We endeavor to have beautiful homes, expansive backyards, impressive landscaping, and more. We want synagogues near our homes, kosher food stores, yeshivas, and other religious institutions that we can utilize as our families grow and develop. Our religious life really doesn’t distinguish us in any real discernible way. The male adults and children wear yarmulkes, but that has long been accepted as part of the everyday scenery here in New York. Our wives and daughters may dress a little more modestly, as required, and they may be seen dressed in well-tailored suits and possibly even hats on Saturday morning or midday even when the temperatures reach 90 degrees or more outside.This is truly a sad statement of what suburban Orthodoxy is all about. To “endeavor” means to strive for. Earlier this week I posted R’ Wosner’s beautiful derasha on shmita as a reminder that work is not an end in itself but just a means to providing the necessities of life needed for avodas Hashem. I don’t see how anyone can delude themselves into thinking that striving for an expansive landscaped backyard conforms to values like histapkus b’mu’at or is a necessity for avodas Hashem. Since when is Orthodox Judaism about striving for luxuries like these, "and more"?! Of course, if this is your version of Orthodoxy it is no wonder it does not distinguish you “in any real discernable way” from the rest of the world caught up in keeping up with the Joneses (or Cohens, as the case may be), working late to get ahead of the next guy at work, having the best car on the block, the best house, the nicest lawn.
The point of the editorial was that living an orthodox lifestyle is not an obstacle to participating in the civic functions of our town because of our integration and lack of discernable differences. I would hope that as orthodox jews we could davka tout our distinctiveness - our higher code of ethics, modesty, and integrity, all of which inspire civic good for the benefit of all.
I have little fear that if left unsupervised my kids will eat at McDonalds or break Shabbos to be more like the society around them. I have far greater fear of their being led astray by the dangerous sway of the "orthodoxy" this article respresents.