The rambling thoughts of a Modern Orthodox Chassid (whatever that means). Contact me at emansouth @

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Thousands of Ba'alei Teshuva

The current issue of the OU's Jewish Action (not yet online) has two articles about the apparent difficulties being encountered by children of ba'alei teshuva.

While I may write about the substance of the articles at another time (after they are posted on line), I was struck by a consistent thread in the two articles.

Rabbi Yaacov Haber writes:

The sixties and seventies were fascinating times; there was a surge of interest in the spiritual, the transcendent. Thousands of young people, disillusioned by the materialism of society were searching for a different way of life....They were seraching for utopia; they wanted to raise their families in a different kind of world.

Yiddishkeit promised them just that. Communities and rabbis reached out to beginners, and yeshivot were created for them. Newcomers encountered a deep and meaningful tradition. They found religious families full of warmth and homes that were open for Shabbat. Thousands signed up - the ba'al teshuvah movement was born. (emphsis added)
In the second article, Rabbi Shaya Karlinsky writes:

The teshuvah movement broke new ground over thirty years ago, bringing thousands of estranged Jews back to authentic Judaism.
Is it me or does anyone else wonder where the "thousands" of ba'alei teshuva are? There may be thousands of "ba'alei teshuva professionals" but I'm not sure I see "thousands" of ba'alei teshuva. This is more than semantics. Broad statements such as these that are taken at face value tend to justify the over allocation of Jewish charitable resources to the kiruv "movement."

Am I off base?


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