Religion & Beliefs

A New Meaning for Aliya

My very best friend in the universe is a Catholic woman who has a lot of problems with the Catholic church (no women in the priesthood, abortion, etc).  But by the standards of most people, my friend is pretty religious.  … Read More

By / May 11, 2007

My very best friend in the universe is a Catholic woman who has a lot of problems with the Catholic church (no women in the priesthood, abortion, etc).  But by the standards of most people, my friend is pretty religious.  Which causes her a fair amount of personal conflict…

Once I asked her why she didn't just become an Episcopal ("Catholic light") priest.

Her answer:  "Because the church needs me."  Then she ran off to a protest of some kind.

And that was a good answer. The church does need her.  Because if everyone within an organization/faith/school who disagrees and sees the need for change jumps ship…  nothing ever changes.  Growth comes from within, rarely from without I think.  Good growth, anyway…

I found myself thinking about my friend as I read this story in Jewish Week, about a Lubavitch hybrid youth center, Aliya, a "center for yeshiva dropouts now located in a former matzah warehouse."  A place that provides a way to leave without leaving…

The latest study on these teens dates to 1999 when the Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty revealed that 1,500 students in the 23,000-student yeshiva system in Brooklyn were known to engage in at-risk behaviors, such as using drugs and running away from home. The report estimated that another 2,000 young people also engaged in these behaviors but had not yet been caught.

Wow!  Can you imagine how split and confused a life that would be… the life of a Haredi runaway?  How hard…

One member of the advisory board for Aliya said: “The problem is not with them, but with us, with the establishment that doesn’t possess the proper lens, the proper methodology to connect with them…”

Which brings us to my Catholic friend, and to why fence-sitters and rabble-rousers are so important to religious communities.  Because they can be a new lens if they don't leave.

And I'm posting this here in part because its just a good story, and in part because I think that Jewcy has a special role to play, as a community-building tool for rabble rabbles and fence sitters.  Or that's my hope! .