• NCSY has a stealth sister organization called JSU – the Jewish Student Union. It has chapters in hundreds of public high schools in America.
• NCSY and the JSU 'teamed up' with Bar Ilan University to offer what appears to be a one year program in Israel for high school graduates. I write "appears to be" because the Israel Experience website is light on academic details like class schedules and courses offered, but is heavy on pictures of 18 year olds having fun.
• The program's faculty page skips the Aish or Ohr Somayach affiliations of most of the teachers. Most of the faculty are, however, Aish and Ohr Somayach related. (David Kelsey exposes some, but not all, of them.)
• Perhaps the most egregious of these stealth haredi kiruv workers is Rabbi Dovid Orlofsky. Orlovsky teaches at Ohr Somayach and Neve Yerushalayim.
Orlofsky is also an unrepentant major force behind the attacks and ban against Rabbi Natan Slifkin four years ago.
Slifkin and his books were banned because he argued two things: 1) the universe is far older than 6000 years and, 2) the sages of the Talmud made errors with regard to science. Both points had previously been made by Rishonim (great medieval rabbis) and by a few Achronim (great post-medieval rabbis).
That did not stop Orlofsky and his fellow travelers – including Rabbi Leib Tropper, who is now enmeshed in a sex and abuse of power scandal – from getting "the gedolim" (current elderly haredi rabbinic leaders) to ban Slifkin for "heresy."
In other words, the OU's youth arm and its stealth 'student union' hired a haredi rabbi who viciously attacked Modern Orthodox belief teaching secular and newly religious kids.
Rabbi Slifkin is not listed as faculty, even though he lives in Israel, only a 45 minute ride from Bar Ilan.
A couple of issues regarding Bar Ilan.
As of this year Bar Ilan University has a working relationship with "Israel Experience" which is a new independent organization, which has received the blessings of the OU.
The director is Rabbi Tully Bryks who has a great deal of experience working with NCSY and JSU.
The idea of this relationship was to create a strategic partnership between Bar Ilan and the Israel Experience. The OU gave their "blessing" to the creation of the Israel experience, but this new entity does have complete independence.
When the program was first created and various speakers were included on the website, this list included people who were asked to speak.
Rabbi Orlofsky does not teach on the program. At one point there was a discussion of him giving an informal lecture, this has not happened.
The Lecturers on the program are a diverse group of individuals including:
Dr Gil Ariel
Professor Yosef Berstein
Rabbi Tully Bryks
Dr Mike Cohen
Dr Gabriel Danzig
Dr Adam Ferziger
Dr Sy Gottleib
Rabbi Ari Kahn
Dr Daniel Kahn
Rabbi Mordichai Machils
Rabbi Tom (Yosef Chaim) Meyer
Rabbi Adam Siegel
Dr Zvi Shimon
Dr Chana Tannenbaum
Dr Francis Shalit
The idea is to provide a diverse experience; these individuals come from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.
Additionally the Israel Experience runs informal evening programming and weekends. Again the staff here is diverse.
I believe the combination of the formal and informal programs and the various aspects of the program will give students a broad wholesome experience.
As far as myself, I am amused about the discussion of what I am – if someone figures it out then please let me know. In the meantime I suggest buying my books, if possible multiple copies and read them from cover to cover. (Or look at my website where the material is free http://rabbiarikahn.com/)
Rabbi Ari Kahn
UPDATE 12-30-09 3:25 pm CST –
Despite a website that does little to induce confidence or detail the NCSY/JSU’s Israel Experience Program at Bar Ilan University, the reality appears to be quite different than I reported.
…[t]he curriculum schedule sent by Kahn appears to be a real Judaic studies program, and a far more serious program than anything offered at the ultra-Orthodox institutions that have been favored by NCSY for decades for public school graduates (and they continue to quietly send students to these institutions). Most importantly, Hebrew is emphasized and mandatory. This is itself a major indicator if a program seeks general Jewish education and literacy for public school grads, or whether it seeks specific ultra-Orthodox indoctrination.…
I was wrong. This program is indeed nothing the likes of the Hashkafa intensive “fluff” of Aish HaTorah.
The NCSY-JSU-Bar Ilan program seems to be the kind of program I would support.
Just clean up your website, gentleman, and stop placing stumbling blocks before the visually impaired.