Does it not make sense for Dor Deah to learn from the success of other Jewish outreach movements such as Chabad, Ohr Somayach, and Bnei Akiva, doing much of what they do?
The above stated organizations have more potential than actual success. We certainly see the value in a Dor Deah parallel to the Chabad houses found around the world, or the benefit in handing out free literature from public booths as Chabad and Breslov do in Israel. Such practices are great for spreading one’s message, but the most impressive success these organizations have is fundraising. Their success in bringing people to Torah observance, on the other hand, is overstated. So long as more Jews are becoming secular than become Torah observant, the fight is being lost. Though Chabad and the other organizations referred to do a better job than most other Jewish organizations, if their success rate at bringing unreligious born-Jews to Torah observance would be judged by the same standards people judge the outcome of converts, no one would fund them.
One must take into consideration that the goals of these organizations are different from our goals; their fundamentals different and sometimes in opposition to our own. These organizations practice discriminatory outreach. They not only favor Jews, but seek them exclusively, sometimes born Jews over Orthodox converts, and always born Jews, even secular ones, in preference to potential converts, despite that the potential convert already strongly desires to keep Torah – but they’re not blessed with the ‘blood.’ Our outreach is indiscriminate. Theirs is not. The organizations mentioned view born-Jews as intrinsically superior to non-Jews in one form or another. Dor Deah sees humanity in general as having the same lofty potential. It’s all a matter of choice and opportunity. Some of these differences between our organization and theirs mean that their methods of ‘success’ might not be so successful for us. For example, a large percentage of the funding for ‘mainstream Orthodox’ organizations comes from secular Jews. These organizations feel fine about tickling the ears of wealthy un-observant Jews so as to encourage them to make large donations to their causes. Dor Deah is not in favor of pandering to, and thereby to some extent subjugating itself to, those who esteem secularism above Torah principles. Even if we were to rely on such support, our success would pale in comparison to that of other Jewish organizations. Why? Other organizations teach potential secular Jewish donors that they are special, important, and that their soul is divine – despite that they live lives in opposition to Torah principles. We, on the other hand, say without shame that no man shares in the divine nature of G-d; and certainly not the soul of a born-Jew who denies Torah both in belief and in practice. The Talmudic Sages even taught that such an individual is on a level lower than a non-Jewish idolater! It should then be apparent that the key fundraising technique of other Jewish outreach organizations will not work for us. Despite this, our objection to seeking financial support from those who don’t actually support us will cause us no loss. Unlike the above mentioned organizations, our resources are not restricted to a few million potential donors. Our outreach is not only to Jews, but to the world – and so, the extent of our fundraising has far greater potential. “The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof; the world, and all they who dwell in it.” (Ps. 24,1)
R’ Yosef Eliyah
* DorDeah.com is an independent organization. DorDeah.com is not affiliated with www.mechon-mamre.org, the “Torath Moshe Society,” nor Chabad-Lubavitch. Though we are grateful for the contributions of these organizations in providing Mishne Torah resources, we do not endorse all the views espoused by these organizations.