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A Call to Have Children – What is the Jewish Education System doing to us?

November 30, 2012 – 3:38 pm83 Comments

By Jonny Schauder
The Glen Eira College initiative (see previous articles on Galus Australis) has of course prompted many conversations about the role and value of faith based private Jewish educational schools.  And more specifically, the reality that most in the community cannot afford school fees of the magnitude required.

One particular aspect of discussions I’ve been involved in are genuinely worrying.  It focused on a young Jewish couple’s decision about whether to have more children or less. In brief the discussion went:

–          Well should a young couple have more Jewish children but realise they will need to go to public schools?  or;

–          Should the young couple stop at one or two children in order to afford Jewish Day schooling?

To my astonishment there was even some positive support for the idea of having less children in order to stay in the Jewish School System by the people involved. That somehow having less, “more educated” children would be good for the child, couple, family, or community in any way?

Is this really what has happened to us, Generation X? Seriously? I’d like to hear the views of others.

Have we come to believe that we’d rather not have children at all than fear stepping one foot outside the Jewish Day School system? What are we scared of?  If that is the case, then isn’t the Private School system a real danger to continuity?

In other words, if rather than having Jewish kids, we want to give birth to “Jewish educations”, have we lost the plot as a community?

If you are fortunate enough that you can have children, then the first commandment is go forth and multiply! If you yourself can physically, emotionally and spiritually cope with having one more child, then Jewish continuity is that much more likely. I’m not preaching a “populate or perish” vision but continuity starts with having kids … no?

If the goal is continuity, a parent who limits the number of children they have just to ensure they can afford Private Jewish Schooling is making some interesting assumptions:

  1. Motivate them to be better Jews themselves;
  2. To marry Jewish;
  3. Be lucky enough to reproduce;
  4. That they bring up their children in a Jewish based home;
  5. Grow the community…achieve continuity
  6. Be able to afford the fees to send their kids to Jewish Schools…

… well as far as I can see you are completely disempowered and the community must diminish.

By last count, there are only about 13 and a half million Jews in the entire world (Wikipedia has a breakdown of numbers. I don’t know where that figure originates or what defines a Jew in that number but it sounds about right). If it is true, then suffice it to say every soul counts! I’m not Charedi or Ultra-Orthodox, but I can do the maths on how generations work.

The answer: Believe in ourselves again! If you want your kids to care about being Jewish, then you have to care. If you want them to celebrate festivals, then you have to celebrate festivals. If you want them to have a strong Jewish identity, then have one yourself! You want continuity? Have more kids.

If you want them “deeply” educated, then educate them as best you can, in all manner of methods available. If you want them to know other Jews, then get active. But for G-d’s sake, don’t think that having fewer children, in the JDS, can do anything for the community except reduce our possibilities and threaten long term propserity!

If you want to know more about the Glen Eira College  free Jewish education movement that we are working on to fill gaps in educational areas, then please read the series.

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83 Comments »

  • Yaron says:

    Jonny

    I think you have hit on something here, but it is so much broader than Jewish education.

    The Talmud tells us of the action taken by the rabbis to prevent inflation, to the point that they would temporarily change the halacha.

    Today schooling is not the only pressure on young Jewish families, but families are cut no slack by the religious leadership.

    Just one simple example – the rabbinate could give a psak that ordinary machine matzah is sufficient for Pessach, thus forcing the price of hand made matzah down to affordable prices. But instead the eating of the high priced, hand made matzah is encouraged around the entire Jewish world.

    What is desperately needed here is an understanding from our leadership (lay and religious) that not everyone is well off, and many Jews struggle unnecessarily because of the high price of being Jewish.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Thanks Yaron, yes I agree it is about much more than schooling… there is mindset that seems to have set into the whole system.

    Maybe it is a keeping up with the Jones’s… maybe feeling judged by the Jones’s…

    Generation X has traditionally been confused about “is this really what I want?” or “Is this what others (eg. my parents) want of me?”… And our community leadership need to do more to enable rather than direct or pressure. I like your matzah example. Its a good example of the extended syndrome.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Must admit have no idea what the Glen Eira system is, I suppose is conceived as a free education within the Jewish fold, a strong Jewish curriculum etc, yet I would consider:

    – if the notion of free “private” schools cannot take off for whatever financial or State policy reasons, we must concentate on the educational function of the passionate Jewish parents and create a Jewish educational environment within the family structure.
    I was born and educated formally in a cmmunist country by parents whose Jewish knowledge was nurtured early in the 20th Century, Mother daughter and granddaugher of Orthodox Rabbis, Father from an Orthodox family, yet both parents by the ages of 20 and 25 devout …communists. I went to a communist system school and an ideological communist University – doing history – and also working as a journalist for the Coommuist Youth paper, and you could not find in the whole of Bucharest a more ardent Jew, Zionist and permanent client of the Secret Police !!! And all that because the family environment was Jewish in all aspects, education primordially.
    My own Son went to Syd. Grammar, Bondi boy whose lips never touched any trayf, prawns included. Felix, the chap in (NO) question, went through TWO graduation ceremonies at Cambridge, where one must kneel in front of the College Master and receive his degree in the name of the Trinity ( all in Latin !), yet, me lad was the only one who STOOD UP and requested that the Trinity is NOT mentioned in his case. I have pics to prove his Jewishness at the 800 year old traditional ceremony and am mighty proud of it. Yet there were chaps at the same ceremony wearing yarmulke and they did kneel etc. Do you want me to tell you how my Bubele got his Jewish identity/education from his Mom and his old man….. bcs I can !!
    So, when sending our children to school( ANY school ), not having an empty lunch box empty is essential, but more so an empty Jewsih soul.

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    The private faith-based Jewish school in Australia is founded on the twin beliefs (1) that even the most reluctant child will absorb some Yiddishkeit if immersed in in a Jewish environment, and (2) that only Jewish education can prevent intermarriage. Hence many Jewish parents have accepted almost without question that they must send their children to Jewish schools and the reasons are so many and so closely intertwined that very few even try to untangle them.
    Otto’s example of his own sons is a useful reminder that no school, however well-staffed and resourced, can be expected to rear Jewish children if the parents are not intimately engaged in the enterprise which must continue 24/7 – not just in school times. At the recent Jewish Film Festival I was struck by the quotation from Herzl that the best way to fight antisemitism is to be more Jewish and that is an unlimited field. Not every child will become religious or a Zionist, but every child can be given a positive appreciation of his Jewish heritage and equipped with the means to engage more deeply with it as and when he chooses.
    Jonny is also quite correct – it is far better for Jewish continuity to have more Jewish children than to have fewer children but educated to very highest standards.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Wow… Amazing reflections guys. Thanks for the great comments. I hope any young couple reading this and planning their path can get real inspiration from your posts. Otto… I completely understood your post… Must be catching up! Have a look at the Glen Eira College most recent artxile. Would appreciate any insights or suggestions.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Another interesting article Jonny.

    Is the assumption here that having more kids is better? People have smaller families for a range of reasons (including financial considerations) but which also include environmental considerations, and that women want more from life than being mothers and home-makers. Those are valuable and important roles but I think society views them as a phase in life. I am glad that I was able to time at home with my kids when they were younger, but I do enjoy the freedom to have a more demanding and satisfying working life, and be more fully involved in Jewish communal life now that my kids are older. That wouldn’t be the case if I’d had two or three more kids! I know there is a general assumption that the more Jewish kids the better, but not everybody wants to have a large family – indeed, not everybody wants to have kids.

    I do recall discussion among my friends about the third child and the cost of school fees. But I think very few people choose not have a child specifically because of school fees. Broader financial considerations (the cost of housing especially in areas where there are Jewish communities , the need for two incomes) are probably more important than school fees.

    My sense is that for the larger Jewish day schools (Scopus, Moriah, Masada, Bialik) a high proportion of the kids there would not be there if the schools did not produce such strong academic results, and in many cases, the kids would go to private schools even if they didn’t go to Jewish schools. So the assumption that people choose Jewish day schools because of Jewish content is questionable, Would that it were so. It follows I think that not that many people are making decisions around Jewish (as distinct from private) schooling. .

    And I find myself in the strange position of agreeing with Otto. Home is the most important element. Jewish schooling complements feeling and identity which primarily come from home. I also think that on a cost benefit analysis, helping kids spend time in Israel is a very effective way of building Jewish identity. Our kids attended Jewish schools from age 3 and it was actually a family trip to Israel this year that helped us make the decision that the financial pressure of keeping our kids in Jewish school was unsustainable, and also a poor trade off compared to the cost of going to Israel . Our younger children are now at Glen Eira college where they are thriving and happy. It was hard to take them out of Jewish schools and I don’t regret a day they were there or any of the costs of it, but we were on an impossible treadmill. My hope is to go to Israel again as a family before too long. And I think for my kids, having to explain their Jewishness and think about it and what it means to them is an environment where it is highlighted for them, is a good thing.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Here’s a novel idea, though…

    Why not teach your kids critical thinking skills and allow them to come to their own opinion on what they believe? This is literally a debate about how to indoctrinate one’s children to best believe in the religion of their parents.

    I propose that rather than indoctrinating them with your religion from before they can think until well after you’ve robbed them of the ability to think independently, you allow your children to come to their own conclusions. Is that too much to ask?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    I want to be the 1st one to get stuck into Daniel Levy…me, me, me !!!!

    Let us dicompose Daniel’s thinking system :

    Step one – take a child, say age between 4 and 7, for the more precocious start at 2.5 and the slower ones to go 8.4.
    Step two – look into his innocent eyes and say the following : Son/daughter, you are now 4 ( or 2.5 ) and I TRUST you to work out, WITHOUT the aid of the Wiggles or Bannanas in Pijamas, the meaning of epistemological introspections. Your first essay is ” How did Thomas the Engine negotiate his ambivalent relationship between his alcoholic work-mates and his love for his old wife affected by MS”.
    Come back to me at the completion of you childhood session, with your independence un-affected, and let’s see if Uncle Daniel (Levy) will be impressed. ( you know what, because I DO care for you and yr intellectual development – as mapped up by the same Uncle Dani – , you can use the Wiggles, but this is strictly between us ).
    In other words – as if we need “other” ones !! – a child is an independent universe, a singular human being, WHY interfere with his/her given rights and indoctrinate him/her with the so called wisdom of your upbringing.
    N.B.This only applies to those who have grown UP !!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Yes, Otto, that was my argument. That a child would naturally come to a conclusion between the ages of 2.5 and 8.

    Straw man, yawn. Is that all you’ve got? That you think toddlers are unable to come to a conclusion therefore you should shove yours down their throats?

    Pissweak argument.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Mandi as usual you are spot on. I’m not going the populate of perish argument here at all or the role of women or even family. I am highlighting the disturbing conersarions where parents really do put Jewish (perhaps you’re right that maybe it is any private schooling) ahead of having another child and justify that against continuity. So yes this is a very specific dialogue or line of thought. Certainly not going to cricise people for having small families beuase that is what they want on a whole
    range of issues.

    Daniel, Otto is making fun becusse none of us get you. How can a parent not parent? what you call indoctrination we call responsible educating of our kids with a value system we believe in… We don’t get you buddy. We need to talk to our kids about who they are. What do you want?
    How can a child know their choice if parents don’t provide insight into the choices? It’s too whaky for us mate.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Jonny, a parent should try to parent without indoctrinating. Or else all you’re bringing up is a parrot. Obviously nobody is perfect and everyone has their biases. The trick is to be aware of them and try to let your children figure out the stuff that is personal to them for themselves. I’m sure you’d agree no parent should tell their kids they are straight because their parents are straight. I’m sure you’d agree that no parent should tell their kids to be communists because they believe in communism. Why is religious belief any different?

    Just because you are unable to conceive of parenting which does not involve forcing your children to believe what you believe doesn’t mean others can’t. You may not “get” me, but I understand you. And that is why I fear what you do to your children. You may well have robbed them of their critical thinking skills, and you are proud of it. I say “may well have” because kids can be very resilient, and despite horrible parenting, they can manage to persevere in the face of the most unyielding emotional blackmail.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Daniel Levy

    ..impeccable reasoning, but you left out the criminal element. I follow your mental trajectory and add :

    “You may impede, through “moral” indoctrination the natural desire, cosmic privilege, of the child to, for instance, murder superbly clever, behind the thick trunk of a tree in the kindy yard another child whom he hates because he or even she has pushed him on a constant basis, making him/her a repeat offender. Who are you, as a mere parent, to interfere with the child’s “home-made” sense of justice !!?? Parent persecution some call so farcically “EDUCATION” is but a means by which social monstruosities, such as communism, not to mention the perpetuation of RELIGION, have infested the necessary triumph of FREE WILL.”

    Howz that, Daniel Levy !!! You know you are right and DO NOT listen to all those cretins who may say otherwise !!!!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Daniel… force… rob… Communist… Gay…. Yeh ok. Buddy with respect, you don’t get anything about actual parenting. And you certainly don’t understand me.

    So Daniel, you’re an interesting case study of the next decade of the Jewish community. How many kids will you have? And which schools will you use?

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Daniel put of interest, why are you even reading and commenting on this stuff?

    If you think that Jewish continuity doesn’t matter, Jewish culture is nonsense, religion and/or tradition are bullshit etc etc why do you bother?

  • This is an important discussion. Whether or not it’s the cost of Jewish education that becomes a consideration for family size or the general high cost of being Jewish (which often includes private education), the argument is the same.

    Private Jewish day schools are overvalued by our community.

    Perhaps it’s because we were blessed by a generation of Holocaust survivors who felt strongly about the link between Jewish education and continuity and therefore invested hugely in community infrastructure.

    Where is has come to is that we almost have too much choice (e.g. someone who identifies as a Yavneh parent would never consider Scopus as a reasonable alternative), and more importantly, that many parents view private Jewish education as the panacea for the successful transmission of Jewish values to the next generation.

    The Gen08 research puts pay to this myth. The values and practices in the Jewish home are undervalued. The dissonance of seeing one thing at school and one thing at home dilutes the positive impact of the Jewish school (or Jewish youth group) experience. Multiple engagement points with Jewishness are needed.

    The basic unit of intergenerational transmission of Jewishness is the home, not the school.

  • TheSadducee says:

    I’m actually with Daniel Levy on this – there is a risk that by insisting on certain types of thought/belief etc and imposing them on your children that you can negatively impact on a child’s critical thinking skills and certainly their tolerance to diversity.

    You also need to justify by what right you limit another’s actual experiences i.e. eating trayf?

    I don’t think his point of view is absurd at all, just perhaps misunderstood here because it runs against the prevailing point of view and is (as per usual contributions from Mr Levy) rather forcefully put.

    That being said, I personally think its more important for our Jewish identity to be realised in how we present our values to non-Jews rather than how we appear/behave in front of them.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Why does providing Jewish content to kids, and teaching them Jewish languages, constrain their critical ability?

    Are you seeing evidence that kids who are educated in Jewish schools are less capable of critical thought than the rest f the population? Sure there are plenty of kids who graduate from the day schools who swallow the party line on things. But just as many who don’t. Personality and home have a lot to do with it. And broad political and social influences.

    I did think sometimes that my kids’ primary school JS teachers weren’t always up to critical discussion on say, tanakh. But many were amazing at addressing the kids’ interest and questions in a very open and creative way.

    And almost universally, high school JS teachers at Bialik and Scopus (where my kids were) leveraged and developed critical thinking rather than squashing it.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    I am also feeling defensive on behalf of my friends who are JS teachers at both those schools who absolutely encourage kids to think for themselves on all questions of Jewish identity, religion.

    But thinking deeply isn’t enough, kids need to be taught content and the skills to make sense of content.

  • Mandi Katz says:

    Postin three times in a row makes me a troll but here goes anyway. The one exception I think is when it comes to Israel education. But given the difficulties evident in the Jewish world more broadly in having open and respectful discussions about Israel which take different views into account, it’s hardly fair to pick on the Jewish schools on this.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Developing a child’s critical thinking is essential to forming a Jewish kopf. Implicitly, diversity is addressed, otherwise there will be nothing to be critical of. A prevailing set of values is also essential and we are singularly fortunate that, by immersing ourselves into the Judaic thinking mode and its vast “literature”, valid values are on offer, if only effort is made. All within the concept of creating a Jewish identity, as the Saducee seems to agree with in principle. Thus, we are responsible for NOT turning into an oxymoron an innocent mind, avid to absorb worthwile notions. Either we charge ourselves witn turinig our progenies into REAL Jews or hand them over to the Department of Multicultural Affairs and their educational arm, SBS and let Ms Li Lin Chin and Ms Surampayat be in charge with educating our precious ones, sponsored, as they ARE by Al Jazeera.

  • I believe that ‘indoctrination’ refers to making people believe in a doctrine. Given that the discussion here is about cultural identity, which doesn’t involve belief in any doctrine, indoctrination cannot be relevant. Critical thinking is a seperate issue, and Jews certainly are no worse at this than the rest of society. In general, the vast majority of people don’t think critically. In a discussion about critical thinking about Judaism, it’s important to distinguish different aspects. Thinking critically about identity is different to thinking critically about religion, which is different to thinking critically about history or politics, etc. I think that thinking critically about identity, probably requires the following: (a) understanding what identity is, (b) some understanding about different identities, psychology, etc. With regard to history, politics, religion, even a critical thinker won’t be able to think critically about a subject they don’t know anything about.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Mandi

    I did say there is a risk, not that it is certain that it can impede critical thought.

    The concern really relates to the children who are affected, not to those who aren’t (in spite of – as Mr Levy suggests). Are we prepared to sacrifice even one child’s critical thinking for “Jewish continuity”?

    Otto

    I, and I am sure many other Jews, start to have concerns when you start referring to “real Jews” (whatever that is btw!).

  • TheSadducee says:

    Rachel

    Surely religion is a valid part and informant of cultural identity?

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Saducee

    I shall make it simple and succint.
    Let us start by saying that a REAL Jew is one who does NOT accept/agree/follow/observe the contents of OTHER religious beliefs etc. etc.

    That is whatever that is !!!

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    I risk in these articles sounding like I’m not in favour of Jewish Day Schools(JDS). I’m totally in favour. It is a great product for those that can and want to buy it. The point here is about community mindset and how it impacts new parent decision making. Ultimately parents carry a big burden of decision making and values selection. The point is that, For continuity, all other things being equal, it is better for a couple to have children rather than stop to accomodate the educational system. But as David and Yaron say… Perhaps it is overall cost of being Jewish…

  • Religion can be a part of cultural identity, although as you may be aware, it is not always a part of cultural Jewish identity. Amongst those for whom religion is part of Jewish identity, there is disagreement about whether Jewish religion has dogmas or doctrines. Amongst those that both believe that Judaism has dogmas/doctrines and also want to inculcate these in their children, there is less tendency to discuss identity, Jewish continuity, etc. Therefore, it is unlikely that indoctrination is relevant to this discussion.
    It is odd to talk about the risk of one child’s critical thinking being sacrificed, when critical thinking is so uncommon in Australia independent of religion. You only need to look at the television ratings, and see which news and current affairs programs the majority of Australians watch to see that this is the case.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Rachel

    True, but I perceive Jewish cultural identity as being defined around religion ie. either observance or lack of. You certainly don’t see too many several-generational non-observant, non-religious Jews – most assimilate into the prevailing culture – would you agree?

    I can’t agree with your last two sentences – they reek of elitism and snobbery, no offence.

  • I would not agree. I think the majority of Australian identifying Jews are largely non observant and/or observe for traditional/cultural reasons and do not subscribe to dogmas/doctrines.
    I suggest that if you want to argue that Jews have a lower level of critical thinking than other Australians, that you provide some evidence of this. Otherwise it reeks of prejudice – no offence.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Rachel

    I get the impression that you don’t like me!

    I thought about a whole range of responses, but finally have decided to write bluntly – your comment was both crass and foolish.

    You are hopefully offended because you recognise this and are embarassed about being called out on it.

    My comments expressed above have never stated that Jews have a lower level of critical thinking than other Australians – they suggested that religious education has the risk of impacting on critical thinking – something that I perceive to be a relatively uncontroversial statement. It applies to any religious education in any faith group/community and with any individual exposed to such.

    You however have publicly suggested that because the majority of Australians don’t engage with media types that you approve of, that they do not display critical thinking – I would suggest that this is an example of prejudice rather than anything I have stated above.

  • Sam says:

    The Sadducee

    You said: “True, but I perceive Jewish cultural identity as being defined around religion ie. either observance or lack of”.

    Any study of Australian Jewish communities would readily show the number of culturally Jewish people with a small degree of religious observance easily constitute the majority. Many of these would describe themselves as “Traditional” Jews. Religion forms a only a small aspect of their identity, however they would like their children to have at least a basic Jewish education, and strongly believe in continuity.
    Traditional Jews have not assimilated, and are unlikely to in the future. If they have imbued these values into their children there is a good chance that these children will also remain tied to their Jewish culture.
    Also Daniel’s obsession with indoctrination reflects some psychological hang-up that still haunts him. It also is not relevant to Jewish continuity.

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    Sadducee,
    I am puzzled.
    In any household, parents will answer questions and give opinions on politics, religion, etc and make statements about history. Do you consider this to be indoctrination?
    If you do, how do you suggest that children be raised free of indoctrination?
    What is there is a clash of rights? For example a child raised in a kosher home – do you think that the parents, who in all other ways respect their child’s quest for identity, have the right to insist that the kashrut of their kitchen not be compromised?
    It cannot only be about the child – children are raised in families, which are part of communities within a larger society. At each level of belonging/identity a trade occurs between individual and group membership. That trade cannot be dictated by even the most well-meaning observer otherwise tyranny is the result.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Sam

    Thanks – perhaps I’m too dense to understand the distinctions being raised?

    I perceive the Jewish identity as inseparable from Judaism (religion) regardless of whatever an individuals’ personal behaviours/beliefs/observance etc.

    Otherwise, what is it that separates us from everyone else?

    And correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t there a concern, occasionally raised, about intermarriage leading to assimilation? Surely that concern is not amongst the religious elements of the community?

  • TheSadducee says:

    Sam

    I also think you are being unduly harsh on Daniel – he is certainly strident and pugnacious in his views, but there is a point to them and they deserve consideration. I don’t see it is some form of PTD or other.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Ian

    As I have stated previously, I think there is a “risk” to an individual’s ability to think critically if exposed to religious education at a young age. This entirely depends on the way the material is presented, discussed, considered etc.

    Indoctrination would be telling your children that the the stories in Bereshit are literally true and have to be believed. Reasonable education would be to critically examine them and consider that they may not be literally true, but be allegorical/mythological/other and need to be understood in their time and context.

    There is nothing wrong with presenting your own values system to your children (unless those values are negative for them eg. racism) however you should strive to be both critical and objective and tolerant to the diversity in the world. I cannot see how this can be considered controversial?

    The clash of rights thing is very interesting to consider – do you, as a parent, have the right to tell your children that they cannot make and eat something that you wont because of your own belief system? i.e. are you prepared to limit your childs experiences (legitimate ones) to satisfy your own preconceptions?

    You are right about the trade-off, but I would suggest that a tyranny exists on both sides of the equation. A tyrant tells you not only what you can eat, but also what you cannot (if you get the analogy?).

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    Sadducee,

    I was trying to be careful and give a specific example: should kosher parents be “allowed” to insist that their children respect the kashrut of the household?
    I don’t believe that their condition forces the children into anything (except perhaps dreadful guilt at seeing their parents’ disappointment).
    On your clash of rights question: do children have a right to every legitimate experience? I guess that the answer to that depends entirely on your definition of a child but I believe that a parent can be open-minded and foster critical thinking in their children yet limit the child’s experience until independence – as a kosher parent, I would not buy my child a burger at the footy and in order to avoid some crazy libertarian backlash when the child reaches 16 -perhaps 35, maybe 50 – I would explain that while ther is nothing wrong with eating a burger (millions – even Jews – do and suffer no ill consequennces) I would explain that we Jews are bound by the Torah to not do it.
    It would was a time-consuming and wordy upbringing.

  • TheSadducee says:

    Ian

    Although you speak tongue in cheek you indirectly raise important questions – why should the child feel guilt at choosing something different from their parent? And further, why have dissapointment at this anyway?

    I could understand dissapointment if your child ran with gangs and committed hate crimes, but not because they eat a non-kosher food product in your house!

    As a Torah observant Jew would you be dissapointed with your children if they were an active homosexual? Would you express that dissapointment to them? What if they had an illegitimate child with a non-Jew? Would you express dissapointment to your child and/or grand-child?

    These are interesting considerations and not extreme for many people and their lives.

    I would also suggest that you shouldn’t have to insist that your children respect your kashrut. Ideally if you explained it to them, it would be best if they chose to respect it, rather than were forced to do so.

  • Sam says:

    The Sadducee

    ” Surely that concern is not amongst the religious elements of the community”

    Some years ago the Orthodox Rabbi of my community had a son who married out. My father in law who grew up in pre-war Poland has told me of several instances where children of very pious families married out, even though, the parents decided to sit “Shiva”, cutting the couple off from the family, and never accepting the harsh reality.
    And I don’t think I am unduly harsh on Daniel. I think he is way off from reality, and also to any sensible approach to parenting. It is obvious that he has not had children of his own. It is an entirely different matter when you do, and many previously held beliefs will change.

  • Ian Grinblat says:

    Sadducee,
    I can answer only for myself.
    Yes, I was tongue in cheek about the disappointment, but I hope that my relationships with my children are mutually respectful, so shouldn’t that respect prevent a child from bringng treif into his parents’ kosher house?
    On questions of homosexuality, childen out of wedlock and liaisons with non-Jews – and indeed, on the entire range of small and large issues that can arise – I can only hope that all parents are able, through love, to accept their childrens’ choices and that both parents and children speak to each other clearly, honestly and respectfully.
    Sam’s example of parents cutting their children off id dramatic, but it is common for friends and even siblings to fall out and withdraw completely from one another. It is always regrettable but is not necessarily wrong – hurts lead us to protective behavious, and some issues are simply beyond resolution.

  • letters in the age says:

    Nice that the conversation is still evolving

    Hows that doco going ??

    Heard a gen y uni student say how his jewish friends were indoctrinated and it was interesting

    I was shocked at the attitudes of some gen y on the 7.30report where their loyalties to Israel would be to serve as soldiers firstly as Jews and not Australian

    Where exactly do their loyalties lie in a country that has given them a free tertiary education and everything else!!

    Problem right there guys!!

  • frosh says:

    Letters,
    Programs like this interview these young people for about two hours each. They then take the ‘choicest’ 2-3 mins (in total) and sprinkle/edit it through the segment so that it best confirms the message that the producer of the segment had in mind.

    Another exercise in critical thinking.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Anyone interested in clarifying some of the claims cum terminology parraded as relevant to the issue:

    PROPOSITION: children should be left to their own devices in terms of CRITICAL THINKING !!!

    Really, no kid-ding !!
    For those still interested in flying this kite ( easy here, I mean the ACTUAL flying …kite )”critical thinking” involves:
    – evaluation
    – inference
    – analyssis
    and why not : META-COGNITION.

    The broad intellectual criteria demanded by critical thinking imply an accurate use of language a discernment capable of interpreting data and appraise evidence.
    Hands up who has got that kind of 4 to 8 year old as such endowed, INDEPENDENT of his/her parental interference/indoctrinational imput.

    … to be continued
    tune in for a clarification of “doctrine” and all respective rammifications

  • letters in the age says:

    Frosh

    Sarah Silverman is in town!!

    Lîsten to that Jewish genius about bias in the media and her jewish schooling!!

    ;)

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    What I find fascinating is that Sadducee and Daniel and perhaps others who (de?)value the religious, historical, community and traditional aspect of Jewish culture, find expression of their Jewish identity through provocative arguments against Jewish tradition…

    They would call this an academic, secular or non-spiritual Jewish identity. They might even call it new age, free thinking or innovative movement… Daniel reckons he’s aethiest LOL- but they would not consider themselves reform because reform relies perhaps even more deeply on spirituality that tradition.

    And I imagine if delved into they would consider their “anti-establishment” efforts to be a reflection of their commitment to an important core Jewish trait which is to provoke the status quo.

    Some call this leadership… which it is… as long as people follow you. If no-one follows you, you are just a maverick, irritating or an idiot.

    And I dare say, my assumption would be that they developed these ideals either at a Jewish private school or a Zionist youth movement or both.

    And with all that being said, I’d guess that Daniel, as an example of Gen X or Y, would aspire to send his (long in the future) kids to a Jewish Private School in order to continue his “Jewish ideal” of arguing against Jewish ideals…

    …is that ironic or just confusing? LOL. Daniel I’m sure you can explain it if I’m right.

    Daniel if all that is rubbish I apologize.. I acknowledge that I don’t know you at all really…just some late night reflections…And Sadducee I guess the anonymity makes me less interested by you anyway. Leadership is irrelevant if anonymous… You could just be some kid taking the piss out of us.

    Like them, I am also quite contrary in my views of status quo for the purpose of shaking up tradition so I enjoy the provocations. And I got my encouragement for that approach at Mount Scopus and Hashomer Hatzair.

    At both institutions we honed our skills in pointless debate… arguing just for the sake of arguing… and it was definitely part of our taught Jewish framework. Go figure.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Sorry just to finish off…

    Contrast that to Otto and his story of how his family had to fight, and be brave and survive… just to see, touch and enjoy the traditions in Judaism.

    This makes for a very interesting dialogue.

    From my perspective its a discussion between those who have been lucky enough and actualised enough to take their Jewishness for granted becuase it has always been served up on a privileged and protected plate… versus those that have to keep their faith by working and fighting for it literally every day…

    I believe that before I was a parent I was like Daniel… Overly actualised, I took it all for granted. Now that I am a parent, I realise the hard work involved and required to protect and support what I love about Judaism.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Jonny

    Here is my own publicised confusion: do I enjoy patronising while I know that while I want to be accepted, it is not something a group tollerates !? Answer: I love it in spite of my nose, but, yet I love the splendid shape of my nose. So, here I go patronising.

    The seemingly convoluted spiritual route Jonny has taken only to arrive at a straight answer, reveals the necessary critical obstacles one must endure when confronted with the conflicting aspects of what is conclusively called the wider ( and widening ) scope of a free market Judaism .
    In my experience, the detachment from established norms seen at the Progressives splinter was more conducive to abandoning the necessary incursion into deeper meanings of a philosophy which does require AT FIRST a less critical approach. Here one may invoke the notion of indoctrination. Yet, while essentials must be known, understood and defined in order to provide reliable starting points for the development of that formal ( and informal ) logic, the critical thinking that nurtures the intellect, the free flight of a well endowed critical mind is bound to create splendours of human spiritual existence.
    The objections without a case seen at Daniel and some at Saducee are at once conducive to being objections without a cause, hence the confusion seen so clearly by Jonny.
    As Jonny took us through a short intro into his own educational spirals, it can be seen how and WHERE conflicting stances would have assaulted an excitable mind. I lived with Hashomer Hatzair at kibbutz Gan Shmuel in Israel for quite some time and have seen Jewishness well outside religious practices, almost perfectly replicating my own childhood. Being Israel, confrontations of ideas were obligatory and, at that very young stage, I simply wallowed in them for the heck of it without considering how my own children would be affected by their dynamics. That was simply because my own child was not there, or anywhere yet for another 16 years. In the interim, the 16 years allowed me to see aspects of a more sedated mind, far more tollerant, but of fundamentals NOT of splinters.

    …to be continued

  • letters in the age says:

    I had a relative complete a prestigious degree from the top ten universities

    He isnt a private school kid

    Furthermore hes a decent well rounded kid

    There isnt a chip on the shoulder from the parents at all with no baggage

    Attitude is everything along with humility.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    letters

    you are right. The job of the child and family is quite distinct from the function of the formal education. I hope that we can concentrate only on a few matters because giong into the various public schools and their academic level is far too much…
    I want, however, to add that the statutory function of a Jewish school is also essential in the endowment of the Jewish mind with knowledge and ethics not readily available in non Jewish schools.
    The issues here seem to be

    – affordability
    – quality of academia and, why not, general discipline ( not yet approached !)
    – place and importannce of religious education/observance

    back to the family, we can postulate anything fine and glorious, but hearing your little one telling you how much he/she loves you and, beyond that, holding meaningful conversations is the kind of naches that defines EVERYTHING in our lives…..I reckon.

  • letters in the age says:

    Otto

    Great stuff!!

    Cheers

    You must be immensely proud of your kin

    ;)

  • letters in the age says:

    Indoctrination is Daniel me thinks,

    Are you an Australian Jew or a Jewish Australian??

    Or possibly a Heeb maybe??

    ;) smirk

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Rachel Sacks-Davis is trying to do a stellar job of mimicking Bill O’Reilly when she tries to divorce all notion of religion from Jewish identity. Really trying to pull a fast one, there. Have a view of this video to know how you sound: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s7IUZ-CCo4

    You then break into some of the most awe-inspiring ethnocentrism I’ve seen for quite a while. You obviously don’t have your ear to the ground when you start mouthing off about Jews in relation to the rest of Australia.

    Do you really think young Jews aren’t buying into the culture you so decry? You obviously haven’t been near a JDS for quite some time. The dregs of Aussie pop culture are alive and well in Jewish schools, I assure you.

    That’s not a Jewish trait, of overachieving in new countries. It’s a migrant trait. The success of Jews in the world does not reflect their critical skills, but their hard work and determination. And if you’re going to start making those generalisations, we’re now sorely lagging behind the migrant communities from Asia and the sub-continent going forward. They’re the ones occupying the selective schools in large numbers and becoming the vast majority of med, law, engineering and commerce graduates.

    If you really want to get stuck into this point and try to say that Jews are the best because of their upbringing, take a look at the demographics of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States today. 85% atheist. By your logic, you should renounce Judaism this minute.

    And for all that, you miss the point that I’m making. I wouldn’t for -one second- dare argue that all people who are religious are devoid of critical thinking skills. I said it sets them at a significant disadvantage of attaining them. They will certainly struggle to think critically about their religious beliefs, in almost every case. In fact, anybody who believes in the supernatural without evidence is not thinking critically about their beliefs.

    This does not always bleed into their thinking about other issues. But it does run the risk of forming a bad habit. If you’re going to be intellectually lazy about a topic that is supposedly the most important of all (what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything in it) and blindly believe in religion, then that can often lead to disastrous results in every day life.

    As for Mandi Katz’s entirely irrelevant “if you don’t believe in Jewish continunity, what are you still doing here?”

    I wish to clarify that I am talking about the religious aspect only. Teaching about the heritage your children come from, in a historical perspective, is not brainwashing. That is an important fact of their family’s past. The water is muddied when you then tell your kids “and you’re Jewish, too!”

    If you want to practise Judaism, there’s no way you can stop your kids from seeing you. It would be practically impossible and grossly unfair to your lifestyle. But when your kid asks you what you’re doing and why, you better be prepared with an objective explanation like “that’s what I believe, but this is a topic for discussion when you’re older”.

    Anything else is just brainwashing, because they are most certainly unable to comprehend why you believe what you do. But if you tell them what it is you believe, what’s a young child who loves his/her parents going to do? Think their parent and guardian is lying to them? Hell no, they’ll follow it, too. Fin. Did not get a chance to properly contemplate the issue for himself or herself. You’ve brainwashed your kid. Intentionally or not.

    They’ll then spend the next 10 years working back from the conclusion and trying to make the evidence fit the conclusion. Not the other way around.

    So why do I persist, Mandi? Because I care that children are being brainwashed, and I can relate to the Jewish experience, so I’ll say my piece here.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Daniel thanks for your observations…

    “this article is what I believe, but this is a topic for discussion when you’re older”.”

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Jonny, thank you for your (earlier) biting rant about that strawman image you have of me in your mind. I would have responded to it, but I thought my time was better spent doing anything else. Instead, I responded to those who displayed some semblance of forethought and intellectual curiosity.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    ^ Forgot to add: Hope there’s no hard feelings, because you sound a bit bitter that I had ignored you.

  • letters in the age says:

    Me thinks some people are getting convoluted and pretentious on this thread

    #just saying

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Don’t lose your sense of humour Daniel…

  • letters in the age says:

    Group hug………

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Jonny, I don’t find the topic funny. I find it hard to laugh about brainwashing children. I guess when you’re so comfortable doing it, though, it’s a regular laugh-riot.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Yes, by the time I had my fifth child I realised that people who 1. Have no qualifications and 2. Have no children … giving parenting advice is a joke…

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Oh Jonny, congratulations for copulating and producing children. What an achievement! I am in awe of the fact that you joined the ranks of the literally 10s of billions of people in human history to have had children.

    Just because I haven’t had kids doesn’t mean I can’t notice a bad parent, or bad parenting skills when I see them. Is this the kind of critical thinking you purport to teach your children?

  • Joe in Australia says:

    Next up: Daniel Levy follows his lectures on education and child rearing with his thoughts on feminism, immigration, and the indigenous Australian experience.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Joe, it seems like I’ve touched a nerve. Would you care to respond to my actual arguments? Or are you intellectually incapable, as your comment suggests?

  • frosh says:

    Daniel Levy, what I really like about you is your humility to admit that you might not be an expert on a topic that you have zero experience with. Also, I love your great sense of humour, and how you are so open-minded to acknowledge the validity of other people’s perspectives.

    Which is why I think you’ll appreciate this story:

    There was once a bookish young man who had never swum in a pool, let alone the open ocean. He didn’t like taking instructions or advice from people in person, so he refused to ever take any swimming lessons. One day, he won a trip to Hawaii. It seemed a shame to go all the way to Hawaii and not surf or even swim at the beach. So in preparation, for the trip, he acquired several books on swimming. First he read books on swimming in the pool, and then he *progressed* to reading books on swimming in the ocean. He read them all cover to cover, twice. By the time he arrived in Hawaii, he was 100% confident that he was a strong swimmer. He hired a surf board, and paddled out into the surf. When the first incoming wave hit him, he fell off the board and sunk to the bottom.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Good analogy. I’ve certainly had zero experience educating children. I’ve only ever read books on the matter.

    (I have actually personally tutored over 100 students, taught group classes totalling more than 500 students, and I run one of the largest education services in the country).

    Was that piddling false analogy the best you could do, frosh?

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    “Just because I haven’t had kids doesn’t mean I can’t notice a bad parent, or bad parenting skills when I see them. Is this the kind of critical thinking you purport to teach your children?”

    Yes Daniel, it is exactly what I teach my children – identifying the difference between informed, thoughtful and humble learning dialogues; as opposed to hysterical exaggeration by clueless people looking for a personal platform for self aggrandizement.

    “Oh Jonny, congratulations for copulating and producing children. What an achievement!”

    – Thanks I’m very proud of my kids… but I accept that I must bow my head to a person who has tutored and run a math website… you win on the parenting front… LOL… you’re great.

    Please keep up your efforts on my articles Daniel. Occasionally I enjoy agreeing with you, but mostly I genuinely get a kick out of these ridiculous interactions. I think, like most people on Galus it is a guilty pleasure and makes me feel pretty good about my own shortcomings.

  • Sam says:

    Daniel,

    You must be seriously pulling everyone’s legs collectively if you think you have any qualification at all to discuss with the authority that you claim, that you can speak with any knowledge about raising children. Teaching or tutoring small or large numbers of students is not really related at all.

    Maybe you might like this analogy better than the swimmer one.
    You become a midwife, and amazingly you are so good at your job that pregnant women all over the country hear how good you are and you have so much work. You have helped deliver thousands of babies.
    After all that you go on the lecture circuit giving talks about the most intricate details of what a mother to be experiences during labour.
    I think NOT>

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Back on topic…
    “Otto I really liked your summary of the challenges:
    The issues here seem to be
    – affordability
    – quality of academia and, why not, general discipline ( not yet approached !)
    – place and importance of religious education/observance

    These are certainly issues being engaged in the Glen Eira model. The first two issues are somewhat dealt with as the strategy over time will engage both.

    The third issue of observance is the tough one and still focused in the home…

    Just to let everyone know that, together with UJEB and other providers we are working on filling out the model to enhance and create new standards that can be sustained in the Public model.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    “informed, thoughtful and humble learning dialogues”

    This is funny because nothing you have written here is any of those things. You accuse me of intransigence but you display the same when considering your own position. The difference is, I can debate you on more than just ad hominems. You resort to ridiculous appeals to authority which hold no water.

    The only reason I listed my experience was to quell these ridiculous arguments of “zomg you have no children, so you can’t have any opinions about parenting and i’m a parent so therefore i’m right”

    Really, I should have just linked you here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argument_from_authority#Fallacious_appeal_to_authority and told you to do some basic reading on logical fallacy.

    Honestly, the holes in your own critical thinking skills are large enough for a truck to plow through.

    And finally, “but mostly I genuinely get a kick out of these ridiculous interactions. I think, like most people on Galus it is a guilty pleasure and makes me feel pretty good about my own shortcomings.”

    When I’m your age, if I’m getting my kicks by arguing with early 20somethings on an online forum, I will consider my life an abject failure.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Sam, not once did I claim to be a parenting authority. I’m simply presenting an argument on one aspect of parenting, namely religious indoctrination and why doing it is dangerous. Rather than arguing my ‘credentials’, would you try your hand at countering the argument? Or are you going to join Joe, frosh and Jonny and demonstrate your inability to engage with basic ideas?

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Funny… had I been a 20 something negotiating with parents on an online forum about stuff I had no clue about I’d consider that a strange use of time… different perspectives I guess…

  • Adam says:

    Hi Daniel,

    Can you please expand on your arguments. I think most of us parents find it confusing. Are you saying teaching children not to murder is indoctrination? Is teaching a child Australian law indoctrination or an appeal to authority (why is law binding, because parliament said so?)? Or is that ok? And if so, what is the difference when you teach someone Australian law or Jewish law? I have a degree in maths, and it is and teaching it is a lot simpler than being a parent. The latter does not work by logic alone.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Adam, no I’m not saying that at all.

    There is a difference between educating and indoctrinating.

    One can stand on its own when supported by facts, the other requires uncritical acceptance of the ‘teaching’.

    You teach a child that it’s not a good idea to hurt/infringe(which includes murder) others because it creates an unsafe society which is also dangerous for them. This is a testable hypothesis that they will undoubtedly work out for themselves when they pinch another kid or pull their hair and the other kid hits back, just as hard.

    That’s just one example, would you like more?

    Regarding the difference between Australian law and Jewish law, the difference is that there are evidenced reasons for Australian laws. None of these exist for Jewish laws and they are to be treated with suspicion, given that many of them do not act in the general good (see: stoning homosexuals).

  • Adam says:

    I think that is a bit of a nonsense argument. You don’t teach a child to keep the law because it is evidenced based (for example euthenasia) and you don’t as an adult keep the law because it is evidence based. Almost everything has moral overtones, appeals to authority and is not strictly logical. Life is much more complicated than maths and pure logic. All education at a young age is indoctrination. Imagine teaching a child 1+1 =2 but don’t believe me until you can prove it.

    In any event, I do not want to dwell on your point too much. It is largely irrelevant (besides being illogical when talking about education for children) for a group that is concerned about Jewish education. The article is important and raises important issues that Jewish parents are facing on a day to day basis.

    As an aside, I also think Yaron’s post is actually quite foolish. To blame the Rabbis for people wanting to spend their money on Jewish laws and customs is absurd. These laws and the Jewish peoples dedication to them despite the harship is what has preserved our identity more than anything else. Playing a blame game is misdirected and unproductive.

  • Jonny Schauder says:

    Adam, I think Yaron’s point is not to blame the Rabbi’s, but I guess to ask if they could be taking a stand on alleviating pressure on young Jewish families.

    I assume a Rabbi will always direct a family to have more kids… the question is whether they will empower the parents at the same time to feel they can avoid crippling private school fees (or becoming a charity case) and still fulfill their educational responsibilities?

  • letters in the age says:

    Maya Angelou ;American living legend

    Education helps one case cease being intimidated by strange situations

    Have a good one folks!!

  • Daniel Levy says:

    I never said “don’t believe me until you can prove it”

    I said, “if you don’t believe me, you are able to prove it for yourself”

    There’s a difference, and you would have noticed it if you had some skill in reading comprehension.

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Adding to that point about reading comprehension. I never said it was possible to perfectly keep a child free of indoctrination. I said it was all about intent, and where possible, you should try not to do that. Either you are wilfully misrepresenting my position, or you are ignorant. You pick.

  • Yaron says:

    Jonny,

    Thank you for the response, it answers the question really well.

    Adam,

    You misunderstood my comment.

    I am not blaming rabbis, I am blaming the general Jewish population for pushing up the price of being Jewish because they want to keep up with the Joneses (or Cohens as the case may be).

    However, the rabbis (who we rely on for religious and moral guidance) have allowed this to occur on their watch and have through not being willing to speak out against it, tacitly encourage it.

  • Adam says:

    Hi Yaron,

    I just don’t think you can decide for and control what people want to spend their money on. The fact that people want to purchase hand matzot is not something Rabbis should speak out against. If you go and ask a question, they may very tell you in your financial situation not to buy it. But you have to remember, the dedication to Jewish ideals, even unimportant customs has ensured Jewish continuity. That is not the area where things need to change. You need to start using more innovation – for example providing free online jewish education courses for children for free. Hebrew for example, is a simple example. It wouldn’t be that hard to arrange a full course of even interactive hebrew online education on the internet which could be done for free or for very cheap. Don’t look at lessening current standards in any aspect of Judaism. Look to improve and excel and add additional educational avenues. That is my opinion.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    I am inspired by the Jewish notion of avoidance of discussing certain religious matters as not to attract hillul Hashem.
    In Daniel Levy’s case one must add the precaution of not attarcting gratuitous obnoxious outbursts.
    It seems to me that Daniel Levy’s essential mental sustenance is a reliable suscebility to erratic rage triggered by almost any written sign, i.e. ANY word that follows an appelative to him.
    Regardless of the words addressed to him he has a “nice” word prepared a priori and his anxiety to launch it into print follows no rationale. When out of obcenities he will paraphrase the “provocators” claims as if he uttered them himself, followed, naturally, by (un)printable obscenities. And then he would retire to take another puff of the illegal substances he depends on, not before some other innocent web contributor crosses Daniel’s own web of venimous madness.
    To be sure Daniel Levy is THE ONLY one that attributes parental care, familial education the incongruouds simile of INDOCTRINATION.
    Once the term is launched, as in the visious private web described above, some fall for the accptability of “indoctrination” as a legitimate cathegory worth discussing. The trap open, Daniel will draw all seemingly only opposed to him into the farcical twist of “indoctrination” as if would have any place, negative inclided, in the intended debate.
    To be sure, two staunch enemies of religion as reflected in ANY stage and place of education, Noam Chomsky and Richard Dawkins have substituted the necssary role of any parent to CARE for his charge with the viciously tainted notion of “indoctrination”.
    Neither afford the slightest ethical function of tested educational methods and substance found in religious teachings. I introduced “teaching” precisely because elemenatry ethical notions contained in Jewish religious concepts have been proven – conversely NEVER specifically rebutted !!!- highly commendable in creating most acceptable citizens – for a better word – out of very minor Jewish subjects. Daniel Levy and for that matter NOBODY can possibly pick and evince ANY specific Jewish education concept instilled in the young Jew as conducive to ANY unwanted type of behaviour. Same sheigetz claim that bar mitzva, for instance, is a procession part of a child’s indoctrination etc.
    To apply sterile terms, such as “indoctrination” to an exercise that NO logical concept can claim as unwanted, id est, parental educational responsibilities, only to combat religion WITHOUT any ethical argument is as facile as it is a mockery of sound dialectics.
    As such I can only use my simile : Daniel, once again, the only stuff you are bringing to the table is VOMIT !!
    Happy now ??

  • Daniel Levy says:

    Otto, not happy. You wrote more paragraphs of nothing but waffle. At least 4 of them you devoted to insulting me because you feel I insult others.

    In the other 5, you simply state assertions that do not accompany arguments.

    You say there is substance in religious teachings, but why has society advanced most rapidly after secular advancements?

    You simply assert that people who decry religious teaching as indoctrination do not substitute ethical teachings for them. This is patently untrue and evidenced by the many upstanding citizens brought up in irreligious households.

    What cannot be denied is that teaching your child your own religion is brainwashing. If you were born in India, you’d most likely be a hindu. If you were born in Pakistan, you’d almost certainly a Muslim. And you would hold to your beliefs as voraciously as you do to your Judaism.

    Young children are very impressionable, and it’s extremely easy for parents to foist their religious beliefs on them. I contend that this is wrong, and have given you my reasons for doing so. You are yet to counter them. All you’ve done is blather about how religious teachings are “tried and tested”.

    Alchemy was tried and tested for quite a while. But we got rid of it once we discovered it was a load of bunk. Just because something has had a lot of use throughout history does not mean it is worth anything. It should rest on its own merits, or not at all.

    But what more could I expect from someone who would gladly gut his own child if he thought his god asked him to?

  • Yaron says:

    Adam,

    I agree completely about the need to think of new ways, such as free online Hebrew tutorials, to ensure continuity.

    But regarding stringency, you see it as the thing that kept the Jews Jewish for thousands of years, but I think that keeping the law as it was intended would have had the same outcome.

    I am not suggesting eating bread on Pessach because it is cheaper, rather encouraging a cheaper variety of matzah.

    But you have answered that point by suggesting that those that cannot afford could go for the cheaper regular matzah, while the well off can eat their hand made.

    But there are a growing number of Haredi rabbis who have been decreeing limits on spending and size of weddings for their followers, regardless of their financial situation. At least in this instance they understand that the desire to ‘keep up with the Joneses’ is a powerful and destructive force, so they need to make a blanket decree. There are too many social pressures to maintain these stringencies to leave it up to personal discretion.

    There is a clear case of this happening in the times of the Second Temple (as mentioned way back in the first comment) where the rabbis changed the Biblical halacha with regards to bird sacrifices in order to restrict price gouging in the marketplace. If Rabbis today really wanted things to change they could do it again.

    But this is straying from the original topic. We agree on the need for educational innovation.

  • Otto Waldmann says:

    Daniel Levy

    Matters are self evident to those who are suitably introduced into the subject…matter.
    It is also quite self evident that your awarness ( knowledge) of ethical TEACHINGS found in Judaism is so close to ZERO that, indeed, the self evident is, in your case, self efaced. You MUST come clean and admit that you have very poor or NO knlowledge of Judaic fundamental teachings in matters ethical, I mean study at any level of such a discipline within the Judaic parrameters.
    If you would take the trouble of a serious, even critical, enquiry you would find that what some call doctrine, dogma, static principles, are in fact a complex vibrant constantly adjusted incursions into impending realities clearly critically analysed through the TESTED concepts conceived by highly allert intellects, yes, the ones we call tzadekim, great Rabbis and, occasionally such learned minds as Gershom Sholem.
    This, as a mechanism of intellectual constant adjustment to reality shall explain the durability of Judaism and NOT blind faith.
    I have been working for some time now on a higher degree project which argues that the dynamics of Judaism, its perpetual adjustments to impending realities ( events, location etc. ) the constant challenges facing humanity in general have been responsible for the resilience, longevity of a set of ethics in all human endeavours. The so called non religious ethics have undisputed origins in the “religious” ethics. If only Peter Singer would be fair and quote Rambam occasionally !!!!
    Conversely, rejection of Judaism, such as seen at Karl Marx and Karl Popper resides in their almost complete ignorance ( Marx ) and comprehensive ignorance ( Popper ) of any notions contained in Judaism. Popper’s musings on Judaism ( see his auoto biography ) is akin to pure contemporary anti Semitism.
    The advancements you allude to as non-reliant on religion are exclusively of NON RELIGIOUS/ETHICAL nature. The analogy between the spiritual and chemical science ( alchemy versus the spiritual ) is totally, repeat TOTALLY illogical. In strict technical terms, a car engine does not rely on the belief that it should function, but the correct technical processes combined. Fallacies of these kind are not completely dissimilar to what Richard Dawkins stated right here on Q&A on one of his visits, stating that ” …no atheist political systems have persecuted religions…” just to “prove” that religion is by excellence defined by persecution of the free mind.
    I shall not prolongue this by even sending you to constant adjustments to expressions of religious beliefs in other religions.

    In respect to parental responsibilities, it is acceptable without any reservation that parents are entitled, obliged, expected to apply the best of their ethical standards to the young charges.
    Your criticims of the process does not offer any alternative and should you venture into that wilderness I can assure you that NO parent shall atempt to save you and bring you back alive among us. Now, here’s an example of ethics of a kind… !!
    This is also a discreet suggestion you should continue on the road to perdition seemingly keeping you still soooo active and obstinate.

  • Adam says:

    Yaron,

    You might be interested in this article in the new Hakirah Journal volume. I have not read it but it might be along the lines you were suggesting:

    The Jew and the Potlatch by R. Yonatan Kaganoff – Brilliantly and cynically argues that the high cost of Orthodox lifestyle prevents undue leisure time and disposable income, which solidifies community.

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