I read Gary Rosenblatt’s interesting column on [the grassroots group] PORAT (“Giving Voice To Inclusive Orthodoxy,” March 11), but I found one line particularly disturbing.
“Since then,” it read, “Modern Orthodoxy has in many ways moved further to the religious right, in part driven by young people who return from a post-high school gap year or two of yeshiva/seminary study in Israel with a more rigorous commitment to ritual observance and to strict separation of the sexes, influenced by the religious teachings of their rebbes in Israel.”
Since when does being Modern Orthodox (a term I do not like) mean scorning rigorous commitment to ritual? The definition of Orthodoxy of any type is a strict commitment to halacha and ritual. Reasonable people can argue about the interpretation of halacha but a lack of rigorous commitment, in my opinion, puts one beyond the pale.
Additionally, I find Rosenblatt’s observation that coming to Israel has made kids go “farther right” (a term I like even less) somewhere between befuddling and amusing. Later in the piece he points out that YU rabbis are against the same trend of what he referred to as “Open Orthodoxy.” They, of course, are in America.
The root of the move “right” is different.
Kids who come from America after high school are so poorly versed in Jewish learning and Hebrew language that they go to American yeshivas that happen to be located in Israel. Those places are mostly staffed by charedi Americans who moved to Israel. In the Israeli institutions such as the Gush, Maale Adumim, Shaalvim and others, there is more “open” (a term I also dislike) thinking, or, as I prefer to call it, a nuanced approach to complexity. These places are increasingly shunned by American kids because they are ill equipped educationally to go there. These “Artscroll kids” have so few Jewish learning tools that they are easily influenced and have no tools to question and challenge.