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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 30, 2007 / 16 Elul, 5764

A new Orthodoxy is taking root in the most unlikely of places

By Jonathan Rosenblum


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Heroic rabbis — and their families — are sacrificing and succeeding


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Over the last four weeks, I have had the privilege of visiting three communities in the hinterlands of American Orthodox life — Mercer Island, Washington (a suburb of Seattle), La Jolla, California (just outside of San Diego), and Dunwoody, Georgia (a suburb of Atlanta). On the face of it, it would be hard to imagine less promising soil for Orthodoxy to take hold. Yet in each place, I found shuls of between 140 and 300 families.


Each of these communities exists only because an intrepid rabbi put down stakes in a place in which there was not even a minyan of Sabbath observant Jews. Such efforts are typically associated with Chabad. But both Rabbi Jeffrey Wohlgelernter in La Jolla and Rabbi Binyomin Friedman in Atlanta are products of Baltimore's Ner Israel Rabbinical College. (Rabbi Yechezkel Kornfeld, the spiritual leader of the Young Israel of Mercer Island, is Lubavitch-trained, but he did not found the synagogue.)


In each of the three cities, the odds were stacked against creating a vibrant Orthodox congregation. Upscale suburban communities, with single-family homes on large lots are ill-suited to attracting any significant number of already observant Jews into the area. If an Orthodox synagogue was to be built, the only option was to attract those who were already living in the neighborhood. That meant drawing members not only from the existing Reform and Conservative congregations, but also from the ranks of the totally unaffiliated.


None of these congregations are comprised entirely of Sabbath observant members. In both LaJolla and Atlanta more than half the membership is not yet shomer Shabbes. Yet, the existence of thriving synagogues, with thrice daily minyanim (communal prayer services) and overflow Sabbath services, in an environment long assumed to be hostile to Orthodoxy tells us something important about the direction of American Jewry: Those who care about their children's future as Jews are increasingly recognizing Orthodoxy as the only hope for the future.


Affiliation with an Orthodox shul, even for families who are not Sabbath observant, has immense implications. The chance of the children attending Jewish day schools increases greatly. And the level of Jewish knowledge and familiarity with Jewish practice of the young members is far greater than if they had never seen the inside of an Orthodox synagogue. The act of joining an Orthodox congregation removes the stigma from Orthodoxy for family members.


I met a number of black-hatted young men in these communities who came from marginally observant homes, and many others from non-observant but Orthodox-affiliated homes, who ended up in Israel at ba'al teshuva yeshivos. In many cases, the parents followed their children's upward spiritual trajectory.


THE RABBIS WHO HEAD these congregations relate to and accept every Jew as one finds them in terms of religious observance and Jewish knowledge. If those that the rabbi seeks to draw close sense that his concern with them is contingent on their becoming fully observant, they will recoil.

The rabbi must learn to rejoice in every small step forward on a spiritual journey that can take many years, and which usually involves numerous ups and downs, and he must possess the ability not to lose heart when the inevitable obstacles arise along the way.

The degree of personal involvement in every aspect of their congregants' lives required of these rabbis is quite unlike anything experienced by those in more traditional synagogues. Each member family is unique in terms of its background and internal dynamics, and those dynamics are constantly shifting during the religious growth process. Each congregant requires his or her individual approach. The only rule to guide the rabbi is: There are no rules.

The demands upon the rabbis' families are also quite unlike those of the families of rabbis in more traditional settings. My Sabbath in Dunwoody, for instance, there were over 25 people for both the main Shabbes meals, and a dozen people sleeping over at the Friedmans' home. Those numbers I was informed by members of the shul are relatively modest, and the presence of at least three more unopened folding tables in the dining room lent credibility to that claim.

The demands on the rabbis' wives are not limited to entertaining large numbers of guests. They are also intimately involved in the lives of the female congregants as role models, friends, and counselors.

Even the rabbis' children are an integral part of the effort. They learn early to adapt to sharing their homes with strangers. And they are heavily invested in each family in the congregation. Even after they move away, their calls home usually revolve around families in the congregation. In their new settings — even during post-marriage advanced studying in Israel — they invariably find themselves drawn to outreach work. One of the rabbis I met told me that his children have developed an acute sensitivity to the needs of others. As a consequence, they are always among the first in rabbinical school or seminary to spot a classmate with some emotional need and to offer support.

There are unique frustrations that go with the rabbi's position. One is that some of the congregants who progress furthest religiously will inevitably move to larger Orthodox communities, where there are greater educational opportunities for their children.

Another is that there will always be a certain percentage of congregants who feel frustrated in their own religious growth process, and find the rabbi the easiest person to blame.

Yet for all the rabbis I met the privilege of being able to facilitate their fellow Jews on the path of coming closer to G-d and the joy of watching them do so compensates for the incessant demands and the frustrations that go with the territory. And that makes them heroes of ahavas Yisrael in our time.

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JWR contributor Jonathan Rosenblum is founder of Jewish Media Resources and a widely-read columnist for the Jerusalem Post's domestic and international editions and for the Hebrew daily Maariv. He is also a respected commentator on Israeli politics, society, culture and the Israeli legal system, who speaks frequently on these topics in the United States, Europe, and Israel. His articles appear regularly in numerous Jewish periodicals in the United States and Israel. Rosenblum is the author of seven biographies of major modern Jewish figures. He is a graduate of the University of Chicago and Yale Law School. Rosenblum lives in Jerusalem with his wife and eight children.


© 2007, Jonathan Rosenblum