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I don’t know if you do the same, but I often think about what the ideal lifestlye is. Or, to say it differently, how ideally I would live if circumstances were not a concern. I have the feeling that many Jews look to the Haredim for that. Sort of "I would live like that except I am afraid to be poor" [insert any reason you like]. They somehow think that this is the "authentic" Jewish lifesyle and they just cannot do it. So they try to get as close as possible in the things they can, and drop the rest.

This is not limited to orthodox Jews. There is a funny thing happening in my community. My community has over 3000 members. On paper. What you see are about 5 practising orthodox Jews and 10-15 people at a Shabat minyan. The vast majority of people simply don’t care about religion, at least not enough to come to services (orthodox, Hebrew only). So now there is this new initiative that tries to organize reform services in the community. They have about 10-20 people at a service. They want to hire a reform rabbi. What do the people say (not those who go to orthodox services, the others)? – "We will not stand for this, we want a real rabbi!"

In my view, the root behind this is, that we view ultra-orthodox Judaism as the "real thing" and everything else as watered down. Modern orthodoxy is the same, just less observant. And conservative, liberal, reform – it’s all the same, just less observant. But this is not the case! There are positive values that modern orthodoxy has, it is not defined by the lack of strictures (chumras). I found this quote in an article:

We must believe that the goal of Orthodoxy is a life of integration with society, of interaction with science, of dialogue with The Other, and of uncompromising observance. We practice normative Orthodoxy not because we are insufficiently motivated to live the "more dedicated" Haredi lifestyle, but because synthesis is the IDEAL of Judaism. (Noah Roth: Redefining Reform)

We need to decide that this we live like we live because we believe this is the right way to live. We do not go to university because unfortunately we cannot be completely separated from secular society. We go there, because we believe there is value in getting a university degree and there is value in interacting with society in general. And we believe that in this point Haredi society got it wrong.

Of course, there are always things that are imperfect and areas where we need to grow. But the point is, the end result does not have to be Haredi Judaism. The end result may be Modern Orthodoxy, Conservative Judaism, Reform Judaism or any other denomination. They are not Haredi minus X. They have their own values and ideals.

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