Monday, June 14, 2004

Jumping the Shark on Modern Orthodoxy

With Saul Austerlitz's Forward review of the Geller's Belkin & Farber's A-Soloveitchik-in-Boston book, we have finally reached the point of Reclaiming-Modern-Orthodoxy-Kitsch.
All one needs is to pick a name (e.g. Dr.'s Soloveitchik, Heilman, Waxman, Friedman), throw around some catch phrases (e.g. "move to the right," Chareidization, Ultra-Orthodox, "crisis of confidence") talk about how tragic this is and how great things used to be & BOOM, you have an article/essay/talk. The problem is that this is no depth or substance in the analysis: the intellectual equivolent of kitsch.
In The Forward's defense, one could argue that SA is only a 20-something kid who should not be taken too seriously. However, he is reviewing books, not 40-something year old rockers in the West Village.
To be more specific, I would like to ask SA who are the Ultra-Orthodox who are coopting RYBS? Secondly, Maimonides (like most day schools) was meant to manufacture good Baal ha-Batim who listened to their Rabbis & were mostly Shomer Halakha, hopefully not "a city on a hill, a shining beacon of Modern Orthodoxy at its glorious best". Third, "rightward deviation of Orthodox practice in recent years." What the heck does that mean? Fourth, this article seriously needs a good copy editor.
Lastly, this article fits into the recent tendency of bemoaning the situation, while ignoring the obvious reasons for recent trends.

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