In case the poster wasn’t clear enough, the Begin Center, on April 1st, is going to host a morning conference exploring the future of Modern Orthodox Judaism. Along with all the great Rabbis and luminaries of the Modern Orthodox world addressing the assembled will be… me? Yes. I don’t know what kind of crazy world puts little, stupid me on the same stage as these great people but there you have it. Have podium, will talk.
While I’m not a fan of the term “Orthodox,” as it was originally coined as a derogatory term, Modern Orthodoxy is a movement that seeks to combine traditional Judaism with the world at large, thus formalizing the relationship between halachically observant Judaism and the modern world.
When my parents first came to Canada, they put me in Chabad school because it was the least expensive Jewish educational option. Soon realizing however, that our brand of Sephardic Judaism was not quite the same as the Hassidic type taught in my school, I was, thankfully moved to a Modern Orthodox institution that featured rigorous religious study in tandem with secular subjects. The approach of my new school was more in keeping with the way we practiced at home and was deemed to be in the best interest of my overall education. I thank my parents for that decision every day. Could you imagine me a Chabadnik? Even a lapsed one? Oy!
Well, it seems the decision my parents took, which made so much sense back then, is one that fewer and fewer people seem to be making – and I find this odd. Yet, while Reform and Conservative Judaism pander to modernity at the expense of tradition and/or halacha, and while Haredi Judaism offers an absolute, uncompromising and unshakable relationship with Judaism, the moderate approach offered by Modern Orthodoxy seems to be floundering. Modern Orthodox outreach is virtually non-existent. Modern Orthodoxy’s emphasis on professional and lucrative higher education often means that religious education is left to Haredi teachers and Haredi institutions, thus eroding Modern Orthodoxy’s intellectual core.
I’ll be talking about all that and how it manifests itself on the Interwebs. Fun right? Want to know more and maybe even register? Go to the event Web site. Any ideas on what I should talk about? Leave a comment! Frankly I’m a little scared. I discussed this with a certain Orthodox female rapper and she yelled at me, insisting that Modern Orthodoxy was doing just fine, thank you. I hope no one yells at me at the Begin Center…
And no. This is not an elaborate April Fool’s joke.