1/23/2007

School Prayer

Being a campus rabbi differs so greatly from being a high school or yeshiva/seminary rabbi because , basically, you have no power. That's not necessarily a bad thing. For many students, I was the first rabbi they ever spoke to because they wanted to - not because their parents made them or because they had the power to detain, expel, or give a grade to them. Every single one of the 300+ students who sat at my Shabbos table during those two years was there because they wanted to be there, chose to be there.

It seems that many educators have trouble breaking out of the paradigm of compulsory religion (aka kfiyah datit), even when they are working with college students. I think it's very risky to do that, and I tend to doubt that it works in the long run.

Case in point - I tend to doubt that making attendance at minyan a requirement for Mechina students will truly encourage minyan attendance for those with no desire to attend minyan in the first place. In their eyes, this requirement is draconian. Perhaps, in fairness, the point here is to weed out those who have no interest in attending minyan. For those who wish to attend but have trouble waking in the morning, like me or like everyone, this could be an excellent motivator.
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