The Kiruv Glossary


Are you in the process of getting brainwashed by an Institute for Jewish Wisdom? Is all that mumbo jumbo getting you down as you try to don a black hat a week after being a regular college kid in California?

This handy dandy glossary will provide an explanation for the most common words you’ll probably encounter. Some of them may seem like regular words, but rest assured, they have a special meaning in the Kiruv world.

Aish – the best Kiruv organization ever. Chabad are a bunch of losers who don’t pressure you nearly enough to completely change your life in the course of a month. Ohr Sameach missed out on the key part of becoming a pyramid scheme and convincing the fresh blood to go recruit new victims in turn. Aish has the secret of Jewish leadership: fuck others as they have fucked unto yo.

Answers – we have answers for everything. We’ll tailor them to your specific style. Are you intellectual? We’ve got intellectual answers. Are you an emotional fluffbox? We’ll speak to your heart. Are you asking an actually good question that we don’t have a good answer to? We’ll backtrack a few steps and explain how nothing can be known with absolute certainty; also, no one else ever claimed to experience public revelation, amiright?

Whatever it takes.

Ba’al Teshuva – a unique species of people who deserve all the respect in the world for seeing the error of their ways and returning to God as adults. They come with great stories of how lost they were and what their path to truth was. They will regale you with tails of their shenanigans on the high seas of secularism, and how it definitely wasn’t worth it at all (just meaningless sex, man).

A typical arc for a Ba’al Tehsuva is feeling really great about himself when he’s new to the faith, then getting ignored by the Kiruv establishment once the novelty has worn off (we have newer fish to fry) while getting ostracized by mainstream Orthodoxy for not knowing all the nuanced customs and generally being weird.

It all culminates with deep soul-searching and a redefining of what it means to be religious at around the 20 to 30 year mark, enough time to be completely stuck in that way of life and to have fucked up many others in the process.

Chabad Aish thinks that water can eventually dig a hole through the rock of your hardened secular heart. Chabad knows that vodka works a lot faster.

Divine – what’s better than the shitty world that we see all around us? A fantastically awesome world that we can’t see.

Emotions – ah, those pesky things. Don’t you wish they all just went away? With our help, they can. You’ll learn to conjure up love, happiness, fear, and anger at the exact appropriate times. Live life in total control. Keep that butthole clenched.

Fear – the world is a scary place. Look at all the broken homes. The loss of values. The loneliness. The meaninglessness. Come, settle into our warm embrace. It smells like cholent and smiles in here. We’ve got all the answers, all the systems, and the results you crave. Shhh now, struggling will only make it hurt more.

God – a benevolent father in heaven who makes life really difficult for us because it allows us to grow as people. Also, our ancestor fucked up royally which made things even more difficult than was originally planned, but whose fault is that? Correct, yours. God is perfectly calibrating every part of your day for your optimum benefit, and you can, and should, feel free to talk to him. He will answer you. But the answer might often be no.

Goyim – we’re not saying they’re bad. They have a special place in the world to come – serving us as dirt under our feet. We’re also not saying we’re better than them: everyone has a responsibility in this world, everyone is a necessary cog in the machine. We just happen to be the captains of this ship and they are the mechanics (and isn’t it funny that they are so mechanically inclined? Insert a Jew in Home Depot Joke). So what we’re saying is, if you want to keep the special unique tradition that is the Jewish people alive, then we highly highly highly recommend you break up with your non-Jewish girlfriend.

Happiness – we’ve got the market cornered. Those other people who look happy in the street? They haven’t experienced real happiness. The kind that comes with knowing you’re saving the world just by reading some psalms.

Intellectual Honesty – our big brains can show us the truth, if we have the courage to look past the temptations all around us. Here’s a clue: the truth is uncomfortable. What would your body rather do, fuck a lot of women while eating a cheeseburger, or read about women getting their periods from a 2,000 year old book? It therefore follows that the latter is the truth, and if you’re incapable of accepting this than you’re probably a weak-minded millennial snowflake who has lost control to his emotions and chasing the next feel-good high.

We feel bad for you.

Judgement – we’re not judging you. We know it’s hard to see the truth. It’s hard to be faced with the temptation to be gay, for example; we can’t even imagine what that must be like. We have a saying around here, Judaism is not all or nothing. Every little bit you do is progress. The fact that God will smite you for hundreds of things you do wrong, is something we’d rather not talk about, at least until you’re in Intermediate II.

Anyway, even if God is judging you, we aren’t.

Kiruv – wanna know our origin story? We realized that we were losing more Jews to intermarriage than the Nazis had killed in the holocaust. Hitler had killed bodies, but ignorance about the beauty of Judaism was killing way more souls. So we’ve been waging a holy war against ignorance for the last 40 years, and no, that doesn’t sound at all like something George Orwell would talk about.

Learning – Jews have valued learning for generations. Don’t you want to continue that tradition by studying the same exact thing they studied thousands of years ago? It’ll be like throwback Thursday, except every day. Look at all the Noble Prize winning Jews, Einstein must have studied the Talmud pretty hard to come up with a theory like that.

We are called “the people of the book” (Muslims and Christians also call themselves that, but I hope you don’t know that) and I’m pretty sure you know the book being discussed here is, of course, the Bible. Do you really want to forsake your 3,500 year old tradition for some newfangled modern science textbook?

Mitzvos – yes, they are called commandments, but it might be helpful to think of them as “opportunities”. Opportunities to feel close to God and become a better person, through such means as not eating the limb off a living animal (that one’s a really good one, even non-Jews should do it!).

Moshiach – we can’t wait for that dude to show up and clean up this hellhole. He’s gonna fight our wars, return us to our formal splendor, and show everyone else who’s boss. The Jews returning to Israel is pretty much proof that his arrival is imminent. Rumor has it that it’s the Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rumor has it that it’s Rabbi Weinberg. Rumor has it that they are both dead.

Orthodoxy – look, are we saying that Orthodox Jews are perfect? no. We all have flaws. But look at the studies that show how happy they are. Look how at unbroken their homes are. Look at the kindness they do to each other, as long as each other looks and behaves exactly like them. By idealizing their strengths and whitewashing their weaknesses, I think you can see that they are the ideal society to become a part of.

Pleasure – Most people have only experienced one kind of pleasure. Physical pleasures like eating, sex, and drugs. But we’ve figured out something that no one has before – there is pleasure to be had from meaning. There is pleasure to be had from transcendence. Bet you didn’t think about that, huh? Well, we’ve have a class all about it. We’ll spend the first 45 minutes talking about physical pleasures, and then zip through the remaining four in the final 15. Because priorities.

Questions – you are welcome to ask any and all of them, we are so totally open minded. We will also be sure to point out that other great people have asked the same question, to simultaneously stroke your ego while also diminishing your brilliance. You’re really special, but you’re not that great. And if we’re being honest (which we always are, the Torah values honesty) isn’t that all you wanted when you asked your question? To be told you’re smart? Now that that’s out of the way, who really needs an answer? See also: answers.

Rabbis – a group of people who have tapped into a source of wisdom far greater than anything in the material world. Also, they are just human, and they too make mistakes sometimes. How do we know when they are doing what? Leave that to us.

Scientists – smart people, certainly. We wouldn’t want to shit on everything you believe in. But also, they are human, and have biases. Do you know how many studies are funded by the liberal lobbyists? At the same time, we’ll have you know, some really smart scientists actually agree with us. What we’re saying is scientists suck, unless they agree with us, at which point they are fucking rad.

Shabbat – oh ho ho, Shabbat is like, the best. We get to disconnect. Have you noticed how everyone is totally addicted to their smartphones? God foresaw this and invented this day just for that purpose. So now we’re addicted to our smartphones (and cigarettes) only six days a week.

It’s a time for families to just spend time together, or, in this case, spend time together while also hosting you, our esteemed guest. Because we’d like to show you just how beautiful Shabbat is, and how beautiful our families are, and this is definitely not a performance act specifically for your benefit.

We have the yummiest food too – and you, a Jewish person who is not religious, are an ideal candidate for consuming it. If you were non-Jewish, or already religious, we’d recommend you find somewhere else to eat. We’re not a soup kitchen.

Truth – there is only one, and we’ve got it.

Universality – this isn’t just about the Jews. We’re saving the whole world. We taught the world morality – the world was just a bunch of idol worshiping thieving rapists until we showed up and knocked some sense into them. Our goal is to continue to help the world, which is why we focus exclusively on helping Jews, because once we finish helping the Jews, they’ll go and help everyone else. We’re almost done, just a few hundred years to go.

Valor – did you know we refer to our wives as Women of Valor? We sing them a song about this every Friday night! So that pretty much balances out their cooking, cleaning, baby-making, child-rearing services that we utilize the rest of the week. The kitchen? They want to be there. Covering their hair and elbows? They want to do that. It makes them feel graceful.

Go ahead, ask them, they’ll tell you so themselves.

We told them to.

Women – I’m pretty sure we said everything we needed to say in Valor.

Wisdom – there’s something ponderous about the word, right? It sounds so much better than “tip” or “good idea”. It just evokes this grandeur: big beards, heavy tomes, Dumbledore. Cavernous halls, secrets passed down through the generations. Damn, it’s really such a great word. We should use it more often.

Xenophobia – Us? Never! Some of our favorite ba’alei teshuva are black! (and have you seen his music video?) We’ll accept people of any race, creed, or culture as long as they tell us we’re the best. We’ll embrace evangelical Christians who come to worship at our feet, South Koreans who study the Talmud, or Buddhists who recognize that their way doesn’t even come close to our wisdom (you really should meet Sarah Yocheved Rigler). That racist joke we just told, it was just a joke, chill out. Oh, but fuck those Muslims, everyone has their limits.

Yeshiva – a place where men can sit all day, every day, while studying ancient Jewish texts in broken Hebrew and trying hard not to masturbate. When they’re ready, they can get married, establish a Kiruv branch somewhere, and send new people to Yeshiva. Rinse and repeat.

Zebra – black and white thinking is what we specialize in. This would definitely be our favorite animal, if it were kosher.

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