Modern Orthodox Authenticity Guilt

Pico/Robertson is home to three big Modern Orthodox shuls — Young Israel of Century City (YICC), Beth Jacob (BJ) and Bnai David Judea (BDJ).

An Orthodox friend calls: "Who is the number one shul in Los Angeles for technical adherence in chumrot in davening and Torah reading etc? I think it’d be YICC. When you’re reading the megillah, there are certain verses pronounced certain ways and the trick is, ‘Can I adhere to all of them? If I’m going to adhere to only some of them, do I have at my finger tips the reasons why I’m not?’

"They can’t compete on other authenticity grounds because their wives wear pants during the week and don’t cover their hair. They have authenticity guilt. Their service may be more halachicly (Jewish law) correct than a black hat service because they have this penis envy. They want their kids to have exposure to Western thought, then will try to over compensate by worrying about bugs on lettuce, etc. Who assuages their guilt over lack of observance by these technical concerns?"

It’s like the old joke about a simple Jew coming to his rebbe before his wedding. He asks if he’s allowed to receive BJs from his wife. Yes. What about using the workman’s entrance? Yes. What about sex standing up? Absolutely not. Why not? Because it could lead to mixed dancing.

About Luke Ford

I've written five books (see My work has been covered in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and on 60 Minutes. I teach Alexander Technique in Beverly Hills (
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