Thursday, September 22, 2011
Lakewood Sensibilities or just plain Sensible?
Chaim of Divrei Chaim writes about a chessed dinner put on through the school (which is is generally pleased with) in which the young teenage girls enjoy a banquet a bid on prizes including things like a manicure, shopping trip to Woodbury Commons, or Shabbos in New Square which starts at $100 per person (take from the comments). Such an event brought him to the passuk "love kindness and walk modestly with your G-d" as being not two values, but a relationship of values. The way of chessed is through modesty (and by that the Navi isn't speaking of clothing measurements alone).
Every once in a while a Orthodox leader or Rabbi decries America materialism, mostly in relationship to the tuition crisis (subject of an upcoming post), yet few seem to blink an eye when schools put on this type of event or go on day trips that many families wouldn't even consider going on themselves. The idea of putting teenagers into a group setting to bid for prizes, prizes that introduce greater luxuries or require more cash outlay, are particularly distasteful to me.
Perhaps adults "need" carrots to guide their giving and make it "palatable" or to attract more attention in the marketplace, but do we need this for children? If we really want to tackle rampant materialism and entitlement (and such come up as regular subjects), the place to start is with some basic sensible chinuch. My 13 year old has no business taking her ma'aser money and bidding on a manicure in order to make a simple donation. . . . and for that matter, I don't need to so either!
A commentator b writes "In December of '05, the BMG Ladies Auxiliary sent out a Chinese Auction booklet that offered prizes that were, by Lakewood standards, extravagant. Rabbi Kotler soon retracted the booklet and issued an apology. Chaim, you have the sensibilities of a Lakewood Yeshiva person. For the rest of us, the reality is that this is a good and efficient way to raise money."
Well, label me a "Lakewood Yeshiva person" if you may, but one need not live in Lakewood or even have a yeshiva education to say, "what in the world is going on here?". I'd label the questioning/opposition as just plain sensible! And I think that "we" are making a major mistake in chinuch with the notion that there need to be a prize for everything.
(On a related note, Jewish schools have a very broad socio-economic spectrum and relatively small numbers of students. I think it important to keep that in mind when planning school related events. A mother-daughter tea at $36+ babysitting if necessary, ski trips, graduation trips, etc all add up and parents of teenagers tell me they can spend upwards of $1000 on the extras in a year.)
Of course, a yashar koach to Chaim B's daughter who was able to ask questions when seeing the event.