Klal Perspectives Spring 2012: One Excellent Article Stands Out From the Rest

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Klal Perspectives is a great journal of articles written by orthodox Jewish rabbis and writers. The difference between Klal Perspectives and other journals is basically the content. KP is not a halacha journal. It is a practical journal.

The articles are not about well researched, fine nuances of Jewish law. The articles are about the issues that the orthodox community is facing and how to deal with them. Because the articles are not academic, they appeal to more people and more people are capable of writing articles for the journal. In a pleasing development, several articles have been authored by women. Lay-people are also featured as writers.

I loved the first issue in the fall. I was less impressed with the third issue in the winter. In the spring issue that was recently published the journal found its groove once again.

Each issue faces a specific topic or challenge. The authors are invited to respond with their best ideas and draw from their personal and professional experience.

I always enjoy Rabbi Adlerstein’s writing and his work in Klal Perspectives does not disappoint. But the best two articles of the three issues were written by one man. Both of his articles were incredibly insightful and innovative. That man is Moishe Bane.

Perhaps one day we will revisit his first article. While the spring issue is still fresh I wanted to invite everyone to read his article in this issue. The challenge being discussed in the spring issue is in the words of Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zweibel: “the increasing numbers from across the spectrum who feel no meaningful connection to Hashem, His Torah, or even His people.”

Most of the article I read accepted this premise and thought of ideas that could be implemented by tinkering with the existing system and model. Moishe Bane did not do that.

His article basically rationalizes and almost justifies the skepticism and burnt-outedness of many orthodox Jews. But his solution is not to read more books, read different books, go to different classes, sing more, etc. et al. His ideas are to rebuild the orthodox Jewish community. His solution is a social one. And I could not agree more.

He encourages us to take pride on our community and to ensure that there is a community worthy of our pride:

Jews’ identification with the observant Jewish community is sustainable only if the community is a source of pride. If community conduct and ethical standards are compromised, many will abandon their social allegiance, ultimately resulting in a theological abandonment, as well. These are the fundamental principles of chillul Hashem, and the implications are enormous. Ethical business practices, family harmony, and basic menchlichkeit must become hallmarks of being a frum Jew, as one would expect authentic Torah to mandate. If accomplished, frum Jews could then take pride in their community, and see the community’s values as demarcations with which to identify.

Further, he implores us to interact socially. Do things together with other orthodox Jews. Have friends. Real friends:

There must be a renewed emphasis on deepening the basic social connections between members of the Orthodox community. The importance of friendships with others who share one’s values must be emphasized and facilitated. Time spent with others within the community must be encouraged. It is critical that the expansive role that observant people play in their professional and business environments does not redefine them socially, as well. Connecting with G-d begins with connecting to Klal Yisrael, and these efforts must be forged through shuls, schools and other communal organizations. Attending shiurim or learning in chaburas often provide the needed camaraderie, as do chesed endeavors, but not all Jews have access to these opportunities. Ordinary social interaction, per se, among frum Jews must also play a critical role. 

I would only add that part of the reason social interaction is so minimized and difficult is because of financial pressures and strain, large families, over-hyped tznius concerns, among other non-essential beliefs and practices. We can also attempt to treat the source of this malady and not simply treat the symptoms.

Please read the article. Comment on it here or anywhere if you have reactions and thoughts.

I intend to write my own response to this challenge. I think I have a different perspective than the other writers and my ideas about this subject are certainly not conventional. Hopefully I will be able to write it up soon.

Link: Klal Perspectives, Moishe Bane’s Article

  • Anonymous

    Moishe Bane got a BTL at Ner Israel in 1981 (
    http://www.ropesgray.com/professionals/Detail.aspx?attorney=926&show=newsevents ), but does today’s Ner Israel agree with what he’s saying, or should we just focus on reading gemara and wearing black hats? best line i read so far: “A culture dominated by chulent, Borsalino hats, unsophisticated music and kosher cruises can be attractive and engaging for only so long.”

    • I am aware. He and my father were in the same group and were friends back in the day.

      Ner Israel is a diverse place. But more importantly, it is a yeshiva. And while in yeshiva they strive for excellence in Torah and avodas Hashem. Their goal is to prepare its alumni for life. Certainly, his comments (and mine) are not in contradiction with the messages of Ner Israel but they are not explicitly the same either.

      • Anonymous

        well put!

  • Neil Harris

    I also like Mr. Bane’s two articles.  I’ve head him speak a few times and his is completely on the mark.
    I hope you will share your ideas, Rabbi Fink, about this topic on your blog and maybe even as a letter to the editor.

    Have you listend to this presentation from Dr. Pelcovitz and Mr. Bane?
    http://www.yutorah.com/lectures/lecture.cfm/773375/%20YU/Torah%20miTzion%20Toronto%20Kollel/Panel%20Discussion:%20Igniting%20Spiritual%20Passion

    • Thanks for the link. I will listen when I have a chance.

      I hope to write my feelings on this topic soon. I really want to.

    • @google-498f60cc31c81d0ccee329343621fb88:disqus I posted my article: http://finkorswim.com/2012/05/16/judaism-of-the-future-my-response-to-klal-perspectives-spring-2012/