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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The NYT on the Gathering Called "Chulent"

The NYT on Chulent - and they don't (only) mean the food:
Chulent is also the name given to the informal weekly gatherings for Orthodox Jews on the margins of their close-knit society that Mr. Schonfeld, a business consultant from Borough Park, Brooklyn, has been holding in the synagogue for the past year. Setting down his homemade bean stew, he adjusted a little electric heater and began greeting the first of the hundred or so people who would soon stream through the door.

A great majority of rigorously Orthodox Jews would have no interest in such a gathering. But for the small percentage who question aspects of their religion, and yearn to form a community of their own, events like Chulent are increasingly common in New York. As the secular world exerts an ever more powerful pull, a growing array of tools — including Web sites and under-the-radar gatherings like this one — are springing up to serve their needs and ease their way.
An interesting piece. It's nice to see that the people who feel that they are on the fringes of their community aren't being completely cast out of the Orthodox world, and are able to find a place to feel comfortable in their own skin - or in their payos.

35 Comments:

Blogger YMedad said...

Cholent.

8:01 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

"for the most part he lives within the rules of his religion, although he flouts some of them. He reads secular publications and has a computer at home on which he and his wife watch DVDs; he likes action movies, while she prefers romantic comedies" Rules of Religion? Or just social customs of normative ultra-orthodox restrictions?

8:05 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Rules of Religion? Or just social customs of normative ultra-orthodox restrictions?



Agreed that it is the latter. Because as far as I know, the rules of "my religion" allow me to read secular publications and have a computer...

8:10 AM  
Anonymous Sam said...

With Ortomom on my desktop I can now cancel my NYT home delivery

9:26 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

Sounds like the rise of Modern Chassidus. Someone call YU. Maybe they may have a new pool of students to target for admission.

9:35 AM  
Blogger Abbi said...

What a bittersweet article. I think this is a clear example of how insularity and shutting out the outside world completely just backfires. When will the frum/hardeized communities in America and Israel wake up and realize this is just not the way.

Jpost had a similar article about haredim on their way out, although I thought it was very poorly written, as per most jpost articles.

The sad part about many of these pple is they don't realize that they can have a rich religious life and enjoy the positive aspects of secular life.

2:30 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"The sad part about many of these pple is they don't realize that they can have a rich religious life and enjoy the positive aspects of secular life."

Or more accurately stated:

The sad part about many of these pple is they don't have the good fortune of honest religious leadership that would teach then it is OK and possible to have a rich religious life and enjoy the positive aspects of secular life.

3:26 PM  
Blogger frumhouse said...

Mr. Schonfeld could very well be saving many Jewish neshamos through his weekly gatherings. Kudos to him!

4:26 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

The funny thing is that this line: "In one corner of the room, a knot of men engaged in intense, freewheeling conversations on topics as varied as Wittgenstein and the nation’s immigration policy, as if intellects honed during years of studying Talmud were suddenly being flexed on worldly subjects" exactly reflects Jewish experience over the past two hundred years. Where did all the socialists, the communists, the radicals, the humanists, the saviors of mankind come from if not from the ranks of religious Jewry in Europe and in the States? And as for Zionism, the majority of the Second Aliyah olim came staright out of Yeshivot. Shlom Tzemach and Zalman Shazar and Ahad HaAm and Bialik all closed their gemarot and went off to Zion, culturally, spiritually and physically.
David Assaf's new book on Chassidim dropping out, recalls Iyzik Remba's long list of Hareidim joining up with all the secular redemptive social movements.

In short, nothing new. Just a different atmosphere. And as for sexual mores, the Frankists have these guys beat by a mile.

And yes, OM, you can have a computer - you don't live in a Hareidi neighborhood (yet).

4:39 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

And you all do remember Hasidic Rebel

5:03 PM  
Anonymous Veganovich said...

--- The sad part about many of these pple is they don't realize that they can have a rich religious life and enjoy the positive aspects of secular life. ---

When you state the above, you really mean to say it is sad these people do not become modern orthodox.

There is a certain subset of the ex-frum population that is either not spiritual and/or simply do not believe in god. I grew up ultra-orthodox, but I am not religious, because I am an atheist. I’ve heard in person and on-line from MO people questions along the lines of “just because you didn’t want to be UO, why did you have to become totally secular? Why couldn’t you become MO?” The questioners assume that I am not Modern Orthodox because I was never exposed to modern orthodoxy. But given that I am an atheist, I cannot understand why people make that assumption. Why these people expect modern orthodoxy to be appealing to me as an atheist is beyond me.

--- Or more accurately stated:

The sad part about many of these pple is they don't have the good fortune of honest religious leadership that would teach then it is OK and possible to have a rich religious life and enjoy the positive aspects of secular life. ---

The religious leadership does not believe that there are positive aspects of secular life. Thus, they are not dishonest, as the term “dishonest” implies an intent to deceive.

5:42 PM  
Blogger Annabelle said...

You can also check out sevenfatcow.wordpress.com, where many of the chulenteers hang out. It's an interesting (but vulgar) sort of social commentary.

9:22 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"The religious leadership does not believe that there are positive aspects of secular life. Thus, they are not dishonest, as the term “dishonest” implies an intent to deceive."

Well ... I was being charitable by implying they are dishonest.

Here's what I really think: they are hateful murderers who would prefer they and their unwilling followers be dead than wrong about their arrogant, one-dimentional outlook on Judaism. This is particularly murderous considering the veritable bottomless pit of Jewish tradition that would fully validate the opposite.

Honestly, that would be far more accurate.

11:35 PM  
Blogger Der Shygetz said...

These people are looking for either an ideal world, which does not exist, or a rules-free escape from the real world without splitting completely from their upbringing.

The ones who want emmes consider MO to be BS. The ones who want free ride (and are bringing drugs to Chulent - see the sevenfatcows and Sholom Keller sites for confirmation) are mostly undiagnosed cases of ADD and borderline mentally ill folks who have found a safe place to self medicate.

This from a very strict charedi who has a very loaded up to date computer and could probably teach many of you modern types how to use your far older machines. And I happen to come from a community where everyone has a computer, including the relatives of the chulent fressers who come from my community. Oh, and since I have cable Internet (not that I can't get the Times or the WSJ at my local newsstand) I read the press whenever I feel the need - besides, every time I read a story about the likes of the Chulent fressers (to say nothing of the sad exploits of various so-called celebrities), I say "ashreinu ma tov chelkeinu" and am very happy to be closed off from their sad world even as I participate in the economic side of it on my own terms.

12:56 AM  
Blogger Der Shygetz said...

"on my own terms" should read "according to what is permitted by Hashem's Torah".

1:58 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"...mostly undiagnosed cases of ADD and borderline mentally ill folks who have found a safe place to self medicate."

And surely such "animals" have no place in chassidishe community because these mindless peasants are terrified of ruining their "normal" childrens' shidduchim.

How about they take a step into the 20th Century (forget about the 21st) and realize that you can't just throw away people just because they would benefit from some compassion, educated understanding, and the services of a competent mental health practitioner.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Der Shygetz said...

If anything they are more dangerous untreated than treated. The problem is that present treatments just do not work properly, regardless of the background of the patient. Our communities have plenty of mental health resources which operate discreetly and quietly and people do take advantage of them. But as everyone who has ever met a medicated/treated patient knows, the present state of mental health treatment is nowhere near ideal.

9:04 AM  
Blogger Independent Frum Thinker said...

Sounds similar to the pool halls established by community activists to keep troubled youth away from the real stuff.

4:30 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

I feel really bad for the wife. Can you imagine how embarrassing it is for your husband's a-holeness to be on display in The New York Times? Even if she's been kidding herself until now about her husband, it's gotta be kind of hard when his being a jerk is smacked up against your face. In the New York Times. Geez.

5:06 PM  
Anonymous Sarah said...

Oops. I meant to leave that comment for the previous post, "Kashrut Deceptions"

5:07 PM  
Blogger Leah Kleim said...

Before you go running your mouth about 'CHULENT' or writing an article about it mentioning the "New York Times" So that you get better results in a "Google" Search.....GO TO CHULENT !
CHULENT ROCKS !
"Chulent is what the "FRUM" people are supposed to be.....BEACHDUS !

6:10 AM  
Blogger Leah Kleim said...

Der Shygetz said...
"on my own terms" should read "according to what is permitted by Hashem's Torah".

Did you suddenly forget that A Chilull Hashem is an Avera ?
If you are so fucking concerned with what is permitted by Hashems Torah, Then you would care about being a Chillul Hashem.
A Jew publicly calling themself "A Shygetz" is denying and denouncing there "Jewish" what ever you wanna call it !
A Jew is supposed to be proud ! and never hide it.
There are stories in "YOUR HISTORY" about people willing to die before they took there Yarmulka off, or denied Yiddishkeit in any way.
You fucking Shtick Dreck Apikores !
change your fucking screen name.

And since your such a "Believer of The Torah Way" dont fucking strike back at me with some ignorant obnoxious try to cut me down comment.....while you hide behind your Macho Screen Name.....Because lets not forget what THE GEMMORAH says about embarassing people.
When you cause the blood to leave a persons face, or a persons face to turn white...

You are doomed and you will burn in hell....Look it up , Oh Holy Torah Man !

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