Saturday, May 28, 2016

APP Editorial: Healthy enlightenment about the Orthodox

Following the book presentation at the Lakewood  Library APP calls for more  events in neighboring towns. 
APP- More than 100 people crowded into the Lakewood branch of the Ocean County Library earlier this week to learn more about the Jewish Orthodox religion from professor and author Ali Botein-Furrevig, who has written a book on the Lakewood Orthodox community and its roots.

It was a program that should be repeated at the county’s main library in Toms River and its branch in Jackson, as well as in the school districts of those two towns. It could go a long way toward bringing about a greater understanding of, and appreciation for, the Orthodox community’s origins, its culture and its rituals. Botein-Furrevig, an associate professor of English and Jewish studies at Ocean County College, is an expert on the topic. Her thoroughly researched book, “Heart of the Stranger: A Portrait of Lakewood’s Orthodox Community,” was vetted for accuracy by Rabbi Aaron Kotler, president and dean of the Beth Medrash Govoha yeshiva, and by other members of Lakewood’s Vaad, a council of rabbis and Orthodox leaders.




Botein-Furrevig’s program and her outstanding book provide a fascinating account of the early origins of the Lakewood’s Orthodox community, which began in the late 19th century with a small settlement of Eastern European peddlers and farmers.

In her presentation she discussed the differences in the various sects within the Lakewood Orthodox community, noting that only about 20 percent were Hasidic Jews and a majority are Yeshivish Jews of mostly Lithuanian heritage.

Much of her presentation concerned the myths and stereotypes about Orthodox Judaism as well as some of the commonly held beliefs about Orthodox Jews that are true. Time didn’t allow her to cover all the ground addressed in her book, whose chapters include, “The Classroom and Beyond: An Integrate Formula for Ethical Living,” “Living Torah: Acts of Kindness, Compassion, and Charity,” and “To Everything There is a Season: Orthodox Life Cycles.”


After Botein-Furrevig’s presentation, William Ball, 66, of Howell, admitted he hadn’t always felt kindly disposed to the Orthodox community. “I got caught up listening to people (talk.) I didn’t take the time to learn,” he said. “For the last couple of years I had to take the time to understand what I thought were ‘bad people.’ They're not. They're just like you and I; they just have a strong belief in their religion.”

His attitudes were no doubt reinforced by Botein-Furrevig. Which was the whole point of her presentation and her book, whose afterward is titled, “A Teaching Guide for Tolerance and Understanding.” The more widely her message is spread the better. Learning more about the history, rituals and beliefs of the Orthodox may not eliminate the fear and outright bigotry that has characterized the actions of some residents and public officials in Lakewood’s neighboring towns, but it can go a long way toward combating the ignorance behind it.

If you are unable to catch Botein-Furrevig’s presentation in person, pick up the book. And be sure to share it with those you think could use some enlightenment about their Orthodox neighbors. 
APP.com

3 comments:

  1. I think its only fair that we should attend a meeting in the library on mexican culture,goyish culture , amish culture and maybe chassidish , litvish , breslov culture. After all we need to learn to tolerate others.

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  2. I would love to hear about how to tolerate thebreslov culture. When is this happening?

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  3. It would indeed be a wonderful idea to have a presentation educating our community about behaviors that are considered unacceptable or rude in the larger community around us.

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