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Issue 205 - More Than Four Questions
Exploring Klal Yisroel's 'Family Dynamics'
by Rabbi Yakov Horowitz
Publication: Mishpacha Magazine

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4/15/08
As Jewish families around the world celebrate the Yom Tov of Pesach, most of us spend time with relatives that we do not see much all year long. Often, that requires us to develop an enhanced level of tolerance as we are in close quarters with siblings and cousins that may not share our personalities, hashkafos and world views.

Stepping back a bit, I thought it might be a good exercise to explore the broader dynamics of our “family relations” as far as Klal Yisroel is concerned, particularly how we interact with and project our image to our non-frum (or as my friends in kiruv say, not-yet-frum) brothers and sisters.

As asking questions is the order of the day in our Pesach Seder, I thought it best to simply pose some questions, and let you, the reader, think about the answers. I hope that you find these questions thought provoking.

Best wishes for a Chag Kosher V’samayach

Yakov Horowitz
––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––-
1. Most secular Jews worldwide personally interact with charedim …
a. often
b. not very often
c. hardly ever if at all

2. When secular Jews worldwide see charedim in the media, they usually see …
a. the finest charedim
b. average charedim
c. people who are less than flattering; those who do not represent the majority of charedim

3. Secular Jewish newspapers, such as The Jewish Week in America and Ha’aretz in Eretz Yisrael – and to some degree, media overall:
a. are very biased against charedim
b. are slightly biased against charedim
c. just report the news. It is the nature of the media to focus on negative news.

4. Assuming that the media is portraying charedim in a negative light, this …
a. has little effect on our children as they don’t partake in secular media
b. has some effect on our children
c. does adversely affect some or many of our children

5. The entire matter of our public image/public relations is
a. not very important in the scheme of things
b. somewhat important
c. should be a significant one for members of our community

6. Assuming that the media is portraying charedim in a negative light …
a. it is hopeless to try and improve things, as their bias is too ingrained to ever change
b. we might make some headway, but things are unlikely to change
c. things can always improve, and we ought to be seriously thinking about what we can do to make that happen

7. Charedim who live in insular communities – where the vast majority of the other residents are charedi, are …
a. more likely to portray a positive image of a Torah lifestyle than are charedim who live in more integrated communities
b. less likely to portray a positive image of a Torah lifestyle than are charedim who live in more integrated communities
c. makes no difference

8. Boisterous protests in response to violations of halacha or injustices to the charedi community …
a. re effective ways to convey our feelings when our Torah values are challenged
b. are partially effective in conveying our feelings
c. often distort the Torah values that the protesters are championing

9. The ‘average’ secular Jew thinks that the ‘average’ charedi is …
a. a deeply spiritual person, one who is to be admired for living with a profound moral compass
b. a person just like him/her, just with different religious standards.
c. a judgmental person who looks down on those who don’t share his/her religious standards.

10. Reading this questionnaire makes me …
a. committed to reflecting about what I can do to improve relations with all Jews
b. frustrated at how misunderstood our charedi society is by the secular media
c. not quite sure how to sort things out

11. Rabbi Horowitz, you …
a. deserve a great deal of credit for addressing matters that need to be discussed
b. make me uncomfortable by raising the topics you do in your columns
c. should apply for a job at The Jewish Week or Ha’aretz

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