Orthodox Lite?

For as long as I can remember, anxious leaders and thinkers in our community have been asking the same question: can our community – the Modern Orthodoxy community of America – survive?  But in recent years, as the broader American population has become increasingly polarized in its political and cultural views, “centrist” orthodoxy seems, more than ever, to have lost its luster.

Numerically, the Modern Orthodox make up only 3% of American Jewry – perhaps 175,000 Jews altogether – a number which has remained static for some time, and which is far smaller than the growing Yeshivish and Chassidic communities.  Some of our children leave Orthodoxy altogether – an all too common, and painful, phenomenon – while others join the Yeshivish community, which also weakens the community they leave behind.  Finally, many of our most dedicated young people make Aliyah, a source of great pride for our community, but one which deprives American Modern Orthodoxy of its most passionate and idealistic future leaders.

But beyond numbers, the more significant question is whether there is a compelling reason to remain a part of this community altogether.  Why, exactly, would one choose to live their life as a Modern Orthodox Jew?

The financial pressures that go hand in hand with Modern Orthodoxy, with yeshiva day school tuition at the top of the list, are enough to make many people think twice before joining the community.  Compared to public school, or even right wing yeshivas, the costs are astronomical.

And in return, what do we get?  Though we enjoy schmoozing with our friends at Shul, the Tefillah experience itself isn’t exactly inspiring, to put it kindly.  Lacking the passion and joy found in many Chassidic communities, many adults join their […]