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Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Where are the Orthodox "in-reach" programs?

I am still relatively new at the blogosphere stuff, and the purpose of this blog is more politics than religion, but I might as well break the rules occasionally.

As I have been surfing around the Jewish blogosphere I have been profoundly disturbed at the sheer number of blogs by those who are either formerly Orthodox, or, maybe worse, those who fake a frum lifestyle but don't believe anymore.

It is hard to extrapolate from these blogs how much of a problem this is in real life, after all, bloggers are a self-selected group and cannot be considered proportionally representative of the population as a whole. But it is clear that this is a problem, and a it is a failure of the frum community to deal with this.

As I see it, it appears to be a problem in the educational system. We have wonderful kiruv projects that are phenomenally successful, the Aishes and the Ohr Somayachs and the Gateways, that can talk about frumkeit on an intellectual level and that aren't afraid to answer the hard questions. A solid belief system is happy to defend itself.

But how many schools in the frum world are as open to basic questions as Aish is? How many employ decent school counselors that can be understanding and available for these sorts of issues? How many even acknowledge the problems in the frum community without marginalizing them or using glib answers like "if he did that, then he is not frum"?

The Orthodox community will always lose people just like we will always gain people. But it seems to me that there should be a priority placed on investing in our own. Otherwise we are just making ourselves and our children more vulnerable to becoming lost.

If a religious kid graduates from high school without the ability to articulately defend his beliefs and his practices, then we have failed him or her badly.