Why the Modern Orthodox Family Works

According to recent surveys of American Jewish families, the Modern Orthodox are most likely to choose spouses of near-equal levels of income and education. They are also more likely to be married and less likely to get divorced, and on average they have more children than the non-Orthodox. Sylvia Barack Fishman explores what leads to the success of Modern Orthodox family life:

[According to one sociologist], the Jewish calendar creates opportunities for “family life” and “time together.” Participants [in one study] reported that it is precisely the Jewish community and Shabbat that are the primary sources of satisfaction and pleasure in most Modern Orthodox Jews’ lives.

It may very well be that [the necessities of Jewish religious observance] keep lives—and marriages—balanced. Shabbat traditions encourage intimate time for couples after a candle-lit dinner with wine—Friday night is the rabbinic version of “date night.” The long hours of Shabbat afternoons lend themselves to cellphone-free long walks and talks with children. In a session at the 2017 World Congress of Jewish Studies, the social economist Carmel Chiswick suggested that weekly Shabbat observance guarantees time for children, family, and friends—humanizing opportunities often missing in contemporary lives.

This depiction of [Modern Orthodox family life] is critically important today, when younger American Jews are undergoing a marriage crisis, in which only half of Jews ages twenty-five to fifty-four are married or coupled. . . . Some marry later than they intended, and some who had hoped to marry do not. Many women report that they had fewer children than they had hoped to because of delayed marriage and childbearing.

The Modern Orthodox family model of high education, high occupational status, high income—and high fertility—may have implications for all of us diverse American Jews across the denominational spectrum. The statistics of recent studies offer us an important lesson: graduate and professional degrees and impressive jobs need not make marriage during more fertile years and larger families impossible.

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Read more at Forward

More about: American Jewry, Family, Modern Orthodoxy, Religion & Holidays

UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon Risk Their Lives, but Still May Do More Harm Than Good

Jan. 27 2023

Last month an Irish member of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was killed by Hizballah guerrillas who opened fire on his vehicle. To David Schenker, it is likely the peacekeeper was “assassinated” to send “a clear message of Hizballah’s growing hostility toward UNIFIL.” The peacekeeping force has had a presence in south Lebanon since 1978, serving first to maintain calm between Israel and the PLO, and later between Israel and Hizballah. But, Schenker explains, it seems to be accomplishing little in that regard:

In its biannual reports to the Security Council, UNIFIL openly concedes its failure to interdict weapons destined for Hizballah. While the contingent acknowledges allegations of “arms transfers to non-state actors” in Lebanon, i.e., Hizballah, UNIFIL says it’s “not in a position to substantiate” them. Given how ubiquitous UN peacekeepers are in the Hizballah heartland, this perennial failure to observe—let alone appropriate—even a single weapons delivery is a fair measure of the utter failure of UNIFIL’s mission. Regardless, Washington continues to pour hundreds of millions of dollars into this failed enterprise, and its local partner, the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Since 2006, UNIFIL patrols have periodically been subjected to Hizballah roadside bombs in what quickly proved to be a successful effort to discourage the organization proactively from executing its charge. In recent years, though, UN peacekeepers have increasingly been targeted by the terror organization that runs Lebanon, and which tightly controls the region that UNIFIL was set up to secure. The latest UN reports tell a harrowing story of a spike in the pattern of harassment and assaults on the force. . . .

Four decades on, UNIFIL’s mission has clearly become untenable. Not only is the organization ineffective, its deployment serves as a key driver of the economy in south Lebanon, employing and sustaining Hizballah’s supporters and constituents. At $500 million a year—$125 million of which is paid by Washington—the deployment is also expensive. Already, the force is in harm’s way, and during the inevitable next war between Israel and Hizballah, this 10,000-strong contingent will provide the militia with an impressive human shield.

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Read more at Tablet

More about: Hizballah, Lebanon, Peacekeepers, U.S. Foreign policy