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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Some Links for Your Reading Pleasure

The Rebbetzin's Husband has put together some tips on (successfully) bringing children to shul. This is a very helpful list. Articulating expectations and having a back up plan is key. I might add choosing an appropriate minyan to the list, where applicable. Role modeling is important.

Ezzie has put up some figures regarding Orthodox Credit Card debt from the Jewish Economic Survey he has been running. It appears that there is a huge jump in credit card debt once a couple has four children. The average amount is simply staggering: $31,640. If you calculate out the potential amount of interest being paid on that type of debt, and stare at that amount for a while, you can see that we can't bury our head regarding the problems of debt in our communities.

Amen Brother! Honestly Frum is screaming about money leaving our own backyard while many local institutions are on the verge of major financial problems. I have no idea how much tzedakah leaves our own communities that could possibly stay within the communities if parlor meetings and solicitations for every one's favorite project were to cease. But, so long as drivers are still carting around 3-4 meshulachim on a regular weeknight, I'm afraid that we are only shooting ourselves in the foot by sending money abroad. My own phone seems to be ringing off the hook lately with solicitations for non-local tzedakahs. And meshulachim aren't any less in number as per my own amateur observation. I believe it was just Wednesday night when I told a collector that our own children in our own community needed our funds desperately too.

Perhaps a more face to face approach to keep tzedakah in the community is needed. Door to door collections featuring the local principal anyone? Doesn't seem time efficient. But if collectors can both afford plane tickets and a driver, perhaps it is time to send the troops out marching?

Mrs. Braverman of seems to have hit a cord with some of her readers in her column on selfish kindness. But it didn't hit the same chord with me. In fact, fairly recently we made a small birthday party with family for one of my kids. And I gave the same little talk before the party started that I always give: after you open a gift you say thank you whether or not you like the gift. My mother used to give me the same talk and after receiving some rather hideous outfits and saying thank you (as well as writing the card), my mother would say, you only have to wear that when Grandma comes around.


Larry Lennhoff said...

I think you mean the Rebbetzin's Husband, not the Rebbetzin's wife. They are moving to Canada, not Sweden.

SephardiLady said...

That would be correct. Oops.

mother in israel said...

I agree with Emuna Braverman 100%. Her point wasn't about being grateful for inappropriate or unwanted gifts--that's a different article. Her comments are directed at thoughtless gift givers.

SephardiLady said...

MiI-Went back and read it and I think you are right. Seems that I, and others, got caught up in the dessert bringing. Bringing flowers, candies, wine, or dessert is pretty standard for hostess gifts. I guess I was shocked by the complaint. I imagine we could all be better hostess gift givers, but often we do "what's done."

The other tips such as not bursting into a quiet scene, perhaps unwanted, are right on. Not every surprise visit can be appreciated. And learning the ropes at a shiva house definitely can require some coaching.

I guess coaching is always a great thing, and it leaves me with things to think about. But it also leaves me wondering if I'm delivering food meals all wrong, if I should bother. It is a fairly large effort for an already busy family and I think that the coordinator(s) tend to know who will say yes and who will say no and those who say yes get numerous requests. I'm not sure that the receiver can expect a short order cook either, especially when the family is on the larger side and you are just trying to bring enough so that the adults can have something they will enjoy and the kids something they will eat.

In an ideal world, I guess we would all investigate more, but all in all I think most people try their best and calling a person "selfish" for making a meal but not throwing in paper plates isn't particularly encouraging of chesed.

(On that note I will add that I prefer to eat on real dishes, even after giving birth).

mother in israel said...

Good point about the paper plates. And you don't give mussar by calling people selfish. The guests who brought the fancy cake certainly weren't being selfish. But I still agree with her point about trying to put yourself in the shoes of the people you are trying to help.

rachel in israel said...

SL: the main difference between someone collecting door-to-door to make a wedding and the school principal is the amount needed. The father from Israel will be satisfied with $20-40K depending on expectations but the school principal will need over $500K to be worth his time. That's why no sane school administrator does it and instead they focus on the wealthier only.

I really enjoyed the last article. I think she is 100% right on the gifts. Just ask the people who got 8 challah boards for their wedding. I try not to do that so I break "social" rules for gifts. For wedding buy only from registries. If I am buying something else for a close friend I often wait until after the wedding ans ask what piece of judaica they didn't get. So far everyone likes the method. For new babies, it depends on the family, I never buy clothing under 12 months. If there are siblings of the same gender then a toy (preferably one that older kids can play with). If there are many siblings then a gift for the mom, etc.

For food after delivery, it is very hard to do because of personal tastes. when I gave birth I told the organizer my food sensitivities and always ask. Maybe the solution is to call the husband and ask what do the older kids like to eat. Once we got a pizza and it was probably the best food we got. As for bringing something to the hostess, we were shocked when we made aliyah that we would bring people things (wine, food, dessert, etc) and often they didn't serve it at the meal. It took us a while to understand the cultural difference, here in israel (at least in our yishuv) it's OK to receive a gift without having to serve it at the meal (we often get milchigs treats when we invite people). It sounds strange but it works better.

Commenter Abbi said...

i agree i think the braverman article is petty. I still believe that it's the thought that counts. When people delivered food for me after my last birth, there was plenty of underdone chicken and potatoes. But I really appreciated that people went out of their way to make food for me and my family and deliver it. Of course I preferred my own food, but I also appreciated not having to cook and clean up.

Unexpected dessert and guests? One does the best that one can to make the guest not feel uncomfortable. That includes saying to unwanted bikur cholim vistors after about a half hour " Thanks for visiting, I really need to rest now". There's nothing wrong with being gracious and honest at the same time.

Yes, it would be nice for guests to really be impeccably thoughtful of all aspects of gift giving. But since that's not really going to happen, I think sticking to "It's the thought that counts" goes farther than admonishing gift givers.

The Rebbetzin's Husband said...

Thanks for your link and kind words!

Jeremy said...

thought you'd like some of the points made here-

Anonymous said...

Mrs. Braverman's article raises several excellent points. While the recipient of a gift should always be gracious, too often the giver gives what they would like and does not put themselves in the shoes of the recipient. Granted, that's not always easy to do, but sometimes a little observation would go far. If your friend doesn't have a house full of tchachkes, it's probably because she doesn't like them, not because she is waiting for you to get her the perfect tchachke. What's worse, is when gift giving becomes a contest. A group of friends got way out of hand topping each other on expensive birthday gifts no one could afford. One year I suggested that instead of gifts, let's all put toward the money toward a nice lunch out, or group manicures or something similar. Everyone was so relieved.

Ateres said...

About baby gifts:

When my first was I got lots of clothes for when my baby got older, but almost nothing in size 0-3 months since nobody wanted to give a gift that the baby would outgrow soon.

The problem was that I couldn't put my newborn (despite the fact that he weighed nine pounds) in clothes meant for a one-year-old. So I had no choice but to take my two-week-old with me to the mall to go shopping for baby clothes.

For a second baby of the same gender I would not buy newborn clothes, however.

Honestly Frum said...

SL, thank you for the link. I find it persoanly offensive to be told one week that there is not enough money to run our schools and teachers are being laid off and the next a Rav from outside the community is being brought in to speak at a parlor meeting having nothing to do with our community. I don't mean to sound selfish but let's get our own house and finances in order before we go and start raising money for outside institutions. The rav of the shul where these people daven should have had enough sense to tell them that perhaps they should hold off with this parlor meeting until we can meet our own budgets, but that is for another time and topic.