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November 03, 1978 - Image 48

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-11-03

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

48 Friday, November 3, 1978

- THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Scholar Says Corruption Imperils Orthodox Resurgence

By BEN GALLOB

cJ

(Copyright 1978, JTA,

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Inc.)

A Yeshiva University
scholar has expressed the
view that an upsurge in the
vitality of Orthodoxy in
America has been sapped in
recent years_ by the
emergence of a "myriad of
corrupt activities" involv-
ing Orthodox Jews which
could "destroy the very

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megastructure that has
painstakingly been built
over the past century" by
American Orthodox Jewry.
Dismissing the idea that
"Orthodox Jews have a
monopoly on corruption,"
Prof. Irving N. Levitz as-
serted there was no empiri-
cal evidence to support such
an indictment. But, he
added, "neither is there evi-
dence that Orthodoxy as iti
is practiced today, either
discourages, controls, re-
duces or in fact has any ef-
fect on moral behavior at
all."
Writing in "Jewish Life,"
the scholarly publication of
the Union of Orthodox
Jewish Congregations, the
associate professor at the
Wurzweiler graduate school
of social work commented
that "where a religious way
of life is not reflected in
higher standards and val-
ues than the community at
large, it creates in us a sense
of dissonance. We have
come to see it as grossly in-
consistent for a man of av-
owed religious convictions
to violate accepted ethical
and moral standards.
He said "a disturbing
number" of Orthodox
Jews were involved in
violations he sum-
marized in these terms:
"Organizational ir-
regularities reflecting a
dearth of ethical leader-
ship, corrupt and crimi-
nal practices in the kas-
hrut industry, unethical
practices in yeshiva ad-
ministrations, a cynical
attitude toward secular
law, dishonest business
practices and neglect of
the aged," which he
called "a sampling of
some of the many scan-
dals that "haire become
public."

He cited "the now in-
He said that for the the Torah to the world of
famous nursing home scan- students the "sacred paroc- business and human rela-
dal in New York" and the hial world of religion" tionships."
He argued that if ritual
indictment of a number of and the "mundane world of
Orthodox Jews, including everyday economic could be taught "not only
ordained rabbis. But, he realities" often remain to demonstrate its proper
added, "the very same un- "mutually exclusive." He observance" but also "its
ethical practices that contended that for the stu- symbolic intent," then
plague secular establish- dents "this lack of relevance "more meaningful prac-
ments seem just as evident and meaning appears to be tice" might effect "more
in Orthodox institutions as one of the factors contribut- ethical living."
well." He said that while ing to the steady stream of
He concluded that "the
there was,no reason to be- yeshiva graduates being crisis in Orthodoxy" is that
lieve that there is any `turned off and leaving the "it is not true to its own
greater degree of cheating fold."
commitments."
in yeshiva day schools than
Dr. Levitz suggested that
in public schools, "there is a the Orthodox community
sense of uneasiness" among could best effect "a transi-
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Orthodox Jews over the fact tion from learning about
that it does exist in yeshivot morality to moral- living by
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"to a disturbing degree."
way of its educational sys-
He declared that many tem." He recommended that
Orthodox Jews are influ- day schools present role
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enced by Torah ethics and models other than "lofty
FACTORY OUTLET
their daily behavior reflects replicas" of the "shtetl," and
DETERGENT
that influence. But,_ he de- teach ideology more con-
318 W. 9 MILE
clared, a striking aspect of cretely, "encompassing
FERNDALE
the problem is a tendency examples from contempor-
among Orthodox Jews ary day to day living,"
546-3787
engaging in corrupt be- enabling students to
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havior to rationalize such eicplore ways of "applying
behavior "as perfectly con-
sistent with Torah
standards."
IN LIVONIA
He said what is involved
is a practice of "gross misin-
terpretation" of biblical and
talmudic passages to make
the Torah "for them a ra-
tional support for all kinds
of dubious behavior." With
such "astute" sophistry,
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ting false insurance claims,
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praiseworthy endeavors,"
The Most Profitable Way to
he said.
Worsening the situa-
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tion, he added, is "a sense
Personal
Possessions is through
of self-righteousness
bordering on arrogance"
among Orthodox Jews
about their image as "an
ethical and moral com-
munity."
HOUSEHOLD SALES-
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self-deception which leads
the community to remain
"smug in its assumption
that its way of life produces
higher standards of moral
behavior."
While holding the Or-
thodox rabbinate to blame
in part — their services
show "an appalling dearth
of sermons deyoted to issues
of ethical practice" — Prof.
Levitz contended that the
complaint should be seen as
a symptom and not as the
disease.
Specifically, he argued,
for religion to have an im-
Ipac-cils many components
must be operating in con-
cert." When ritual is prac-
tked. a.s a rote, it -loses "the
meaning of symbolism" and
becomes "impotent" and the
rituals and prayers, instead
of leading "to a higher end,"
lead instead to "smugness
and a feeling that obser-
vance of ritual is the sine
qua non of religious com-
mitment."
He also included the
day schools and yeshivot
in his critique, asserting
that much such Jewish
education generklly "has
failed to meet the chal-
lenge of relevance to
modern realities."

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