Things I Love About Modern Orthodox Judaism

The past couple of years, I’ve rarely spent time in a Modern Orthodox shul, but overall in the past 17 years, I’ve spent most of my shul time in Modern Orthodox shuls. I feel comfortable there.

When you look at most of the Modern Orthodox Jews I know, you wouldn’t even know they were Orthodox. Or even Jewish. They dress like everyone else.

I don’t know of any Modern Orthodox manual laborers. Almost all the Modern Orthodox Jews I know went to college and they’re doctors, lawyers, accountants and professors. They’re smart hard-working people.

They know the wider culture. They subscribe to the New Yorker. They read fiction. They’re conversant with wider cultural trends. They’re more likely to be on friendly terms with secular Jewish scholarship and don’t necessarily regard it as the enemy to be vanquished.

Best of all in my view, the Modern Orthodox work hard. They don’t go around begging. Modern Orthodox Jews don’t interrupt the minyanim (prayer groups) of traditional Orthodox Jews (nor those of non-Orthodox Jews) and ask for money, while if you go to any Modern Orthodox minyan, there you will find the traditional Orthodox begging for handouts.

The Modern Orthodox Jews I know are politically aware. Some of them went to Yale with President George W. Bush. Some of them are top-flight political advisers. Some of them are novelists and screenwriters.

If you step into Young Israel of Century City, almost everybody is not only solidly religious, but they’re also highly accomplished in the wider world.

The Modern Orthodox Jews I know are successful in two worlds — the Torah world and the secular world.

About Luke Ford

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