…the pressure to produce high earners discourages and marginalizes those members of the community whose calling is in music, literature, the visual arts, or the performing arts. The problem is not only that creative types will likely be unable to afford the Modern Orthodox lifestyle; the community itself tends to marginalize those who pursue artistic careers, viewing them as irresponsible. Some creative types will gravitate toward the rabbinate or Jewish education, careers that can offer a creative outlet, financial incentive in the form of tuition reductions, and social acceptability. Many will either give in to the pressure to pursue a stable, lucrative career, or leave Orthodoxy behind.
Some will move to Israel, where artistic careers are more acceptable and where, despite the economic challenges it poses, Jewish religious education is free. The Jewish state is also home to a variety of high schools and colleges for the visual arts specifically geared to Orthodox students.
Modern Orthodoxy is, or ought to be, a rich and challenging lifestyle that profoundly engages a broad range of thick Jewish experiences. It has a great deal to offer the Jewish world and the broader religious world. But without a vibrant creative class, there is no communal unpacking of that experience, no collective expression or catharsis, no mirror to show the community how it looks from the outside, no legacy of the community’s unique contributions.
Elli Fischer, “Modern Orthodoxy Has Its Costs – Not Just Financial”, The Jewish Week (27 February 2015), 25.