Rising From the Ashes of Bad Orthodox Jewish Experiences

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I promised an essay about dealing with negative Jewish experiences. This is it.

Orthodox Judaism works for a lot of people. It’s vibrant, exciting, meaningful, and many are proud to live a life committed to Orthodox Judaism. Every version of Orthodox Judaism enjoys this success for the vast majority of its adherents. But every version also has its share of people who have bad experiences. The negative experience could be social, religious, theological, cultural, anything.

Of the people with negative associations towards Orthodoxy, there are two categories. One group will leave, the other will stay. What follows, is not written to convince people to stay. This is an attempt to help people who want to stay, or people who want to help those trying to stay.

I recommend a three part process that has been successful for some people.


Judaism Needs to Bring Back the Tension Between Old and New Ideas

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There is an ever-present tension between modernity and tradition, especially for Orthodox Jews in America. American culture places significance on tradition, yet manages to remain optimistic about new ideas.

It’s easy to be a fundamentalist. It’s easy to say everything new is wrong, or everything old is antiquated and bad. But I don’t believe that we should be looking for what’s easier. We should welcome the challenges of reconciling tradition and modernity. There is great beauty in using the new to improve the old, and the old to guide the new, without relying on extremes.  Read…

Finkorswim Live Debuts on the Nachum Segal Network

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Listen to the Nachum Segal Network today and get a taste of Finkorswim Live as one of the rotating hosts of the Stunt Show. The kinds of discussions and conversations that we have on this blog and social media will now take place live on the radio and I invite you to join us.

My debut is at 1 PM ET today. Tune in at NachumSegal.com or the NSN App. The show will be archived and available as a podcast later today. Read…

My Vote for CNN Hero: Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg

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By now, you’ve heard of Rabbi Elimelech Goldberg. He’s the Orthodox Jewish rabbi who heads an organization called Kids Kicking Cancer. He has been selected as a CNN Hero, and if he gets enough votes, he will be the CNN Hero of the Year. A few days ago, I had a chance to talk with Rabbi Goldberg about his work.  The more we spoke, the more he impressed me.

Rabbi G. helps children suffering from serious illness cope with their pain. Using love, ancient wisdom culled from martial arts, and incredible empathy, Rabbi G. gives children in so much pain a modicum of control and dignity.  That’s enough to be a hero in my book, but Rabbi G. does much more. Three things about Rabbi G. and his work convinced me that he’s not just a hero; he’s a superhero. Read…

It’s Time to Write the Modern Midrash

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Last night I hosted a screening of the Noah Movie followed by a discussion about the film. I loved it. We enjoyed great food, great company, and a great overall experience. But that’s not enough why I loved the event so much. I loved last night because I think the experience addressed a fundamental struggle to American Orthodox (and non-Orthodox) Judaism.

I view the film as a Modern Day Midrash. Read…