The Matzav Shmoooze: Has Kiruv Crossed the Line?


kiruv-chanukahDear readers,

[Video below.] We live in a world with tens of thousands of Jews estranged from their heritage, and we must do everything we can to bring them back. There is a spiritual Holocaust out there, no question. But where do we draw the line when it comes to kiruv? Does everything go? Can we simply employ all measures and engage in all endeavors to try to lure assimilated Jews back to Yiddishkeit?

I ask this question especially after seeing a video emailed to me. It is a supposed Chanukah spoof, but something about it rubbed me the wrong me. It doesn’t seem remotely Jewish, and even if there are non-frum Jews out there who will “appreciate” it, doesn’t it cross the line?

I found it distasteful. If you felt otherwise, by all means tell me. But I think we have to start erecting some boundaries in the way we present and promote our holy lifestyle. We must teach with kedushah, not with wildness or the flavor and style of our surrounding culture.

Just one man’s opinion.

You can watch the video by clicking below:

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A Concerned Jew


The Matzav Shmoooze is a regular feature on that allows all readers to share a thought or analysis, long or short, one sentence or several paragraphs long, on any topic, for readers to mull over and comment on. Email submissions to

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  1. Mr. Schmooze,

    I must admit, when I read the headline of your story I was prepared for the worst. For some reason I thought your agenda was that kiruv in general has gone too far and not the manner in which it is practiced.

    However, I could not agree with you more.The biggest problem is that the newer kiruv initiatives are frenziedly trying to makeup lost time. Lubavitch, who are the trailblazers in kiruv who have begun within the past sixty years have been carefully guided by the Rebbes whose knowledge of Torah and the human condition were equally astute.

    The world finally woke up to the fact that they have wasted years upon years of criticizing every innovation that the Rebbe introduced to bring back lost Jewish souls and today these coordinators most of whom are younger are not that experienced and are resorting to trial and error to see what is and what is not effective.

    If they would defer to the method of the Rebbe and as you said do kiruv but preserve the holiness and sanctity of the Jewish way of life they would be much more effective. But just like they wasted thirty or so years criticizing the outreach of Chabad, they will probably waste the next thirty years trying to prove that their method is more effective – and that is insane but true.

    They say insanity is repeating the same mistakes over and over again. And that is just what we have here. I hope they wake up before its too late.

  2. To: A Concerned Jew

    Have you ever gone to Aish HaTorah and seen what they do? They attract all kinds of people with all backgrounds. They have people working there who specialize in what practices are needed for ever person to bring them closer to Hashem.

    The amount of people that they are MeKarev is astronimical, and their success is boundless, Bly Ayin Hara.

    If your saying that you are concerned because of the tunes that they use, Look at MBD using a german tune, Gershon Veroba and his tapes, Lipa ect. This video isn’t geared for the “yeshivishe” oilam. Boruch Hashem you don’t need the kiruv that these men/women/children need.

  3. I thought it was brilliant! Remember their target audience is not a heimish yeshiva family. You have any other ideas to get an assimilated jew to watch a video. Good luck

  4. correction my friend: it is not tens of thousands, it is millions!!!
    for frum, Bnei Torah, it is not good, for folks on the front lines it is a good appliance to use….

  5. I agree with the poster.

    Many Kiruv “professionals” have been, lulei demistafina, pushing the envelope further and further along the edge in the honorable pursuit of bringing estranged Jews back to Torah and mitzvos. Yet, their perceived need to “compete” with secular culture hasn’t yielded the fruits they anticipated: the throngs of returnees don’t seem to have arrived. This should perhaps give us pause to reflect on what methods might actually work to bring back Jews.

    But this video, and many others like it (not only in the kiruv camp, but by individuals looking to be “shticky”) are the product of two things: (a) the ease and inexpense of producing and distributin (via YouTube) a high-end video; and (b) the incredible success of the Maccabeats last year to break out of the “frum velt” and into the general culture.

    While a lot of these people may have convinced themselves that their efforts are lesheim Shomayim, I fear, lulei demistafina, that the simple lure of “fifteen minutes of fame” is the truer driving force.

  6. This debate is nothing new. It has been around for years. Rav Elya Svei Zt”l spoke about this at the Agudah Convention about 15 years ago where he said clearly that by no means can you do what you want just for kiruv. If I recall correctly the issue back then was that the Rosh Yeshiva was very upset with the fact that a world reknown Kiruv organization was using actors and actresses from Hollywood to draw people into programs on Yiddishkeit and Rav Elya was heavy agsainst it.

    The Kiruv professionals will show you hard data that their methods work and people have become Shomrei Torah Umitzvos.

    Aylu Vaylu Divrei Elokim Chaim. There is no clear cut way to pasken as this debate is around for a very long time.

    Gedolim over the years say you may not enter a reform temple or a church to save Yidden but we all know the famous story of Reb Laizer Silver crying out Shema Yisroel to see which kids hands covered their eyes.

    There doesn’t seem to be a right or wrong. It boils down to your Daas Torah and what you are told and guided by. There are all types of ways to do Kiruv so just do it according to the way you are told and let others do it the way they are told. the most important thing of all is DO THE KIRUV!!!!! don’t hide behind any excuses.

  7. I don’t see how anybody can really argue with this. This, in my opinion is trying to take off from the Macabeats did last year, only theirs may have actually been a good kiruv tool.

    Those producing it are clearly proud of there production abilities and are trying to show it off in a kosher manner, which of course this isn’t. They will rationalize that the words will get across to non religious Jews, but more likely everyone will focus on the production effects, choreography, and music, and the “learning” will be missed.

  8. I have mixed sentiments on this one.

    On one hand, I, too, find an element of distaste in the video. But that is because of my appreciation for what Torah and Yiddishkeit are truly about.

    The young assimilated masses, however, would not sense this element of distaste because they, conversely, do not have an adequate appreciation for what Torah and Yiddishkeit are truly about.

    To you and to me, the video has an element of distaste for all the reasons you enunciate. But to the young assimilated Jew out there in the spiritual wilderness, that same video sends the metamessage that it is not only acceptable to be a Jew and celebrate Chanukah, but it is fashionable to do so. It is a message that they need to hear.

    Does the video go too far? Perhaps it does. But if you truly believe that it does, then come up with an alternative video whose message will be received by the target audience. Until then, this video and its kindred will have to suffice.

    — Expatriate Owl

  9. The truth is this video is not only distasteful but uneducated and pointless. If one wants to enjoy a nice video watch the recent yehsiva boys choir one or maccabeats and the like. Nevertheless this video has no point! I can elaborate but there is no point its to long to get into and im surprised that those in kiruv would put out videos that have no meaning! I guess people think by being like the non-jew i.e. songs like the video it will be more appealing but not quite. I agree with this post very much so. YUMAN

  10. You could not be more wrong. Is it assur? Obviously not and I’m sure you’d agree. If you hold yorself to a higher standard, great! You should. But can you really hold people who have minimal connection to yidishkeit to that same high standard? .

  11. Whichever way you look at it, this video is clearly and obviously intended primarily for non-observant people and therefore appeals to them with non-jewish tunes etc – ma she’ein kein with frum singers and others whose ridiculous videos are just as ‘goyish’ but are intended for frum people, which is far more damaging in that it introduces goyishe tunes and styles into frum homes.

  12. Someone emailed this video to me as I am deeply involved in Kiruv. I watched about 30 seconds of it and stopped. It is nauseating. I really tried to be dan lekaf z’chus that there is possibly a select few individuals that might find this so humorous they will actually take a few moments to click on something else about Chanukah and be inspired. But I feel the foolhardy and loose approach some Kiruv people resort to in an attempting to instill emunah peshuta and awaken a a slumbering neshama, is simply Yotze s’charo b’hefsaido. I doubt anyone will turn to Torah from this “spoof” of a period in our history where mesiros nefesh for Yahadus was the call and rescuing component of the day.

  13. You ask: ” But where do we draw the line when it comes to kiruv?” That’s easy vos shteit in shulchan aruch. We can obviously accept more upon ourselves, and should! But we can’t force or even expect others to, and certainly not those who don’t even abide by shulchan aruch (yet)

  14. This video is shameful and I thank the letter writer for bringing this to our attention and to MATZAV for posting this so we can express an outcry over the disgraceful presentation. This isn’t kiruv, it isn’t anything. It is embarrassing.

  15. Wow!! This video is horrible. I wish I didn’t watch it. Having people who are not frum watch such a video, will give them the impression that such type of music, performances, and movements are kosher. They are not. We want to impress not frum people through kedusha, no tumah. Yes, kiruv is a tricky field to be involved in. Hatzlacha rabba and ashrecha to all of you out there who are involved in kiruv, the proper way. What a zchus.

  16. um ok… americans tend to take things a little too far. I’m still trying to figure out what sector of the non frum population this is suppose to appeal to. Frum guys are suppose to be pios. The other musical act from the yeshiva world that became hits was actually GOOD. It showed that frum guys can have spunk but be dedicated Torah jews the rest of the time.

  17. a little exploitive. How about getting some yeshiva bachrim with acrobatic menuvers ending in fireworks and disco light show. I bet this would go down well in the toevah community

  18. Listen I am a big fan of engaging the modern world but this isn’t even trying to be modern its trying to be a certain style in a really bad way

  19. It’s not meant for me or you.For those who need it, it’s great.
    Last years Maccabeats had thousands of hits on you tube.If you can reach thousands in some other way Kol Hakavod.Do it.

  20. #10-You are very confused.

    You quote Rav Elya Zt”l as being heavily against using the goyishe pop-culture as a means to attract our lost brothers to Yiddishkeit. Then a few sentences later you give your stamp of approval to these methods based on the supposed success rate of these methods, not based on any divergent opinion of another Gadol B’Torah.

    So basically you are saying that Rav Elya based his opinion on a judgment call that these methods don’t work. But now that we see they do work, then his opinion gets tossed out.
    You haven’t an inkling of the concept of Daas Torah.

    First of all, Rav Elya knew very well that the roster of baalei tesuvah can be increased, at least as it would appear to the naked eye-on paper-by employing such means.

    Rav Elya’s ruling had nothing to do with chances for success. It has to do with doing the Ratzon H-shem as dictated in his Torah and through his Chachomim, and feeling and living with utmost concern for Kvod Shomayim in our every action.

    As a talmid of this Ish Kodosh I can tell you that I heard a many drashos from him that making calculations of going against the Torah’s dictates for the benefit of realizing an ultimate gain in Kvod Shomayim is a terrible mistake. He expressed this concept numerous times at Agudah conventions, as well.

    Daas Baal Habayis Heppich Torah.

  21. If it doesn’t work as a kiruv tool, it will be abandoned in due course.

    Also, there was indeed kiruv before and concurrent with Chabad’s efforts. No one needs to be like those Russians who claimed that Russians invented everything.

    Anyway, some tactics of some Chabad emissaries are not great ideas (e.g., freely available alcoholic drinks, winking at driving to Shabbos services).

  22. This video is not meant for you and me. It is for the assimilated kids who understand it. What does shock me is some of so-called “Jewish” music. The music is a disgrace with the english and yiddish lyrics. It is nothing more than Jewish rap and should be banned. Even the Hebrew songs are not songs I want my children to sing. They should be banned, not this video. Our children will not see it anyway. What happened to haimishe music?

  23. matzav,
    alot of frum kids go onto as it is considered a “kosher” website. please take down the link – i wouldn’t want my kids seeing this (and copying the dancing etc…)

  24. How is this any different than what passes for music at many of today’s chassunahs?

    Except that the video was LESS vulgar, LESS primitive, and LESS tasteless.

  25. BT’s are often bitter that the “olam” that was represented to them during kiruv was not the olam they experienced after doing teshuva. It’s just sheker to showcase yiddishkeit as something it is not.

  26. absolutly a discrace to yiddishkeit!
    you can not be mekarev people by showing them that it is ok to act as GOYIM. and while the music by weddings nowadays might not be the best, its far better than this.
    these people are taking Jewish words and poluting them!

  27. So it’s OK to mimic Greek culture in order to attract Jewish Greeks back to the Jewish culture (Chanuka) while the frum kids will now mimic this Greek culture video. I agree with #8.

  28. And while on the subject . . . what about things like Chillul Shabbos gatherings like:

    NJOP The 16th Annual Shabbat Across America and Canada

    On March 2, 2012, hundreds of synagogues and Jewish Centers across the continent will host thousands of unaffiliated and marginally affiliated Jews, as well as their own members, in an **evening** meant to unify and inspire.

    Not a Shabbos WEEKEND – an EVENING . . . they drive home afterwards. Does anyone really believe that they’ll be so inspired during the Friday night program that they will change their plans and stay for Shabbos? Maybe they will show the above Chanukah video and that will make instant baal teshuva’s out of them?

    Again Yotzeh s’chara b’hefseido!

  29. Distasteful??? I’ve seen much worse!!!!!

    At first I thought that it was a bit cheezy, like weak performance, but gevalt if you consider all the songs they “covered”- not a bad job.

    Your general point is very STRONG- that SOMETIMES for the sake of kiruv things are done that are completely in-line with Torah. the application to this video in my opinion -is weak

  30. This discussion of ends justifying means is based on the assumption that the end will be kiruv rechokim which in my experience in Kiruv is so far from the truth.

    People are moved to observance bec. they are inspired by our purity and higher character.

    Another big mistake is the notion in kiruv circles that the average non-observant is currently following the hip/pop culture represented in this clip. Unfortunately it’s our sudden exposure thru the internet that makes us think that this what everyone is busy with, the average 9-5er is not so enthralled by those overtly inappropriate hip maneuvers.

    Thanks for shining the spotlight on this problem.

  31. I dont think this video is indicative of Kiruv at all. Here is the reason:

    This video is so utterly stupid, it is coming off to me as a mockery of frei yidden and the cultures they may be enveloped in, as seen by these vidiots.

    Dont underestimate frei yidden. There are idiots on both sides of the fence and people with a lot on the ball, too, on both sides of the fence.

  32. Sure this video may not be appropriate for Lakewood or Boro Park . But what about those among Jewry so estranged from Judaism that only the music attracts them. Remember how successful the Macabeats were last year with their Chanuka song?
    Also what exactly was wrong with this video anyway other than in some broardly ideological manner?

  33. this video does no good.It gives the mistaken opinion of yiddihkeit.It does not entice those potential baalei tshuvah who want something different from what they see in the outside world.

  34. You are nothing but a selfish complainer and trying to make us look bad. You must learn to be a good little man and sweep things under the carpet.

  35. Hi,

    This post is for comment #27.

    I quote:

    “Anyway, some tactics of some Chabad emissaries are not great ideas (e.g., freely available alcoholic drinks, winking at driving to Shabbos services).”

    These claims are untrue. Chabad is Nizhar bekalo kevachamura – Kashrus (Cholov and Pas Akum included), Shabbos is unquestionable period.

    About alcohol, Chabad’s policy is very clear that we do not serve to under aged.

    Be careful what you write (especially if you have no basis and it is untrue), you never know where it will end up….

  36. The famous Mashgiach R’ Meir Chodosh z”l was asked about whether it is OK to be mekarev by using standards of the ones you want to be mekarev. He said no. You have to maintain your standards and not compromise by appearing to be like them. In that case he was asked about the clothes you wear, but I am sure he would have included this video as well.

  37. The strategy behind these films is to create something that would reach totally unaffiliated Jews who have essentially no interest in Judaism. To do that, we need to create out-of-the-box films that they would consider to be cool and entertaining, so they will go viral and be forwarded from friend to friend, and get exposure as well in mainstream media.

    The primary goal of a film like this is to get people to visit the website, where we have a treasure trove of articles and films that explore the deeper Torah-based meaning of our Chagim. Further, we encourage them to sign up for our weekly email list, which enables us to communicate with them in an ongoing way. has an impressive track record in outreach. Our recent user’s survey showed that over 80% of non-frum Jews told us that has given them a better understanding of Judaism and has increased their sense of Jewish pride. 59% said they have increased their Jewish observance.

    Once we get that person’s attention, it’s just a small step to click onto That’s how the Internet works and that is a very powerful avenue for front line kiruv.

    At the same time, we are careful to maintain standards of decorum and halacha, asking for guidelines from the Rosh Yeshiva of Aish HaTorah and other gedolei poskim who we frequently consult with.

    One cannot judge the content of these films from a frum perspective, because they are not made for that audience. (Indeed, a frum person should find viral films like these vapid and meaningless. It’s not at all geared for them. In fact, it’s surprising that frum people are even taking out a few minutes to watch them.) But for the not-yet-frum Jew, the film actually has some meaning and contains an inspiring message that uniquely speaks to them..

    As evidence from the comments these films are receiving, and the enormous reaction to the film, it breaks down the misconception that religious Jews don’t know how to enjoy life and are overly serious and droll. They see a clip of Jews who are upbeat and know how to celebrate life.

    Beyond this, the lyrics speak to the meaning of various Chagim. The lyrics of our Rosh HaShana film show the importance of asking questions about the purpose in life, and how people can undergo true change. (“We’re the Jews and we question… Taking stock is what we do tonight… Let’s all get written in the Book of Life.”) The lyrics are printed below the video, and there is even “closed caption” feature that enables people to view the lyrics along with the film.

    The proof is in the pudding. We have never received such positive responses from the mainstream Israeli press, which is traditionally so anti-religious. They love the positive message, and the fact that a yeshiva is reaching out and producing something inspiring and uplifting for the public. Ynet, the number one source for Israeli news, featured the film on their front page, and wrote: “This film is how you make Judaism that speaks to everyone.”

    The problem of assimilation urgently needs to be addressed, and these films are some of the best ideas we’v come up with to achieve this. Early results show that we have been successful. And the frum Jew can think about his friends, co-workers, neighbors or even relatives who might relate to these movies and forward them on.

    Lastly, if you have a better idea on how to create a cutting edge film that can receive a million visits and reach the masses of unaffiliated Jews, we would love to hear your idea and help you make it happen.

  38. I too was disgusted when I saw this video. VERY DISGUSTED!!

    I sent the organization this email two days ago:

    “I was completely disgusted watching your new Chanukah video. And my young child was watching it with me. I expected better from you.

    All I can say is that “the Greeks have won”!!

    How does a frum organization put out such a video, all in name of “KIRUV?

    Bring them up to our level. Don’t sink to their’s!!

    This video was produced in a completely non-Jewish fashion. You should be ashamed of yourselves.

    Your material has been progressively sinking lower and lower. They has unfortunately lost their leader. They are no running without one and it has been becoming more and more obvious. This video is the worst thing I have seen so far.

    You guys need a leader and a Daas Torah before you sink any lower.


    I am still waiting for their response…

  39. enough excuses. We are awaiting an apology from the producers for making such a video and then justifying it. No one – no one – would back this kind of production. I don’t want to get specific, but believe me.

  40. hollywood ca do afar superior job all you have accomplished is to show that you are a very poor immitator if you cant attract with toradig hashkofos you have failed stick to the “paisure ” of the 48 ways where every other word is pleasure

  41. Mr. Producer:

    You write “As evidence from the comments these films are receiving, and the enormous reaction to the film, it breaks down the misconception that religious Jews don’t know how to enjoy life and are overly serious and droll. They see a clip of Jews who are upbeat and know how to celebrate life.”

    It would seem that you can use a dose of kiruv yourself.

    Frum Yidden do not “enjoy life” because of the empty “enjoyment” shown in this video. We are an “am medushnei oneg”. We are full of pleasure from Torah and Mitzvos. Not from any other empty, short lived pleasures.

    These Jews in the video HAVE KNOW IDEA how to enjoy life!! I don’t even understand how you can make such a claim!! This entire video is an enormous misconception. This not the type of life enjoyment we frum jews truly enjoy.

    You say “We have never received such positive responses from the mainstream Israeli press, which is traditionally so anti-religious. They love the positive message..”

    Of course they love this message. They appreciate anything that goes against Daas Torah!!

    Don’t bring proof from Ynet’s haskomoh. Speak to the Gedolim and see what they say!! Give us names of Gedolim, not the Israeli press!!

  42. I loved it! Keeps people busy with things that are not dangerous or against halacha. I could think of a lot worse things that they can be doing. I watched it on mute (some of us don’t listen to music because of what R’ Moshe and others hold about music in regard to zechor lemikdash), but it keeps bachurim busy with a harmless outlet.

  43. One could predict who would like it and who would be offended by it as the usual cast of characters offer their responces. For those who have a problem with it; how you see the problem, is the problem. Meaning from your vantage pointit is problematic. But remember these videos are not for you. What Ido find problematic is how vicious the ney sayers are. They are the ones have never been mekarev anyone. Most of the time these are the people who push many away with their closed mindedness, immaturity and anger.

  44. “About alcohol, Chabad’s policy is very clear that we do not serve to under aged.”

    I said nothing about underaged. It’s not good to get legal drinkers drunk either.

    As for attendance at Shabbos services by Jews known to drive there—show me how Chabad tries hard to prevent this.

  45. the real issue is not the style or substance of the video – there is a sevara that it may need to attract a certain audience – the ONLY issue is that this organisation has no real heavyweight Da’as Troah to guide it – When they had R’ Noach ZTl it was a ‘Halbe Tzara’ – but now, they are incredibly well-meaning, and care passionately for Torah, but (lehavdil) like Neturay Karta – they are suffering from a simple malady – not being Nichna to true Da’as Torah!!

    its a modern phenomenon that cuts across the board. to name a few examples;

    1. the louts who created an incredible Chilul Hashem in RBS by demonstrating against the more modern girls school

    2. the ‘taliban women’ in EY, currently defying the Badatz and practically every other Godol to do their ‘own thing’ in regard to Tznius (shawls, veisl, etc!!)

    3. The ‘Sikrikim’ in Yerushalayim, resorting to incredible physical violence in Meah Shearim ((the Batey Varsha parsha)

    etc etc – it is a Dor tht thinks it knows better than its Gedolim

    Hashem Yerachem!

  46. I am a pretty open person, but kiruv does go too far sometimes. I actually thought the Rosh Hashana video was worse because the Yomin Noraim are such serious occasions and the video made light of that.The truth is that Chabad also went too far sometimes. 40 years ago we asked our teacher, whose husband is quite high up in Lubavitch, about the Chabad campain. of P.O.T=Put On Tefillina and L.S.D.= Let’s Start Dovening. She wisely answered that she was against this tactic and that Kiruv should be about bringing the unaffiliated up to a higher level, not to lower Yiddishkeit to their level.
    However, there are Kiruv professionals who say these methods produce real results. So, the debate continues…

  47. To the producers: I love it! I am trying to be mekarev someone who is totally unafilliated, for quite some time now. I have sent him some of your clips in the past, but I am very selective. I have to feel that he will be able to relate on a visceral level, and that it will really have an impact on him. When I saw this one, I said to myself, “Wow! This one is sure to have a major impact!” Keep producing more like this one. Thank you.
    To everyone else, Aish Hatorah does amazing work in kiruv and they are under the guidance of leading Rabbonim. Their track record of success in being mekarev multitudes speaks for itself.

  48. As someone involved in Kiruv who has no appreciation for the video, I can state with confidence that this would not be sanctioned by many others in the field. I only wonder why you title the article, “Has Kiruv Gone Too Far” when it should read, “Has [ABC Organization] Gone Too Far.”
    This is what they do – not all mekarvim are guilty of this.

  49. I appreciate where you are coming from and I understand the purpose you are trying to accomplish, but I think you are missing the boat a little bit. The Torah sells itself and if you think that a video like this is needed in order to “sell” Judaism than you have missed the boat. If you want to dispel the misconception that Frum Jews don’t know how to enjoy life, invite them to your house for a Shabbos or show them a Frum wedding. Another point I want to make is that , while this video was professional and and well-produced, it is not as professional and well-produced as your standard music video out there. At the same time that you’re choosing to highlight “we can do it too” you’re also highlighting the message that “we can do it too but not well ENOUGH” which may only further strengthen some of the misconceptions they may have. Why not instead highlight something else positive and truly KOSHER in Yiddishkeit with the message of “we can do it too, and even BETTER.”

  50. You can’t say what may bring someone to consider Judaism. If you view this as a starting point, something to peek the interest of the unreligious, then it’s ok. I heard there were a group on motorcycles doing kiruv — whatever it takes to get the unaffiliated interested, as long as it doesn’t stop there.

  51. to #47

    please call a spade a spade. Chabad encourages the oilam to come to morning minchah, er, shacharis services,and to shabbattons, knowing they will drive. Yes, there might be a disclaimer of “we’ll put you up for shabbos”, but they will drive. If you hold this is mutar, fine. But this is the reality.
    It’s pashut that alcohol is encouraged and is a main focal point of chabad culture. Yes, this problem is not unique to chabad. But this is the reality.

  52. I am also “in kiruv” – the explanation by the producers has assuaged most of my reservations. Let the naysayers protest by inviting a non-frumer to their hadlakas neiros, sing together leibedik with your family, and have a latke dinner after that. Then we won’t need these videos anymore

  53. A really enlightening series of comments – some people here (although not all) are really thinking.

    But no one has answered my most important question: Why can’t I go to a chasuna without getting my eardrums broken? Why does the music sound just like mainstream rock escept the words are Hebrew? Why, even if I bring earplugs, do I have to go home with a headache?

    If you don’t like the old sing-along favorites, there’s always klezmer or Sephardi. Why do I have to listen to music lifted – sometimes literally stolen – from secular rock?

  54. Its called shtus lkedusha. Its a fine line but when you take shtushkeit like goyish songs and change them to teach Yidishkeit they become Jewish. As a reader and post of this site I am sure yhou are familiar that regular cows become Torahs when they are transformed, from a farm animal to the most holy. Thats what yidden do we take physical and make them holy

  55. you are not on the front lines, you have not accepted upon yourselves the holy task of reaching Jews and you do not know how to reach the Jews who are most at risk of getting lost. They are. They made this film, as many readers understand to get the attention of those hundreds of thousands of Jews who would not otherwise LOOK at Judaism. Don’t judge them till you stand in their shoes and most don’t have the guts to do that. But they sure invite anyone who is moved to save Jews to join them, get the training needed and get placed “on the front”.

  56. #49 from the producers is a very valid response to a video that seem wrong to me at first glance but highlites the point that the average frum jew cant connect to our estranged brothers on there level we are totally uneducated in the nuances of there culture maybe aish should be doing some get to understand the irreligious community classes in the frum world so we can more effectively awaken the sleeping giant!!


  58. To the producers:

    I usually enjoy good music, but this was disgusting. I shut it after 2 seconds of listening. Thank goodness I did.
    Why don’t you release a video of how you will give marijuana? That will surely attract secular and OTD teens. And you’ll show them that practicing Jews are cool, and we also do stuff. It’ll just get them to click your website button.

  59. Those in Kiruv should attract the non-Frum Jews, with AUTHENTIC Yiddishkeit, which is holy;

    not this Goyish version of “Shtick.”

  60. #49
    ‘The proof is in the pudding. We have never received such positive responses from the mainstream Israeli press, which is traditionally so anti-religious. They love the positive message, and the fact that a yeshiva is reaching out and producing something inspiring and uplifting for the public. Ynet, the number one source for Israeli news, featured the film on their front page, and wrote: “This film is how you make Judaism that speaks to everyone.”’

    couldn’t have said it better.If the Israeli media(who are no fools) approve,you’re in worse shape than it seems.

  61. I saw maybe 30 seconds of this video before I turned it off. It was revolting, to say the least – stupid and nauseating, as expressed above. I would watch —- —- before I watch this. At least there is no mockery of sacred things. What were these people thinking?

    As an editor (and a baalas teshuva)involved in Orthodox media, I frequently come across these sophomoric attempts to sound hip. People don’t realize that certain things just don’t mix. Western techniques can be integrated–but only up to a certain point. Not when the essence of Judaism is diluted. Somehow “disco Rabbi” doesn’t cut it.

    Would people think of dancing during a Kol Nidre service? Chas veshalom! But that is what this is like.

  62. This all can be classified as what has become known as “Heter Kiruv”. Loosely explained it means one can do whatever he wants for the sake of kiruv.

  63. Come on! Everybody posting negative comments needs to get down off their holier-than thou high horses and chill out a little bit. Really.

  64. It’s a Modern Orthodox group of kids performing for each other and non-affiliates of orthodoxy. It’s not as if they’re trying to ‘convert’ you to their lifestyle. Let it go.

  65. 1. Based on the response of the producers, this is not about “appropriate Kiruv”, it is about “appropriate ways to publicize a website that does Kiruv”.

    2. Did you consider that the dancers are very much a part of the culture that they are portraying? They have become more religious but have been guided by gedolim not to give up that gift of expression. They need to keep their personalities. Beyond our sensibilities, they are doing nothing wrong in reaching out to their peers and former peers in the way that they know best. Aish is supporting them.

    3. For the record, I have shared the video with some non-religious Jews including ones who look somewhat like the people in the video. I think that it is an entertaining video to share but not necessarily inspiring or life-altering.

  66. What validates this expression overall is the simple fact that all of the men in the video had tzitzis which is of course, Jewish law.
    If even one jew decides to live with tzitzis, thats great.
    Another positive is that not every person in every scene wore the restrictive black attire and black hat motif which to me really says that there is a disconnected culture from mainstream judaism and main modern day societies.
    And to think that there are jews out there seeing other jews wearing tzitzis and dancing and enjoying their attire in that sense is positive in my view.
    As for the music. It was fun. I am sure that the youth will have fun with this. We are not all locked into a particular paradigm in life and of course, there is always that positive threshold of new expression.
    I applaud the makers of this video, although I admit, I am not ever the type to dance in that expressive style. I guess that was not how I was created, but appearantly as from the evidence of this video, many yidden are in truth created with an expressive style and in my views it is how we are created and thus it is in our interests as Jews to have this outlet for that expressivitiy.
    Good job.

  67. Kiruv has not gone too far. In some instances, people go overboard in their attempts to attract other Jews. If the point is to get Jews to their site so they can explore other videos and articles that have more tochein, it’s working.
    If the dancers are actually students at Aish, kol hakavod to them for using their background and talent to attract other Jews to the treasure they have found.

    As a someone in the field, I agree with most of what the producers say and appreciate their addressing my concerns.
    As for the last line, the challenge for ideas. Look at the Maccabeats (no doubt what they are trying to recreate) The words of their candlelight song tell the story of chanuka with an emphasis on “back to Torah learning” The singing and dancing is done in an aidel manner and the video is very professional. Yes, it’s a goyish tune and yes, I would rather hear Jewish music, but they reached 5,000,000 people and many people who I am involved with learned more about the neis than ever before. Talk about Pirsumei nissa.

  68. Although I, personally do not enjoy this kind of dancing and singing and think that people should be brought up to Torah and Mitzvos rather than have Torah and Mitzvos brought down to their level, if there is substantial evidence that this mode of expression speaks to unaffiliated Jews, then use the medium. However, yiddishkeit should be portrayed as something beautiful and spiritual, a choice that will bring more meaning to a person’s life. Intelligent people must realize that today’s entertainment is void of meaning and is just that – entertainment. Why would we want to try and compete with such emptiness?

  69. I see nothing Jewish about the video. Any ‘Jewish’ message is difficult to extract. I highly applaud the efforts to encourage students to express themselves, and to find content that will appeal to the unaffiliated.

    Unfortunately, I do need to protest that the quality has fallen far with this video. Chanuka is all about retaining our unique closeness to Hashem and his Mitzvos in the face of secular enticement. This video falls right into the category of embracing ‘Greek’ culture. This is the exact opposite of Chanuka, and is a painful depiction that missed how Torah Observant Jews can rise high.

    Maccabi stood for calling out in Hashem’s name, not calling out who can remember pop culture from years back. Show them beautiful gems of Torah ideas. Charles Harari does a great job speaking to today’s generation.

    I thought students at Aish were attracted by the Kedusha of a Shabbos Meal or inspiring Torah lecture. I don’t remember seeing R’ Noach resorting to secular antics in his videos, to be M’karev. I highly doubt he would have let this idea get off the concept board.

    May Hashem help you regain the leadership and guidance lost. You do so much good otherwise L’kovod Shamayim and for lost Neshomos.

    Hatzlocho regaining your Golden Crown; so your location adjacent the Har Habayis will be coveted Real Estate for Greeting Moshiach, Bimhara B’yomeinu.

    HKB”H: Why? Why must our citadels stumble before you show the world your Light?

  70. I want to give a sincere thank you to Matzav for posting this! I have already shared this awesome video with many people! Thanks to you Matzav it will now go viral! By now I am sure many thousands have seen it!

    Seriously thank you Matzav for posting this fabulous video! I wouldn’t have known about it otherwise!

  71. Tens of thousands of Jews estranged from their heritage? Sadly, it’s probably actually in the millions, considering an estimated 10 percent of world Jewry is said to be Orthodox.

  72. Thanks, producers, for weighing in. Now this discussion is somewhat productive.

    But since we have your ears, producers, gotta say, while I don’t find it at all offensive it’s a bit, well, kitschy. I’m going to go to soon to read the comments: I’m curious what people actually thought of it. Not in the judgmental, global “has kiruv gone too far” sense, but just in the sense of evaluating the project.

    Tizku l’mitzvos and may we soon see the fulfillment of “veheishiv lev avos” and “umalah ha’aretz dai’ah es Hashem.”

  73. To chizuk lover and others. There are no women singing in this video. It is the same singer. He is dressed not like a woman but like the leader singer of the band Journey that originally made the song.

    That is what makes this video so an incredible parody while telling the story of Chanukah.





  75. I agree that lewd music and dancing shouldn’t be used to promote Judaism, but that isn’t the case here.

    The songs being parodied include Great Balls of Fire (1957), Twist and Shout (1962), Born To Be Wild (1967), Stayin’ Alive (1977), and U [sic] Can’t Touch This (1990). In other words, the oldies.

    The dancing includes the twist (1961), the swim (1964), and a bit of mild break dancing. It’s gratifying to see that Jewish kids are fit and graceful enough to do the latter, albeit not as well as black kids (who after all invented that type of dancing).

    All the performers are male and fully dressed.

    The problem with the video is that it’s silly and really not hip at all. Anyone who would dig it would really be L7. Oops, is my slang a little out of date?

  76. Every single naysayer bar none in this entire comment thread is an absolute hypocrite. You are the one’s destroying the world. Oy l’eiynayim shekach ro’yos.

  77. i think this video is very good for who it was made for. it was not made for the frum crowd, it was made for the non frum crowd. the people who made the video didnt expose themselves to the music just to make the video.
    by posting this video on frum websites and not just on where i first saw it is actually doing the wrong thing with this video and i belive you are now the one doing the wrong thing.

  78. When I read through this very very long thread of comments, the negativity is overwhelming.
    the holiest and purest thing I see on this whole thing is the video made to try to reach the millions of lost souls that the frum velte has written off and couldn’t care less about.

  79. As a BT who was mekareved by Chabad without music videos, a cappella songs and snappy 1-minute feel-good clips, I must admit that today is much, much different from a decade ago.

    Moshiach is on His way and so the final tikkun of our collective neshamas is to do teshuva. This Aish video gets passed along like hotcakes on Facebook and Jews are lapping it up.

    I’m with Aish on this one. It’s always easy to find criticism in the details (we’re Jews, aren’t we?), but like the producer says, if just one Jew clicks on the Aish website and checks it out, that’s one neshama THAT much closer to being home.

  80. #50.I was watching this with my little child!If you are so Torah-dik,what on earth are you doing on the internet with a little child?.NO godol allowed that!
    And if you thought it was SO bad-so stop watching!.It’s like the hypocrites “look at that pritsus,it’s SO disgusting”.
    It was not made for you.Why do you insist on peeking into a world not shayach to you and hurrumfing how bad it is -noch with a little child.
    If ONE jew became frum from this-will you take the achrayus and say you know that it was not worth it chass vesholom!Will anyone on this forum say that they are so sure that it is worth the pikuach nefesh of NOT showing it.And yes ,it IS pikuach nefesh.The producers have told us that it is bringing people in.
    Punkt Farkert!You need a godol batoroh to say that it is NOT worth taking a chance with such a video,not minisculed visioned balabatim.

  81. I wonder, Baal Habos, are there any methods or circumstances that are inappropriate when it comes to bringing spirituality and heritage to an assimilated Jew?


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