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Paradise Lost – the End of Atlanta’s Kiruv Model

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I became observant in Atlanta. At the time, it was a kiruv community. The word means “bringing close”. You could look at it as proselytization, but I think that misunderstands what was going on. There was a kollel whose main purpose, at least as it was explained to me, was not to “learn for the sake of Heaven” to bring merit to the community, as many kollels are, but rather to contact Jews who’d be interested in learning more about Judaism, or practicing more. If you’re familiar with Chabad, it was basically Chabad without the chassidus. They even went (and still go by) the acronym “ASK” – Atlanta Scholar’s Kollel.

Even this does not really explain how I viewed the Orthodox community of Atlanta at the time. The community itself, not just the kollel or the synagogue, was dedicated to creating a microcosm of what we wanted the Jewish world to be. It should, first off, welcome everyone who wanted to learn – even non-Jews, although they were definitely not the target audience. It should foster growth, but only according to the way the person wanted to grow. It should be as non-judgmental as possible. It should make Judaism not be an all-or-nothing........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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