Totally Free Jewish Education
Date: May 17, 2008 11:23PM
Several years ago, I was around the New Brunswick, NJ campus of Rutgers University off College Avenue. I saw a table staffed by a very pretty, young Orthodox girl who was evangelizing. Based on the way she was dressed she appeared to be Modern Orthodox. She didn’t wear a sheitel (“wig”), scarf, a tickle or a snood and she had long hair, which was permed. This happened during an event called Israel Inspires.
She got into this whole thing about how you can take courses with the organization she represented “totally for free!” Yeah, right. I’ve heard that one before.
And as a Baal Teshuva, do I get a chance to meet a really pretty and well groomed ffb (frum – “Orthodox” - “from birth”) or do I have to look for a wife among the Baalat Teshuvas many of whom are hard luck cases like myself. (By the way, I have a girl friend myself, so I don’t need them.)
My experience with these types of scams is that they let you take part in programs for a short while for free, but soon when the honeymoon is over, they sock you will bills. As we say in power lifting, TANSTAFL or “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch!”
Rabbi Goldstein at Diaspora Yeshiva in Jerusalem’s Old City does a similar thing. He takes a talmid (“student”) in for a while and they live under no pressure for payment for that time. Then he composes letters to send to the student’s parents. It sort of goes like this:
“Your son/daughter has been living in my dormitories, eating my food and studying at my seminary. I need money to keep him/her here” and of course he hits the parents up for back monies too.
Out of all the BT yeshivas I know about Diaspora seems to have the worst reputation. The only good thing I know about that happened in that place was the old Diaspora Yeshiva Band, starring Avraham Rosenblum and Ben Zion Solomon of about 30 years ago. Solomon and Goldstein have some issues with each other these days.
The Witt’s also had issues with Rabbi Goldstein. The pie is so small and it can be divided only so many times. Some kiruv organizations like Diaspora aren’t so wealthy as Aish HaTorah.
I knew a couple who met in Jerusalem when I came there in ’95, fell in love and got married. They were penniless. Their parents were totally against the marriage.
At one point in time, Yeshua Witt was supposed to do the wedding (there’s a courtyard in front of his home) but later on Diaspora actually hosted the wedding. And Yeshua wasn’t happy about losing a pretty good paycheck.
The husband got me into this conversation about how Rabbi Nachman of Breslov said that a person’s parnasa (“income”) is set on Rosh Hashana (probably sealed on Yom Kippur) so I shouldn’t’ worry about my situation. And since Nachman’s the Rebbe, who can argue?
It sort of burns me, a lot actually, that all these fakes and people who got where they got based on nepotism (Nachman was a Great Grandson of the founder of the Chasidic movement, Israel Baal Shem Tov) are in business and I am still struggling.
It seems to me that these people are a lot of deadwood and we should convince these outreach workers to leave the rest of us alone. What they have may be good for them, and they are making some money at it, but it is bad for the rest of us.