Modern orthodoxy has changed in recent years, back when I was growing up modern orthodox pretty much encompassed everyone I knew besides my ultra orthodox cousins in Monsey. We wore shorts and T-shirts on shabbos while playing ball in the afternoons, we went to movies concerts and even watched TV on Saturday afternoons when my father was learning in shull, carrying on shabbos was totally cool and there was absolutely nothing wrong with having a girlfriend. In shull the women and men even though they weren’t married kissed each other on the cheeks and on simchas torah the women danced with the torahs. We ate out milchigs on our ski trips to Vermont and everyone else did too.
Times have changed, now within modern orthodoxy there are classes and tons of differences. The above still exists, but now there is something called Modern orthodox machmir or modern ORTHODOX as some dating sites refer to it as. It’s a totally new breed of Jew. It takes the modern orthodox philosophies throws it in a blender with some YU graduate who married a bais yaakov girl who reblled after her BJJ seminary days and went to Stern or Queens College, maybe throw in some time spent at some NCSY kollel, machach, camp Hasc, maybe some trips to Eichlers to check out some sephorim, maybe spent some time reading the Yated at your cousins in Lakewood and then went to Skvere Rebbe for a Bracha, press the puree button on your cuisine art blender and don’t forget to check the blueberries for bugs and walla, a true modern ORTHODOX machmir Jew is born.
Its like a hybrid breed, maybe its genetically engineered, it never used to be that black hatters listened to secular music, wore white keepa sruga’s under their black hats and wore their tzitzis yeshivish style even while wearing a t-shirt and khakis. These hybrid yidden tend to live in Washington Heights, some small clusters of them reside on the Upper West Side, though it seems that this area is trying to prevent the influx of them by keeping the costs high and the ability to meet frummies low. The MODERN orthodox singles have gentrified the Upper West Side of these hybrd Jews trying to hold down the fort and prevent a possible vote to make the mechitza higher at the Jewish Center, the UWS singles scene fears the modern OROTHODOX philosophy and wishes to retain their stats as tefilin date capital of the world. Other places where this strange breed of Jew exists are Teanack, Passaic, Kew Garden Hills, and Far Rockaway. They stay close and remain friends with the same people they went to Yeshiva University or Touro with.
Modern orthodox machmir have many aliases, they are also known as, YU to the right, Young Israel Yeshivish, black and white yarmulke wearers, born again MO Libs, frum but with it, ring wing modern, frum but go to movies, frum without being too frummy, the Rav’s Chasidim- even though the Rav is the founder of this movement.
These modern ORTHODOX people tend to read the Jewish Press and attend every single rally that has to do with Israel. They tend to be extremely Zionistic and try to daven like Israelis pronouncing the suf like a tuf, but it doesn’t flow and they just sound like idiots or BT wannabes. My friend even attended a school in Detroit and he said that while learning gemara his Rebbe would constantly correct him when he did not say Te instead of Se, he got so mad that he yelled at him and said “I’ll tay it how I wanna tay it”.
In order to remain in this movement you also have to try and sound semi-yeshivish sometimes and use words like betach, and lav dafka or mamish. These words are of the neutral type. They aren’t so far right like shayich, and nishka freilich, but they still make the sayee sound more frum, without being too black hat. This group also tends to be friendly towards Lubavitch- which is one of the main ways you can tell the difference between them. They tend to have Tanya’s and other Lubavitch seforim adorning their shelves and although I know the real yeshivish people will judge them even more, I have even seen the Rebbe picture sitting side by side with pictures of Rav Shach and Rav Elyashav. I know it sounds heretical to some, but I kind of like the diversity.
These modern orthodx machmir people seem to base their whole religion on being shmer negia. Its all they talk about, besides that they cant wait for the NCSY reunion or memories from camps Moshava and Mesorah. They love this topic, I think because many of them might be born agains, although it may be a fact that the nerdiest of all frum groups is the modern orthodox machmir crowd. Its just the way it is.
Of course this group is not that new its been around for years. It just seems that the largest part of the group are these new hybrids that have upward social mobility from the lower environs of the MODERN orthodox and have finally been able to set their sites on RAL orthodoxy as many will say- though I disagree. The older modern orthodox machmir crowd tend to also fall into “ask shifra’s” category of “oldschool orthodox” Rabbis with college educations, mixed seating at all events, going to movies and having non-Jewish friends.
It is however possible that the new version of modern ORTHODOXY happens to be made up of this young generation, and that we should try to place these older modern OROTHODX into a different category, precisely what old school orthodox was created for. This will be talked about in future postings.
These new school modern Jews also tend to shy away from secular music, it might be because they are nerds, but they tend to listen to bands like Simply Tzfat, Blue Fringe, Matisyahu, Hadag Nachash, Noche Krohn, and maybe a sprinkling of Shweky type stuff- though that may be for the Yeshivish Modern.
Their shulls tend to be the same as MODERN orthodox in terms of mechitza height and interaction with men and women in the Kiddush room usually called the social hall. Kiddush clubs are not too popular so too talking in shull, which may set the machmir from the liberal apart. The shabbos davening tends to have a “frum” feel, people know the brachos for the torah by heart unlike those who are more liberal and have to use the cheat sheet. Unlike yeshivish shulls a very main distinction would be the singing of the complete licha dodi, without that annoying stopping and saying it to yourself and then eydididying along with the chazzan while he sings it. Also more singing is readily recognized along with the “Carlebach” style of kabalos shabbos- becoming very popular with the modern orthodox crowd all around.
The food is the main problem, they aren’t as frum as the yeshiva crowds so they tend not to serve only brown foods, but unlike the modern liberal crowd they also tend to be less familiar with the culinary arts, and tend to poorer anyway. We have to assume that homemade gefilte fish as well as oily crunchy potato kugel will be absent, as well as spinach salad and bok choy salads. Israeli salads and sabra chumous tend to be the fare at least based on my experiences as well as simple staples like chicken schnitzel and rather tasteless cholent. There is of course a sliding scale for cholent. As a rule the frummer you are the better your cholent, but it also has to do with what yeshiva you went to. I have noticed that folks who went to Ner Yisroel have way better cholent making skills then those who attended Lakewood- what if they changed the classic shidduch question to- How potent is your cholent? Then they can totally base how good the cholent is based on the yeshiva. A very good roundabout question for such a sensitive subject.
Sushi is kind of like the song dayenu. Across the board it’s the only nugun that every sect and religious level of Jews sings the same tune for, so to by sushi, its not just for those fancy Upper West siders anymore. Every frummy restaurant has a sushi bar no matter if it’s a pizza store or Barbeque joint.
These hybrid Jews also love TV, they love a show called Greys Anatomy- I don’t have a TV and care not to know what it is about- it seems that everyone loves this show. They all have coed super bowl parties. They tend to ignore the halachos of yichud, even though shomer negia is so talked about. It is interesting because although everyone is shomer negia they still rock the hooker boots and tight skirts, so I guess tznius and shomer negia aren’t hand in hand- kind of like Lubbies I guess. The women tend to be feminist- interesting because many have attended or have a roommate that went to Barnard. Feminist for instance, I was at a thanksgiving meal of the modern machmir type and I said something that used the word “chicks”, half the table turned around in one motion and said in unison “chicks!!!, what do you mean by chicks???”
Speaking of Thanksgiving, it is celebrated on Thursday unlike the frummer looking crowd that celebrates it by having a turkey dinner on Friday night. These Jews also know when Valentines Day is and might even buy cards for their friends. How about magazines, I have noticed folks who consider themselves frum modern machmir still read maxim or the sports illustrated swimsuit issue as well as rolling stone and entertainment weekly. The liberal crowds tend to not see the harm in this, whole the frummies tend to limit their secular magazine choices to time and US news with the untznius ads cut out and of course the old reader’s digests piled high on the side of the toilet.
It also seems though I may be incorrect like I am many times, that the modern ORTHODOX girls are way frummer then the guys. The guys tend to cross pollinate with the 612 mitzvadox category that I coined in the great big category post a few months ago. Generally folks who are shomer mitzvoth besides for sex. They tend to dress and act frum, but cant seem to give up on sex, understandably. Usually these 612 mitzvahdox folks are pimps and cant help but be chick magnets.
In terms of really judging the best way is according to yarmulke style as we all know. These Jews tend to wear black knit, white knit and black suede depending on their level within the ranks of machmirness. It is not uncommon to find black hat wearers within this community, usually chofetz chaim types that went to YU, although there are many keepa sruga wearers that don that black hat for davening- fooling the casual judger until the hat comes off, I catch myself all the time, judging someone as yeshivish only to learn that they lack the black velvet yarmulke which means they cannot be yeshivish and must be modern ORTHODOX.