Why people become OTD (with the focus on the "why")

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    Rabbi Dov Fischer posted an article entitled “Random Thoughts on Another Flawed Survey of Orthodox Jews” on Cross-Currents yesterday (06/29/16). It is a must read. Wow! He hit the nail on the head, as they say. He’s a California Young Israel rov and a member of the RCA Executive Committee.


    Rabbi Dov Fischer posted an article entitled “Random Thoughts on Another Flawed Survey of Orthodox Jews” on Cross-Currents yesterday (06/29/16). It is a must read. Wow! He hit the nail on the head, as they say. He’s a California Young Israel rov and a member of the RCA Executive Committee.

    All surveys are flawed. See: Brexit.


    The easiest way to dismiss a surveys results is to dismiss the survey .


    A survey’s results are only meaningful if the survey is legitimate.

    It is very easy to craft a survey to show exactly what you want it to and then it will be reported on by all the sycophants who wanted to see the same results. (As the expression goes, there are lies, damned lies and statistics)

    R Fisher did not just dismiss the survey out of hand, he demonstrated its overarching flaws.


    If you would read the article Rabbi fischer mentioned why men go OTD but never once mentioned women why go OTD .

    If you want to try to stop people from going OTD, dont dismiss legitimate surveys. Burying your head in the sand wont make it go away.


    I left a long comment on the article at the cross currents site; feel free to respond there.


    Surveys can be very unreliable. The authors of a survey usually are looking for confirmation of their hypothesis, and people answering a survey tend to give the “right answer.”

    Consider that based on scientific techniques one would exect that Britain overwhelmingly wants to stay in the EU, Netanyahu and Cameron were both voted out of office in the last election, and Jeb Bush has a lock on the Republican nomination for president.

    P.S. Given the strong economic and social incentives to be “off the derekh”, one might want to study why anyone would willingly give up most of their economic prospects and agree to live in a marginalized ghetto just because Ha-Shem told them to 3000+ years ago.


    A rebbi who worked for years with boys who went OTD said

    There are 3 that boys go off ( whatever their alibis):





    P.S. Given the strong economic and social incentives to be “off the derekh”, one might want to study why anyone would willingly give up most of their economic prospects and agree to live in a marginalized ghetto just because Ha-Shem told them to 3000+ years ago.

    That has been the case for some time now. Many jews converted to christianity because of economic benefit and many jews left the Shtells to the Big cities or America for the same reason

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    ??????? ?”?: ??? ?? ????? ??? ?? ?????? ??? ????? ?????? ?????? ???? ?? ??? ??? ???? ????? ?????? ??? ????? ??? ????? ???????


    every single person has his own set of challenges!!!!! some have the strength to overcome and some dont!



    that’s a weak one

    At a end of year banquet of an yeshiva for OTD in jerusaLEM some 15-16 years ago,

    a fellow rose to speak

    He turned towards the bochurim who would come once or twice weekly ,and said

    “when you Guys starting coming back in the beginning of the year,

    my original attitude was what could you guys grasp about our lifestyles and where we are coming from”

    However as the months went by it and we got “heimish” it dawned on us ,that you guys had many of the same “nisyonos” that we had

    but when push came to shove , you passed and we just…

    And we now respect you for that”

    and he sat down


    Some who have everything going for them and their families,andare on the D may be more off than some who are somewhat off


    Okay, this letter is ridiculous. He isn’t criticizing the data- he’s completely ignoring it. What he’s in essence saying is, there is no way to really run this survey because we can’t ever trust the people being surveyed, so instead please trust and accept my forty-five-year-old remembrances about college coeds’ white teeth which only apply to about 10% of the population surveyed. Because I am more worth trusting.

    Judging people favorably would really be an admirable thing for him to do in this scenario. He’s just being incredibly dismissive, especially in many of his responses to reader comments.


    Rav Fisher has some interesting and some likely accurate things to say in his essay. But, like he claims the survey – and all surveys are – is, His data and analysis are deeply flawed.

    A caveat – I have worked on both the programmatic and operational side of Kiruv, as a volunteer and a professional, with two of the largest international kiruv organizations around. I have volunteered and worked for both establishment and non establishment community organizations – inside and outside the federation world. I’ve been in advocacy and fundraising. And I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years. I’ve commissioned, written, analyzed, and used the analysis of surveys by and for both secular and frum organizations. So I’m familiar with the subject matter.

    R’ Fisher confoundingly brings in the irrelevant issue that many surveys are done on and around shabbat, and therefore have a disproportionately small representation of Orthodox Jews. It is neither here nor there when it comes to THIS survey, which he is questioning. Aside from his assumption, we are talking about OTD Jews who are not necessarily shomer shabbos. Why he projects his reality on theirs, I can only speculate.

    R’ Fisher also makes the confused (and confusing) inference that we are talking about university educated Modern Orthodox Jews, as if they were the only ones going OTD. He studiously ignores the increasing numbers coming from Chareidi backgrounds, who leave Kiryas Yoel, or New Square, or Monsey or Lakewood, who are literally running AWAY from their previous life, not running TOWARDS the attractions of the Frat House. Moreover, he makes these assumptions with no factual or statistical backup. None. He doesn’t know or doesn’t cite the data from the survey he is denigrating. But he “knows”.

    R’Fisher gives short shrift to the women who have left frumkeit. They’ve written books, started assistance organizations, R’L they’ve ended their own lives because of the pain and trauma of their experiences – but to R’Fisher they don’t factor in to the equation, because they don’t fit in to his narrative. Aside from devaluing and dismissing their experience, it kind of kills one’s theory about statistics when one removes half of the potential population from one’s analysis.

    R’ Fisher also hypothesizes about the motivation of Federations in commissioning surveys and using them to short change frum communities. And yet, the trend across North America is towards increased involvement in Federation leadership, increased donations from frum donors, and increased allocations to orthodox institutions by Federations.

    R’ Yaakov Menken wrote about this in Cross Currents 10 years ago (June 2006), and the change has continued.

    The community I grew up in counts a highly disproportionate number of frum leaders (Chareidi among them) among Federation and other broad based community organizations. This is the case in several other communities I have worked in and know about. Having been inside and outside those organizations, I can say that though there may certainly be outliers among the over 150 Federations in North America, making this claim comes close to being Motzi Shem Ra. Aside from my personal knowledge, to publicly make this kind of claim without facts and figures to back you up is reckless for anyone, but certainly for a Young Israel Rabbi.

    So, R’ Fisher’s analysis is as I said, deeply flawed. But he is right that Taaivos play a role for some. He is right that some who say they are orthodox are so in name only (but what does that say about orthodox congregations who fail and fail again to engage these people so that they might be truly “orthodox”?) But hit the nail on the head? More like hit his thumb with the hammer.

    ☕ DaasYochid ☕

    Was he claiming that white teeth on college campus were the only reason, thereby ignoring women and chareidim, or was that merely an example (as was Shabbos conducted surveys) of where their analysis has gone wrong?


    DY, it is tendentious to separate data from analysis as if there is no relationship. Of course I am familiar with Twain’s “Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics” quote. Here he starts with the hypothesis that surveys are useless tools of the Liberal literati, and goes from there.

    Criticizing (even irrelevantly and incorrectly, as he does) shabbos phone calls, is about data collection, not analysis.

    In criticizing the questions that Federations supposedly tailor to their supposed anti-frum needs, he is talking about methodology, not analysis.

    And the ironic part of all of this is that the survey results, which I have read, aren’t particularly harsh, and display a very wide range of rationales and information about the OTD phenomenon. I don’t know why he’s defensive about it in the first place.


    People only go OTD if they are descended from ovdei avoda zarah.


    People do it because they want attention or because they want to change the status quo.


    Thank you yichusdik.

    Also, check out, just for a sample, his response to a woman who wrote about her experience with first domestic abuse and then several years of igun. It’s a combination of tone-deaf superciliousness and cruelty. I can’t listen to a guy who talks like that.

    (CC also blocked my post which criticized that response, by the way. Says a lot, if you ask me.)


    I was never really on the derech, but I strongly considered it and often miss the community. Indeed, I lurk here sometimes, listen to Jewish music and drop in on a chabad from time to time. I miss the life and the comfort and peace it brings, which I only had a brief window into and seriously considered at times in my life.

    My own personal experience is this: My parents were twice a year jews but sent me to Hebrew Academy and I went there until 12th grade (from Kindergarten). I am now a lawyer who excelled in law school and I also excelled at Gemara at Hebrew Academy since the skill set needed to interpret and argue halacha and american law are very similar.

    Early on the rabbis picked up on my skill and tried to convince me to go to YU, etc…

    I actually did consider being religious and for a while kept kosher in college (not what you guys would consider kosher, but applying a meikil standard, kosher).

    To me, the largest reason I ended up not being religious is my discovery of the scale of issues that I had not known about and that Zev Farber has been chastised for pointing out.

    Rambam figured out a long time ago that there were people who were going to question “Zev Farber issues,” some of which I saw as a young adult on my own without looking as you do not need to go to the depths Zev Farber did to search to see obvious questions. And in any case, I imagine that for Zev, that search only began after he noticed things without any search. Indeed, I knew Zev in high school and he struck me as someone who legitimately cared about yidishkeit and wanted to be believe, he was not someone looking for an excuse not to believe.

    I am leaving examples out of this post for fear that if I list them, it will get censored, but they exist all over the internet. And I know that there are answers, but without listing issues, suffice it to say some are troubling to me, and became so before I met my now wife.

    For whatever reason, todays orthodox community has decided to just ignore the questions. And the chareidi community has banned the internet in hopes that their community wont discover them (except that I discovered enough on my own without the internet and I have only a tiny fraction of knowledge Zev has).

    In any case, I believe the burying head in sand tactic is a mistake. I believe Rambam’s approach was better. Acknowledge the questions and try the best to answer them, especially now that anyone with google can find them.

    Anyway, my sunday rant. And here is a secret. R’ Fisher if he knew my life story would say I fit neatly into his hypothesis. I married a jewish girl who came from a conservadox Young Israel family, but who does not really believe or want to practice. Had I married someone more religious, perhaps things would have been different. But I do not know.

    So I think that R’ Fisher is right and wrong. People no doubt respond to surrounding environment, etc… And I also have no doubt that there are people who will be negatively affected by college. But treating that as the only issue is short sighted and ignores other problems, and of course there can never be solutions to ignored problems.


    Rabbi Fischer’s essay was in direct response to a specific survey of OTD individuals. Keep that in mind when reading the rabbis article and be familiar with the original offending surveys absurd conclusions.


    What do you consider absurd about the survey’s conclusions?


    I personally think it has something to do with bitachon in Hashem. I think if someone goes off they didnt believe in Hashem and then theyll go off and realize there is a Hashem and come back on.

    Avi K

    Miamilawyer, you are a proof for the truth of Torah. As Mark Twain wrote in “Concerning the Jews” “The Egyptian, the Babylonian, and the Persian rose, filled the planet with sound and splendor, then faded to dream-stuff and passed away; the Greek and the Roman followed, and made a vast noise, and they are gone; other peoples have sprung up and held their torch high for a time, but it burned out, and they sit in twilight now, or have vanished. The Jew saw them all, beat them all, and is now what he always was, exhibiting no decadence, no infirmities of age, no weakening of his parts, no slowing of his energies, no dulling of his alert and aggressive mind. All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality?”

    The fact that there are apparent contradictions in the written Torah does not mean that it was not written by Hashem c”v. It means that Hashem employed different literary styles for different reasons. If you excelled in Gemara you know that resolving difficulties is the lifeblood of Talmudic discourse. In fact, as Rabbi Gordimer has stated, the mefarshim deal with these issues. I am sure that in Miami there are good Tanach classes with rabbis who can deal with your issues. Try them.


    Miamilawyer – i always question the Torah until i find the answer and its totally acceptable. In the end of the day theres full cut proof that theirs a Hashem. How can all that stuff like quantom mechanics be real if there isnt a Hashem? How come there are stars and the whole way they are and deny Hashem? How is your body able to function right now if there isnt a Hashem? Hashem wrote the Torah whether or not you understand it its written by Hashem and you must keep it. Also, the people who go OTD in college are the ones who end up dropping out so please dont say stuff like peole go OTD in college if youve been to college youd realize its not true. People go for a parnassa they dont go to hang out with goyim. I do not want to talk bad about good frum people who go to college just to support their husbands learning in kollel or go to support a nice frum family while their wives raise 15 children so please dont talk bad about college students.


    Truly, I am one of those people that loves the sport of a good argument, whether it be halacha, American law, politics or whatever.

    That said, I respect that this is a frum site, and so I choose my words very carefully when I post because the last thing I want to do is put doubts in anyone here.

    So I will just say this: There are many exit ramps between the liberal and non-orthodox position of “there is one true god, and Torah is at least inspired by g-d but contains much allegory and the traditions, customs and law have value but are not absolute” to the charedi position of the entirety of it is min hashamayim, chazal was perfect on torah issues if not science too, etc. (despite devarim’s “lo bashamayim hi” which the MO school I went to taught meant that chazal could be wrong, but we had to follow them anyway as opposed to that however they resolved the halachic machloket was perfect).

    But look, I hear you all and other arguments, I have a lot of life left to live (hopefully), and who knows what the future will bring.

    Avi K

    Miamilawyer, “contains much allegory and the traditions, customs and law have value but are not absolute” ” is not necessarily non-Orthodox. it depends on how you define your terms (and you know that many laws start with definitions). How many are many? For example, Chazal say that “an eye for an eye” means monetary compensation (and prove that lex talionis is untenable). Traditions, customs and law are certainly not absolute in the sense that the same answer applies to all cases. There is lechatchila and b’diavad, shaat hadechak, hefsed meruba, kevod haberiot, etc.

    As for “lo baShemayim hi”, that means that we follow human logic (using internal rules of deduction) rather than to come to conclusions rather than relying on miracles or nevua. By definition Chazal’s halachic and ethical statements are correct. This is even true where they contradict each other as there are several possible conclusions. We also have that in Mathematics. A quadratic equation can have two answers. A cubic equation three, a quartic equation four, etc.


    they go off since the yetzer hara got the best of them.


    miami lawyer – we will not judge you since you have different views than we do but we will respect you because your jewish but well ask you to respect us as well.


    @sparkly. I do respect your views and most of my posts are just schmoozing on day to day issues or respectful discussion. And if i go over the line unintentionally, you have mods to keep me in line (and ive only been edited once and it was on the gay issue and because it was inappropriate for a pg rated website, but it wasnt because it was a criticism of halacha). Indeed, with the exception of this thread which asks a specific question, in most of my posts, i try not to make my level of observance evident.


    As a kiruv specialist because i work as an ncsy advisor. maybe instead of posting here maybe you want to start going to a chabad to give you help with religion.


    Sparkly, I would say, as a BT myself, that going to Chabad may not give miamilawyer what he/she is looking for as far as the true emuna in Hashem that is the necessary stepping stone for keeping mitzvos.

    My sisters became BTs thru Chabad and wanted to persuade me to join them in the “good life” by talking to me about the neshama and how it needs Torah and other gobbleygook that appeals to some people who might be the searching type.

    I, on the other hand, was not actually search, but Hashem must have been searching for me in some way or other, because I found myself at a seminar weekend put on by Aish HaTorah for their Discovery program. It was there that I learned much about the truth of the Torah and that it is divinely written. Their program is much more intellectual than many of the classes given by Chabad, which appeal more to the emotional side of a person, which did not really motivate me.

    But once I had started to learn that there is truly Hashem in the world and that he made us and wrote a book (just a beginners thoughts on the whole religious world that I had at the time) on how to live our lives, then I understood that it was my job to figure out what to do and how I was supposed to do it. It wasn’t so much of a choice to me anymore because Hashem’s existence was so obvious to me at that time. I was fortunate to take that motivation and turn it into a life surrounded with Torah and mitzvos.

    I will say that unfortunately, many MO teachings do not really give the full depth of written and oral Torah and leave the kind of gaps I think you have, which can make a person be wishy washy in their beliefs and observance. Once you strengthen your understanding, you might have a whole different take on the arguments.


    Nechomah – I am as frum as an ncsy advisor is my rabbi actually is mo and when he went to school like miami lawyer did but i chose to keep more because i believe Hashem wants us to do whatever it is for Him.


    Sparkly, as a “kiruv specialist” you might have been able to figure out that Miamilawyer is perfectly capable of finding a chabad or aish or other kiruv environment IF THAT WAS WHAT HE WANTED. He was able enough to find the Yeshivaworld coffee room, which is arguably a bit harder to find.

    Simple conversation with God fearing Jews seems to be what Miamilawyer is engaging in (correct me if I am wrong) and demonstrating interest in. He doesn’t seeem to be out to “convert” anyone to a cause. So perhaps just engage, and if the hashpaah accomplished is so important to you, Sparkly, then make good arguments, and listen to what he is saying.


    “It is a must read. Wow! He hit the nail on the head, as they say.”

    I don’t think so…I could barely get through it. Just a sampling of inaccurate and/or offensive things he said:

    -“Concern over community hypocrisy” is something that only applies to “liberals”.

    -“With the rarest of exceptions”, all colleges are “liberal”.

    -Guys who go OTD in college do so because of girls from Barnard who apparently seduce them and “take them away” and “take over their minds”.

    -Going OTD=”voting for Hillary”.

    -It should “give us heart” that just as these goyishe seductresses can brainwash our precious boys, so too can aidel seductresses bring them back to us! Source: a Torah pasuk that forbids intermarriage.


    -People can’t and therefore don’t think for themselves. They just follow what everyone else tells them. Therefore gender equality isn’t an issue and it’s the liberals’ fault because liberals control college campuses, the media, and most probably the entire world.

    -College professors voted for McGovern because they were stupid and blindly listened to each other rather than the rest of America, which was much smarter.

    -Survey analysts are out to get the Orthodox and “advance their personal ideological agendas”. It’s a massive conspiracy started by the Jewish Federations. There isn’t a single statistical analyst out there who isn’t crooked.

    -Only 11 percent of people from the survey (remember, we can’t trust the survey anyway) said that they left Orthodoxy because of gender roles. This proves that only a tiny minority of people leave Orthodoxy for ideological reasons, because gender role is the only issue that liberals care about. Therefore, at least 89 percent of people left Orthodoxy because they were brainwashed by their college professors. But remember, it’s probably more than 89 percent because the survey is wrong.

    -I wrote this article that you should all read because it’s so important for us to wise up to the brainwashing college professors and Jewish Federation professionals who are out to get Orthodoxy. I’m going to tell you all about the yarmulke-wearing day school graduates who are no longer wearing yarmulkes by the time they graduate college. All the conspiracy theories took up too much space, though, so I can’t also tell you about what happens to women, who don’t wear yarmulkes. But you should just know that their experience is “somewhat similar”.

    -“Orthodoxy would lose everything” if we allowed a crooked rabbi to actually be brought to justice.

    -People who came from non-observant families, but the shul they didn’t go to was Orthodox, identified as Orthodox pre-1970. After 1970, when REAL Orthodox Jews “emerged from a century of hiding” in America, these people realized their silly error and began accurately classifying themselves as not actually Orthodox. Anyone with half a brain knows this.

    And writersoul is absolutely correct that it’s ridiculous to argue that surveys should be distrusted in favor of 40+ year old anecdotal evidence.

    This article made me sick.


    Jewishfeminist 02


    “stand and applauds”


    I might post another comment later going more into depth on this topic, but for now here are some points.

    1) Some of you complain that Rabbi Fischer only spoke concerning Modern Orthodox “Males” and avoided mentioning “female”. That is not totally accurate. Here is a quote from his article.

    “Something similar is true of the female experience, although women tend to be more religious and more protective of preserving the culture and species. They also are not required to wear external defining symbols when they begin college, a sartorial factor that forces an OTD decision sooner, like deciding to stop wearing a yarmulka. For reasons dictated here by space considerations, I have focused here on the male phenomenon.”

    2) Some of you complain about his narrow response to the survey. In my opinion, giving him the benefit of the doubt (which halachicly we should do), I don’t think his intention was to bring a full rebuttal, but rather to simply show that we should not take surveys at face value and that no survey is above scrutiny. The purpose of a survey is to bring to light information that is otherwise unknown or unclear. If there is a flaw in the methods used then clearly the results will not show accurately. What honest benefit can be reaped from it then. It can only be used for financial gain and nothing else. I hate to say it, but when I read the results of this survey I was frustrated because I am really looking for real answers concerning OTD and my gut feeling is that this survey did not really provide that. We can’t reverse this process unless we know the true reasons and I truly believe that the only ones that will gain out from this survey are the ones that paid for it and have an agenda. That leads me to my third point.

    3) Look who’s behind this survey and who’s also a client of this startup Marketing Research Company from 2015, Nishma Research. Agendas, perhaps?

    Here are two Testimonials on their site:

    Steven M. Cohen | Research Professor of Jewish Social Policy at Hebrew Union College

    Tsivia Finman | Director of Operations, Footsteps

    A REFORM RABBINICAL SCHOOL AND AN OTD ORGANIZATION. Are we really to believe that their agendas had absolutely no affect on the supposed results?


    The original survey Rabbi Fischer correctly critiqued, was a self-selected sample. They primarily solicited partcipation among some known anti-religious groups such as Footsteps.


    softwords – we do have a symbol for girls when they go to college and that is tznius. So much so that when the non jews see girls wearing tznius clothes they ask them about it.


    Actually, Softwords, I can understand that you have little knowledge or experience with these scholars, but Steven Cohen consulted extensively for the Orthodox Union in analyzing the Pew Report a couple of years ago. He is highly respected throughout the Jewish world, and I have personally participated in his briefings on the Pew Report (for the OU, without a Reform agenda; the opposite, he had some very complimentary and useful things to convey about the Orthodox world and what the Pew report revealed about it). You could pick up the phone and ask Rabbi Weil or Rabbi Weinrib about him. But, alas, you are content to be motzi shem ra about him because you saw the words “Hebrew Union”.

    Secondly, surveys are always, always and only contingent on what you ask, and who you ask. Are you surprised that an organization like Footsteps which serves the population being surveyed would not have an interest in finding out real data about them? DO you think they want to waste their time and limited resources finding results that are inaccurate because of an assumed agenda, rather than accurate information that will help them accomplish what they set out to do? That’s a pretty twisted world view.


    Joseph, Lesson one of surveys: everyone who answers a survey is self selecting. They can choose to participate or not.

    Secondly, the survey was on and about people who are identifying themselves as OTD. Who should they have been surveying, the gabbai at the shteeble down the street from you?


    yichusdik – if you took a statistics class you wouldve learnt about voluntary response the problem with that is that you only get responses from whoever answers it so you only got OTD people to answer and not others like rabbi, religoius jews, etc… so retake the survey because you missed other peoples responses so its biased.


    The issue is that the respondents to the survey were, in addition to being self selected, heavily from members of anti-religious organizations e.g. Footsteps.


    Thank you JFem and yichusdik for everything you’ve posted so far.

    For various reasons, I know several people who filled out this survey. First of all, it was not only people who went off the derech- it was also people who left a charedi/chassidish lifestyle for Modern Orthodoxy. Two organizations to which the survey was sent (to be propagated among others qualified to answer who may or may not be part of one of these groups) were Footsteps (helping people become secular) and Project Makom (helping people stay frum after leaving a charedi community). They were both given the opportunity to answer the survey, and Project Makom is using survey results to try to help people who want to leave due to some of these factors to change their minds and stay in some form of religious lifestyle. So this data could actually be very key in helping people stay frum.

    Also, listen to yourselves- you’re saying that the data on this “why did people go OTD” survey is flawed because it only surveyed people who went OTD. That’s what it was for. If it had surveyed frum people, there would have been no point- that, in fact, would have skewed the data. And, like I said, while the survey was passed around on Footsteps, which is anti-frum by its raison d’etre, it was also passed around in other contexts for people not involved in that organization.

    Also- and this is important- this isn’t an empirical survey. This is more aggregating the experiences of many people to try to find common ground. Just because someone is no longer religious does not mean that you can suddenly suspend being dan them lekaf zechus that they are being truthful in their answers.

    I am starting to feel like people just don’t want to believe the survey, because it doesn’t fit into people’s neat boxes of wild, partying, hedonistic OTD people. There are definitely people who leave beshittah and are chozrim be’she’eilah, and their voices should be heard without being immediately disbelieved.


    Joseph – exactly thats why their was an issue with the survey because you must have many different types of people answer just like how i said in statistics.


    yichusdik – it was not and is not my intentions to lambaste Mr. Cohen. I do not know him at all, nor have I researched him either. So I have no rights to comment on him directly. I merely quoted his testimonial on the Nishma Research website. I could be wrong, but I am assuming that he did not hire or pay for the survey from his own pocket. I’m assuming he’s merely a representative of the Hebrew Union (who are the real clients of this survey).

    Furthermore, I don’t mean to imply that Nishma intentionally construed the results to satisfy their client. Rather, I’m stating that the client base can at times subconsciously affect the outcome. That is why in scientific research it is common to do “double-blind experiments”, so that the researcher and their subjects are not subconsciously affected by bias. (By the way, if you search for “double-blind experiments” you’ll see that on one website the very first example of double-blind experiments given is to prevent surveys from being unintentionally distorted.)

    There is another problem with this survey and that is lack of insight. The people who are hired to make these cold calls are often (if not always) not professionals such as psychologists who would naturally probe the answers given. These surveyors merely ask the questions that are on their list to ask and record the answers given. I can just about guarantee you that NONE of the 885 people surveyed were asked why the “perceived” lack of women’s rights in Orthodoxy would cause them to “drop everything” (especially since there are factions among the MO that they could join that profess the need for women’s rights and have even “ordained” female Rabbis). To the probing mind this question CAN NOT be overlooked! Thus, we can only assume that their “dropping everything” must be deeper than the shallow answers given.

    I could possibly understand how a perceived chauvinism could start girls on a path of falling away from a Torah life, but how many guys TRULY would be SO bothered by a lack of equality that the would drop everything?! I highly doubt that the majority of guys that are OTD are that idealistic.

    Also, if I don’t know a single soul who’s a Homosexual why would I be so bothered by the Torah’s condemnation of homosexuality that I’d throw everything away?! Not only my faith, but even my family and community, not to mention placing myself in a position of being excommunicated! And for what? For some homosexual I’ve never met?! IT JUST DOES NOT ADD UP!

    In short, I don’t believe the survey was intentionally distorted, nor do I believe that those surveyed intentionally lied. Rather, I believe that for the OTD the answers given give them a sense of justification and yet deep down they know that these are not the true reasons, but rather excuses. It’s liken to the employee who states that he’s late due to “traffic” when deep down he really knows their are other factors that he’s hiding which are the real reasons he’s late, but it’s easier to get away with saying “traffic”.

    As for the surveyors… I don’t believe that they are informed enough of the intricacies of our community and it psyche that they can properly prepare a survey that flawless. By default, it is guaranteed to be full of holes.

    In my opinion the only way to get true results here is to hire a group of professionals psychologists who are keenly aware of our Orthodox communities and our mindset that they know how to look beyond safe answers and stubbornly probe for the true reasons. Only when their combined data is collected and analyzed can we truly get to the bottom of this.


    sparkly – the words you are responding to are not mine, but rather Rabbi Fischer’s. I merely quoted him. That does not mean I agree with every word quoted. In this case I’d probably agree with you.


    I’d like to point out that those desirous to comment should look directly at the survey and not rely on summaries given by third parties. I made that mistake and have now discovered that some of my comments were based on misinformation given by other websites that were misquoting the survey.

    Here are some points to consider:

    1) According to the survey the highest response given by OTD women for leaving was equality. However, that only amounted to 20%. Thus, 80% of the women surveyed apparently were not trouble by women’s role in Judaism. This was misleading.

    2) Only 3% of all OTD men were troubled by equality. The websites I saw deliberately left this out.

    3) If you combine all the answers given you’ll see that the majority were affected by unanswered questions. Thus, based on this data we can conclude (if the survey is indeed accurate) that our response should be to start encouraging our kids to open up to us with their doubts and warmly provide clear answers. Of course, this is not enough on it’s own, but a good starting point.

    One other point to take to heart. It appears from the survey that the more one is exposed to gentile progressive thinking the more likely for him/her to go OTD. Something to ponder.


    softwards – its true they should have a psychologist take the survey instead.

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