Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Going, going, gone.

This comment was posted on UOJ's website:

UOJ, could you please elaborate on your purpose for citing Milton Friedman?

I am doing research on many issues, including the reasons that many Jews, especially the best and brightest among us, have given up Orthodox Judaism.

It is a fascinating challenge for me. I want to get deep down to the reasons that over 40% of Orthodox Jews, raised Orthodox, went to yeshivas, in the last 50 years have given it up.

These people, like Friedman and Kissinger, were not "teens at risk".

To lose a man to secularism, the caliber of Milton Friedman, is daunting. I am in contact with his family to learn more.

I am highly interested in what most people don't even think about.

1:57 PM, June 13, 2007

Now, I knew, and many of us either know personally or have heard the adage that "every orthodoxy family" has had one of their children leave orthodoxy (and many of these, if not most, leave Judaism altogether - it's true) but I was extremely surprised to see the 40% figure above.

I've been quiet lately about the rabbinate - Failed Messiah and UOJ and others are covering all the scandals and news about rulings, and there hasn't been much lately specifically about women's issues or the "who is a Jew" issue and jobs vs. forbidding jobs and whatnot. So I was somewhat lacksidaisical about the news lately, and was taken aback to read this.

40%? Almost half?

If that's the case, they've been hiding it well. If so many individuals were walking away, the gossip would be flying. It's a bit harder, but not impossible by any means, for the rabbi of the shul to cover it up. But if a family moves away from a community, everyone presumes they moved to another orthodox community.

But some don't. :) In fact, a lot don't if this figure is true.

There has been more talk about "youths at risk" lately, that's true. But in orthodoxy, if someone walks away, the rabbis say that they are apostate and no one else should associate with them, even their families. Many families are happy to obey, and some are ambivilant, and some don't like it but obey anyway.

And, apparently, some decide to jeopardize the halachic status of the whole family by following the "apostate" their new location.

Now, the rabbis consider these people to be "lost" to frumkeit, because often they move to non-Jewish areas, even areas without Mikvehs and Kosher Markets and other Necessities Of Life. They consider them to be Jewish no longer, in many cases. BT's who return to their "old" sect are also no doubt counted in this figure, as "lost" Jews.

(The truth is, many cheredi don't consider ethnic Jews of ANY other sect to be "Jewish." Many BT's who are sure their family has been Jewish all along are "encouraged" to have orthodox conversions because great-great-great grandma whomever "might" have been not halachically Jewish. After all, those Reform and Conservative and Non-Affiliated are so lax and all that....say the Rabbis.)

So when I see that 40% figure I have to wonder how many of those people really walked away from Judaism, vs. just walking away from Cheredi or Orthodox Judaism.

That makes a big difference.

For the sake of arguement, if 40% of all the kids who are born frum walk away, then technically ultra/cheredi/orthodox Judaism can, still, claim to be the fastest or only "growing" branch of Judaism due to birthrate and the very high assimilation/intermarriage rate of other sects.

So don't expect the Rabbis to be trumpeting from the rooftops that they have an attrition problem, because they will certainly not admit that. No, they have bet the farm, so to speak, on claiming to be the only true, fulfilling, spiritual and halachically correct form of Judaism in which everyone finds spiritually completeness.

So a 40% attrition rate is a bit embarrassing for them, to say the least. If they can't even keep their own youth frum, lass, how do they expect secularly educated Jews to buy it?

So a coverup seems very logical and reasonable and likely, once you think about it.

40%. My, my.

Well, don't think this is going to cause the Rabbis to have any change of heart about what "real" Judaism is or "who is a Jew." Not going to happen. They'd rather see "Judaism" vanish from the earth entirely than admit being wrong about anything.

So sad. Can't we just all get along?

1 comment:

Pierre Sogol said...

a bit belated, but one of the sources for the roughly-40% figure;