Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Modern Orthodox communities

There’s been a lot of talk lately about how much of the formerly Modern Orthodox community has been leaning to the right, religiously.

The problem is much more pronounced in the big communities where the Orthodox population is dominated by the Ultra Orthodox. The MO in those areas seem to take their cues for everything from the Charedim. Kashrut, education, etc, are all run or organized by Charedim and the Modern Orthodox just use the services provided by them.

I live in a small community that is most decidedly "out of town". Because there are only a handful of Charedim here, the MO rabbis and lay leaders and members of the community all step up to the plate and manage the Vaad Hakashrut, run & teach in the day school, manage the eruv, invite modern speakers, etc.

In the big communities the MO look to the UO for all their community building, by default, and end up thinking about themselves the way the UO think of them - that Modern Orthodoxy is just "Orthodoxy lite" instead of something dynamic and beautiful in its own right.


  1. interesting analysis. I always assumed it was like that in "out of town" places because the ultra orthodox are not the same type as in NY. They are more open minded and worldly. You are saying ti is just because there are not enough of them...

  2. I think part of the reason for the swing to the right is also the inclination for a lot of Jewish schools to have as the teachers those whose hashkafa is to the right of their own, for whatever reason that is. A lot of modern orthodox schools have much more right-wing individuals teaching their children, and this is inevitably going to have an effect.

  3. Rafi:

    I think the more yeshivish types who come to smaller communities are either

    a) "forced" to be more tolerant and worldly because otherwise they wouldn't be able to be part of the community


    b) are already relatively tolerant and worldly - otherwise they wouldn't come to smaller communities in the first place.

    They are often looking to give something to that small community, which shows that they are thinking outside the yeshivish box already.

  4. GGG:

    The explanation I heard for that particular problem is that the MO day schools can't afford to pay that much and the only ones willing to take those jobs are people from Yeshivish backgrounds. Most MO kids (the ones who stay MO) go on to higher education and become lawyers, MBAs, day traders, academics, etc. Who's left to become day school teachers? It's a sad demographic reality.