the G'ra.

Even among those who follow the GRO (that an initial shuruk is followed
by a shevo noch) there is a widespread and longstanding tradition that
the first shvo of uveshokhbekho is a shevo no. (Sorry but I do not have
the reference to hand.)

Perets Mett


From: Jonathan Baker <jjbaker@...>
Date: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 19:04:32 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: Yerushalmi and Ashkenaz

From: Alan Rubin <alan@...>

> I have just been to the Sacred Texts Exhibition at the British Library.

> "From the Palestinian tradition of Jewish worship came the Ashkenazi 
> rite used in Western and Eastern Europe and Russia. From the Babylonian 
> tradition came the Sephardi rite followed in Spain, Portugal, North 
> Africa, and the Middle East. Both rites, as well as some others, are 
> still practised in Orthodox Jewish communities worldwide."

> Is this true?

Yes.  The main idea, according to the late Irving Agus and Israel M.
Ta-Shma, is that Jews came out of Eretz Yisrael in the Roman period,
moved to Italy, and from there over the Alps to the Rhineland, and then
southward and eastward from there.  According to Dr. Sara Reguer, this
is pretty much common knowledge among Jewish Studies people.

So the Babylonian prayer rite, became the Sephardi and Edot Hamizrach
rites of today, while the Eretz Yisrael rite, became the Ashkenazi rite
of today.  Now, there has been a lot of cross-pollination, sometimes
unconscious as populations move, sometimes conscious as in adapting the
kavvanot (mystical intentions) of the Ari, so people used the Ari's
prayer text, which is a sort of mix of both (this is what Chasidim use
today, more or less).  Also, most of the main elements are the same
between both rites, because they were already set in the time of the
Talmud, before the Eastern (Bavel) and Western (Israel) populations
diverged in custom.

These differences also emerge in other areas of psak, e.g. kashrut.
Ashkenazim tend to be stricter about meat-milk and other mixtures,
Sephardim are stricter on examining the lungs for evidence of illness.

The original Eretz Yisrael rite died out in the 12th or 13th century, as
the Crusades forced the local Jewish population either to convert or
flee to the East, where they absorbed the local customs.  Evidence about
its nature, and its real ancestry to the Ashkenazi rite, has been found
in the Cairo Geniza documents, since a lot of EY travelers left stuff
there.  Some hints are also found in the Minor Tractates, especially
Tractate Soferim, which were composed in the 4th-8th centuries in Eretz

A post of mine on the differences between East and West in the Retzei
prayer, for example:


There are other survivals of Old Eretz Yisrael Rite in Ashkenazi prayer,
e.g. the paragraph before Magen Avot on Friday night, reflects the old
EY first paragraph of the Amidah "...koneh shamayim vaaretz".

        name: jon baker              web: http://www.panix.com/~jjbaker
     address: <jjbaker@...>     blog: http://thanbook.blogspot.com


End of Volume 55 Issue 45