« Rabbi Ovadia Yosef Has Minor Stroke, At First Refuses To Go To Hospital On Shabbat | Main | Zionist Orthodox News Site Sees Nazi Germany In Arab Snowball Attack »

January 12, 2013

For Modern Orthodox And Haredi Jews, Childhood Is A Time For Brainwashing, Noted Sociologist (Almost) Says

Samuel Heilman small,jpg"…Secular knowledge is played down, and only what is Jewish is viewed as genuinely valuable. To keep people inside this cultural and voluntary ghetto, a high degree of conformity and a conservative worldview are encouraged, coupled with the outcasting or demonization of outsiders … or even those who dare to be different. It’s as if one wants the child to think, 'We are lucky to be the kind of Jews we are, and we’d never want to be like the others around us.'”

Samuel Heilman small,jpg
Samuel Heilman

For Orthodox And Haredi Jews, Childhood Is A Time For Indoctrination, Sociologist Says
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com

As part of the New York Times’ Room For Debate series, sociologist Samuel Heilman was asked the following question: “With children, when does religion go too far? When does a religious upbringing cross the line from nurturing to oppressive?”

For Orthodox Jews, Heilman answered, “childhood is for enculturation.”

This is a polite way of saying that for many Modern Orthodox and almost all haredi Jews, childhood is the time that the Modern Orthodox and haredi communities and schools indoctrinate (brainwash) children so that they don’t have enough independent thought to decide to leave the community later on when they grow up.

This is harder to achieve with Modern Orthodox kids who actually learn science, math and history as they’re growing up.

But for haredi kids, Heilman writes, “insularity is a desideratum. Secular knowledge is played down, and only what is Jewish is viewed as genuinely valuable. To keep people inside this cultural and voluntary ghetto, a high degree of conformity and a conservative worldview are encouraged, coupled with the outcasting or demonization of outsiders … or even those who dare to be different. It’s as if one wants the child to think, “We are lucky to be the kind of Jews we are, and we’d never want to be like the others around us.” This leads to an even higher degree of solidarity and ethnocentrism, but also to powerful pressures to hide even a minor deviance from the norm. This can result in a Manichaeistic world for children, who could very well be getting the following message: “Those who are not with or like us are against us.”

For the Modern Orthodox and haredim, “childhood, Heilman writes, is not for fun.”

Indeed.

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

He is an idiot. Plain and simple and most certainly anti-religious and probably an atheist to boot.

He is an idiot. Plain and simple and most certainly anti-religious and probably an atheist to boot.

Posted by: Ari | January 12, 2013 at 07:49 PM

He's Orthodox.

There's nothing wrong with parents teaching children a way of life that they believe to be good. However, demonizing people to reinforce and/or justify their perspective is wrong.

Is he lying?

Don't teach your children to read ... teach them to question what they read. Teach them to question everything.

Do not indoctrinate your children.

Teach them how to think for themselves, how to evaluate evidence and how to disagree with you.

I agree with Althelion. George and Richard also have a point. Children should be taught critical thinking skills and know that whatever path they choose, they will be loved unconditionally. However, every child is socialized into one culture or another. There is nothing wrong with raising children to be religious as long as you don't teach them to hate, or reject them if they decide it's not for them.

When I was going to college I helped organize a trip to Israel, and a lot of my friends came up to me and said, "We always knew you were Jewish." I said, "With a name like Christopher?" They said "Well, if you aren't you ought to be." So I started studying remembering what Hillel said to the gentile who offered to convert if Hillel could recite the whole of the Torah while standing on one foot, and Hillel said, "Do not unto others what you would not wish them to do to you. Now go study."

I spent a lot of time studying, and I continue studying. But eventually I came to the conclusion that the entire store of human wisdom had to come into my studies. Some of this can be quite destructive if not evil, but I have come to the conclusion that there is nothing that is so evil that I can't learn something from it. I just don't have to act on evil. I try to find the moral basis of each belief system, and then I follow what is in my heart, guided by my mind and my study. Children need to have their horizons broadened, not narrowed, although of course they need to know what is good and what is evil, and they also need to know the ties that bind them to their fellow humans and to other beings around them.

When I was a kid in Satmar for a few years (before my parents came to their senses) I was brainwashed much more than most people realize.

Not only were the "Moderne" (without beards/peyos) half goyim, but even other Chasidim were worse than the above! The Vishnitzer are Zionists (I was told at age 7 that ZIONSIST WERE RESPONSIBLE FOR Auschwitz and because of them they killed six million) ; the Pupener Uplander idiots; Belzers in addition to be Agudists (the worst of all as they are phonies) are wild Polish Animals...

While I got out I don't think I got out in time... my therpist told me that not all childhoom brainwashings can be explained away by logic. Its too deep...

So this sociologist has point. Take from someone whose been there...

Heilman, with Menachem Friedman, wrote the biography of the Lubavitchers that was full of laughable errors. I don't think that he's much of an expert in anything.

Heilman, with Menachem Friedman, wrote the biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that was full of laughable errors. I don't think that he's much of an expert in anything.

(Corrected the typo in the previous post)


He is an idiot. Plain and simple and most certainly anti-religious and probably an atheist to boot.

Posted by: Ari | January 12, 2013 at 07:49 PM

He's Orthodox.

Posted by: Shmarya

that exchange made me laugh out loud.

teaching your kids to believe ANYTHING just because.....or that having blind faith (belief absent evidence) is a GOOD thing is child abuse.
teaching them that the other 99.99% of the people who exist outside their tiny sub-group are evil is also child abuse and quite sad too.

All children are "brainwashed" to a certain extent, if you call the transmision of values, customes and beliefs by parents to children brainwashing.

The difference between haredi children and everyone else is that these children are not exposed to the outside world, or given an education in subjects (math, science, world history, etc) that would permit them to function in the world outside he haredi community. This s done to "protect" them , but it is really done to shield them from the influences of the outside world so they would not be tempted to leave the haredi community, nor could they leave without great difficulty do to a lack of edication.

If the haredi culture was so valid, it would be able to compete with the culture of the outside world without needing to shield their children from the outside world. I feel sorry for haredi children who grow up in this closed world.

Heilman, with Menachem Friedman, wrote the biography of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that was full of laughable errors. I don't think that he's much of an expert in anything.

(Corrected the typo in the previous post)

Posted by: Moshe | January 12, 2013 at 10:08 PM

It was not "full of laughable errors."

What it did was expose a number of lies Chabad regularly told about the Rebbe – lies the Rebbe often say and allowed them to say.

And this is, of course, why so many Chabadniks hate it and hate its authors.

It's a society terrified that its kids might learn something. Hence the anti-Internet thing. An All Religion, All the Time educational system is evil. It's exactly the same kind of brainwashing Islamic madrassas do - endless memorization of religious material, and exclusion of useful knowledge.

There is a maximum safe dose for religion.

There is a maximum safe dose for religion.

Posted by: John Nagle, Silicon Valley, CA


because of the high risk and danger of overdose, it is recommended to avoid it altogether.

First of all, the secular world has never befriended us and has in fact wished to destroy our way of life throughout the generations. Insulating ourselves both physically and emotionally has been the only key to our survival ever. So if we believe our values and mission should be protected from attack, what else can we do. We preserve our ways within the next generation, and teach them to avoid the predators. Do we exagerate? No more than the parent who tells a child "Don't play with matches or you'll get burned". Of course a child could play with matches and come out unscathed, but overall it's good advice and correct parenting. Ultimately children grow up and make their own decisions. Do you really believe that the values we teach and the insular life we live can be considered brainwashing? Look at how many successful orthodox Jews are fully involved in the secular world as adults whether in business, politics, or academia. They hare us for being separate, and they hate us for being involved. They hate us for ignoring the rest if the wirld, abd they hate us for being influential. The best we can do is protect our young, circle the wagons, and live our lives as we choose. If some of us are able to integrate productively into the secular world without getting burned and without sacrificing the next generation, then great. Otherwise, just leave it alone.

Utter complete horseshit.

We live a Modern Orthodox liftstyle. My daughter goes to Hillel Torah in Chicago,she knows the first part of the benching by heart, and can equally sit down and sing with Angelina Ballerina and WildKrats kids TV program.

She learns about Shabbat, kosher food, and HaShem. She also learns about dinosaurs, leaves and several Barbie dolls that she plays with.

She loves Christmas lights on our neighbors' lawns, which we tell her are our neighbors' holiday celebration lights.

There is no 'us' vs 'them'. There is 'us' and this is what we do. She is vibrant, opinionated, confident and sometimes questioning.... all good in our eyes.

We happen to prefer this lifestyle to dressing her up like Dirt Diva and promoting clit piercings and head to toe tatoos like many of the 'enlightened' secularists who come here to preach their disturbed views of 'liberty' and 'freedom'. The choices aren't just Ultra Haredi or Rosanne.... and thank GD for that!

1. Yes, there's always a certain level of "brainwashing" done to children in order to impart the parents' beliefs/values.

2. BUT there's a difference between a society which values critical thinking and one that doesn't. In ALL levels of Orthodoxy there are "no go zones" where you're not supposed to question the dogma.

3. But again... There's a WORLD of difference between the level of indoctrination that goes on between Satmar and MO. Two different planets!

Ooooh.

Enculturation

Enculturation is the process by which people learn the requirements of their surrounding culture and acquire values and behaviours appropriate or necessary in that culture.[1] As part of this process, the influences that limit, direct, or shape the individual (whether deliberately or not) include parents, other adults, and peers. If successful, enculturation results in competence in the language, values and rituals of the culture.

Enculturation is related to socialization. In some academic fields, socialization refers to the deliberate shaping of the individual. In others, the word may cover both deliberate and informal enculturation.

Sounds just awful.

@Ari, Mechel and Moshe, or should I say Moe, Larry and Curly? You are a superb example of what Heilman is referring to. What can I say? Res Ipsa Loquitor,,,sorry you morons, you do not understand that, it means let the facts speak by itself.

Mechel, you write "Look at how many successful orthodox Jews are fully involved in the secular world as adults whether in business, politics, or academia."

Successful (should you have added "modern?") Orthodox Jews who are full involved in the secular world in business, politics or academia have been given a good education by their parents, and have not been shielded from the secular world, or they wouldn't be successful in their chosen professions.

How are you looked upon by the Haredim, many of who do not work and live on welfare, study Torah all day, blindly follow the edicts of their rabbis, and if living in Israel, do not serve in the IDF, marginalize women by refusing to hear them sing, photoshop their images out of pictures, refuse to let them eulogize their fathers at their funerals, harass them if their dress is not sufficiently modest, force them to walk on the opposite side of the street, and force them sit in the back of the bus?

Mechel, are modern Orthodox Jews looked down upon by the Haredim, because they do not practice these haredi customs?

You write "They hate us for being separate, and they hate us for being involved." No one is hated. I would say that secular Jews dislike the haredi customs I listed above because they are antithetical to a society which respects the work ethic, values education, and believes that it is a sin to marginalize women the way Haredim do.

@Mechel What you implied is that children should be told to never use matches ever safely in their life and therefore we must all live in the dark


@Shmarya come on, as Yoel B eluded to, keep in mind that academic speech is different than the lay understandings of words. The example used is often 'myth' which has no negative connotations when used academically.

As for brainwashing vs education, the more modern orthodox or open orthodox institutions and educational philosophies are very aware of the inherent issues involved. Personally I wouldn't hide the complete Palestinians narrative or complete documentary hypothesis to a child until I made sure that they understood traditional Jewish approaches to such subjects while at the same time not ignoring issues when they arise until then.

For the Modern Orthodox and haredim, “childhood, Heilman writes, is not for fun.”

Indeed.

I take issue with the "fun" part. The kids in our NJ (modern)Orthodox area spend an enormous amount of time in numerous sports activites including very serious leagues that play other orthodox schools as well as non-Jewish teams (which they often win). Like Sifter (at 11:42 pm above)in Chicago writes, they watch all the kids programming and the internet is an integral part of their schooling and their play time. They know all the secular popular songs as well as the Jewish popular songs. What exactly are secular kids doing for fun that these kids are missing out on? Please educate me asap. I will want to rectify that immediately.

Posted by: smile! | January 13, 2013 at 08:48 AM

I was taught in yeshiva that you had to daven with a minyan 21 times a week unless you were ill. Sort of cuts down on the possibilities for fun, no?

Posted by: Wigmore | January 13, 2013 at 10:44 AM Definitely.
But I though we were talking about "childhood" here. I dont think you will find the kids at minyan 21 times a week, even after Bar Mitzvah unless maybe if their dad is the Rabbi of the shul. I do know that even with the dual curriculum there is plenty of time for what would normally be considered "fun". You can even find our Rabbi at the movie theater on a Saturday night with his kids.

In October 2012, Ami magazine published an extensive cover article and interview with Professor Heilman. The article and interview investigated Heilman and his methods and reported finding "gaps in his knowledge of Jewish matters", and pointed out Heilman's "outright distortions!!!". The article examined a number of obvious mis-transalations, the resulting mistaken conclusions that Heilman adopts, and accuses him of "extremely negative and often false statements...!"

The beauty of Sociology is that anything can be said without evidence. I can just as easily say that the Chareidi world is ketchup. Religions are products of evolution and to presume that there is something pathological about a large subculture tends to point to groupthink or some personal issues rather than objective reasoning. I am not a fool enough to say that the individuals on this blog are cult-like due to their hatred and distrust of the Hareidi community. However, that statement can be as easily said as this blogger's interpretation of Heilman's comment.

Smile, I think the poster was referring to haredi children, not modern orthodox children, when referring to having fun.

How is this news, or even unique to the Orthodox? All religions brainwash their young.

We happen to prefer this lifestyle to dressing her up like Dirt Diva and promoting clit piercings and head to toe tatoos like many of the 'enlightened' secularists who come here to preach their disturbed views of 'liberty' and 'freedom'. The choices aren't just Ultra Haredi or Rosanne.... and thank GD for that!

Posted by: Sifter | January 12, 2013 at 11:42 PM

Funny how you say there is no 'us' vs. 'them' attitude and then proceed to disprove this by your ridiculous characterization of secularists.

Everyone indoctrinates their children. Rabid sports fans, soccer moms, parents of child prodigies, Walmart shoppers.

Goodness such vitriol. Many of the comments here are proving him correct. Brainwashed people go nuts when hearing the slightest criticism of their lifestyle or leaders. A reasonable mind can deal with it.

Not to say that this community is all brainwashing, but there is plenty of it, even in the modern orthodox world. Generally, whenever you have rabbis (in our day and age) you have brainwashing. Tell me, when was the last time you had an intelligent, reasoned, respectful exchange with a rabbi, one where he wasn't talking over you and through you?

Very smart man.

Has he done any studies to back this statement up? Sure, Orthodox parents raise their children to be Orthodox, but Christian parents also raise their kids to be Christian, and secular parents raise their kids to be secular. Every child is encultured into his culture as he grows. Heilman might as well just say that childhood is a time for indoctrination, period.

That is, unless children are raised to question, argue, and critically analyze the things they see and hear. Which, incidentally, are all characteristics that Orthodoxy promotes and inculcates in children, especially through the critical study of the Torah and of Talmudic law. Rambam says that blind faith isn't enough, one must logically understand why Jewish philosophy is true.

Samuel Heilman is the one who fails to think critically and logically when he makes a sweeping and stereotypical statement without backing it up with any sort of research or studies to justify his claim.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Working...
Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.

Working...

Post a comment

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------

----------------

Please Scroll Down Toward The Bottom Of This Page For More Search Options And For A List Of Recent Posts

Recent Posts

Audio: Rabbi Eliezer Silver on Child Sexual Abuse.

Do you need help leaving an ultra-Orthodox community or navigating life outside one? Call Footsteps.

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar
Jibbadgefinalist

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

Comment Rules

  • 1. No anonymous comments.

    2. Use only one name or alias and stick with that.

    3. Do not use anyone else's name or alias.

    4. Do not sockpuppet.

    5. Try to argue using facts and logic.

    6. Do not lie.

    7. No name-calling, please.

    8. Do not post entire articles or long article excerpts.

    ***Violation of these rules may lead to the violator's comments being edited or his future comments being banned.***

Rubashkin Protest Gear

  • Rubashkin_parody_1

    Buy one of these and wear it to shul. Other Rubashkin gear as well. Protest!
  • Rubashkin_label_parody_1

    Wear this amazing T-shirt to your local supermarket. Better yet, buy a dozen and bring your friends – with signs! Available here!

Older Posts Complete Archives

Search FailedMessiah

Lijit Search

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com is a reader supported website.

Thank you for your generous support!

----------------------

----------------------

----------------------

FailedMessiah.com in the Media

Tip Jar

Gelt Is Good!

Tip Jar

RSS Feed

Blog Widget by LinkWithin