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Friday, May 14, 2010

A Few Things

The current Yated has a plea for families to purchase Life Insurance written by Rabbi Binyomin Ginsburg. He mentions purchasing it as a "segula" not because it is a segula, but because it might incline more people to do the prudent thing. Such is the state of Orthodoxy I imagine. At the end of the article he writes about a free $50,000 life insurance program offered by Mass Mutual for education expenses. I'm hoping a reader will be willing to check out this program and report back. I've never heard of a free life insurance program that provides more than say $3000 to a customer of a bank, e.g. Here is the information:

Finally, I would like to share information with our readers about a program that is free of charge.MassMutual, an insurance company that sells life insurance, has a program called LifeBridge. This is a free life insurance policy designed to help people pay for tuition after the death of a parent, r”l. Under the LifeBridge Free Life Insurance Program, Mass-Mutual will issue a $50,000 life insurance policy to a trust for a period of 10 years and at no cost to the insured. MassMutual pays the premiums. If the person dies within that time period, the $50,000 is
used to cover the educational expenses of the children. The children have 10 years after the death or until age 35 (whichever is later) to use this $50,000 educational

For more information about this program, contact MassMutual directly or feel free to contact Mr. Kahn at 718.436.0022. He will be glad to help in any way he can to have more people protected with life insurance.

In Israel, Rav Shteiman has said it is time to discontinue the vort, and go with a l'chaim following the engagement at the home of the kallah. Perhaps I'm missing some information being only familiar with things in America, but I can't really tell the difference between what people call vorts and l'chaims. Besides my husband and me, I can't think of too many people who have not had an engagement party (my husband will take issue, however, he claims that because our parents met for a meal in which he announced our engagement that we too had a party. . . . .next time one of my kids wants a birthday party with classmates, I will insist that a meal with family is a party :).

I personally am not at all attached to the practice of a vort or l'chaim. I think engagements are best started off slowly, without a bash. It seems extremely logical to me that when cutting expenses, the vort be the first thing on the cutting block. The Simcha Guidelines from about a decade ago also called for only a small l'chaim. I wonder if a decade later, someone else will call for discontinuation or if the financial realities will finally par down on this expense. Time will only tell.

Also of interest is a story in Haaretz as reported by VIN that Badatz has ruled that Chareidim in Israel cannot invest in stocks of Israeli companies. The concerns reported are that Chareidim should not become *partner* in companies that violate Shabbat and engage in inappropriate advertising. I won't even bother to comment that investing does not make on a partner; I actually have my own moral concerns with certain American companies and don't care to invest directly or patronize certain companies. That said, such an announcement is disturbing in combination with the past policies I've reported on. I guess the post He Can't Work, She Can't Work could now, in light of this new pronouncement be titled He Can't Work, She Can't Work, Nor Can They Invest. It seems that each month, we the big fat pocket book, are privy to another report of what Chareidim can't do because it violates religious principal. Worse yet is when leadership complains that Chareidim can't get ahead because of the man. Seriously, it is no wonder that people think about selling a kidney (which is in fact not permissible).

What surprises me most about the Haaretz reports that of the 50,000 Chareidi households, 42% deposit 825 NIS a month in savings plans. According to this exchange rate calculator that is almost $220 a month. There are so many people in America unable to save such amounts monthly. This just seems unbelievable given the unemployment rate and other stats.


Anonymous said...

Pretty easy to google LifeBridge and see all the eligibility restrictions - notably family income between $10K and $40K. I'm sure that any fraud on the part of the applicant would invalidate the policy.

Anonymous said...

Wait - the eligibility guidelines say that policies will be issued until 20,000 policies have been issued or through December 31, 2009, whichever comes first. Maybe they extended the time period? Or maybe check your calendar, in the real world it's 2010.

Female life actuary said...

No, you are not the only ones who didn't have a vort. I think they are incredibly stupid events.

Noodle said...

Me nither...but then again, I think I am married to the 'Female Life Actuary'. :)

Anonymous said...

In Israel, a Vort is more than just a reception. It is a sit down affair with a band and tannoim (if that is the couple's minhag). Not like the Vort in the US, which is basically just a second reception following the L'chayim.

Both versions are stupid.

Tamiri said...

SL, many people use the money paid into their accounts monthly by Bituach Leumi (child allowance) as savings.

Anonymous said...

"In Israel, Rav Shteiman has said it is time to discontinue the vort"
This was said 10 to 15 years ago by the American Moetzes Gedolei Torah and it was publicized in Jewish newspapers and magazines.

In my humble opinion, this is one of many uneccesary or illogical minhagim which should have been eliminated a long long time ago. Others include: the Passover prohibitions against kitniyos, rice and gebruchts.

Lion of Zion said...

we skipped the whole vort/lehayim/engagament party thing

Lion of Zion said...


"SL, many people use the money paid into their accounts monthly by Bituach Leumi (child allowance) as savings"

so then they aren't that poor

Dovy said...

>This was said 10 to 15 years ago by the American Moetzes Gedolei Torah and it was publicized in Jewish newspapers and magazines.<

Was that the one where the signers exempted themselves from having to follow the takanot? I knew right then and there it was destined for failure!

megapixek said...

vorts are STUPID!
waste of money for the baal simcha and waste of time for the attendees. I HATe having to get dressed, pantyhose and all, find babysitters etc just to go and say Mazel Tov and mill around trying not to look stupid cuz i cant find anyone I know to talk to. I can easily call them on the phone and say the same mazel tov.
IT drives me insane. That being said if someone has a lot of money and wants to waste it, I dont mind, because my good friend makes a living setting up vorts.
every time I go to a vort I make a solemn decision to boycott vorts form now on, but then I feel obligated to go...

Anonymous said...

How many social conventions have arisen based on the assumption that we're all rich (or want to simulate it)?

Anonymous said...

The problem is when a child becomes engaged it's not only your decision to nix the vort...the other set of parents may pressure you and for the sake of shalom parents often feel compelled to go along with this nonsense. Even if the other side agrees to take on the expense the other set of parents may feel that they should buy flowers, cake....and that may add to the expense. So as much as I say I will not make a vort I may feel that I will have to go along with the other side to maintain shalom.

Anonymous said...

Flowers for a vort? Here's my idea for a vort: a bowl of M&M's and a plate of fruit. My friends don't keep cholov yisrael so I'm all set.

frumskeptic said...

MY hubby and I had a vort, We really didn't want one, his side insisted (my side thought it was dumb) my side went along with it anyway... we ended up getting more back in presents than the parents spent combined...

we did well. Do I think its stupid, absolutely, But I'm certainly not complaining about the outcome of our vort.

Lion of Zion said...

i understand the issue of making a vort to preserve sholom between the families, but it's not a good sign for what the future holds if you're already worried about preserving sholom


"we ended up getting more back in presents than the parents spent combined"

a) how does that help your parents, who had to shell out the money?
b) your experience is atypical, and i'm willing to bet it's because you had a lot of russian guests.
c) i don't think you meant it this way, but there is a problem when a simcha is viewed as a money-making opportunity, and frankly it's not fair to the guests

ProfK said...

The vort/l'chaim as two public functions was not the case for most people in my dating years (60s into early 70s.) In the 80s most of those engagement parties were still home-based but with a few people who chose a restaurant or shul catering hall for the party. By the end of the 80s beginning of the 90s you suddenly heard l'chaim and vort being tossed around as public must do functions

What was a l'chaim? That was when a couple announced that they were engaged and the two sets of parents came together with the new couple, perhaps--not necessarily-- their siblings and perhaps a grandparent or two to make a literal l'chaim in honor of the engagement. For some a bit more to the right, the engagement first became official only when the parents had come together for that making of the l'chaim.

A vort was held usually only for those who were chasidish and made tanoyim at the time of engagement. Even back in those "dark ages" rabbanim were already nixing making tanoyim except right before the chupah because of the problems that could ensue if an engagement were broken.

True, some made engagement parties so that the broader family and friends could meet the newcomer. But mostly those were parties in the house. Many were given by friends. They weren't public affairs in catering halls with music and photography and catered meals. As keeping up with the Joneses expanding in the secular and the frum world the two public parties were suddenly "necessary." You heard plenty of people justifying them because "it's always been this way." Baloney.

My engagement festivities consisted of my parents inviting my husband, his parents and his brothers and the one aunt and uncle living in the US to our house for dinner the day after he and I decided we were getting married. On my side my parents, my siblings and the one aunt and uncle I had living in NY were the guests. Guess what? The engagement and subsequent marriage were perfectly "legal" k'halacha and otherwise.

Dovy said...

I once dated a girl who was divorced solely because it was ruled (by Rabbi Kreisworth of Antwerp) that she and her choson couldn't break the 'tanaaim' signed at the Vort. So they had t o marry and right away get divorced.

Tragic and pathetic.

frumskeptic said...

"a) how does that help your parents, who had to shell out the money?"

its all relative...A few days After the Vort my grandma called me, she said "Did you guys atleast get X amount?" I said "yes" and she was like "then its all worth it, you didn't throw your parents money out"

Pretty much implying, if you got it back in gifts, its as if your parents are investing into it, and hoping it reaps benefits...which in my case it did. Mind you, my grandma thought the entire concept of a vort was dumb and pathetic, but she was happy in the end.

"b) your experience is atypical, and i'm willing to bet it's because you had a lot of russian guests."

it was pretty even between the frum vs. not-frum groups

"c) i don't think you meant it this way, but there is a problem when a simcha is viewed as a money-making opportunity, and frankly it's not fair to the guests"

I didnt mean it as a money making way per-se, but if you make most of it back, then its the same as all the people who scream "Just give your kids the money so they can put it into savings for a downpayment" Its not like anyone is saying not to have weddings at all, they're just saying to make them smaller and more simple to get them affordable. Consider teh gifts, and BAM you got your kid a party and a bit of change.

And while it maybe unfair to the guests, you do have a point. BUt it depends on the world you're coming from... A Few of my parents friends literally turned down the afford to go"... my parents had explained to them that it wasnt THAT type of a wedding... but they wouldn't hear of it,in their culture, you pay your seat + some. When I go to those types of weddings, I think in their terms...

Its wrong to invite people just cuz you know they have cash, but if you're friends with them, and they give a gift, you would've gotten it anyway.

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