This is a guest post by David Kelsey. David is a former baal teshuvah who left ultra-Orthodoxy after witnessing the dark side of Jewish fundamentalism. He is a proud fourth generation secular Jew who has written about the recruitment techniques of kiruv organizations and their Liberal backers on Jewschool before, especially NCSY and the Jewish Student Union (JSU).
The Washington Post has shamefully printed an advertorial for Aish HaTorah in DC without even marking it as such.
In “Modern Jewish eucation [sic] about focusing on values, friendships and community,” Rabbi Shlomo Buxbaum offers lies and deceptions about what Aish stands for, and why parents who care about “encouraging diversity” should send their preschool children into their care.
In September, Aish will launch a new Sunday School program for children ages 5-13, encouraging diversity, and imbuing the vibrancy, relevance and joy of Jewish life, regardless of background or affiliation.
In fact, despite Rabbi Buxbaum’s denunciation of “labels and sects,” Aish promotes a specific brand of black hat Judaism, which includes contempt not only for secular and Liberal Judaism, but even Modern Orthodoxy.
Ultra-Orthodox deception is so embedded in their recruiting process that even some Modern Orthodox rabbis have felt the need to publicly condemn it. In a 2006 video from the annual NCSY conference, the founder, Rabbi Noah Weinberg, outlined his understanding of what was the acceptable amount of “dramatization” to facilitate recruitment of secular and Liberal Jews. Most of us would understand this to be a discussion on the acceptable parameters for lying. The founder may be gone, and the video taken down by NCSY (after I exposed it), but the philosophy continues.
As a black hat “kiruv” institution, Aish believes that the concept of “pakuach nefesh,” a dramatic allowance for discarding most morality for the sake of or saving a life, extends as well to some degree to saving a soul, i.e., making a Jew Orthodox. Rabbi Buxbaum’s deceptive phrasing is in-line with this institution’s point of view.
And now even the Washington Post has seen fit to promote their lies as news.
If you would like to learn more about Judasim [sic], if you have a child who would like to get involved, or if you know somebody who could benefit from what Aish has to offer, you are invited to come along for the ride.
Aish obviously has a lot of power, wealth, and support to be able to push through a shoddy press release like this as “news” in one of the nation’s most prestigious newspapers. Will there be an outcry? A protest?
Don’t count on it. Don’t count on it. The general attitude of mainstream organizations towards deceptive recruitment of young, impressionable Jews to ultra-Orthodox institutions like Big Aish has been one of tacit and even explicit support.
And even as the corruption, the nepotism, the radicalism, the sloth, the quasi-caste system based on “defiled” menstrual bloodlines, and the contempt for others of the ultra-Orthodox world becomes clearer and better known, those of us who were in black hat institutions as young people and now protest their methods and agenda will continue to be dismissed as “crazy” and, of course, “hateful.” Not just by ultra-Orthodox institutions like Aish, but by (supposedly) mainstream Jewish organizations that pretend not to know that Aish is Orthodox, never mind ultra-Orthodox.
And now, apparently, even mainstream, secular newspapers are enabling them.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of Aish is the “no label” approach to Judaism.
No. What is unique is this hardline ultra-Orthodox institution’s willingness to feign ecumenicalism, and for one of the most respected newspapers in country to print the opposite of the truth as if it is news.