Passaic, NJ – Expert Trying To Bring Peace Between Secular and Orthodox Jews

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    Passaic, NJ – There is a growing schism between the secular and Orthodox Jewish communities, which might soon threaten the future of the world’s oldest religion, according to experts.

    On the one side are the “secularists,” or those who identify themselves as Jews but are not necessarily religiously observant. On the other side are the Orthodox-religiously observant to the letter of the law, or in this case Halakha (Jewish Law) as embodied in the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), the Talmud, the Midrash and other sacred texts that govern everything in their daily lives, including marriage, diet, morality, business dealings and more.

    One expert who is trying to bring peace and greater understanding between the sides is David Baum, author of the new book The Non-Orthodox Jew’s Guide to Orthodox Jews.

    “There is a misunderstanding among secular Jews that the Orthodox are reactionary and a hindrance to Jews’ greater acceptance by society at large,” says Mr. Baum. “The fact is, we’re not a bunch of militant fanatics. We’re not confrontational and we don’t believe in holding back progress. We’re modern, twenty-first-century people who maintain a covenant with G-d that stretches back more than twenty thousand generations! And that includes following His laws.”

    Indeed, some Orthodox are concerned that the very future of American Jewry might be in doubt because of the lifestyle of the secular Jews. Their skyrocketing intermarriage rates, declining birth rates, languishing synagogue affiliation and inadequate Jewish education all paint a bleak picture. Studies by the National Jewish Population Survey of 2000, the Jewish Center for Public Affairs, the Hebrew Union College and the American Jewish Committee bear this out.

    Though many Orthodox disagree with the behavior of non-religious Jews, Mr. Baum understands the root issue. “It is very easy to be seduced by a sexy, all-encompassing, national secular culture promulgated by Madison Avenue and Hollywood” he says. The solution, he believes, is educating the non-Orthodox about what they are missing so that “we as Jews can all come together again as one nation. It’s never too late for any Jew to come home.”

    To that end, Mr. Baum’s helpful message is decidedly upbeat. Judaism, he says, brings joy, enlightenment and fulfillment when one practices the 3,000-year-old religion’s traditions, rituals and laws.

    But what specifically is in it for secular Jews? According to The Non-Orthodox Jew’s Guide to Orthodox Jews, they will find:

    Greater happiness and contentment in life

    A sense of meaning

    Stronger family bonds

    A decreased likelihood of marital conflict and divorce

    The means to become better parents

    Better spousal relationships

    Career fulfillment

    Increased serenity and peace of mind

    In addition, readers will learn about:

    The nation of Israel and why Jews are in exile

    Why assimilation into gentile cultures does not work

    The Jewish understanding of the messiah

    Men’s and women’s true roles in life and how they have been distorted by modern-day society

    The mitzvot, or the divine commandments by which Orthodox Jews live

    “It’s estimated that there are over five million Jews in America, of which eleven percent-just six hundred thousand-are Orthodox,” says Mr. Baum. “Orthodox Jewry is growing while other parts of Judaism are shrinking, and I want my secular friends to know what they are missing.”

    An entrepreneur, a philanthropist and an ordained rabbi, David Baum is active in both the for-profit and non-profit fields. His businesses have ranged from telecom and online sales and marketing to real estate and venture capital. Mr. Baum is active in many local and international Jewish charities and organizations. He lives in Passaic, New Jersey, with his wife and seven children.

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    20 COMMENTS

    1. This is a great service to all yidden and I wish him all mazel and hatzlacha. If by this outreach we can bring even a small percentage of secular yidden closer to yiddeshkeit and daas torah it will have been a worthwhile effort. More important, it may help break down the walls that the chareidi mindset has built around the heimeshe communities where a whole generation of dysfunctional and illiterate children are growing up with little, if any, understanding of the diversity that exists both with the yiddeshe community and the world at large.

    2. Anonymous – very well said. My thoughts exactly. All types of Jews should know more about other types – it may be able to encourage acceptance and understanding from Klal Yisroel. It occurs to me that there are probably thousands of frum children who don’t even know that there are happy, functioning non-frum Jews who live meaningful lives in whatever shul they go to.

      • No.2 you missed the point of Mr. Baum’s efforts entirely. The objective is for secular Jews to learn more about the beauty of a Torah lifesyle and its myriad benefits and enhancements.

    3. Poster # 1(anonymous); You started on a Positive note. But then it tailspins into the self-imposed (inflicted) Negativism that has almost become a state of mind with some people. Yes. Introspection is a good thing. But when we see only the Negative aspects of our Orthodox society we fall into a hopeless quagmire. No, we are not perfect (as a society). The curriculum in lots of Yeshivas must be upgraded, to include more Jewish, and general History. But things are not as bleak as some posters are portraying it.

    4. #5
      No.2 you missed the point of Mr. Baum’s efforts entirely. The objective is for secular Jews to learn more about the beauty of a Torah lifesyle and its myriad benefits and enhancements.

      FYI sorry many secular Jews know exactly what the religion it about and the way the Orthodox interpret the Torah and your lifestyle and want nothing to do with it.

      Do not think the only reason that they are not religious is because they do not know about Torah religion many are secular because they do know.

      however, of course there are some that do not know about the religion and might find the religion beautiful and become religious after being exposed to it.

    5. The reason peace is difficult is very simple. What we used to call Orthodox Judaism is now called “Modern Orthodox” and is dying on the vine. In its place we have a radical reactionary movement whose idea of “peace” and “rapprochement” is absolute surrender on the part of everyone who isn’t exactly like them. Backed up by the threat of death for all dissenters. And predicated on the complete subjugation and silencing of half the human race.

      There isn’t a lot of room for compromise or cooperation there.

    6. There is only one type of jew and that’s an orthodox jew all other types are trying to get away from the meaning of a jew …its no question what a jew is all about from when we were all on Har Sinai and no one can change that I understand some people want different but that won’t change thw fact

    7. Reply to #8
      Well put! Enough with all the modern people trying to dictate our life! We finally have a frum web site. Please take your hate spewing arrogance someplace else.

    8. Most secular Jews are unaware of our heritage. What they are aware of is what they may have been taught about Judaism by an equally misinformed instructor, even at the university level.

      It is only a tiny group of “OTD” who make far more noise than their piddling numbers who reject Yiddishkeit after having practiced it, and many are just rejecting it out of anger or rebellion, later to come back. Of those “OTD” maybe 5% really have rejected it because they no longer believe for intellectual reasons and they fade away in peace as opposed to screaming on frum web sites to cry out for attention.

      And in the old days, most who rejected Judaism did so because of financial pressure and not because they really wanted to stop practicing. At that time, only a handful of loud rebels really rejected Judaism for self made ideological reasons – they are the extinct Bundists and the slowly dying and disillusioned secular Zionists.

    9. I hope Baum was misquoted about the covenant stretching back 20,000 generations. Avraham Avinu was born a little over 3800 years ago. That’s probably less than 200 generations.

    10. #8, RE: #7

      Anon Ibid Opcit is absolutely correct, and is one of the few people on this site who are worthy of reading!
      The current “Charedi” system is indeed a reactionary movement which is becoming increasingly radical! They send teachers into Mod-Orth schools with the intent of slowly teaching the Charedi viewpoint and undermining scientific teachings and eventually converting them into black clad, hate filled, kiruv mongers who are obsessed with making everyone just like them.

      • RE 14: “The current “Charedi” system is indeed a reactionary movement which is becoming increasingly radical! They send teachers into Mod-Orth schools with the intent of slowly teaching the Charedi viewpoint….”

        To be honest about the whole situation, there are rather few Mod-Orth teachers out there. The Mod-Orth does not encourage their kids to go to yeshiva for 6-8 years and go into chinuch. If a smart and highly capable young person in the Mod-Orth world says s/he wants to go into chinuch, most people in Mod-Orth world will see it as settling for less – wasting their talent and time.

    11. Well then, HaNavon, why are the Charaidim being hired in non-Charedi schools? Obviously not enough MO teachers.

      I did not say none – I agree that there are many great MO educators. But, what I am saying is that the MO can’t support itself with enough teachers.

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