David Brooks had a very positive article about Orthodox Jews in Thursdays’s NY Times called “The Orthodox Surge”. He even found a number of ways to praise the Orthodox consumerism prevalent at Pomegranate, the upscale Kosher Supermarket in Flatbush.
Brooks points out that Orthodox Jews seem destined to become the majority NY denomination in the not too distant future:
Nationwide, only 21 percent of non-Orthodox Jews between the ages of 18 and 29 are married. But an astounding 71 percent of Orthodox Jews are married at that age. And they are having four and five kids per couple. In the New York City area, for example, wile Orthodox Jes make up 32 percent of the overall Jewish population, they make up 61 percent of Jewish children. Because the Orthodox are so fertile, in a few years, they will be the dominant group in New York Jewry.
In the section of the article where Brooks supported his praise of the Orthodox, he nicely described what Torah observance accomplishes:
The laws, in this view, make for a decent society. They give structure to everyday life. They infuse everyday acts with spiritual significance. They build community. They regulate desires. They moderate religious zeal, making religion an everyday practical reality.
It was a very positive article, but the comments were overwhelmingly negative in dismissing Orthodoxy. The criticisms included women’s rights issue, the need for conformity in the community, the classification of Orthodoxy as fundamentalist and many of the other classic issues people have with Torah Observance.
Perhaps critical people are much more likely to comment, and the hundreds of thousands of people who sympathized with the articles thrust on a whole, disagreed with the 446 mostly negative comments. Or perhaps there’s still a lot of education needed to show people the depth, meaning and beauty of Judaism.