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

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Ten Reasons

I received a number of excellent comments to this post

I wrote, in part:

What is not as frequently discussed in MO circles are the kids who are NOT demonstrably at risk but go off the derech nevertheless. In other words, these kids are not particularly rebellious, they aren't necessarily doing drugs or drinking, they are doing fine is school, etc. They just don't believe in the program. And, at the first chance they get, whether in college or slightly later, they drop the facade of any religious observance.

There are lots of questions. Like why is it happening and what can we do about it.
So, let me make my own attempt to answer the why question. The what to do about it question is much more difficult and I will address it another time.

It is important to note that when one speaks of the "MO world", he speaks about a very wide-ranging world. Thus, some of the reasons listed hear apply to left wing schools, others to right wing schools and some cross over.

1. In some schools, it is forbidden for a Rebbe to smile or have a warm word for a student. Their approach to Yiddishkeit is cerebral only. If that doesn't work for you, you disengage. Guess what? It doesn't work for most kids.

2. In some schools, Yiddishkeit is an afterthought not to be taken too seriously. So, for example, the headmaster will think nothing of routinely making announcements over the PA system in the middle of davening. Consider the message that this sends.

3. The concept of "emunah" is almost never discussed in many schools. It's as if emunah has no role in Yiddishkeit. In general, there is a de-emphasis on machshavah. Consequently, kids' questions don't get addressed or answered.

4. Many kids come from homes that are not observant to start. What do you expect? Other kids come from homes where the parents take great liberties with halacha and view Yiddishkeit as a social rather than religious experience. Some of these kids might flip out (if they are allowed to go to Israel after high school) but are much more likely to bug out, having no interest in following the inconsistent path of their parents.

5. Many boys don't 'get' Gemorah and are left behind.

6. Kids find the outside world much more stimulating and exciting than Yiddishkeit, particularly the parve brand of Yiddishkeit that they see at home and in some schools.

7. Girls.

8. Boys.

9. Cynicism. Many kids hear the most cynical and sarcastic things from their parents about religious figures and institutions. It wears off.

10. A lack of mentoring. There simply aren't enough mentors in the schools with whom kids feel comfortable. The value of mentors is very underappreciated. Some schools do a much better job than others but there is still a gap.

Anyway, that's my ten cents worth, off the cuff.



  • At 4:07 PM, Blogger thekvetcher said…

    you hit the nail on the head. this is been going on tooooooo loooonnngggg.

  • At 10:04 PM, Blogger LittleBirdies said…

    I am out of the school system for about 10 years and it is so true. I remember wishing I had someone to talk to during my teen years (other than my parents). The few girls who did have a kesher with teachers were looked down on by the hanhala. I think a lot could have been prevented if there was a little more warmth in the classroom or at least in the school and if there was an availability of staff for the girls to turn to for hashkafa or guidance.

  • At 2:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Spot on, MoC!

  • At 6:33 PM, Blogger The Town Crier said…

    you left very important and totally neglected part of education called "biur tefillah" which i feel is one of the biggest failures of the system as so many grow over the years not having a clue what they are saying or who they are talking to

  • At 6:49 PM, Blogger MoChassid said…


    Huge point. I couldn't agree more.

    Between the absence of biur tefilah and the conduct of tefilah in so many of the shuls, most kids have no connection to tefilah.

  • At 7:31 PM, Blogger The Town Crier said…

    ... which BTW is a lead to my biggest personal peeve with jewish music / entertainment (in all its forms, regardless of footwear)


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