Is Aish too Zionistic to be Effective?

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  • #1775640

    mw13
    Participant

    We all know that a key component of kiruv is approaching people on their own terms. Regardless of how much you care about wearing a black hat for davening, this cannot be part of your opening pitch to an irreligious Jew – they will find it foreign and off-putting, to put it mildly. The first step of the journey is usually to find some common ground in order to establish a rapport, and then use that rapport to share the core beliefs and practices of our religion, and perhaps what kind of effect this lifestyle has on its adherents.

    Aish (as a kiruv organization, not as a yeshiva) is unabashedly Zionistic. Many of its articles and material are about the struggles and triumphs of the State of Israel, the IDF, the settlers, etc. There was a time when discussing these things was a great way of establishing a rapport with an irreligious Jew – the vast majority of secular Jews at one point identified as Zionists and took pride in the accomplishments of the state. But that point has come and gone. Today many (most?) young secular Jews, having grown up on liberal college campuses, think of Israel as an evil occupying power, and will do almost anything to disassociate themselves from Israel’s supposed wrongdoings. To this generation, a program with half of its material dedicated to Zionistic topics is no less off-putting than a program with half its material dedicated to the importance of black hats. (If anything, it’s worse – I don’t know of too many secular people who are opposed in principle to black hats.)

    Don’t you think it would be more effective to have an organization that could reach out to our anti-Zionist brethren and share with them the beauty and modern day applicability of our heritage? Why must they be turned off by the inclusion of this material?

    Now perhaps Aish has its hands tied in this regard – I think they are somewhat beholden to the State of Israel for funding and related assistance. But then do you think should somebody else take on the mantle of reaching out to the secular Jews who view Zionism as a turn-off?

    #1775796

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    The problem with Kiruv is generally they are unsuccessful, very few non-relgious really want to be frum. Some want some connection with Judaism and people mistake that with wanting to be frum. Especially because many people have lives that make it almost impossible to be frum (Like they are married to a non-jew or have non-jewish children or non-jewish parents) . Many people might want to go to Shul once a week and maybe learn about some judaism, but that all they want

    The only reason chabad is a bit more successful is they are willing to look the other way and dont demand total compliance, So they consider someone who drives to shul every shabbos a success story (They do not condone such behavior, they look the other way and maybe say that its wrong to do so in a nice way, but they do not fire and brimstone them)

    Also generally Chabad Rabbis (and their wives) are much more open and friendlier than other rabbis so they can get more people

    #1775849

    Grey matter
    Participant

    I don’t know where you live (perhaps mars) Kiruv is very successful. Although the success may be slowing recently. I think the op raised a thoughtful point.

    #1775906

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Its really not that successful, in fact many Kiruv organizatiions today are more focusing on OTD people than people who were never religious

    One of the issues is like them or hate them reform and conservative at least put at least a spark of judaism in people (At least they had some exposue , even if it was wrong) today with the decline of reform and conservative people dont even have that and going to services is a foreign idea

    #1775965

    The Truth
    Participant

    Aish sings Zionism because they partially funded by Israel. Kiruv is just a means of raising money. It always existed in Klal Yisrael as part of Ahavah’s Yisrael but there is no Kiruv movement anymore. It’s run by salesmen who ran it into the ground.

    #1775976

    smerel
    Participant

    To an extent, this is a valid concern.

    Partners in Torah warns their Torah Mates not to discuss politics because you can only lose.
    (1)If you disagree you can alienate a passionate supporter of the opposite side of you (2)waste energy on politics rather than Torah (3)some of these people’s current religion is liberalism. Their whole value for Torah is largely only to the degree that they believe it supports liberalism. They believe in liberalism with such a religious fervor that if told it conflicts with Torah they won’t accept Torah.

    OTOH when it comes to Zionism I’m not sure this is such a big concern because the younger generation anti-Zionist crowd would not be receptive to Kiruv either way. They don’t identify with Judaism as a religion in any way. Their anti-Zionism seems more motivated by an effort to fight and deny their Jewish heritage and assimilate than a principled understanding of the issue. (It is also motivated to fight the emptiness they have in their lives by rallying around self-righteous self-aggrandizing causes like being anti-Israel)

    They would never agree to sign up for Partners In Torah to being with. They aren’t coming for a Shabbos meal either way. Or if they are only to make fun when they leave.

    So Zionism won’t make a difference either way to them. Can you imagine doing kiruv on a guy like Bernie Sanders?

    That it is who you dealing with today

    #1775982

    Joseph
    Participant

    It seems to me (I may be wrong) that Chabad is by far the largest successful recruiter of baalei teshuva these days.

    #1776087

    philosopher
    Participant

    I don’t understand how peole can do kiruv in the USA. I don’t want to bash Lubavitchers in general, they are amazing people, but I just want to point out the hypocrisy of some people trying to do kiruv in spiritual snake pits – I have see a pic of two Chabad “rabbis” in some sort of disco dancing near (not with) two obviously see women. People are putting themselves into tumah just to try to snag a soul to do teshuva while there’s no way that being surrounded by such tumah doesn’t affect them… It’s not Chabad, it’s the kiruv idea that makes no sense today in this crazy society.

    Are people living with their heads in the sand? It’s 2019, not 1980. You can’t know who is male or female today, if people’s parents are their real parents ( goyim/non-frum people are posting videos of surprising results of their dna tests…the results are mamesh like the revelation of who is a bechor during makos bechoros in mitzrayim) and of course the halachik ramifications of who is the real mother of people who got pregnant through artificial means.

    Please, just do kiruv with OTDs or those who are floundering. Or in Israel where there’s still a semblence of decency and the knowledge of who is a Jew as many things are under the Rabbinate’s control.

    Money for Jewish education should be going to frum people who are struggling financially to keep their kids in frum schools not for some kids who may or may not be Jewish.

    I have personally experienced a story 20 years ago! of a girl from Russia who they originally thought was Jewish, they put her through camp Russia and bought her to the US where they put her through high school. Afterwards they found out she’s not even Jewish. And this was 20 years ago when they were many Russian Jews who were becoming baalie teshuvas who set up beautiful Jewish families. But now these stories of non-Jews mix-up is even more than way back then. I have read in Hamodia’s Inyan a few months back about a boy who’s mother was a lying drug addict and the only way they knew this boy was Jewish was because his mother said so. They bought instances in the story where the mother lied and disappeared from the boy’s life in the end after taking money that was supposed to be going to her son’s ticket to bring him to England. And on the basis of what that lying drug addict thief of a mother claimed, the boy was thought to be a Jew…

    #1776092

    Avi K
    Participant

    Nobody “recruits” for kiruv. A person must want to become closer. This goes for OTDs as much as for those who grew up up in secular or traditional homes. This is the first principle in helping someone change in any sphere. A person has to want to change.

    #1776114

    jdb
    Participant

    Aish is very successful. It’s not about changing people, it’s about helping people embrace their Judaism and add mitzvos. It’s not all or nothing.

    More unaffiliated Jews in America associate with Israel than with religion. It’s a door opener.

    Before your criticize, open your own worldwide network of yeshivos and do something better.

    #1776116

    Southern Yid
    Participant

    We are not ten days after Tisha Bav yet, and still this page has sina towards other Jews. This websites comments are an chillul Hashem, and are actively keeping us in gulos.

    #1776140

    interjection
    Participant

    There were always secular Jews who were anti Israel. There are still secular Jews who are pro Israel.

    The anti Israel secular Jews have become more vocal in their distaste for Israel and I think that most of it is fueled by their hatred for trump. I believe that if trump started tweeting against Israel, it might spark within these folk an interest toward Israel.

    #1776176

    philosopher
    Participant

    interjection, many secular liberal Israelis are anti-Israel. Anti-Zionism doesn’t have to do with Trump- it has to do with hatred of Jews by non-Jews and liberal Jews. Yes, Jews can hate Jews and anything associated with Jews.

    #1776261

    philosopher
    Participant

    In the US it’s a different story, but in Israel it’s important to have institutions like Aish where people come to them to get more knowledgable about Judaism. Even if most of these people don’t end up religious, it’s still important to have the availability of these classes for people who search for meaning and truth in life. Regarding their pro-Zionism stand they may not have much of a choice if that’s what gets them the $ to be able to continue to do what they are doing. I don’t think that in the long run Zionism influences anybody for or against becoming religious.

    #1776260

    philosopher
    Participant

    Southern Yid, sinas chinum against whom? The OP stated why he thinks Zionism doesn’t work on getting Jews interested in Judaism and others said it’s because of financial consideration that Aish is promoting Zionism. I hardly think that’s sinas chinum.

    Next, I said that in this generation we should not be actively he seeking people to make baalie teshuvas in the US because of the realities of society today. The tumah and repercussions we are living with is a fact of life. Talking about the realities of secular life is not sinas chinum so I don’t know what you are referring to. You can hide your head in the sand, I don’t choose to do so. Of course, it’s the right of any Jew, secular or religious, to come closer Hashem and His Torah, and they should be helped in any way, but for frum people to go into places of tumah and to run after people of questionable origin (as is the fact today in the secular world whether one wants to face it or not) is not what we should be doing in the kiruv world today. Today’s kiruv should be about strengthening Jews born into frum families.

    #1776273

    interjection
    Participant

    Philosopher, that is the case for some. The question is if it is a new phenomenon that Aish now has to adapt to in order to be successful.

    I was saying that it is nothing new but for some people, their hatred for Trump has seemed to make them more anti Israel than they were previously. I was suggesting that since their newer, stronger hatred for Israel seems to be a rebellion against Trump, perhaps if Trump became anti Israel overnight, they might want to feel the opposite as him.

    #1776278

    Jersey Jew
    Participant

    Zahavasdad

    You can’t look at kiruv success by what you see. Kiruv is a long process, a long road, with many speed bumps along the way. Do you really expect the first conversation at the kotel to bring about a shomer Torah u’mitzvos? If you do, that’s part of where you’re wrong. It can take YEARS depending on the age.

    As for the premise of the OP, I had to laugh. I NEVER thought of Aish as being overly zionistic whatsoever. They ARE lo

    #1776279

    chaim_baruch
    Participant

    I’m became Torah observant partially through Aish HaTorah. I attended classes and Shabbatot in the US and studied in the Yeshiva in the Old City. Sometime later, I attended a truly Zionist Yeshiva in Jerusalem, that emphasized the teachings of Rav Kook, ZT”L. The differences between the two, were noticeable.

    Aish is not Zionistic, but they are certainly not anti-Zionist, they’re basically “parve”. They view the State of Israel positively, but they’re not waiving flags on Yom Haaztmaut. That said, some students and teachers do (wave flags), and others do not. They don’t really care about one’s personal “hashkafa” as long as you learn well and behave decently. Keep in mind I was there thirty years ago, so things may have changed.

    Regarding kiruv for liberal Jews that view Israel negatively. How would giving them an anti-Zionist viewpoint help bring these Jews back to observance?

    Tshuva comes from Emuna in Hashem, together, with a deep love and connection to the Jewish people, and for some, not always in that order. Kiruv based on division does not sound very appealing, or effective.

    #1776283

    LAmother
    Participant

    Havent had time to more than glance at soem comments (too busy doing aish kiruv!)lol)
    But couple points. After being heavily involved with aish for almost 3 decades and husband formerly running a branch and having gone to eyaht and being a total baalas teshuva (from aish) as well as thousands of people I know who also became frum (not all aish)
    Zehavasdad you are so wrong. I just picked up an 18 yr Girl from the airport who went to the zone (oorah) with 26 other pre-sem baalei teshuvas all wanting to grow. Joseph trust me its not just chabad. Altho I joke u can be FFA FFB or FFC… And there arent many people close enough to old school Aish and Rav Noach like rabbi berkovits who is officially taking over the helm and is so smart he will know the way to go in all decisions. The generation has changed and kiriv may have adapted. But people are desperately needing that soul connection more than ever. Be them people that left the path or those that never experienced it. Hope to find time to read the comments as aish is so close to my heart I wanna put right any misconceptions

    #1776305

    Chossid
    Participant

    I don’t know what all you guys call a success, but in chabad every Mitzvah is a success. Evey mitzvah bring kedusha upon the person no matter his level in Yiddishkiet. Obviously the ultimate is they should become frum, but the goal is to do as much mitzahs has possible.
    It’s not Zionism, anti-zionism, Israel, or all the other mishigasim that convince/gets the person to come more affiliated, it’s straight from the neshoma, every mitzvah that you do reveals more of the natural desire every single jew has for Hashem (whether frum or not).
    By default every single Jew would be doing all 613 mitzvos it’s just that his neshoma is covered up by dirt. The more you reveal the neshoma the more the more dirt falls off and being able to do more mitzvos and come closer to Hashem.

    #1778593

    philosopher
    Participant

    “By default every single Jew would be doing all 613 mitzvos it’s just that his neshoma is covered up by dirt. The more you reveal the neshoma the more the more dirt falls off and being able to do more mitzvos and come closer to Hashem.”

    Agreed. But how do you verify who is an halachik Jew?

    #1778671

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Agreed. But how do you verify who is an halachik Jew?

    Actually you cant, you have to take peoples word on that, there are no records “who is a jew” in the US

    #1778696

    philosopher
    Participant

    zahavasdad, exactly.

    #1778703

    philosopher
    Participant

    In any case, even IF there were official records of who is a Jew, the non-Jewish and secular definition of who is a Jew is different than how halacha defines who is a Jew.

    #1778771

    Grey matter
    Participant

    Philosopher how dare you advocate abandoning your fellow Jews. What gives you the authority to abandon your brothers whom Hashem calls his children. Kiruv is something the gedolim encouraged, what allows you to discourage it in 2019 based on your whimsical reasoning.

    #1778784

    charliehall
    Participant

    The best kiruv is your own actions. If you meet a non-observant Jew, invite him/her for Shabbat some time. Let them see the pleasure of a Torah life firsthand. Do not outsource to Aish or Lubavich or anyone else — everyone should be interested in all Jews.

    #1778790

    philosopher
    Participant

    Grey matter, I respect your opinion but I’m not backing away from mine since I don’t agree that my opinion is based on whimsical reasoning. And for the record, as I previously said, I am not discouraging kiruv in 2019, I am against trying to do kiruv IN THE US in 2019.

    #1778807

    zilowitz1
    Participant

    i’ve been by quite a few oorah programs and they are extremely successful without any agenda . your wording generally not successful is really not accurate .

    #1778806

    Joseph
    Participant

    Philosopher pointed out that many of those who claim to be Jews but not religious are actually halachicly gentiles and not Jews.

    #1778827

    interjection
    Participant

    ” I have see a pic of two Chabad “rabbis” in some sort of disco dancing near (not with) two obviously see women.”

    Conclusion, all Chabad rabbis would go disco dancing? Chas Veshalom! Using the same logic, if you saw a black hatter yeshivish man who turned out to be a molester, would you say that all black-hatter yeshivish men are molesters? The same way we don’t just the entire Jewish community by the outliers in the community, you shouldn’t judge all chabad rabbis as not being makpid on tznius.

    “You can’t know who is male or female today, if people’s parents are their real parents ( goyim/non-frum people are posting videos of surprising results of their dna tests…the results are mamesh like the revelation of who is a bechor during makos bechoros in mitzrayim) and of course the halachik ramifications of who is the real mother of people who got pregnant through artificial means.”

    You seem to believe, based on this and other posts, that this is common. Where is your data coming from?

    “Philosopher pointed out that many of those who claim to be Jews but not religious are actually halachicly gentiles and not Jews.”

    Philosopher is saying that all forms of kiruv rechokim must stop based on the assumption that the above is common.

    #1778872

    Grey matter
    Participant

    Yes Interjection that is philosophers assertion. Please see my previous comment.

    #1778881

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    I dont think the issue is people who are not halachically jews, the issue is people cannot PROVE they are jews

    You really have to take people’s word they are jewish, especially people from not charedi (In charedi communities, everyone sort of knows everyone are knows someone who knows someone) communities where people sort of come and go or whose familes might have been in the US before World war 1

    #1778933

    Joseph
    Participant

    The above is in chut la’aretz. In Eretz Yisroel the problem is many of the fake converts who never kept a single Shabbos in their lives (mostly Russian and Ethiopian but others as well) done by en masse by the rabbanut are mistakenly assumed to have a valid conversion and r”l intermarry with real Jews.

    #1778927

    Joseph
    Participant

    It is very common for people with Jewish fathers or whose mother or mother’s mother had a Jewish father and a non-Jewish mother as well as those who descend from “converts” done by Reform and Conservative “rabbis” (or adoptees of Conservative and Reform families) to think they are fully Jewish without for a second doubting their Jewishness. And then meet up with a kiruv professional who accepts their alleged Jewishness for granted without ever realizing they are halachicly Goyim. And some of these non-Jews who think they are Jewish r”l integrate into an Orthodox community and marry (or their children marry) within the Orthodox world.

    #1778963

    Grey matter
    Participant

    I don’t think the last part of your scenario is true Joseph when they become frum they figure out they aren’t Jewish but anyway what is your point

    #1779013

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    “And then meet up with a kiruv professional who accepts their alleged Jewishness for granted”

    Not sure if this is motzei shem rah on all Kirin professionals or just most. I have personally help in the process of researching the background and paperwork of people who grew up believing thwy were jewish from more than one agency and i am not even affiliated with them, i was merely asked to help.

    #1779017

    manitou
    Participant

    While I don’t know if they are zionistic or not, the truth is always the most effective method and the truth in this case has been the most effective path to yiddishkeit.
    The Baal teshuva movement was started right after and because of the six day war and not even because people saw prophecies being realized, just because it made people proud to identify as a Jew.

    #1779129

    philosopher
    Participant

    Grey matter and interjection, it is a false conclusion that you have come to and are spreading about what I’ve said. I’ve said “…but I just want to point out the hypocrisy of some people trying to do kiruv in spiritual snake pits…” I specifically said “some poeple” but maybe for people who don’t want to understand what I’ve really said, I should’ve stressed with capitalizing the entire word “some” so that my words cannot be misconstrued. I never said all Lubavitchers and I’ve never said all who do kiruv place themselves in bad situations. That is a lie.

    And I’ve never said ALL kiruv is bad. That is an outright lie. I definitely say that no one can know for sure if those whose ancestors have assimilated for a few generations are Jewish. Do people realize that Jews have assimilated for over two millennia, through being sold into slavery, through forced conversions, through the “Enlightenement”, etc…and never has there been a movement to “bring them back” because after two or three or more generations, there is mixture with the general population and it’s not possible to know for sure who is Jewish.

    And do you really think that the intensely immoral secular world of today only affects goyim but not secular Jews or even assimilated Jews? Good for you if you don’t know what’s out there, but it doesn’t change reality. Secular Jews (including of course the hundreds of thousands who are not halachically Jews but consider themselves Jews) are mostly liberals who support and have to a large extent adopted the liberal cause and way of life.

    #1779163

    Grey matter
    Participant

    “Next, I said that in this generation we should not be actively he seeking people to make baalie teshuvas in the US “

    That’s what I don’t like I don’t think we should renege on our moral responsibility to educate our brethren based on your presumptions. I think you are advocating murder (passively) without any serious basis.

    #1779167

    philosopher
    Participant

    Grey matter, ok, that’s your opinion. My opinion, based on the realities of our current situation is very different obviously.

    #1779175

    jdf007
    Participant

    If I wanted a thread where I disagree with everyone but for one person, I could go on any non-Jewish forum.
    A) Are the Democrats too violent? Is La Raza too racist? I never see this asked.
    B) Can Philosopher trace their ancestry back to Sinai? If not, I can’t trust this person.
    C) Reform or Conservative kiruv? That’s called symposiums on how to handle your non-Jewish grandchildren. And an overemphasis on finding the maybe 5 homosexual Jews that live within a 90 mile radius. Otherwise, I don’t know what some of you are talking about.

    #1779176

    philosopher
    Participant

    While I’m against doing kiruv in the US because people can consider themselves Jewish but come from a few generations back of assimilated Jewish background and it can be impossible to know for sure if they are halachik Jews, there are exceptions where kiruv is needed and is happening successfully and that is in Jewish communities like the Bucharian community in the US. Jewish communities who originate from the Caucasian regions, even those who are not religious, have not assimilated but there’s danger of that happening to their children who are attending public school. Kol hakovod to those bringing these Jews back and saving their generations from being lost to our people.

    #1779188

    🍫Syag Lchochma
    Participant

    LAmother – you obviously don’t have to answer this but were you in EYAHT their second year?

    #1779199

    philosopher
    Participant

    I just want to amend my previous post that many Bucharians are frum to begin with, I didn’t mean to generalize them only just state a fact that there there communities in the US with Jews who have not assimilated but their children are in danger of doing so. I support kiruv for Jews who have not assimilated into the non-Jewish world.

    #1780804

    philosopher
    Participant

    jdf0007, I don’t understand most of your comment, but regarding my ancestry, I was never interested in my yichus until my daughter had a project in high school and we got her family trees and stories from my husband’s and mine extended family members (cousins) who were interested in these things…it was VERY EASY to PROVE our ancestors going back a few hundred years were JEWISH. We even shtamed from famous Rabbonim and a Chassidish Rebbe from Europe (actually we both knew about our famous ancestors before but we now we saw the family tress and how exactly we shtamed from them).

    Not that having non-Jewish ancestors, if it is not an halachik issue, is something to be ashamed about. Our Avos and Imoas had non-Jewish ancestry (and as a result, us as well…) as did Dovid Hamelech. My point is to prove that we could have proof of our Jewish ancestry. No one has to know their family yichus till Har Sinai but if you know where you shtam from that is what matters. My daughter and I were too lazy too bother with a very long report, honestly it doesn’t matter that much too us, but girls in her class had huge reports on their ancestry. All her classmates knew where they came from. This is the result of intermarriage between Jews.

    Baalei teshuva should be able to trace their mother’s side of the family to full-fledged religious Jews a generation or two back. How far back can one go to prove their mother was a Jew? Can Spanish Catholics, who are still practicing Marrano traditions passed down for centuries, claim to be Jewish if they marry mostly with other families living in their village? There are also other halachik considerations to consider such as if a women who was married to two Jewish men who was the person who officiated the divorce from the first husband? And other considerations are important to consider due to the immorality in today’s secular society. Putting one’s head in the sand to do kiruv is not a mitzvah. Doing kiruv and messing with the fabric of tbe Jewish people should not be taken as lightly as it is.

    #1780903

    Moshe H84
    Participant

    I think the vast majority if not all kiruv ppl are well aware of yichus issues. Every case must be taken on an individual basis. If you actually learn halacha you might see the standards for accepting someone as a Jew are different than what you imagine. There’s no concept in halacha of “beyond a reasonable doubt”. We deal with chazaka, reiusa, edus, anan sahadei, etc. It’s a complex sugya and real, responsible poskim should be consulted. Just because we know there are a lot of people out there with questionable yichus doesn’t speak to the status of any given person that coming before us and in my opinion לענ”ד shouldn’t put a damper on kiruv efforts.

    #1781023

    zahavasdad
    Participant

    Philiosopher,

    Just because you can trace your family back hundreds of years, doesnt mean everyone can, epsecially on the Maternal side because last names change. I cant go back more than 100 years

    #1781120

    philosopher
    Participant

    zahavasdad, I also can’t trace my ancestors further than my great-granparents:-) …it was second cousins and great uncles who are into yichus stuff who had the knowledge and abilities to trace our ancestors. I’m sure there are people who could trace the ancestors of your great-grandparents, it requires skill but I’m sure the knowledge is out there somewhere .

    Anyway, my point is not how far back we can go but from where we shtam. If your great-granparents were frum Jews then they came from families whose ancestors were frum Jews or geirim… who also ended up marrying into frum families. Years ago you could rely on the fact that if your grandmother was Jewish she definitely came from Jewish ancestry. .. What ancestry are we creating today for our future generations? Safek Jewish ancestry, that’s what.

    How about we focus all this energy and money on confused and struggling frum kids who don’t fit into the mold, on non-assimilated but not frum families and communities, on OTDs, etc. There are many ways where we need to strengthen our communities and help our own kids, I don’t see why kiruv needs to be done on safek Jews. Of course, for those who are searching and come to us for answers the door should always be open, but there’s no reason to run after people who intermarried for generations and it’s oftentimes impossible to know for certain where they shtam from. This secular generation is just the worst because the secular lifestyle today is simply crazy massive immorallity and besides for the Jewish ancestry question, we can’t take other stuff about people for granted today as well…

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