How the 2000 Los Angeles Jewish Federation Census Was Calculated to Undercount Torah-Observant Jews

The Jewish Federation’s census of Los Angeles Jewry
remains controversial. Even as the United States continues striving to count historically less visible demographic communities, the kinds of people whom Ralph Ellison might have called “Invisible People,” our local Jewish census-takers fail to acknowledge that Torah-observant Jews were
dramatically undercounted. The census alleges that Observant households have dwindled in the past two decades from 5.2 to 4.3 percent of Los Angeles Jewry.  I refuse to be an Invisible Man in ...

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Tarbut Goes Topless

The letter whose text is reprinted below this commentary has been sent by the Administration of the Tarbut v’Torah Jewish Community School (TVT of Irvine) to its families.  It finally and formally brings to an end the charade that has seen TVT falsely promote itself as a suitable educational vehicle for the children of Orthodox-affiliated Jewish families in Orange County, California.  TVT has gone topless: it formally has adopted an explicit policy, reversing the policy that stood from its founding in 1991 ...

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On the Increased Urgency for a New Jewish Educational Vision to Guide the Pedagogic Model of Tarbut v’Torah (TVT)

When I was ordained in March 1981 with s’mikha from HaRav HaGaon Harav Yosef Ber Soloveitchik zt”l and RavNahum Lamm shlit”a at Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), I undertook to be a Rav b’Yisrael, a rabbi and teacher in the greater Jewish community. I have been a Rav for 27 years and have practiced in pulpit and community rabbonus for more than 15 of those years. It is because I love the Jewish People, and particularly because I am devoted to the Judaic education of young people — of all ages, of all backgrounds — that I write ...

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Census And Non-Census

Jewish population statistics fascinate me. As with other kinds of surveys, they tell some truths, misrepresent others. As Mr. Merlis, my yeshiva high school social studies teacher, used to say: “Figures can’t lie, but liars can figure.”

Surveys play a powerful role in influencing public policy. When advocates of a political party wrongly are told by surveys that their candidates will get beaten severely on election day, they are more inclined to stay home, not vote, and consequentially fulfill the ...

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The Price of Freedom

To facilitate pidyon shvuyim (redeeming captive Jews from secular prisons) we are commanded to go so far as to sell a community’s Torah scroll. Yet it is hard to rejoice that Bill Clinton pardoned four chassidim from the village of New Square, N.Y., along with an alleged tax evader who donated megabucks to Israel. In contrast to the complex moral and ethical questions that grated pro-and-con during discussions over the possible pardons of Michael Milken and Jonathan Jay Pollard, ...

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A Mindset that Drinking Is Not Cool, Vodka Vomiting Is Not Cool, Crookery Is Not Cool

When I attended yeshiva high school, everyone kvetchedabout the school: kids kvetched about the teachers, the facility, the bathrooms, the color the walls were painted. It was in the culture to kvetch about the place — even though we loved it so much. And then I went to college at Columbia University. Students at Columbia did not love that place as passionately as we loved our yeshiva high school. But no one kvetched at Columbia. (Yes, there were political riots — but it was a different ...

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On Bernie who Madoff with the Loot — Fifty Billion

It was said of Lev Bronstein, a revolutionary in post-Czarist Russia, who — to dissociate himself from his Jewish roots — changed his name to Leon Trotsky: “It’s the Trotskys who make the revolutions, and the Bronsteins who pay the bill.”

We are 5 million Jews in America, and ten percent of us are Orthodox. So: 500,000 Orthodox Jews . . . 5 million American Jews. There are one or two of these crook situations each and every year. One ...

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To be alone

It took my divorce to understand fully all of those sermons that I had preached over the years about caring for the orphan, the widowed, the poor, the stranger

With approximately half of American marriages ending in divorce, the social crisis unfolding within the American Family Institution concerned me deeply as a congregational rabbi during the 1980s and ’90s, my first two decades in the pulpit. I spoke about it. I wrote about it.

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Orthonomics — Losing Our Best and Brightest

The issue of Orthonomics, like the weather, is much discussed but not much acted upon. Perhaps it is too complicated to tackle.

How do Orthodox Jews do it? How can we expect others to live this lifestyle? With Americans on unemployment and in foreclosure in record amounts, how in the world do average people pay $10-20,000 per child for private Day School schooling? If we promote nice-sized families, how can we afford it? And summer camp . . . and ...

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American Jews: On Bars and Mitzvahs

“If I had the power, I would annul the bar mitzvah ceremony as it is observed in our country because it is known that this ceremony has not brought anyone closer to the Torah and the commandments – not even the boy himself, not even for one hour. On the contrary, in many places, it actually brings [participants] to desecrate the Sabbath and to commit other transgressions. . . .”

With these words, HaRav HaGaon HaRav Moshe Feinstein, who along ...

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