My View on JSU

There is an organization that runs jewish clubs throughout the country called the Jewish Student Union or JSU Kvetcher, among others, have commented that they think that JSU is a part of NCSY and a way to trick public school kids into joining NCSY without their knowledge.

Let me start by saying the following: I think NCSY is great.  I think the work they do is great.  I think that every person who is not religious and is a teen should join NCSY and that NCSY people are doing the right thing by trying to get more and more teens to join so that they can make them religious.

However, the method of using JSU to “trick” kids into joining NCSY and becoming frum is not the answer.  If JSU was merely the name of the NCSY public school arm then I would have no problem with it.  But, the way it is described on the JSU site and everywhere else I have seen it is merely considered a partner group with NCSY. Except that Rabbi Burg (national director of NCSY) is also the “dean” of JSU.  Seems kinda shady to me.

So if I want as many public school kids to join NCSY, why do I have a problem with JSU?  Because it is a form of tricking kids.  If we (religious jews) really believe that observant Judaism is the correct way for a Jew to live his or her life, then why would we need to trick people to do the right thing?  If we truely believe that the Torah (all of it, including the Gemara and Mishna) are truth, then why does NCSY need to hide behind a false entity named JSU?  If we are truely doing G-d’s work then we don’t need to trick people into following us, G-d will open their minds to the words.

Moreover, if JSU truly does allow groups of other denominations into the clubs then these kids will get exposed to USY, NFTY and other groups who’s goals are the complete opposite of NCSY’s.  If i was a member of any Jewish group and they didn’t allow me into the clubs I would throw a hissy fit.  And if I was a NCSY member and they did allow these other groups in I would throw a hissy fit.  This is not ok.

We shouldn’t and cannot be tricking kids.  The reason most people go “off’ is because they don’t have a solid foundation in Juadism.  Either they just accepted whatever they were told and never used logic and reason to reach the conclusion that religious Judaism is correct, or they were tricked with reasoning that was flawed in its conception.  We must correctly educate those teens who aren’t religious so in 10 years when they question their faith they have the backing needed to stay religious.

By tricking kids they can come to resent religious Jews or Jews altogether.  This is not ok.  If Orthodox Judaism is true, then why lie to kids when teaching it?

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10 Responses to “My View on JSU”

  1. Kiruv Proponent Slams NCSY’s Jewish Student Union’s (JSU) “Trickery” — The Kvetcher Says:

    […] Cheerer first notes that NCSY is, overall, “great.” But then proceeds to note, The method of using JSU to “trick” kids into joining NCSY and becoming frum is not the […]

  2. David Says:

    Interesting argument. Of course, if you believe strongly enough in the truth of your views, isn’t it better (in the end) for the kids who are being tricked? What happens if, notwithstanding the truth of your views, the kids in question decide they just aren’t buying it?

    Also, if you disapprove of tricking kids into becoming frum, how do you feel about shielding kids who are already frum from any outside influences? Isn’t that just as dishonest?

  3. cheerer Says:

    At the end of the day if most of the kids who were tricked stayed frum then we could talk (I’m not sure how I would feel), but that’s just not the case. I don’t want to have a kid who becomes frum then shuns it (as happens usually when people are tricked) because those people usually become the kiruv movements worst enemies (see DK, SJ and many others). Then the fight is not just against secular culture but people who “survived kiruv” and that’s not the battle we want to fight.

    If the rest of the kids aren’t “buying it”, unfortunately kiruv doesn’t reach everyone, but we cannot be dishonest because we want them to have all the facts so they dont revert years later. Moreover its probably a sin under ginavat daat.

    In terms of shielding kids from outside influences I usually leave that to parents. If a parent decides that’s what they want to do? Fine they have a right to raise their kid however they like. But in terms of it being dishonest? No one ever lies to the kids about it, its true that the outside influences in some cases cause major problems. It’s not dishonest at all. Even if you are the most irreligious person in the world, would you want your 10 year old watching porn? Probably not, doesn’t mean you are being dishonest.

  4. offthederech Says:

    >In terms of shielding kids from outside influences I usually leave that to parents. If a parent decides that’s what they want to do? Fine they have a right to raise their kid however they like.

    I have a problem with that. It’s a slippery slope, and you know it. How about the father in Austria who locked his daughter in a house for 10 years (yeah, the famous story in the news from last year)? Where do you draw the line from good sheltering to bad sheltering? That’s an area that is usually tiptoed around, but it’s important nonetheless. How about all the frum schools and communities (like my own) that do almost nothing to prepare kids for college, let alone a secular lifestyle?

  5. cheerer Says:

    The problem with the father who locked his daughter in a house for 10 years was that he was molesting her. You didn’t hear people saying, “HOW DARE HE KEEP HER LOCKED UP” It was “HOW DARE HE HAVE SEX WITH HER AND KEEP HER LOCKED UP”. We have NO right to tell anyone how to raise their rights as long as its not illegal (which incest is), no matter how much we don’t like it. I wish people weren’t allowed to raise their kids as Democrats, but that’s not going to happen.

    If one is not prepared for college they can blame their parents, if they are social innept, again blame the parents. It makes the parents irresponsible, but nothing more than that. It is hardly dishonest.

  6. offthederech Says:

    >You didn’t hear people saying, “HOW DARE HE KEEP HER LOCKED UP”

    Give me a freaking break. You really think that’s legal to lock your kid up for 10 years? Thankfully, there are laws against that, called abuse, neglect, etc, but you might not want to look into them, as they’d probably implicate a huge chunk of the charedi population.

    >If one is not prepared for college they can blame their parents

    So you’re calling practically every charedi rabbi in israel irresponsible.

  7. cheerer Says:

    You really think that’s legal to lock your kid up for 10 years? Thankfully, there are laws against that

    That’s part of the problem with Americans today. They just assume because they think its wrong, its automatically illegal. If you look at the actual NY/Federal Laws on abuse, neglect, ect, you will see that locking your kid up for 10 years is notillegal. If you dont feed them for those 10 years then it would be. While there are many things that could go on during those 10 years that would be illegal the mere act of locking them up is not illegal, look it up.

    but you might not want to look into them, as they’d probably implicate a huge chunk of the charedi population

    OTD, I think you and I have a pretty cordial relationship and as DK notes im pretty quick to rip on those deserving of attack (at least more than others), please don’t act like I “toe the company line” all the time.

    So you’re calling practically every charedi rabbi in israel irresponsible

    Don’t put words in my mouth. You cannot compare Israel to America. They are two very different countries, something that might be irresponsible here is not there and vice versa. Not going to the army here is no big deal, if you don’t do it in Israel and don’t have special permission its a big problem (please dont get into the frummies not serving because they do have that special permission even if I disagree with it) . Shops are open on shabbat here all the time, in Israel they are few and far between.
    But parents in America who expect their kids to get “normal” jobs and don’t educate them on the world are irresponsible. If however they are going to be locked away their whole lives like an Amish peasant? Then its no big deal.

  8. Elitzur Says:

    Actually NCSY shouldn’t trick kids because lying, cheating, etc. is assur.
    Isn’t that right?

  9. cheerer Says:

    Was I not clear that I don’t agree with the policy? I’m sick and tired of certain people (Elitzur being one of many) who don’t actually read and rather attack. I specifically said i don’t agree with the policy, HOWEVER, are they lying? Not sure that’s why i didn’t say it. Are they cheating? Certainly not, if anything they are playing the game. Its definitely questionable, but assur? Not so sure, that’s why i didn’t say it.

  10. Child of BTs Warns Frum Community of Corrosive Effects of Kiruv — The Kvetcher Says:

    […] Cheerer noted, I don’t want to have a kid who becomes frum then shuns it (as happens usually when people are […]


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