July 19, 2024
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July 19, 2024
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Orthodox Orientation

A few years ago, a free-thinking fellow coined the term “Social Orthodoxy,” which he used to describe Jews who enjoy the club-like camaraderie that many Orthodox communities offer. Of course, in the current COVID climate, “Social Orthodoxy” has now become “Socially-Distanced Orthodoxy,” which is not ideal but is far better than Zoom Orthodoxy. (As an aside, “Zoom” Orthodoxy also describes those Jews who speed through Birkat Hamazon.)

There are many species inhabiting the Orthodox ecosystem including, for example, Ultra, Modern and Open. Suffice it to say, the various divisions within the Orthodox movement do not see eye-to-eye on all issues. If they did, we would not have such divisions or, at times, division. However, reasonable minds can agree that when it comes to intra-Orthodox relations, Ahavath Yisroel is paramount. (Remember, passing judgment is dangerous, passing the buck is cowardly and passing a kidney stone is excruciating.) If the Orthodox world is a cholent, then each member is a flavor-enhancing ingredient who should be welcomed in the crock-pot, as long as the end-product is still cholent.

Those Jews who identify as Orthodox often can be categorized behaviorally, using classifications of conduct having little to do with levels of observance and lots to do with degrees of deportment. With that understanding, the following is a tongue-in-cheek list of alternative forms of Jewish Orthodoxy:

(1) Locationally Orthodox: Jews who live equidistant between two nearby Orthodox synagogues but insist on schlepping to a shtiebel many miles away.

(2) Culinarily Orthodox: Jews who happily devour cholent, chopped liver, gribenes, kishke and schmaltz at least once a week, typically in one sitting and in contravention of doctor’s orders.

(3) Educationally Orthodox: Jews who spend over a decade in yeshiva (lower, middle and high school) and are ultimately headed to Yeshiva University for college, but even after six consecutive gap years in Israel, are debating whether to add a Shana Zayin. (FYI: If you are doing Shana Zayin, you have effectively made aliyah.)

(4) Romantically Orthodox: Jews who listen less to their hearts and more to their shadchan.

(5) Matrimonially Orthodox: The smorgasbord lasts three times as long as the Ketubah, Bedeken and Chuppah. In addition, the perpetually-moving and super-sweaty chatan and kallah never actually get a chance to sit down and eat and, during the endless dancing, they are offered more cups of water than are offered to marathon runners.

(6) Congregationally Orthodox: Jews who kibitz loudly and incessantly during davening but then go silent to hear the shul president deliver the weekly announcements.

(7) Fashionably Orthodox: Jews who tend to dress more formally than not (even on a Sunday) and often err on the side of high-end brands. Telltale signs include a Gucci kippah, Chanel Sheitel, Prada stroller and Burberry tefillin.

(8) Vacation-ally Orthodox: Jews who deliberately plan their getaways at destinations where all of their close and not-so-close friends will be vacationing, thus making the getaway more of a “stay-nearby.”

(9) Invitationally Orthodox: Jews who (i) for shabbos, invite guests three years in advance, (ii) for bar/bat mitzvah parties, send out pre-“Save the Date” cards alerting invitees that they will soon be receiving a “Save the Date” card and (iii) for weddings, send out several versions of the invitation depending on the guest, e.g., Chuppah only, Chuppah/First Dance Only, Chuppah/First Dance/Appetizer only or Everything But the Honeymoon.

(10) Politically Orthodox: Jews who (i) if forced to choose between right wing and left wing, would rather have a chicken wing and (ii) would gladly join a President’s Cabinet if that means access to the kitchen cabinet.

(11) Architecturally Orthodox: Jews who design their homes based primarily on mezuzah placement.

(12) Seasonally Orthodox: Jews who are strictly Orthodox most of the year but tend to take the summer off, at least to some degree (extent and temperature).

(13) Athletically Orthodox: Jews who will join a softball team only if (i) their team is stacked with ringers, (ii) the team name doubles as an advertisement for their family business and (iii) someone else takes care of all of the scheduling and other grunt work.

(14) Situationally Orthodox: Jews who, in order to avoid attending a springtime social function, claim—for the first time—that they must celebrate Pesach Sheni.

(15) Conveniently Orthodox: Jews who are strictly Orthodox only when it comes to alcohol consumption on Purim.

(16) Relatively Orthodox: A Jew who may not be Haredi but also is not an Apikoros.

Final thought: Labeling a person is bad, labeling a product is good and labeling a detonator is smart.

Send any questions, comments or insults to [email protected].

By Jon Kranz


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