The Jewish Student Union That Isn’t — NCSY And Deceptive Outreach, Part 2

David Kelsey noted last week that NCSY has a front organiztion, the so-called Jewish Student Union, that it uses to bring non-Orthodox high school students into NCSY’s orbit. It is now clear why NCSY uses the JSU front to snare kids. In order to get into public schools, clubs and organizations need to be cultural or educational, but not religious in nature. NCSY uses the JSU to skirt the Constitution and push religion in the public schools. This is deceptive, both for the students recruited and their families, and for wider society.

Many of you are now clucking that I am wrong and that my "hatred" for Orthodoxy is driving this post. So, for all you Steve Brizels out there, let me help you with the logic and facts.

A group calls itself, say the Jewish Cultural Student Union. It forms clubs in public high schools and teaches kids about "cool Jewish  stuff" like the Prophets and the Messiah and Jewish history. They bake bagels and fry latkes. They knit kippot and weave talaysim. They play sports and visit neighborhood religious institutions to "observe" "davening." They study "Jewish culture" with "rabbis."

You Brizels out there have no problem with this, do you? You support this type of deception 100%, without reservation.

Now look at it this way. That Jewish Cultural Student Union is not a stealth project of NCSY and the OU. Instead, it’s a stealth project of Jews for Jesus.

Dishonesty and manipulation should have no role in legitimate public discourse. That means what is wrong for Jews for Jesus is also wrong for NCSY, Aish HaTorah and Ohr Somayach. The sad thing is, none of these groups believe they are doing anything wrong, morally or legally.

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12 Comments

Filed under Modern Orthodoxy, Outreach

12 responses to “The Jewish Student Union That Isn’t — NCSY And Deceptive Outreach, Part 2

  1. Anonymous

    I don’t know how these student groups work, but I wonder, do other religious groups do this in the schools too? If so, its one of those things everyone is doing and we might as well being doing it too, like jaywalking.

  2. Yochanan Lavie

    In my public high school there is a Christian club. It is student-driven and non-coercive. It is open about what it is and what it does. Personally, I have no problem with that. I would not have a problem with a Jewish club, Muslim club, or Atheist club that is similarly run in an open fashion, by students (with a faculty advisor), and is non-coercive.

    What I don’t like about my NCSY is that it believes the ends justify the means. In my experience with NJ NCSY under Lanner, it used love-bombing, sleep deprivation, and other forms of emotional manipulation. It also sought to hareidify both BT’s and MO FFB’s. (praising students for becoming more machmere, wearing black hats, studying in chariedi yeshivot, eschewing women’s pants even Rav Joseph Soloveitchik okayed them, etc.)

    I must stress that this is my experience, several decades ago, in a specific time & place. I am not sure NCSY always works this way.

  3. MO Rav

    Dear Yochanan,

    Could you provide an exact source for where the Rav okayed women wearing pants (in front of men, presumably)?

    Thanks.

  4. Lawrence M. Reisman

    MO Rav asks if someone could “provide an exact source for where the Rav okayed women wearing pants (in front of men, presumably)?” Can you ever find an exact source for anything “the Rav” ever permitted or didn’t? However, for what its worth, I remember his granddaughter, Zipporah Twersky, going with pants in the streets 35 years ago in Boston. This is not a second-hand report. I saw this myself.

  5. I have to disagree with you just like i disagree with the first post on Kvetcher blog. My comments got lost and never posted on his post so I will repeat what I wanted to say there on your blog. As a former member of public school and a JSU club, I have no problem with anything that they do. I enjoyed having a Jewish club that I could go to while all the other religions had there own clubs. There was no deception because there was no preaching in the club. If people had questions about anything Jewish they would be discussed and answered. They would encourage people to go on Shabbatons but it was not required. As a matter of fact the couple of presidents that the JSU club had when I was a member are not religious, never were and did not attend one Shabbaton. How is that deception? The club did offer the free food but when it is an after school club, who cares about food? The school event that I remember going on with JSU was a trip to the Lower East Side to the Eldrige Street Synagogue, Gus Pickles and the tenemant museum. How is that OU diception? I thought it was very cultural and interesting seing one of the first shuls in NY. The shul was orthodox but judging from the events that they currently have and the administration running the place its seems far from othodoxy. I don’t see where all of this hatred is coming from. Maybe the JSU and NCSY i was a member of was different. After all, the Rabbi of the NCSY I was part of refused to send anyone to any of Rabbi Lanners programs.

  6. Then you were not a member of a JSU controlled by NCSY. JSUs controlled by NCSY were started recently. Lanner has been out of NCSY for five years or so …

  7. The JSU I went to was controlled by NCSY because I did go on some of their Shabbatons. I had a lot of fun on those Shabbatons and in no way thought that the programming was geared towards getting you to go to Touro or any other of the rumored things. The only thing they encouraged and pushed for was Camp NCSY sports which is better than going to another non jewish camp for the summer. Some people changed at this camp while others did not change. I do not know what went on at this camp since I never attended but I do know people who loved it. I actually do now know anyone who did not enjoy going to this camp. I dont think anyone from my JSU went to this camp. There were also a few people who were in NCSY that went to my high school that did not even know what JSU really was. How do you explain that one? The president of NCSY went to my high school and never went to one JSU meeting! JSU has not changed from what it was when I was in HS. The only thing that has changed is the advisors. One of the good things JSU did is set up an after school tutoring program through NCSY that I went to. Can you believe that they tutored for free in secular subjects and did not ask for anything in return? Are you suprised that some NCSY advisors are actually college educated and can tutor in calculus and all sorts of complicated subjects. I am coming to the conclusion that your post as well as kvetchers are coming from outsiders who don’t actually know what really goes on in NCSY.

  8. The JSU I went to was controlled by NCSY because I did go on some of their Shabbatons. I had a lot of fun on those Shabbatons and in no way thought that the programming was geared towards getting you to go to Touro or any other of the rumored things. The only thing they encouraged and pushed for was Camp NCSY sports which is better than going to another non jewish camp for the summer. Some people changed at this camp while others did not change. I do not know what went on at this camp since I never attended but I do know people who loved it. I actually do now know anyone who did not enjoy going to this camp. I dont think anyone from my JSU went to this camp. There were also a few people who were in NCSY that went to my high school that did not even know what JSU really was. How do you explain that one? The president of NCSY went to my high school and never went to one JSU meeting! JSU has not changed from what it was when I was in HS. The only thing that has changed is the advisors. One of the good things JSU did is set up an after school tutoring program through NCSY that I went to. Can you believe that they tutored for free in secular subjects and did not ask for anything in return? Are you suprised that some NCSY advisors are actually college educated and can tutor in calculus and all sorts of complicated subjects. I am coming to the conclusion that your post as well as kvetchers are coming from outsiders who don’t actually know what really goes on in NCSY.

  9. Really? Of course I know that NCSY has college-educated advisors that you may have been exposed to. Please. Process. YU is a university. So is Touro. Both are inferior to Harvard, Brown, Yale, Minnesota, Michigan, UCLA, USC, and several hundred others, but they do count as higher education. That is, in fact, the Kvetcher’s point.

  10. Yochanan Lavie

    Frumwithquestions: As I said, I was talking about NCSY under Lanner, who controlled Etz Chaim New Jersey Region in the 1970’s-80’s. It does not necessarily apply to your NCSY experience.

    Mo Rav: Growing up as a BT in the Modern Orthodox world of the 1970’s, most FFB girls and women wore pants, by a large majority. The only exception was to shul on shabbat, when everyone wore skirts or dresses. It was common knowledge that “the Rav” (i.e. Soloveitchik) permitted it, because clothing is somewhat culturally relative and women’s pants are tailored for women, cannot really be easily worn by men, and are accepted as female garments. (Just as kilts in Scotland are beged ish). Due to my ignorance, I cannot cite chapter and verse as to where he says this. Anybody?

  11. kramer

    i posted this on the last jsu post but it should be said again:

    Steve Burg, the current big wig at NCSY was the west cost big wig before he got this new shteller.

    He formed JSU to be able to raise funds from people who would not support a frum organization but would fund a Jewish organization.

    He got a $300,000 from Mr. Gindi a Sephardic traditional Jew to start JSU. The money went to pay the salary of a JSU director, a conservative woman, and pay the “advisors”
    They called it JSU but Berg was still the boss. At first NCSY was not all for this but when they realized this was a great way to get $$$ they backed off and now a few cities have JSU offices. But make no mistake JSU us an NCSY front.

  12. I think in all posts there should be more specifics. If it was the New Jersey region that is being discussed then say that. Rabbi Lanner had nothing to do with the region I was a part of as I stated. I had advisors who went to Harvard, Columbia, Barnard, and all different schools across the country. There were advisors from YU and well as Touro but they all let you make your own decisions. In my case, i transferred to YU because i was unhappy where I was. It turned out I was not happy at YU either but it was for other reasons. No one forced me to go there.

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