Monday, March 21, 2005

Quick Thoughts on Jewish Action

I received the Spring issue of Jewish Action on Friday. Two of the articles I read surprised me greatly.

1. R. Yitzchok Adlerstein, in his column "Bytes & PCs", writes a glowing review of FrumTeens. I like R. Adlerstein. A lot. Nevertheless, call me irrational but I cannot bring myself to praise someone who shares -- with highly impressionable teenagers -- gems such as that Rav Soloveitchik was responsible for the majority of tumah in America and that Zionism is avodah zarah. In my opinion, people who spew hatred like that should be removed from positions of influence.

2. I was offended by R. Lawrence Kelemen's satirical critique of contemporary yeshivos. Using colleges as a metaphor, R. Kelemen harshly criticizes yeshivos for failing to prepare their students for marriage, raising children and living life after graduation. He raises the significant phenomenon of depression in yeshivos and condemns the intense intellectual competition among students, to the extent that nervous breakdowns are not uncommon (I've witnessed it). He does not do the math explicitly, but given the hundreds of thousands of college students, he implies that suicide rates in yeshivos might be comparable. I do not know where he was going with the sex and drugs, but perhaps that was only there to make the metaphor more realistic. Overall, I am surprised that a man of his well-known ideological leanings would write such a harsh critique.

UPDATE: R. Adlerstein responds here.

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