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Nov 14, 2010

When the apple falls far from the tree

I was reading this article in the Mishpacha magazine (Hebrew edition) about how the children of kibbutzniks are becoming religious. The article is about how the original founders of the kibbutz movement were anti-religious, or at best completely ignorant about religion, and had left the paths of their parents, many of whom had been religious in Europe, and founded and built the kibbutz movement, and now many of their children are leaving their parents paths and coming closer to religion.

The article focused on one fellow who grew up on Kibbutz Ginnosar, a classic kibbutz of the Hashomer Hatzair movement, and talks with him about the path he took from the kibbutz all the way to Breslav. They went to the kibbutz and he described what it was like growing up there and how he made his transformation.

The article is really great, and he describes none of the "anti" that we regularly hear about when talking about the founders of the kibbutz movement, but describes a very "romantic" and ideological lifestyle, that he even pines for and hopes to get back to one days, as he says, when Ginnosar will be a religious kibbutz.

There was one point I felt like pointing out. After walking around the kibbutz, they went announced to his parents house. They go in, and the surprised father hugs his son and runs to get out the "chad pe'ami" cups and offers drinks.

The journalist, Menachem Pines, asks some questions including how he accepted that his son became haredi. Shai, the father, answered, "They are hapy in life, and that is all that matters. I dont remember exactly what happened when he first started becoming religious, but we felt that he and Dalia his wife were calm and happy, and if they felt good about it, we felt good about it... Of course our children would not become just like us, just like we are not like our parents. They have their way. They come to visit, food is not a problem - we know what to buy, everything is Badatz and "chad pe'ami". We can work everything out. These are all little things. There need not be any disconnect when children are "chozer b'tshuva". That is idiotic."...

Children changing from the path of the parents, even though it can be seen as a rejection of the ideals that the parents had tried to imbue the kids with, need not come in an acrimonious manner. If you accept that your kids can choose the best way for them to live their lives, they can function with their God-given (or man-given if you are from the looking from the secular point of view) right of free will, their need not be a fight and bad blood. Good and loving relationships can be maintained, and as Shai Shvartz says, all the details are little factors and are idiotic. All the issues can be worked out.

If people respect each other and treat each other with respect, one can maintain the loving relationship despite the child choosing a different path.


  1. So is Mishpacha magazine going to run a parallel article about how frum parents can respond the same way when their kids join a hashomer hatzair kibbutz?

  2. yeah, I doubt it..

    btw, in case you misunderstood, that point was not the point of the article, just the point I wanted to point out and focus on.

  3. I hope this kind of tolerance is common, but that family in the Mishpacha article was American, not a typical Kibbutz family.

  4. David - again, this wasnt the point the Mishpacha was making. It is the point I am making from the article. And perhaps it is not the more common situation. Maybe there is a falling out in other, or perhaps in most, families, over such situations. I am saying to look at this example and you can see that the divide is not so great and you dont have to destroy your family just because a child chose a different path, you can be accepting and loving and remain part of each others lives despite the changes.

  5. My personal experience is that there may be some uncomfortable situations, but there certainly is no falling out if you strive to be loving and considerate, etc.

    And I'm speaking from being a baal teshuvah and maintaining good relations with our secular and intermarried families, and, on the other hand, having a son who is OTD (and I mean completely secular, not that he's working instead of learning all day) and we maintain a close, supportive relationship with him.

    I think Israelis have a much greater tendency than Americans to boycot the baal teshuvah, or for the baal teshuvah to sever connections with his family, or for a frum family to sever connections with an OTD child.

    That's why I was making the point that this family on the kibbutz was American, in regards to the insight Rafi G. saw in the article.

  6. I think it is a wonderful article. Nice to see acceptance of difference rather than rejection of it. Now if everyone could behave that way ...

  7. I've been reading more and more articles about this, and I'd like to believe this is a growing trend in Israel. My understanding is like this:

    The 1st generation of Shomer HaTzair and other secular Zionists were so anti religious. They wanted Zionism to replace Torah. That's the objection charedim have with the founding principles and principals of the Medinah.

    Zionism was about building a new State, tilling the soil, planting and harvesting, everyone in the army, socialism, togetherness, etc. A Jew needs something to believe in. So if it wasn't Judaism, it was Zionism. This worked for a generation or two while the State was being built.

    But now, in the 3rd or 4th generation, the State is built. We're not out planting the fields en masse. We have plenty of food, modern technology and for the first time, disposable income. So the flame of Zionism (at least as I defined it above) has died down. Some call this period post-Zionism.

    But remember, a Jew needs to believe in something. And unlike their parents, secular kids now are growing up devoid of both. This emptiness is causing them to searching for something. So they go to Kathmandu, or backpack in South America, but they don't find it there either. For a growing number, this search for meaning in their lives is causing them to explore their Judaism - something they knew they're connected to but know nothing about.

    Now, parents of a generation or two ago, who still had that strong sense of secular Zionism in place of Judaism - if their kid started turning frum on them, they'd have a fit. How can they turn their backs on them like this? It was a rejection of their Zionistic beliefs. That was their version of off the derech. Oy vay, I have to sit shiva, my son has become

    But today, parents don't have that strong secular Zionism as their parents did. So they don't
    view it as the same sort of betrayal if their kids discover their Judaism. It's not a rejection of beliefs because they don't have strong beliefs for either.

    The secular Zionist dream of uprooting Torah is backfiring! The grandchildren of the anti-religious are becoming religious. It's a beautiful thing, and I'd love to believe this is a growing trend in the country and will help bring Israel into truly being the Jewish State.

    But the reverse - when a frum kid goes off the derech (the way we mean it) that's a little harder to swallow since that is a rejection of the parents' beliefs. The challenge is for parents of these kids to maintain their relationship with them, and hang onto a hope that their child will figure it out and come back.

  8. Woah, Raf. I don't know why this got posted 3 times. Please remove 2. Sorry.

  9. no prob, wanna. but it was a great comment and deserved to be up there 3 times!


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