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What do you call people who are not modern and not yeshivish?

Whether you like it or not, the Jewish community runs on labels. We need to have labels in order to know what community to live in, what schools to send our children to and what restaurants to eat at. Without those time honed labels and stereotype, a black hat guy may wind up in a modern orthodox shul with a mechitza he doesn’t hold by and start a riot. By the same token, can you imagine a bunch of regularly dressed shulamith girls walking into Mea Shearim and getting bleached because they didn’t realize it was a very religious neighborhood. In general, the frum community is broken up into several groups. Everyone can pretty much agree on Yeshivish, Modern Orthodox and Chassidic.

The technicalities such as yeshivish modern and modern orthodox liberal are contradictory, how can one be yeshivish or orthodox and liberal at the same time? In reality it doesn’t really work in the grand scheme of things, but what do we call those people who are stuck between modern orthodoxy and yeshivish. It used to be easy to label, we pretty much did it according to levush or dress codes. Black hat meant yeshivish and knitted yarmulke meant modern and anyone who looked like 18th century Eastern Europe was Chassidic. Since we can pretty much agree that Modern Orthodoxy, Liberlism and Yeshivish can’t really mix together we should probably come up with terms for those who call themselves “open Orthodox” and those who between yeshivish and modern orthodox.

Open Orthodoxy is troubling because it’s basically trying to take the conservative Judaism of the 1950’s and call it Orthodoxy. We can probably debate all day about the halachic allowance for women rabbis, but in the end Orthodoxy is much more about social norms and custom than actual letter of the law halacha. However, the purpose of this post was to come up with a new term for those folks who find themselves stuck between modern orthodoxy and yeshivish. I posted it on my facebook page and received a lot of good ideas. I think centrist orthodox is cool, but it may be an affront to those who are closer to yeshivish than to modern.



Centrist Orthodox


Frum but cool

Frum but with it (any term with “but” included always has a negative connotation, like most frum people aren’t with it or something)


Yeshivish inclined



Out of towners



Haredi Lite




Velveters (they tend to wear velvet)

JPF just plain frum


The blue shirts

Not your typical YU guy




Middle of the road

Stam Frum

Netflix Frum (too frum for a TV, but you can watch it all online)

Find out more on 4torah.com



{ 30 comments… add one }
  • Dazed & Confused January 19, 2013, 7:28 PM

    What do you call someone who grew up traditional in a RW but MO family, spent a lot of time rebelling against his black-hat Ner Israel neighbors, went OTD, & now davens at a Chabad shteibel but holds by R’Abadi especially on kashrut, while studying Breslov online? Am asking for a friend…

    • OfftheDwannaB January 19, 2013, 9:00 PM

      Someone Id like to meet. Sounds like someone with a brain in his head nebech.

    • Ex-bochur January 20, 2013, 1:27 AM

      He’s neo-hasidish

      He should make aliyah, especially if he is not yet enspoused.

    • Fred January 20, 2013, 11:55 AM


      • Dazed & Confused January 20, 2013, 6:51 PM

        Well, I think he would be a little too modest to sing his own praises… but he’s definitely one who would not want to be tagged with a label… blind conformity isn’t his thing…

        He’s currently still living chutz la’aretz, but aliyah is definitely on the agenda for him & his wife – but he’s still got a few years of self-imposed shlichut in the boondocks to complete. Too many assimilated amcha & zerah yisrael keep crossing his path…

        Confused? Probably not as much as you’d think.

  • Music Wilhelm January 19, 2013, 8:01 PM

    How about “chabad light”?? Lol

  • Anonymous January 19, 2013, 8:02 PM

    frum but has sex

  • Reverend Larry January 19, 2013, 8:15 PM


    • yankelyoffen January 19, 2013, 10:52 PM

      No…just no. Especially if one works for ncsy.

  • Sarah January 19, 2013, 8:51 PM

    I worked at a camp of the hashkafa you’re describing, and you’re right, it’s frustrating not to know what to call it! “Just to the right of modern?”

  • Eli January 19, 2013, 9:20 PM

    Post-chareidi? That’s what Slifkin calls it.

  • I think January 19, 2013, 9:40 PM

    Arent they cald MO machmir

  • Elli January 19, 2013, 10:04 PM

    Blue hatters.
    Old school Ner Yisroel guy
    A shtickle modernish

    That’s for the yeshivish guy who is a bit more broad minded. For the very machmir guy from a YU background it’s:

    Rav Shachter guy

  • AMF January 20, 2013, 2:06 AM

    I thought “chardal” pretty much covered it, but I guess that’s only used in Israel.

    • Ex-bochur January 20, 2013, 2:24 AM

      No. Chardal is “charedi-leumi” ie. the Merkaz Harav types who are basically haredi and eschew feminism and secular studies, but they are also strongly Zionist (in fact these days they are far more Zionist than the state). They live in Kiryat Moihe and Yehuda/shomron. Some are into Chabad/Breslav, but that’s not a defining characteristic.

  • shoshana January 20, 2013, 10:10 AM

    “labes are for clothing not people”

    • portuguese yid January 20, 2013, 10:49 AM

      Right on!

  • Should be working January 20, 2013, 10:36 AM

    Enlighten me: What does “centrist Orthodox” mean?

    • yirmi January 23, 2013, 7:15 PM

      Centrist Orthodox is sometimes used to refer to the Right-Wing Modern Orthodoxy, or “Orthodoxy without adjectives,” associated with YU.

  • jo January 20, 2013, 10:52 AM

    Centrist Orthodox is just another term to describe Modern Orthodoxy.

    • Should be working January 20, 2013, 2:03 PM

      If Modern is Centrist, then what is left of that? Conservative?

  • Seriously? January 20, 2013, 12:47 PM

    Torah Jew

  • Internetter rebbee January 20, 2013, 2:58 PM

    We have a friend who is very chasiddish. They eat cholov yisrael, but only at home. They will eat ice cream at Friendly’s. We call them chasivitive.

  • Anonymous January 21, 2013, 6:07 PM

    KBs (Krum Bastards)

  • SG January 22, 2013, 6:11 PM

    How about modern Yeshivish?

  • alan zoldan January 23, 2013, 11:31 AM

    1. Torah Trueish

    2. Holy Art Scrollers

    3. JWCC’s (Jews Without a Convenient Category)
    not to be confused with . . .

    4. JWCCM’s (Jews With Country Club Memberships)

  • Michael McG January 23, 2013, 3:02 PM

    Phair Weather Pharisee?

  • Roch January 30, 2013, 6:34 AM

    yeshivish secular

  • Rebecca January 30, 2013, 7:01 AM

    What happened to Baalebatish?

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