Sunday, July 12, 2015

Kiruv-Proof Your Kids, Or Else...

If the message you send your kids - consciously or unconsciously - is that Orthodox Judaism is the truth, and the only reason you aren't Orthodox is laziness or you're too busy enjoying modern life to commit to that restrictive lifestyle, then don't be surprised when they're swept off their feet by evangelizers like Aish or Chabad. Non-Orthodox Jews make up the overwhelming majority of Jews the world over, and the modern concept of "Orthodox" is relatively brand new, yet for some reason, I see people across the Jewish spectrum, from Conservative to Reconstructionist defer or lionize - implicitly or explicitly - Orthodoxy, as if they have a monopoly on the truth. Too many non-Orthodox parents also give their kids absolutely no training or background in Judaism or Jewishness, and are then shocked SHOCKED when a smiling rabbi razzle dazzles them with a plate of kugel and a bowl of half-truths. I'm not advocating for a yeshiva education, I don't even send my kid to Hebrew school, but if all they know about Jewishness is Adam Sandler and temple twice a year, they will be susceptible to manipulative kiruv (outreach) tactics. 
If you believe in the tenets of Orthodox Judaism, then by all means live that lifestyle and be proud of it, but it's an all-encompassing, highly demanding lifestyle, that dictates every aspect of your life, and you should be aware of that reality before you decide to join it. Kiruv people are notorious for avoiding tough questions and downplaying the negatives.
Be proud to be Conservative, Reform, Humanistic, or whatever shade of Jew you are. Explain your version of Judaism to your kids, or Evangelical Jews will do it for you, and you (and your kids) might not like the outcome.