By Chanita Teitz
The Pew report has engendered a slew of opinions and comments. For one, it shows the sad state of assimilation in America. The “Goldene Medina” which has offered us so much freedom and opportunity has also been our undoing. Yet, what it also shows is that Orthodox Judaism is growing.
According to the report, among American Jews born after 1980, 32% consider themselves “Jews of no religion.” I received several interesting articles from my son-in-law David Weiss regarding the report. In one article by Don Seeman, “Pew’s Jews,” printed on www.jewishreviewofbooks.com, he asks whether Jews consider Judaism a religion or a nationality. He asks, “Is the proper frame of comparison for American Jews Catholics, Protestants, and Muslims or Irish, Italians, and Koreans?”
It seems to me that there are a number of Jews who consider themselves Jews by birth but, since they are secular, they consider themselves Jews of no religion. In Israel, this is a common thing—there are Jews who consider themselves secular Israelis, but I believe that they still consider themselves Jews.
We are a nation. From the time we were brought out of Egypt and stood at the foot of Har Sinai receiving the Torah, we became a nation, linked by the Torah, our belief in Hashem, and our promised land, Eretz Yisrael.
In two other articles by Dennis Prager, “Why Orthodoxy is Growing” and “No Faith, No Jewish Future” both printed on www.jewishjournal.com, he gives his reasons why Orthodoxy is growing while Reform and Conservative are diminishing. He writes that it is primarily our belief in Hashem, and our belief the Torah was written by Hashem, that keeps us connected, and that our observance of the religious laws keeps us committed to Judaism.
He asserts that if one doesn’t believe that the Torah was given by G‑d, why keep the laws? What obligation do you have to keep ancient laws if they were written by men?
As Orthodox Jews, when we read these articles, I believe that we can’t sit on our laurels and believe that we are safe from assimilation. Not only children “at risk” but all of our children, and even adults, have to constantly recommit themselves to Judaism. I read today that at the Agudah Convention, Rabbi Zechariah Wallerstein said that we have downgraded the essence of Judaism for our children to subjects to be studied and graded on. If limudei kodesh are seen as just as competitive and grade-oriented as secular subjects, our children will lack a fervent, emotional connection and love of Hashem, Torah, and Eretz Yisrael.
If we show our children the beauty of Torah, love of Hashem, and love for Eretz Yisrael, then the Pew Report’s finding that Orthodoxy is growing will be true not just today, but also in the years and generations ahead.
Rabbi Paysach J. Krohn is a fifth-generation mohel who is also known throughout the Jewish world for his books and lectures. He has written a series of books of Jewish short stories, known as the Maggid Series, as well as other titles. He has lectured in cities around the world, and is a frequent lecturer at Chazaq programs.
On Sunday night, November 17, hundreds of men and women showed up to the Beth Gavriel Community Center (Forest Hills) for his special lecture. The event was entitled “Making Marriage Special.” Chazaq teamed up with the Queens Jewish Community Council, who helped cosponsor the event. Rabbi Paysach Krohn was introduced by his son Rabbi Eliezer Krohn, and they both spoke about how a person shouldn’t look for the right marriage partner; instead, a person should be the right marriage partner.
Both men and women, single and married alike, greatly benefited from this event. For more information about upcoming Chazaq events and programs, please call 718-285-9132 or visit www.chazaq.org.
Do you want to be inspired? Hear about Wendy Runge’s inspirational story at the Hotchster house, 144-29 73rd Avenue, between Main St and 147th Street. Motzaei Shabbos, November 23, 7:30 p.m. All donations will be appreciated.
Shiur for men and women with R’ Moshe Schwerd, “Chanukah’s Message of Inspiration.” Motzaei Shabbos, November 23, 9:00 p.m. Congregation Ahavas Yisroel, 147-02 73rd Avenue.
Reminder: The Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills is pleased to invite the community to a scholar-in-residence Shabbos with Rabbi Ephraim Buchwald, founder and director, NJOP—National Jewish Outreach Program. Friday night and Shabbos Chanukah-Mevorchim, November 29–30. Rabbi Buchwald will speak at a Friday night oneg (7:30 p.m.) “Remaining Moral in an Increasingly Immoral Environment,” on Shabbos morning, and at seudah shelishis (following Minchah at 4:00 p.m.) “Living like a Hellenist.”
Shiur at the Lander College for Men, given by Harav Eliyahu Soloveichik, shlita, about viewing today’s current events through the prism of the neiros Chanukah and the mezuzah. Sunday, November 24, 9:30 a.m., with a scrumptious breakfast starting at 9:00 a.m. This program is free of charge and for men only. Hope you can attend! Please RSVP to Joshua.Sturm@touro.edu. Sponsorship opportunities are available.
Community Chanukah Carnival. Sunday, December 1, 11:00 a.m.–4:00 p.m. Yeshiva of Central Queens (auditorium), 147-37 70th Rd. in Flushing. Only $13 per person; family of 3+ only $10 each! Inflatable slide bounce, games, hot dogs, french fries, drinks, a special appearance by The Kosher Clown, doughnuts, popcorn, cotton candy, face painting, music, a mini Chinese auction, and much more! Proceeds go towards Chazaq’s outreach programs! For more information, call 646-541-6833 or 917-617-3636.
Free Monthly Shiur For Women at Congregation Etz Chaim of Kew Gardens Hills, 147-19 73rd Avenue. Expected future dates are 8:30 p.m. Wednesdays, December 25, January 29, February 26, (Tuesday) March 25, April 30, May 28, and June 25. For more information, call 718-575-0594.
The World Of Chinuch
Shevach presents “Change In Our World:” The administration and faculty at Shevach, under the guidance of Associate Principal Mrs. Nechama Mirsky, collaborated this fall on developing several projects to enrich students’ awareness of the changes unfolding locally and around the world.
In the first part of this program, the tenth grade embarked on a journey of research and creativity, as each girl explored a local, national, or international region of her choice. Each set out with the goal of identifying a significant change that impacted her choice of region during the summer months. Gathering and organizing information from multiple sources, the students analyzed the causes and effects of the changes, such as the revolutions in Syria and Egypt, the threatened U.S. government shutdown, and flooding and wildfires in the U.S. They then created outstanding visual and technological presentations of their findings, some of which were displayed during the recent Open House along with artwork and creative writing in a “Student Work” gallery.
Election Day 2013 found the entire school gathered for a forum, “Every Vote Counts,” as the second part of the new program. Government teachers Mrs. Weiss and Ms. Nasirov inspired groups of students to spend several days researching, examining, and outlining the platforms important to the main candidates in the New York City races for the positions of mayor, comptroller, and public advocate. Other students examined the role of Orthodox Jews in the voting process and our significance to the candidates. In addition, students researched elections in history in which one vote made the difference in the election outcome. The large room in which the forum was held was extensively decorated by the students in red, white, and blue, with many iconic political symbols and famous quotations. The 16 seniors who presented the various groups’ findings were knowledgeable and articulate. The freshman, sophomore, and junior classes were exceptionally attentive as they learned about key political controversies such as “stop and frisk” and were entertained by the presenters’ good cheer. This was truly a remarkable educational and exciting program. Several students had actually met Mr. Lhota on Main St. just before the day of the forum, and exclaimed to him, “We know so much about you!” Congratulations on a job exceedingly well done, seniors!
Bnos Malka Academy and Camp Keshet. Mrs. Blimie Berkowitz will be joining as camp director for summer 2014. The camp, in its second year, offers a quality camping experience to the girls of Queens at an affordable price. Mrs. Berkowitz, a former teacher at Bnos Malka Academy, has many years of camping experience and is currently serving the children of Queens as a school psychologist. David Berger, the president of BMA, was understandably excited. “Mrs. Berkowitz is extremely talented and has a passion to work with children. She is handpicking her staff and has already developed a dynamic summer program.”
Mrs. Berkowitz explained that her goal will be to maintain the warm, nurturing atmosphere that is the hallmark of Bnos Malka—giving each girl the opportunity to shine. “Most camps have similar programing. First and foremost, though, is the need to have a superior learn-to-swim program with qualified, certified lifeguards. I have also planned a vast array of unique and innovative events, such as the first-ever Camp Keshet Production.” The camp—in addition to exciting workshops in drama, music, dance, art, and much more—will implement a well-developed sports program with exciting leagues. “We will emphasize the idea of empowering each girl, to build her confidence with Torah values and good middos, all while developing friendships and having a great summer.”
To Mrs. Peri Schonfeld and family on the petirah of her father. HaMakom yenachem eschem b’soch sh’ar aveilei Tziyon v’Yerushalayim.
To our machatanim Rabbi and Mrs. Yehuda Shmidman on the birth of a baby boy to their children Yitzchok and Hindy. Mazal tov to the other grandparents, Rabbi and Mrs. Shimon Max, formerly of Queens, and great-grandparents Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel Niman and Rabbi and Mrs. Moshe Kaiman.
To our machatanim Abe and Dina Weiss on the engagement of their son Ari, to Mimi Reich, daughter of Tova and Steve Reich of Lawrence, formerly of Kew Gardens Hills. v
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail email@example.com.