Wednesday, October 27, 2010

"Frum Schools Cant Be Built Fast Enough."
Or so a popular addage goes about rightwing places, I'm sure the statistics of Charedi Orthodox birthrates and children of other committed Jewish families being sent to Orthodox schools indicate this, regardless of their family hashkafah. When a system knows it's taking the bulk of the future, when it has so many people benefiting, service can slack off of course. It can become a money-making scheme all it's own, regardless of Torah being the product. The following is from a blogger commenting on a horrific incident of corporal punishment at a yeshivah (comment #74);

There's only one reason a principal would do this. Because he can. Because his school has a waiting list and he doesn't care if a parent walks out and makes a fuss since there are students waiting to fill that space.

Something to say in a bit, busy working.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Addenda to Post on People Leaving Orthodoxy "in Droves"

Found this, seems pertinent to an earlier post. On the recent AJC Jewish Public Opinion Survey;
Why is the proportion of Orthodox in the survey holding steady?
In 2000, 10 percent of the survey identified itself as Orthodox; in 2010, it was 9 percent. For decades, the conventional Jewish wisdom has been that the Orthodox community is growing by leaps and bounds, while the non-Orthodox world is shrinking. So why isn't that reflected in the AJC numbers? I assume, knowing the AJC survey research people, that they strive for a sample that accurately reflects the demographics of the Jewish community. What gives?

I think it stays steady for the same reasons the overall Jewish population stays steady; lowering birthrates among the non-Committed Jews butts heads with Jews living longer, uping the geriatric percentage of the entire population, while more people identify as Jewish who are not meets against halachic Jews who become assimilated, etc, etc. But I think "what gives" is a new variable that is unspoken "conventional wisdom" among Orthodox; that a certain number of people leaving Orthodoxy, young and old, is now an established norm. A certain number of Orthodox families (of 4+ kids), simply aren't taking root - however small - while the increased survival rate of older, Orthodox-identifying Jews (and aging Boomer BTs from previous surveys), obscure the numbers of younger Jews who do not stay Orthodox; so the figures stay essentially the same? I don't know, maybe. Again, I think it matters that the majority of Jews who make Aliyah are Orthodox, and include the most motivated, community-building members.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cost of an Observantly Observant Lifestyle
From a blog I follow that often features disturbing and informed observations on Orthodox Jewry at large in the U.S.;

"If you create a community that requires the members to be in the top 6% of US income, and makes one comfortable only if one is in the top 3% then you have a social problem."

The latest inflated statistics for the U.S. (you can guarantee they are; definitions notoriously inclusive of those with a Jewish father, etc), is 2.1% of the population (Jew, please...); what fraction of that fraction are Orthodox? About 10%...THIS IS NUTS.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Just Brilliant; Vintage Scrubs

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Follow the Bouncing Biblical/Xtian Presuppositions that made for Science....
[my emphasis] I do not believe that the successful pursuit of scientific discovery is an activity that is feasible in every conceivable world, but it is a fact of our experience in this particular world. By that I mean...that the explanation of the success of science in exploring the intelligible universe is ultimately theological rather than philosophical, believing as I do that it derives from the fact that this specific universe is a [1] creation endowed with a [1] rational order that is [3] accessible to creatures who are [4] made in the image of the Creator, rather than deriving from general human rational powers that could be exercised equally in any kind of world.
Polkinghorne, John. Science and the Trinity : The Christian Encounter with Reality. p 180.

In my exploration of science and Torah issues, I can recall few instances of a Jewish Kiruv author writing or lecturer actually articulate this relationship of Bible to science from early modern Torah sources about these fundamentally-Biblical presuppositions that made for science, until R. Slifkin (I think R. Hirsch, but I don't have his Chumash handy). Most seem either incapable of deriving this insight about science on their own (most all being Charedim), or are I'm afraid to say, given their knowledge of Tanakh and Rabbinic Judaism, they have difficulty admitting that though Judaism harbored and sustained and engaged these ideas for millenia on millenia - it was Christianity in "particular" that proved the most fertile soil.

More on science and Torah later, but I'd like to note often it's repeated that Jews are disproportionally numbered among Nobel Prize winners - but no one bothers to ask how it matters - are these Nobel Prize winners religious Jews (Agnon and Aumann, possible Yalow and Kandel?), let alone committed Jews - or mostly assimilated Jews? Bergson, Pasternak, Haber, de Hevesy, Cori (nee Radnitz, first woman to win a Nobel Prize), Born, Wigner, Bethe, Harsany, Herbert Simon were even Christians!

Monday, October 04, 2010

A Brief Apology for Luddism
That technology should be radically opposed which is not recyclable (or biodegradable), and which is incompatible with at least 4 previous generations of is predecessors (generations of a technology should be several years, not months), and which cannot be powered easily by conventional electrical means (i.e., could be distributed in developing nations where DIY electrical power could run them).
Those technologists ("engineers" - even if they be scientists who think like engineers a la Consolmagno) should be underfunded and unsupported who have given in to the dark, subconscious sides the Geek mind - enamored with themselves and their innovations, their own personal breaks with their own (selectively-remembered) pasts and break with inherited/imposed "things bigger than themselves" who adopt and incorporate (or mere abide with), a "something bigger than themself" that offers them control and influence more than asks of them submission or humility. Proudly lacking for "metanarratives", many of them are like children without parents - only Blessed "personal experience" to explain to them what's happening to them as they mature, what things should mean to them (or that things should mean to them). Denying metanarratives and only economic and biological drives, they are that much more vulnerable to all of them - adopting "sciency" definitions and meanings for terms of greater dimension and antiquity than they can accomodate - like "myth" and "belief" and "faith" - and then simply fall prey to myths of progress, [cursed] preconceptions of earlier phases of the modern era, assurance in the deliverances of experts, etc.

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