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Sunday, October 03, 2004

Modern Orthodox in a Frummy Velt

One of the problems that I've had being among the few YU-educated Modern Orthodox who are surrounded by "frummies" is that increasingly I find myself being defined more by what I don't do than what I do. I don't wear a black hat or shtreimel. My kids don't have long peyes. We don't keep Cholov Yisroel. I don't keep 72 minutes after Shabbos. There's an increasing negativity which after a while starts turning me off.

My first week here (13 years ago), someone came up to me in Shul and told me my Kipah was too small. Though we've since become good friends (and I've moved to a leather yarlmulke) that has colored my relationship with the community ever since. Want to watch the Packer game? Go to the Apikores's house; he has a TV. Want to play a computer game, but your parents don't have any? We've got a network.

I don't focus on the good that I do, like keeping Shabbos strictly. Like the fact that I'm the only physician in a 5 mile radius who wears a yarlmulke to work, even though it may cost me business. Like not eating that amazing smelling Chinese food that the drug reps bring, even though no one would know.

I find myself less and less inspired by the black hatters and bekeshe crowd. I think sometimes I would be better off in less frum surroundings.

You know who has inspired me? A family friend, who once swore to us that he would never put his kids through a yeshiva education, who started learning in the kollel. That made me determined to get a chevrusa, though the needling of the frummies always made me want to keep out.

Lenny Solomon, who loves Rock and Roll and Star Trek, but insisted on taking an red-eye flight into Chicago before a gig, so that he would be able to catch a minyan there. After that I started going to minyan more.

Ruby Harris, who, during a break at an Irish Pub where we were playing, turned to me and asked, "Are you taking time to learn a little everyday? You should do Daf Yomi." That made me want to play in Bars more (just kidding).

I guess that brings me back to Modern Orthodoxy. I always liked that the people who were so into music and movies and books, were also so careful to make it to minyan and check for hechsherim. Maybe that brand of Judaism is disappearing. It would be a shame for it to go. Because it might end up taking people like me with it.

9 comments:

Adam Ragil said...

Amen, brother.

Adam Ragil said...
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Adam Ragil said...
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Tzemach Atlas said...

Thank you for your words

Shira Salamone said...

If you haven't yet seen Adam Ragil's Oct. 3 post on growing up in a "torah im derech eretz" environment and raising his son in a black-hat world, I recommend that you hop over to http://www.baynonim.blogspot.com/ and check it out.

Shira Salamone said...

Looks like you beat me to it--I just noticed your comment to Adam Ragil's post.

Neil Harris said...

I was just doing some reading of previous posts...wow. This one is stellar!

PsychoToddler said...

Thanks. We always compare ourselves to the person standing next to us.

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