Monday, February 2, 2009

If You Don't Have Something Nice To Say....


... find an Anonymous guest poster.  

The following is a post mortem of last night's Yeshiva Dinner, which I received via email.
If anybody else has a review they would like to submit, my email button is on the right hand side bar.
(Please hold your tomatoes - I didn't write it and I'm not related to the author)


It was a lovely shmorg/buffet/call-it-what-you-will dinner. While I might have preferred to have seen some stations offering more substantial fare than hamburgers and hot dogs (note: this critique does NOT cover franks in blankets, which are an essential component of any fancy simcha), I can't imagine anybody walking away hungry. As far as I'm concerned, if saving on a full service dinner means that more of our donations cover the shul/yeshiva costs, go for it.
 
The separate seating thing has got to go. Period.  I want to sit with my wife. This is not a wedding in Boro Park, this is a dinner of an institution that has had mixed seating for over two generations. If this continues, then I will attend alone in future years when the dinner honors someone I'm close to; otherwise, I will simply sit out.
 
Are we going to pretend that women don't exist anymore? R' Gelley's published comments in the journal thanked "the men" who worked to make the dinner, there was ZERO presentation to/for the women's alumnae, and while two of the honorees were couples, their video presentations featured the women sitting quietly saying nothing. I kinda/sorta understand not having the women come up to accept their plaques with their husbands (okay, strike that: I don't understand it at all, but if you think that getting official pictures into Hamodia and the charedi press helps things out, then I'll bite my tongue), but why show Morah Ettlinger at all, if she's just going to sit demurely like a statue?Even more bizarre: why can't women speak during the video awards presentation, but suddenly are allowed during the video YRSRH presentation?
 
I know that we'll have peace in the Middle East before this happens, but I wish the Breuer's ignoring/ distaste for YU would end. I saw two YU roshei yeshiva (R' Sobolovsky and R' Simon) present at the dinner. Both are talmidei chachamim of the highest caliber, and both deserve as much kavod as any out-of-town rosh yeshiva who would never deign to send his children to YRSRH. I've lost count of the number of YU roshei yeshiva who have sent their children through Breuer's: can't we have SOME reciprocity already?

If I may add a quick thought of my own:
If you tell an aging population that it is their duty to come and support their mosdos, it becomes your duty to ensure that there is sufficient and comfortable seating for them.....

Disclaimer: Any critique/criticisms contained herein (and I'm taking the liberty of speaking on behalf of Anonymous as well) in no way negates my recognition of all the hard work that COUNTLESS individuals put into this evening or the worthiness of supporting our institution. 

21 comments:

Chaim said...

I can't beleive they really had separate seating. What are these people thinking??!!

Also, for those people who think that this move is somehow "frum," I would like to point out that there are actually halachos against changing the minhag of a community.

Anonymous said...

Who makes these decsions? Many people on the board are not right wing. Why don't they stand up for what's right? The board in Frankfurt often gave Rav Hirsch a very hard time (they might have been wrong on the issues but they were right to stand up for their positions).

And if the board is too right wing, why can't the members vote for a better board? Can't someone galvanize the vote of all those over 70 and get a more normal board elected?

Anonymous said...

The Anti-YU business and bashing over the years was very shortsided. YU grows by leaps and bounds and KAJ shrinks a little more everyday.

Mikeinmidwood said...

Maybe now people are getting the message; you push to hard someone will push back. Although we arent at that stage yet but it will happen.

Former KAJ Supporter said...

Just to enlighten "Anonymous 9:35" the board couldn't be more right wing if they tried. They also have a new Rabbi who seems to be encouraging this trend towards change. Their goal seems to be to turn what was once the prime example of a middle of the road, German kehilla based on the true interpretation of Torah Im Derech Eretz (not the one that says apologetically "one needs a parnasah so one has to go to work")into the standard, cookie cutter, yeshivish community. They don't seem to realize that this once famous community has become a laughing stock to the outside world. They have turned what was once one of the most reliable kashrus supervisions in the country into one that only seems to knows how to assur water and raisins. Another example of the major changes are rumors spreading that the kehilla will shortly be doing away with it's famous synagogue choir and chazzanim. I happened to daven there on a recent Friday night and, other than the choir there was absolutely no semblance of the traditional Breuer's davening which so many of us look forward to hearing when we are in the Heights. It's very sad to see this happening but it seems that none of the people left there, young or old, are able to fight this change.

Anonymous said...

It can be fought. Where there's a will there's a way. But it requires work and not just shaking heads.

(And although I'm no expert, I'm aware of at least a few people on the board who certainly are not hard-core right wing.)

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more with what "Former KAJ Supporter" said.

Anonymous said...

From what I understand KAJ Chazanus is collapsed and the choir is next. It is time for a leader to emerge to lead KAJ back to its roots. I think we all know who that man is. He is very related to the Baalas Hablag.

Honestly Frum said...

For years the members of the Kehila have sent their kids to rightwing Yeshivos, what do they expect to happen? It was only a few months ago when it was announced that Torah Im Derech Eretz was a "Hora’as Sha’ah". This was the final nail in the coffin; that statement made Breuer’s no different than any other Charedi community so why not have separate seating and get rid of the choir. This will give them those from the community who are seeking to lead it in this new direction recognition and normalization within the charedi world without having to worry about side distractions like choirs. .

Jron said...

Unfortunately, the Kehilla and all it stood for is a Goses. It is time to change/edit all the letterheads and advertising/shnorr materials by removing the TIDE motto. Clearly the current Rav has verified that it is no longer relevant to the Kehilla. To continue to espouse the Kehilla's derech as that of TIDE is a fraud and and defies Rav Breuer's Heartfelt plea for Glatt Yoshor.

Still Hopeful said...

I'm not so sure that nothing can be done....
I've heard rumblings.....
Most members of KAJ are quite upset about the goings on and I think that lately the board/rabbinate have gotten quite bold and might be going too far.
They can only do away with so much before the dormant volcano erupts...
TIDE, Chazzonim, possibly choir - not to mention subtle attitude shifts.
Don't poke the sleeping tiger.

cuzzin buzzin said...

Clearly this is an issue that is festering and boiling in people's hearts and minds- look at all the comments! Unfortunately KAJ has not always acted with the future in mind.
However, I don't agree with Former KAJ Supporter. I have never noticed- in print or in conversation (outside of WH) that KAJ is a laughing stock. Anywhere. And it is offensive (but hey, that's annonymous blogging!) to say that about KAJ. Even though many out there may not think there is a focus of T.I.D.E., there will always be a respect for KAJ- if not about what they do now, then what they did and stood for , for so many years.

shame on you, former supporter!! You should still support them!

Anonymous said...

For all those ardent supporters... KAJ operates as a democracy. If the majority of the congregation is so unhappy with the current trend as you all claim, then why would they have elected the current Rav and board?

The Chazzan thing is not because anyone is trying to ruin the Mesorah of the Kehilla. They are strapped for cash (just like the rest of the world) and can't afford to hire a full time Chazzan now.

At the very least, if you're going to be disparaging, make sure you have all the facts straight.

Anonymous said...

The current Rav was voted on a Secret Ballot so it is not very democratic.
Secondly, German Jews by nature are docile and follow authority (Good Germans) without realizing that they are marching away from their own Heritage.
Thirdly, why would a Chazan have to get paid ? Woudlnt it be the utmost honor ? The previous Chazanim did it for the shul not for the pittance. They all had regular jobs.

Still Hopeful said...

Anonymous 11:00 pm
"The Chazzan thing is not because anyone is trying to ruin the Mesorah of the Kehilla. They are strapped for cash (just like the rest of the world) and can't afford to hire a full time Chazzan now."

If this were true, then why wouldn't they take a Chazzan from within the community? There are several good choices available - both young and old. It is clear that they want to capitalize on their cash flow problem by diluting the nusach and minhogim of the kehilah at the same time.

As for the election of the Rav, a definitive vote count was never released to the general membership. At the time, the vote was colored by a threat of the then President's imminent resignation if the candidate was not voted in.

Anonymous said...

Anyone who was at the meeting when the vote for the Rabbi took place knows what a farce it was.

Also, the current makeup of the board was implicitly decided by the rabbinate, not by the membership.

Anonymous said...

"For all those ardent supporters... KAJ operates as a democracy."

Sure this Kehilla is a democracy. Just like Russia is...or Zimbabwe...

Which true democracies do you know involve the only decision makers (and please don't insult my intelligence by saying that the Board of Advisors truly does anything) have no term limits whatsoever? What democracy has the men in charge threatening resignation if their will is not done? And what democracy bans half of their membership (as our esteemed Kehilla recently did with the women of the community) from a membership meeting?

And in a democracy, it is not just the elected officials who have all the power. The people are supposed to have a say as well. Of course on decisions by the Rabbinate the people do not have to be consulted, but when were the people asked about the recent decision regarding Chazzanim? And when were the people consulted with regard to the Yonkers fiasco? Perhaps if the Board did consult the people, then the members would be willing to speak up but as it stands the members are being told what to do and do not want to "stir the pot," and understandably so as anyone who does is derided behind their back and dismissed as a troublemaker.

I truly believe in this Kehilla. But something got to change and fast because the shul is becoming emptier and emptier every time you look...

Chaim said...

This bashing of KAJ disturbds me. There are many "normal-minded" people in the kehillah and on the board. I think some things can be corrected. I, for one, am hopeful that this chazzan situation will work itself out.

As far as the choir, I can't imagine anyone trying to elimate it and I don't think we should be thinking about it in a fatalistic manner. If that day should ever come, and let us pray that it never will, we should be shocked and fight it tooth and nail rather than already accepting its inevitability.

NOT ANONYMOUS said...

First of all, the seating flowed from with women on one side, then there were men next to the women, and then it continued with men. I am not sure that I would call that "separate seating" in the traditional sense of having a Mechitza down the middle. But those who rant have scant use for the truth ( darn, thats a good line!)

As far as wanting to sit with your wife, then take her out to dinner alone. Exactly what is the point of sitting next to your wife in a darkened room for an hour while LISTENING TO SPEECHES?!!?!?? You wanna play footsie, go ahead, but it isn't the forum, and talking is not appropriate during a program like that. So it is so much hooey in this situation. Had it been a Dinner, OK, I agree, it should ( and has been mixed) but not for this program. I think that you should make the same fuss in Hirsh & Sons, the seating is separate there as well, and I have never heard any of the militant Yekkes complain about THAT.

Of Course You're Anonymous said...

While I can see how "Not Anonymous" (if you're so proud of being not anonymous then please give your name...)could draw a parallel between a funeral at Hirsch and Sons and the Annual Dinner, I find his remarks insinuating that the motivation to sit mixed is fueled by a desire to "play footsie" highly offensive.
Get your mind out of the gutter! Perhaps it is the Yekkish tradition of NOT 'assuring' such trivialities that allows them the ability to control themselves AND their thoughts, while people like Not Anonymous seem to take the "low road".....

Anonymous said...

I am watching and waiting and wiating for a reivew of this years diunner. ???????????????

How was it?

HOow do you find out who is on the Yehisva Board anymore