Thursday, November 24, 2005

The Equalizing Nature of Judaism

I fear if I don’t commit this to “paper” it will be lost forever, as my turkey coma is coming on strong. The turkey, incidentally, came out beautifully minus a broken ankle.

In undergrad I studied, amongst other things, sociology. I was never much impressed with this field, as its principle insights come from other disciplines to be examined by scholars without training in the disciplines they either critique use to bolster their thesis.

One of my classes focused on the sociological effects the economic structure in the United States. The class was pretty straightforward hardcore socialism- Marx and Engel made up the bulk of the reading. In analyzing the “two Americas” concept, the class studied the divide between the rich and the poor and how that divide affects the social structure of social life.

Much is made about the disparity in the quality of education received by the rich, in their ritzy private schools and that received by the poor sods in public schools. Judaism, however, does not have this problem. While at the extreme margins it is possible to imagine a really rich religious child who receives private tutoring and an extremely poor religious child whose family is so destitute that he is sent to public school, in most instances Yeshivas are a melting pot of the rich and the poor.

Although the UO community has a rigid, albeit informal, social hierarchy, the Yeshiva system serves an important equalizing factor in education.

There, I’ve said something positive about ultra Orthodoxy and feel free to pass this along to any sociology students looking for an easy dissertation. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have tryptophan nightmares.