Friday, June 09, 2023

To the Editor:

The “Glass Half Full Judaism” article by Rabbi Gil Student gets the split between “conservatives” and “liberals” in Modern Orthodoxy wrong.

The “conservatives” are being pulled to the right by the gravitational force of the Haredim, who outnumber Modern Orthodox Jews by two-to-one in America.

The “liberals” are being pulled to the left by the gravitational force of secular America/world, which is becoming increasingly intolerant of and hostile to the beliefs and values of Orthodox Judaism.

Modern Orthodoxy is not controlling the directions in which it is developing. The 2013 Pew survey showed that 37% of Modern Orthodox households have incomes <$150,000/year. You pretty much have to be in a high income bracket to be MO. Small, wealthy minorities need to be tolerated by the societies they live in to remain wealthy. It is unlikely that increasingly secular America will allow Orthodox Jews to stay in their high paying jobs indefinitely.

The equivalent of Modern Orthodoxy existed in Spain in its Moorish Golden Age, as well as in Enlightenment Germany. We all know what happened after those countries grew tired of their Jews.

MO Jews tend to view the culture of Haredi Jews as backwards and unrefined, with more than a bit of willful ignorance. These Haredi characteristics are a reflection of the fact that you had to be pretty tough to make it through the Middle Ages as a despised minority. In the Diaspora, we’re heading back towards the Middle Ages.

Dr. Lewis Book
Los Angeles

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