(cross-posted from Kosher Eucharist)

Aish ha-Torah has visited a great deal of torment and suffering upon the Jewish people. Their brooding, medieval, property-value-destroying monstrosity of a headquarters casts an oppressive shadow over the stones of the Western Wall plaza. Their campus representatives, armed with pocket dictionaries of American slang circa 1991 to appeal to the young generation, prowl the quads and halls of America’s universities attempting to sucker hungover sorority girls into “taking a little time off” in Israel (“Hey dudes and dudettes! You know what’s way mondo? Finals week – NOT!! But you know what seriously is radder than Jason Lee popping a wicked ollie? Yiddishkeit!”). Their apologists troll the Internet for posts like this one, bristling with indignation, stories of “non-judgmental” Shabbat dinners and “eye-opening” seminars, denouncements of the spiritual emptiness of secular Jewry, and glowing additions to the hagiography of Chief Operating Thetan Noah Weinberg. Their empty-eyed charges, recently arrived from America and England and freshly outfitted in ankle-length skirts and black velvet kippot, lurch Romero-like toward the Old City of Jerusalem, their former identities and desires gradually peeled away one Bible Code class and rappelling excursion with an “awesome” surfer-turned-rabbi at a time, their relationships with friends and family cast aside for their New BFF in the Sky.

But let’s put aside for a moment their cultish modus operandi, or their drive to transform promising young Western Jews into destitute American or Israeli Charedim supporting large families with the tax shekel of the filthy chilonim. Believe it or not, a much more appalling desecration of the history, religion and culture of the Jews is being perpetrated by Aish ha-Torah.

That desecration has a name. And it is Jewlarious.

It’s hard to avoid that cringe-worthy portmanteau lately, as its ads have seemingly popped up on every single major Jewish website, including this one. Jewlarious, you see, is the newest arrow in Aish’s quiver of kiruv tactics – if you can’t reel in the kids with Shabbat dinners and subsidized tours of Israel, might as well try with that most Jewish of attributes, a sense of humor.

But when it comes to humor, much akin to its parent organization when it comes to traditional Judaism, Jewlarious completely misses the point. Certainly, Jews are widely reputed to be among the funnier peoples of the world, with an absolutely ridiculous overrepresentation in the annals of classic American comedy (our only serious competition being that other put-upon minority, the blacks). Jewish comedy flows forth from two deep wells: a long history of persecution, and a perennial outsider status. The best Jewish humor stands up and and boldly laughs in the face of tragedy, oppression, blood and God himself. Naturally, however, this proud tradition of gallows humor does not provide the best medium for scouring out the brains of young, spiritually-seeking Jews. It’s hard to offer up curdlingly cynical Yiddish gems like, “If God lived on Earth, people would break his windows” when your organization is investing its energy in promoting the fiction that before the Jews arrived in the trayfeh medina, everybody lived a blissful existence of Charedi piety and child-raising in the Old Country (which is of course what God wants from us all).

Thus, Jewlarious occupies a place in the great pantheon of Jewish humor somewhere between Paul Reiser and Laffy Taffy. I spent a distinctly laugh-free hour perusing the site’s humor offerings, and I must say, I am offended. There’s more unprotested rape by frummies of all that is Jewish and holy on Jewlarious than there is inside the walls of your average Flatbush yeshiva. I give you a sampling:

From a pallid attempt at an Onion-esque satire article, “Kosher Butcher Goes Up in Flames; Fire Sale on Smoked Meat Ensues”: “In the middle of the crowd was Sherman the Butcher flipping burgers and dogs and selling the smoked deli meat at a harried pace. ‘My meat is selling like hot cakes here. People are saying that they love my special charbroiled seasonings. I just can’t keep my stock on the shelves …well, that’s actually because the shelves were broken in the fire and can’t hold anything, but you know what I mean.'”

HAH! You get it?? It’s funny because the fire is cooking the meat! And the shelves can’t hold it because they’re on fire! JEWS LOVE PASTRAMI!

Or how about a piece on going fishing…for gefilte fish? “With records nearly shattered each day during this year’s hyper-competitive Gefilte Fishing season, it should come as no surprise to avid sport-fishing fans that veteran Gefilte Fisherman Eli Kozlowski finally smashed a two thousand six hundred and thirteen year old record, catching a 64 pound Gefilte along the shorelines of Lake Anakatan in Central Minnesota.”

JEWS LOVE GEFILTE FISH!

And then there’s a long list of jokes just perfect for your next Kool Aid-enhanced Aish Shabbat dinner, like: “Harvey’s mother gave him two sweaters on the first night of Chanukah. The next night when he came over for dinner, he made sure to wear one of them. As he entered the house, instead of the expected smile, Harvey’s mother said, ‘What’s the matter? You didn’t like the other one?'”

That’s fucking JEWLARIOUS! How do they keep coming up with this SOLID GELT?

The one bright spot in this travesty of a website is that what Aish attempts to pass off as Jewish humor is so hopelessly stale and out of touch with current standards of what’s funny (remember, the most beloved comedy show in America featured a washed-up, cocaine-addled, abusive funk star, a wholesome white family called “The Niggars,” and R. Kelly peeing on a girl’s face) that it can’t possibly attract any new meat to Aish’s oversized grinder. The only people who are going to be quaking with laughter at articles like “Shul Bans Two for Testing Positive for Davening Enhancing Substances” are the ones who have already had their brains yanked out through their noses by Aish’s twisted quiescent-Charedi version of Judaism.

But of course, that doesn’t mean there’s nothing positive we can take from Jewlarious. At the bottom of the page, it has a link back to the Big Aish itself, which reads, “Your Life. Your Judaism.”

Exactly.

About the author

michael

85 Comments

  • Just for the record – there are many valid criticisms of Aish (their sense of humor and new building included), but I think too often exaggeration and hearsay takes the place of reason.

    I have known many people who attended Aish from periods of a few weeks to a few years, and never did any of them turn into mindless zombies.

    The people who I have heard of who did, came in there mindless to begin with.

    Sure, free things often come with a catch. If you take advantage of Aish’s free services, like free pizza, movies, laundry and Internet at the Seidel center, or a free shabbat meal, or a free place to stay in the Old City, you’ll probably have to hear the pitch. You know, the come and learn pitch. I’ve taken advantage of all these things at one time or another, and simply thanked them and respectfully declined. What’s so hard about that?

    People act like Aish will throw burlap bags over unsuspecting youth in the streets and keep them in a dungeon with Torah Tapes playing over and over.

    No one is forced to be there. No one loses their right to leave.

    I didn’t here any of the same Jews who denounce Aish criticizing Phish for using brainwashing techniques and becoming pied pipers and cult leaders to the lost of a generation who followed them around for months, years at a time in drugged states, living out of cars, spouting some nonsense about higher consciousnesses while rarely bathing or calling their parents.

    At least at Aish, they have showers.

  • Oh, come now. Aish isn’t that bad. They’re a Jewish outreach organization and they are very open about wanting Jews to be more observant.

    You can choose to buy (or not) what they’re selling, but in my interactions with them, I never felt pressured or abused, nor did I get the impression that they wanted me to become a Hareidi and live off of government subsidies in Israel.

    Aish does not run press gangs, they do outreach. I think you’ve gone way over the top in slandering them here.

  • Clearly no one criticizes Phish because there is such a fantastic panoply of quality drugs to be bought at their shows. If Aish offered that sort of selection, Mufft would think a little harder about showing up! (and he hates Phish!)

  • aish is 2 things. Ok in Israel there is a Yeshiva.

    In the rest of the world, it is just a business. It is a disgrace, how they move into neighborhoods and trash the local Rabbis.

    Their stupid slogans, you missed one:
    “We bring meaning to Life”

    Some unfortunate people fall for their Shtick, and lap it up.

    aish represents the absolute worst that is contained in the Jewish people, w/ the possible exception of the Neturi Karta crowd, but I consider them non Jews.

  • Strange, that so many of you are posting here and I thought you have been “murdered” 60 years ago in Ausschwitz, and here I see you all so jooly happy in the new Hololulu Religion.

  • Not only that, Horst, but you forgot that we control you, your media and your government, and sleep with your sister every chance we get.

  • David wrote,

    “In my interactions with them, I never felt pressured or abused, nor did I get the impression that they wanted me to become a Hareidi.”

    If they did that, it wouldn’t be as effective. That is exactly what makes them so problematic and deceptive. Why do you think the go to such great pains to hide their haredism? This is why they are so effective — their misrepresentation of self. No one there for a few weeks feels they are being pressured to be haredi, because it is a slow process, an inward spiral over time.

    If you put the heat up too fast at the beginning, there is a greater risk the frog will jump out of the pot of water.

  • Laya said,

    People act like Aish will throw burlap bags over unsuspecting youth in the streets and keep them in a dungeon with Torah Tapes playing over and over.

    Does it have to be that blatant to be a problem? Kabbalah Centre and the Moonies don’t do that either, and we still say these organizations are “not okay.” We still say these organizations suck ass. And no, I am not saying that Aish is a cult, I think at its core it is fundamentalist. But I am saying there is a big problem with their recruiting methods.

  • So basically Aish.com is evil because they’re running a competing Jew-branded website?

    I mean that’s what this long tirade boils down to. Pissiness because you feel your turf has been stepped on.

    And yes Aish.com is evil, because you know they’re offering an actual complete religious lifestyle, instead of trying to pawn off a few parties, hip t-shirts and a Y-Love CD as what it takes to be Jewish like you guys.

    And please give us a few more American Apparel ads, because we don’t want to be like the evil haredim subjugating women. No we set them free with images of 60’s pornography.

  • Oh Sultan Knish. I don’t have anything to do with Jew-branding, Jewlicious’ mission, parties, T-shirts, Y-Love OR American Apparel. I just post here. But nice try!

  • TT, what they do is hide behind a veneer of righteousness, and engage in the most criminal and deceitful acts of turf control. In the real world. I have seen this in many towns across the North America.

    The way that the do this, is to put down the existing SHules and leadership. People who sacrificed to live in a community w/ maybe no Yeshiva day or High school, and had to send their 9th grade children away, far away.

    They slowly steal existing members by creating an us/vs. them mentality, pointing out foibles or very false info.

    THen they start their own place, w/ a huge well funded budget to recruit newcomers using their dopey classes.

    They will also, I have seen this, they will walk out of a minyan when there are only 1o men, if someone wanders in off the street and wants to go to a class.

    Not only that, they have an entrenched bureaucratic hierarchy that is pulling down high and high salaries and benefits.

    They run these operations in the best boiler room tradition, making calls, telemarketing, massive literature, every manner of fund raiser you can imagine.

    What hurts is that this funds that they take, would be so much better served, helping struggling families pay full tuition, or lowering tuition costs in the first place.

    But they pounce on everything, now they are even selling Chanuka cards and chocolates online.

  • now, now, “truthteller” — you seem to have jewlicious confused with jewschool. we’re the purveyors of hip, morally depraved substitutes for jewish religiosity, remember?

  • Wow. Sultan truthteller. I like Aish. I mean yeah, I’ve seen a few people turned to zombies by Charedi Kiruv movements, but I’ve also seen the far more pervasive zombification of our youth by materialism, MTV, video games etc. I prefer Aish over that other narishkeit.

    Aish.com is not a competitor. We friggin advertise for Aish or didn’t you read Michael’s post? Our birthright Israel kids go to Shabbat meals organized by Aish people. Anyone who wants to be Jewish like Aish is Jewish has my blessings!

    Man Knish. You really need to chill. Some people on this site have issues with Haredim, some of us defend them from undue criticism. I don’t know where all this baseless mishegas of yours comes from.

    60s pornography indeed. Where do you buy your clothes? Do you not own a single item of clothing made by Calvin Klein for instance? I can send you some CK ads that would make AA ads look like Sunday school textbook illustrations.

    Relax there bucko.

  • Thanks for the laughs Michael, i plotzed, dried and fell off my chair.

    Aish should do the right thing, they should hire you to write their stuff, because you are WAY funnier than anything on Jewlarious.

  • Do you not own a single item of clothing made by Calvin Klein for instance?

    Aish aside, what planet do you live on where it’s so farfetched to not own any Calvin Klein clothing?!?

  • are there others on Jewlicious that see a comment by Steve Ricks and just pass over it?

    Phish are good musicians, how do they control minds? most phish fans were mindless zombies before they started following phish and just stayed on for the drugs. most people who hate phish like the mufti does, haven’t listen to much of their music, sure its all over the place, the jams are sometimes way too long, they do poor covers of over played music, but at least its original unlike most popular music of today. I mean can you distinguish one matisyahu song from the other?

    I don’t see the correlation between Phish and Aish. By the way Michael i thought you were a little long winded on this one. I dig your style and don’t wanna have to skip over your stuff like i do whenever stevie nicks has a comment on here.

    The political action ‘arm’ of Aish, hasbara is a pretty big joke too in case anyone isn’t aware of this, but still not much like phish.

  • Laya,
    Aish always reminds me of the great Eagles line “you can check out anytime you’d like, but you can never leave.” And I suppose that’s good if it gets you thinking about your relationship to Judaism.

    However, if they have you married off and pregnant (or impregnating someone) within 2 years of your initial contact with them…you can’t check out …ever.

    They may have showers, but they don’t tell you that can’t use them on Shabbat until they think you can handle that information. I’ll never forget the first time I was told not to use my toothbrush for 24 hours…I shoulda run for the hills then!

    I don’t think they are a cult or that their recruitment methods are really that bad, but the end result is still black & white, extreme fundamentalism, not just ” a return to a more traditional form of Jewish observance”.

  • Wow I always liked aish but seeing how mad they make some people only strengthenes my admiration.

    If they weren’t being succesful teaching Judaism you people wouldn’t be so upset.

    Only success and growth would breed such hatred.

  • “It is a disgrace, how they move into neighborhoods and trash the local Rabbis.”

    Nonsense. Aish is a right-wing Orthodox organization interested in getting Jews to adopt a more traditional lifestyle. In the USA they work closely with other groups of a similar bent (unlike, say, Chabad who are pretty exclusive.)

    If you visit Aish in Israel, they will get you to THINK about fundamental issues of God, Torah, meaning, life. Things that most people across the Jewish spectrum (secular, Reform, Conservative AND Orthodox) don’t really consider in any detail.

    What you can criticize Aish about is intellectual dishonesty. They rely heavily on Torah codes and other “proofs” that are easily rebutted, but not usually by a 20-year old with no background in history, logic, and – ironically – Judaism. This is done in a very closed environment, making it very difficult for a student to hear the counter arguments.

  • DK,

    You’re calling Aish “deceptive,” but I don’t think that’s fair. You can agree or disagree with them (and, for the record, I don’t agree with them on a number of issues), but I believe them to be sincere.

    “Deceptive” implies that they’re intentionally misleading people; I think they honestly believe in what they’re doing, and would like to share it with other Jews. They may be “wrong,” but that’s a different issue.

  • themiddle wrote:

    “Not only that, Horst, but you forgot that we control you, your media and your government, and sleep with your sister every chance we get.”

    Speak for yourself! After Horst slept with her, most of us wouldn’t touch the ugly skank with a 10-foot pole!

  • David! I know Poland inside out – there are no 10 foot Poles, ok?!
    Michael you should write for Aish but you have to promise to write short jokes, ok?
    Cant find the name of the guy above (i.e. I am too laze to scroll up) who criticize Aish chutz la’aretz.
    Please tell me how many communities you ve seen yourself being destroyed by Aish. Just like Laya (welcome back Laya!) said no hearsay!
    You ve seen Aishniks walking out of the minyian? How many times, seriously?
    Aish internationally is not such a coherent organization and therefore does not qualify to be a cult. There is way too much freedom of what to teach and how to teach. And I know of at least one Aish rabbi strongly endorsing JTB. So cannot be that bad.
    CK, maybe you can send me some items of clothing by Calvin Klein (CK!) insead of his adds please. And let me tell you my friend you are using way too much yiddish. Be carful because go over the daily sefardi allowance and I am sure you dont want to overdosem right?

  • jSchmo,

    Usually it’s fundamentalism, not success and growth, that breeds hatred because fundamentalism, by it’s very definition excludes the viewpoints of those who make differ.

  • chutzpah,
    what do mean by excludes viewpoints?

    If you mean not allow others to voice their opinions Im with you becasue the stifling of knowledge is always wrong.

    But if you mean convincing others that certain viewpoints are correct and others wrong while allowing the other side to speak then I do not agree.

    What do mean by fundamentalism? Any belief that excludes other beliefs?

    Everybody believes what they believe and will try to convince others to accept their viewpoints.
    Isn’t michael fundamentalist according to that? He certainly is not tolerating other viewpoints. In fact if it was within his power It seems likely from his post that he would ban aish from trying to convince others.

  • According to Merriam-Webster: Fundamentalism is a movement or attitude stressing strict and literal adherence to a set of basic principles. Key words here being strict and literal.

  • really the question is for those who are not Charedish already. How do you want to live your life w/ respect to Judasim.

    Which further can be described as, how much do you want to do, that makes 0 sense to you?

    If you are fundamentalist, you do it all, well w/ many alterations and changes. I would say the Amish are fundamentalist, the Aish crowd is fundamentalist wanna bee.

    How do you craft a path, that keeps you in touch w. your Jewish spirituality, at the same time, not at the expense of moral values that could clash w. the literal Torah perspective.

  • Chutzpah,
    OK I don’t argue with the Merriam-Webster definition. But “fundamentalism, by it’s very definition excludes the viewpoints of those who make differ” is not true.

    Truth is that everyone excludes other viewpoints – not necessarily forbidding other to speak but certainly in their minds, what they believe is correct and the others are incorrect.

  • Aish has some good weekly Torah commentaries on the web, concerning the Parsha of the week. Their “Mayanot” essays are particularly good, by Noson Weisz.

    Everything can’t be Chabad.

    I know a family that got a lot of good out of Aish.

  • Yes but more have been ruined by them. We have a Mother here who hardly gets to spend time w. her children and suffered alot of stress and trauma because of them.

    The questions is one of making best use of community resources. Instead of enriching the aish honchos, we could be reducing tuition costs.

  • uh…jobber…I never had any problem with Aish…it was a different group, and I see my kids 50% of the time

  • What’s the problem here? If you like what Aish pitches you go!

    If you want to play russian roulette with your Judaism – intermarry, get your spouse an invalid conversion etc that’s your choice.

    Why does Michael have such a huge problem with Aish? Did he find out his mother had a Reform or Conservative “conversion” or something and is now taking his wrath out on the entire Jewish world?

    Aish is Cheredi, so what? You can be an observant Jew and not be Cheredi.

    This flat out attack an organization is flat out disgusting and not Jewish at all.

    Look when Moschiach comes and you either decide to not accept him and/or prefer to live in the US and get your headchopped off – that’s your choice! but don’t be going nuts on a group that is just trying to bring spirituality to people. Michael, enjoy your MTV, your Conservative Shul with like 5 people between 22-30, your Hillel on campus – but don’t bring others down with ya bud!

  • That is good to hear. For I had read that it was more stupifying than that. Good luck w. them.

  • Not to be indiscreet, but how could Aish keep a mother from her children? How could they cause her stress? You can always walk away and decide they are not for you, right?

    I don’t mean to pry but you are dangling stories and not telling them.

  • Look when Moschiach comes and you either decide to not accept him and/or prefer to live in the US and get your headchopped off – that’s your choice! but don’t be going nuts on a group that is just trying to bring spirituality to people. Michael, enjoy your MTV, your Conservative Shul with like 5 people between 22-30, your Hillel on campus – but don’t bring others down with ya bud!

    I live in Israel. How’s Virginia working out for you, ya sharmuta?

  • that’s nice but you have no right to just attack an organisation like this.

    What did they do to you? I’m very curious.

  • I am no scholar but I think Talmud and Chazal warn against excessive focus on the details of the coming of Moshiach. Every Jew longs for Moshiach, but must not cross the line into calculating when he will come, or too many specific details, as this can lead to the kind of stuff you quote. It starts to be too tangible and visible, and veers toward idolatry. We have to stay with the commandments, and the not-visible, the not-tangible, the not-knowable.

    One, or even a few, nutty types do not negate everything they do or teach.

    The mitzvoth are the Jew’s handshake with G-d, not doctrinal wrangling.

    Chabad says G-d loves you and every Jew is perfect. A bit of that would come in handy.

  • “Look when Moschiach comes and you either decide to not accept him and/or prefer to live in the US and get your headchopped off – that’s your choice! ”

    Shlomo, thank you for a nuanced viewpoint on the choices haredi Judaism offers. Clearly, the choice between a place like Aish/Ohr Somayach/Neve is between getting your head chopped off or living a Jewish life.

    “This flat out attack an organization is flat out disgusting and not Jewish at all.”

    You know what’s disgusting? Stringency and maximum halachic compliance presented as Normative Judaism and mandatory, and not doing so conflated as a “heter.” Or the path to poverty these haredi places preach. Or presenting crossword puzzles as a proof of the Torah. Or the way they teach students to look at “gedoylim” like prophets. Or the way Aish hides that it is haredi. Or the way full-time secular education is rediculed and discouraged. Or the way scientific method is discarded because Dear Leader Rabbi Elyashiv hath spoken. Or the way selective retrieval is employed, both to prove their fundamentalist version of Orthodox Judaism is normative, and to prove the outside world is depraved in its entirety.

    That’s disgusting, Shlomo. Not this essay.

  • Michael – “sharmuta”… ouch. Is it correct to say someone got “sharmuta slapped”? 🙂 Nevertheless there are worse things out there than Aish. Maybe your issue with them is more a matter of taste, style, intellect than good vs. evil.

    But does anyone else find the Western Wall spycam just plain creepy?

    Jon C – good point about Israel Hasbara – they’ve proven themselves the fool more than once. Now, can we respectfully agree to disagree on Phish? Personal taste and some of my best friends and lovers are Phish and Widespread Panic fans. But even the Dead would write a song every once in awhile. Maybe Trey went solo because it got too druggy and culty? And who needs to get high and listen to Phish when you can get stoned just from reading a Steves R. comment?

    Shlomo – Conservative and Reform Jews do not watch MTV. Not since Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” came out. Yes, we may have had weird fantasies about Martha Quinn in the past but who didn’t? We’re into different stuff now. Don’t you get Jon Stewart in Virginia? Don’t get upset – it’s just not cool to lump all Orthodox together into one cultural demographic either so why do you do it to us? I don’t give a rat’s ass if approve of my practice or if you don’t consider me Jewish. After all this time I can take it. But when you make the assumption that all young Conservative or Reform (of which their demise is your fantasy) are spiritually empty and clueless, don’t be shocked when they call you bad names in Arabic.

    By the way, are you on Myspace?

  • that’s nice but you have no right to just attack an organisation like this.

    What did they do to you? I’m very curious.

    Actually, I have every right. You may have heard about a fascinating post-haskalah concept called “freedom of speech.” In case you need a refresher, basically it guarantees the right of every person to say what they want, about whoever or whatever they want, when they want. Isn’t that so awesome?! I really suggest you try it out a few times before Moshiach comes and we’re all forced to live under the thumb of a theocracy whose chief concern is setting animals on fire.

    And Aish hasn’t “done” anything to me beyond being annoying and publishing a humor website offensive to human dignity. That’s more than enough. DK up there can give you a much more thorough accounting of their sins. Me, I just don’t like their zombie people.

  • Ramon – I don’t know if it’s technically correct to say “sharmuta-slapped,” but that’s not going to stop me from using it from now on.

    And I don’t think Aish is per se evil. Or at least I’m fairly convinced that there are forces of greater evil out there, such as Ohr Somayach, Hizbullah, Crocs, Communism and the alarming recent trend of fertile celebrities.

    But really, Shlomo jests at scars that never felt a wound. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a Reform or Conservative Jew. I pay little attention to doctrinal disputes, which is one of the advantages living in Israel affords.

  • Yeah, Michael, but still needed to be said. If not for you for those five 22-30 year old Jews attending B’nai Abraham in Meriden CT or Temple Israel in Ottawa. The ones who never were able to experience MTV with Cyndi Lauper and Huey Lewis videos. The future headless ones.

    Yes, a pregnant Brittany Spears puts Aish into perspective, doesn’t it? But crocodiles in the same sentence as hisbollah and Ohr Somayach? Crocodiles perform an important role in our ecosystem. Besides they do a good job of thinning the herd…

    http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2006/12/victim_gator_at.html

    (okay, it was an alligator) Oh… you were referring to that horrible hippy footwear! That’s almost up there with Amadinejad in the evil dept..

    Okay… I’ll scroll up and reread DK’s comments, but I won’t be happy about it. 🙂

  • Jm, forget it, it was a bit of a combination of emotional release there.

    One more thing I have noticed about aish persons, is they are trained to be very cruel, to those who offer them no conveyance of any sort.

    They are not Chabad is the understatement of the century.

    Belief can be a good thing on a personal level.

    You can at the end of the day, if you are having problems, and supposedly we all do,
    belief can be a help as if to say, He Hashem, Who Yitach Lebainu, He will help solve this immense double barrel problems I am having.

    If the problem is still not solved then you just return to that code the next day.

    aish does not train in Jewish values, but in
    being a mechanism of creating a cash flow.

    Everything they do is calculated to produce maximum profit outcome.

    We shouldn’t even be talking about them. if the anti-semites found out about aish they would have a field day how you say.

  • No it’s rather pathetic to attack an organisation like this with no claims or proof for anything.

    Michael, this is one of the sickest anti-Jewish articles I’ve ever seen.

  • No, silly, this article is pro-Jewish by virtue of being anti-Aish.

    But seriously. A blog post mocking a Charedi kiruv yeshiva’s lame humor site is one of the “sickest anti-Jewish articles” you’ve ever seen? Is this your first week on the Internet? I don’t want to alarm you, but there are people out there in that big ol’ Intarweb who want to kill you for being Jewish, not just make fun of you because you’re an idiot. Doesn’t that just blow your mind?

  • Hi Judensau, but that’s what you’re always doing and that’s what you’re famous for

  • Michael is right, the site in question is a total pisser. Who in their right mind takes aiishe seriously?

    They are harmful in the US because, they ruin existing shules in smaller communities,
    and they waste community funds that would be better served lowering tuition costs in Yeshivas.

    So that parents who would consider a Yeshiva day school education for their children send them to public school.

    I applaud Michael for posting this article. I have never seen before a JL post like this.

  • For those who don’t know, Frank was talking about this. Judensau.

    Judensau (German for “Jews’ sow”) is the derogatory and dehumanizing imagery of the Jews that appeared around the 13th century in Germany and some other European countries. Its popularity lasted for over 600 years and was revived by the Nazis.

    The Jews, typically portrayed in obscene contact with unclean animals such as pigs or owls or representing a devil, appeared on cathedral or church ceilings, pillars, utensils, etchings, etc.

  • Michael is concerned about something, something to do with having lots of babies on welfare.

    My private opinion is that it should not be as hard as it is to marry and have a family, exact family size not specified.

    Michael is throwing a lot of hard words around about an organization that has helped many Jews to be religious.

    Obviously, people are responsible for their own degree of empty-eyedness, as Laya says so well.

    Even though Michael feels a little old right now, he is very young.

    Youth is a difficult period, but it passes, fortunately, and meanwhile people who are articulate should be careful with their verbal weapons, and watch where they point them.

    Michael seems to be attacking Aish from the RIGHT, which is hard to figure out, but so is life.

    If Michael were running something like Aish, how would he do it? Teach the religion but be a little more modern and relaxed about it? OK. Let him do that. He would be great.

    Michael would catch more flies with honey than vinegar, or spinach.

    So chill the vinegar.

  • Thoughtful analysis, and respectful discussion of differences, even severe differences? Yes. We proved it once more. Thank you for noticing.

    We do that all the time. It takes intelligence and work, but it is worth the effort. It’s fun. It feels much better than being hostile. And – you can learn things, which is also fun.

    We like to learn and expand our brains. We just do. It feels good to us. It’s more fun than yelling and spitting.

    We are not the only ones. Lots of other people like to learn also.

  • Steves Rick!
    Again How many communities have you seen being ruined in the US by Aish? No hearsay.

  • No need to be Orthodox, kiddies. Ethical, maybe.

    Why all the lashon hara? You think other shuls do not compete? Hello, so Aish should be free of human foible?

  • I think what we are seeing on this thread is the classic anti Bal teshuva bashing from those in the C and R sects. At least you know those BT’s have a better chance of having legit Jewish grandchildren.

  • Shlomo,

    To quote you “If you ask some Kaballistic Rabbis they’ll tell you there’s a screw up on their (NK) lines somewhere. like a non -Jewish mother in the tree or a faulty conversion.

    he same can be said of many BT’s, many of whom can’t trace back their Jewish lineage correctly or who can and know that their grandmother’s didn’t go to the mikvah because the pool at the country club was more fun. Why would BT’s grandchildren be “legit” Jews (according to you) while “no one” considers NK’ers Jews (according to you). (And I am NOT defending NK …I am simply pointing out your faulty logic).

    Since Conservative and Reform “sects” are also not “legit” Jews to you either, basically only the Weinbach’s qualify?

  • I don’t know how Aish is in J’lem but the local Aish director is a friend of mine. We’ve done some serious bike rides together and I feel comfortable saying just about anything with him. He self identifies as a “chareidi” and has done so on a national radio show (while defending R. Slifkin’s work, btw). The only time Aish has a minyan in this city is for the yamim nora’im so the idea of them depleting minyanim is moot. I think I may have attended two or three Aish events in the past 10 years, and my friend has never once tried to get me to spend time at the yeshiva in J’lem. In fact, he seems as fed up with froomie nonsense as most critical thinkers are. Does he respect the Weinbergs? Sure. Does he run a cult recruitment effort? Hardly.

    In addition to the local Aish director, I’m also friendly with the director of a kiruv organization that’s widely respected. I can’t think of a single person who was mekarev by this rabbi who gave up a promising career or profession. As a matter of fact, one of the original members of our minyan got his undergrad degree, attended kollel for a few years, and then attended and completed med school.

    While there are problems in the kiruv movement, the hostility that kiruv groups provoke from some disaffected Jews is interesting.

  • Oh, and Michael, not in your wildest dreams are you as funny as Lenny Bruce. Lenny was funnier reading trial transcripts than your attempts at humor. The only Jew who made me laugh as hard as Lenny was R. David Meir ben Shraga Feivel HaKohen.

  • Bozoer, Well dude, you know one of them, and I have seen now 3 communities where they wreak havoc. They trash the local Rabbi in their ads.

    I would not call myself disaffected either, I am an active member of a Synagogue and help out some of the others when asked to make a minyan or read the Torah. I also have some kids in the Yeshiva system and no longer qualify for any scholarships for them.

    As far as these NK clowns, I really think it’s some scheme that they are doing it for the money, If you notice it’s never the same spokesman. Probably these are drug addicts in the Hassidic community who could use a hundred grand for their addiction needs.

    There’s probably a couple of middlemen who take same off the top.

  • Bozoer, you said,

    “the local Aish director is a friend of mine.”

    We didn’t ask.

    “He self identifies as a ‘chareidi.'”

    No shit.

    “my friend has never once tried to get me to spend time at the yeshiva in J’lem.”

    Many of us prefer to not mix friendship and torture.

    “one of the original members of our minyan got his undergrad degree, attended kollel for a few years, and then attended and completed med school.”

    Okay, Bozoer? For future reference — when being Mr. Haredi recruitment apologist — don’t bring someone who dropped out of life for a while to hang out in kollel as an example of a Big Aish’s moderate approach.

    “While there are problems in the kiruv movement, the hostility that kiruv groups provoke from some disaffected Jews is interesting. ”

    Yes, but not as interesting as the fundamentalist provocations of the Kiruv movements themselves. Go tell your friend you had some questions about Maccabees 1-4, and was wondering if he would teach that document at his Aish chapter. Also, ask him if he will have Slifkin do a lecture on Aish’s campus. No problem, right?

  • I find it rather ironic that we are in Chanukah right now. the majority of people on this board are Helenist Jews and don’t even realise it. The point of Chanukah was overthrowing the Greeks who tried to Helenise us and eventually make us Greek. The “Conservative movement” thinks it Halachic and allows gays. DK and others here are bashing Kiruv and orthodox outreach organisations.

    This is very sad. I really hope you “Hellenist” Jews see the parallels taking place.

  • Shlomo, when you move to Israel, throw out your computer, quit your day job and devote yourself to a day-in, day-out regime of Torah study, you can call other people Hellenists. Actually, while we’re at it, you should probably quit practicing Judaism as we know it as well. First off, you can forget about that trayf, European rationalism-inspired Samson Raphael Hirch Torah u’Mada Modern Orthodoxy bullshit. No more jeans and T-shirts for you! And while we’re on the subject of clothes, might as well put the Chasidim in cherem (again) for wearing those goyishe 16th century European costumes – an unacceptable infiltration of non-Jewish culture in God’s Chosen People. And hey, throw out those Thirteen Principles, Maimonides was heavily (and admittedly) influenced by both classical Greek and Arab philosophy. What a fucking Hellenist. And Sa’adia Gaon? What the fuck kind of Hellenist Arab-loving name is THAT? Chuck the Talmud, too – those Babylonian rabbis, writing in the language of Babylon, influenced by Persian religion and culture? Burn that Hellenist shit! Hell, you know what, drop the Tanakh. I mean, look at the Song of Songs – clearly influenced in form and content by contemporaneous Egyptian love poetry. Obviously, the whole damned thing is pasul from all those foreign influences.

    אל תדבר אנגלית אפילו. שנייה, אני כרגע זכרתי שעברית מלאה השפעות ומילים זרות. יא אללה! מה נעשה?! זה לא משנה. זה לא כאילו שאתה מבין עברית בכל מקרה. יא שרמוטא

    Chew on that while you light your chanukiyah, you sanctimonious Hellenizing son of a bitch.

  • “Don’t speak English, but. Second, In an instant I recalled that Hebrew is full of foreign words. Ya Allah! What are we to do? This isn’t right. This will show if you understand Hebrew, Ya sharmoota”

    How’d I do ?

  • “No one is forced to be there. No one loses their right to leave.”

    Ahem.

    I attended the Jerusalem Fellowships in the mid-90s. At the time we signed up for the program, they told us that the regular price of the program was several thousand dollars (3-5, something in that range) but that we were getting a “discounted” fellowship price of around $1k. If we did not complete the program, we would owe them the balance of our “fellowship”. (that was a few grand, way out of my league at the time). I HATED the program, but I felt I could not leave because I could not afford to pay them the balance.

    Also, when we got there, they offered to put our passports in a safe for safe keeping. Seems reasonable, right? No one wants to carry their passport around for a month. Until you realize what the program is really all about, and you want to go home, or up to Greece, or, man, ANYWHERE ELSE and you realize that you would have to ask them for your passport to make that happen.

    Aish sucks. And if they’re not a cult, well they’re pretty damn culty.

  • Though I grew up pretty traditional, I became ‘frum’ through Aish. I spent years in their yeshiva, sat in their highest gemara shiur, knew all the rabbis and their families – in short, I was Aishified. Ten years later, I’m still observant with a nice family, but upon hearing the words ‘Aish HaTorah,’ all I can do is CRINGE.
    To say I despise them would be an overstatement, I guess. But the things I saw there and learned there were scary. Real scary.
    From my payus-weearing roommates who, despite not being able to read Hebrew, were so frum that they couldn’t walk on main streets to get to the lunch room – lest (gasp) they pass by a woman and have impure thoughts – to the rabbis who told me to ‘uninvite’ my friends to chassidic and/or Hebrew classes – lest the kids become messianic chabadniks or (even worse) ‘Zionists,’ that place is crazy. I knew kids who didn’t invite their parents to their weddings, kids who withdrew from ivy league graduate schools (because “the rebbeim say that 99% of people who go back to America ‘fry out,’ etc). I could go on and on with stories of things they do in the name of yiddishkeit that are actually anathema to the ethos of Judaism, but for every anecdote I give, it doesn’t prove anything. All I can say is thank goodness for my graduate biblical studies’ professors at Oxford, for my disinclination towards extremism, for my desire to earn a living and for the serendipitous circumstances that got me away from their kool-aid, into the arms of a nice Sephardi woman and the path towards a sane life…

  • Well said, Ben Gold. You seem to be some sort of genius. I never had the pleasure of the Aish experience, but did get kicked out of the Bais Medrash at the Happy Light for practicing modern Hebrew by reading Haaretz. It was also quite an experience to respond to a drash about how the Romans wanted to make all the Jews (pre-70 CE) into Christians, and to learn that college “ruined” me, because it taught me things like the fact that the Roman empire was pagan for several centuries thereafter.

  • Ben,

    I just came home from a year of studying at Aish and I find your post to be far from the truth.

    1. “From my payus-weearing roommates who, despite not being able to read Hebrew, were so frum that they couldn’t walk on main streets to get to the lunch room – lest (gasp) they pass by a woman and have impure thoughts.”

    Is it possible to be frum and not be yet fluent in Hebrew? (Although Aish has one of the best ulplan teachers in Jerusalem). If your roommates decided to not walk in certain areas to avoid scantily dressed women, why is that bad? Who are you to judge? Where would you draw the line? I know friends who think that going to a strip club is perfectly acceptable. Would you gasp at them for taking the opposite position? Maybe your roommates made a personal separate from Aish (also, you went to Aish and didn’t feel the same way as your roommates)

    2. “To the rabbis who told me to ‘uninvite’ my friends to chassidic and/or Hebrew classes – lest the kids become messianic chabadniks or (even worse) ‘Zionists,’ that place is crazy.”

    I know dozens of Aish guys who visit Chabad families for Shabbos and never heard a word from the Rabbiem that they shouldn’t go. You’re saying they told you not to bring kids to a Hebrew class? For what reason? Sounds like you are taking something out of context. Maybe they told you not to learn from someone who thinks the Rebbe was Moschiach, but that’s very different from what you said.

    Also, Aish has a Hesder program so I fail to believe that they are anti-Zionest. I have heard Rabbiem disagree with the secular Israeli government, but you can sleep safely at night knowing that Aish promotes living in Eretz Yisrael. Maybe you meant Zionism in the strictly “living in Israel as Jews with no connection to Judaism.” Yes, they would disagree with that approach (as most Orthodox groups would).

    3. “I knew kids who didn’t invite their parents to their weddings, kids who withdrew from ivy league graduate schools (because “the rebbeim say that 99% of people who go back to America ‘fry out,’ etc).”

    I know kids who didn’t invite their parents to their wedding who weren’t religious. So what? Did you hear someone at Aish tell them not to? This discussion has come up and every Aish rabbi I spoke to said the same thing “Honor your father and your mother.” Which clearly means you should invite them (I saw this happen when both parents were not Jewish and the yet both parents were invited) .

    Also, I’ve never heard a Rabbi say that you’ll “fry-out” moving back to America. Aish is sending Rabbiem to college campuses to do kiruv (clearly they don’t believe those people will fry out). Even if a guy dropped out of an Ivy League school and stayed in Israel, he could easily get into a very good Israeli university. I don’t see how this shows the “insanity” of Aish.

    Maybe you had a different experience, but it seems to me that your issues are taken out of context. I would be glad to respond to anything else.

  • Look again! I wasn’t a fan until Jewlarious wisely hit gelt with one particular writer, Marnie Winston-Macauley. Her stuff is what keeps me coming back. It’s witty, often bold, and she flies in the face of “convention.” Even within the boundaries, she pushes the edge as far as possible.

    At least when I’m not laughing, I’m thinking.

    Dr. Howard Cohen

  • Just came across Dr. Howard Cohen’s comment about AISH Jewlarious and Marnie Winston-Macauley.

    She blows me away! For the Alters and Newish alike. A savvy, witty, smart, and funny talent.

    Go read.

    Janel Bladow

  • Came across your opine. When was the last time you actually read Jewlarious?

    As an actor/comic, I’m a huge fan of two of AISH’s columnists: Marnie Winston Macauley (A Little Joy, Little Oy, Yiddishe Mamas: The Truth about) and Andy Cowan Seinfeld, Cheers, etc.) Many of us read them “religiously.”

    Honey … doesn’t get better than these two. Either get them or those of their caliber, then we’ll talk.

    Susie

  • Can some kind person please check if the above IP addresses are “masked”? That would be most interesting if they are coming from a site like hidemyass.com. I am suspicious that a certain PR firm might have been given a directive from a client to push “Marnie Winston Macauley” heavily.

    Also, Big Aish blows.

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