Wednesday, November 25, 2009

A Blurb - aka, Favor for a Friend

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Why Jewish Education Fails

Tobie and I were recently swapping war stories from our high school days with our friend Elisheva who went to high school in an Israeli ulpana - which is, for those who don't know, an Israeli daati-leumi high school for girls, frequently but not always including a dormitory (in her case it did) - and I have to say she held her own pretty well. Which is impressive, but also more frustrating than anything else, since high school education in this country is my chosen profession.
(side note - if you find the term "war stories" inappropriate you have never attended a Jewish school, for I assure you these institutions are indeed the sites of daily battles between the students who try desperately to establish some sense of self, and the teachers who are constantly and senselessly trying to crush them.)
As the years go on, I find myself more and more offended as a person and as a Jew by people who claim to be Torah educators. A prime example is this courtesy of Chana. Chana does a pretty good job of eviscerating this speech, so I won't do it again here, but it really has come to a point where something needs to be done.
When did it become ok to make turning people trying to establish an intellectual dialogue into a joke? Why are we trying to squash every piece of intelligence, personality, scholarly striving, why have we made these things things which need to be removed from the community? Why does Rabbi Orlofsky have to make fun of a girl who is trying to get some sound halachik opinions on an issue that is important to her? Which by the way she did not get. What she got was a lot of nonsense from a "Rabbi" who does not know his sources and moreover DOESN'T CARE that he doesn't know his sources but beyond even that, DOES NOT CARE TO KNOW THE SOURCES. And does not feel that Jewish soul striving for some clarity has just been eternally damaged by his so called "sense-oh-humor." Respected members of our communities, people who we pay lots and lots of money to educate us, people who are held up as examples of middot and learning and the Jewish ideology personified deal callously, casually, without respect, knowledge, wisdom, or even a grain of common sense with children who genuinely want to know things all the time, and then they turn around and claim that there's a crisis with kids who are "going off the derech" and they just don't know why or how it happened.
To be perfectly honest, I look back on the things that I and many friends of mine put up with all the time from these people and it is a miracle to me that we remained religious at all. Thank G-d for all that arrogance they accused us of having, it actually saved our relationships with G-d, can you imagine? I knew there had to be a reason He created that one.
Anyway, clearly all I can do at the moment is rant on a voiceless blog with almost no readers, but this has to be said in a public forum and this is the only one I have:
These people are ruining our children. They're hypocrites and liars and the worst thing of all is that they don't know anything and they encourage more people to not know anything. That's how you manipulate mobs - by discouraging individuality, discouraging learning, discouraging any form of achievement, and being laitzanim about the people who actually care about these things. Just in case you weren't clear, I'll say it one more time - Jewish schools are ruining Jewish children, and they will be the ruin of the Jewish communities. It's not assimilation this time around guys - Sharansky had it wrong. We're self-destructing from the inside out. And the disturbing thing is, that seems to be just fine with all the people who claim that they care.