Wednesday, May 17, 2006

The Call

I got a call earlier from some "Kiruv" organization not to be named. Not like you'll be able to figure it out anyway since there are so many. I have two things to say about this whole scenario, so I'm gonna be organized for once:

A) So, the kid from the organization(she's only 2 years older than I am) leaves a message on my machine that she got my phone number from my high school principal. So for about 30 seconds, I was flattered. "Maybe they want you to speak," my parents suggested. So I figured that she chose me (among others, but I don't know whom) since I am worldly, attend a college with non-Jews (I know, RIGHT??) and admit to watching TV on a regular basis. Maybe they'll be Mekarev me, right?

I still have a question, though. Why would she recommend me to this organization, but never think to invite me to her own school shabbatons, the one I graduated from. They've invited my former classmates to give workshops (right up my alley) or be on a panel (My mouth's too big for that) while I've had none of the sort.
Fine, so last year the secretary was pretty much burnt out, and called me whenever she needed some time off. I gained considerable experience working there, and I kinda secretly hoped that she'd offer me the job next year. After all, it's the thought that counts. Not likely.
So I came away from this thinking that I am not good enough for her own students, but I am good for people who have had a minimal exposure to Judaism. Nice.

B) So this kinda connects. I call the girl back, and I ask what it's all about. It's one of those "make a new friend" things. Not my type at all. Part of me loves the idea, but then I come back down to earth where I acknowledge my faults and realize that I don't see myself going through with it. So, ideally, sure, I'll have her come over for Shabbos, talk to her every week, become close with her, and all that, but I know realistically it won't happen. I figured if they wanted me to speak publicly, which I have never done, or give a workshop of some sort, I'd probably look into it.

So I tell the girl that I might have friends who are interested, and suggest that my principal chose me because I am more "exposed," which seemed to offend her. Then I used the word "Mekarev," which offended her, since she considered it "presumptuous," but then she emailed me the flyer, which has the word "kiruv" on it. She claims that all we are doing is exposing them to Yiddishkeit and letting them make their own choices. I don't know.

Then she tells me, "well we don't want to lose someone because someone (meaning me) was afraid to commit to doing it, or is too busy" or something like that. Kid, lesson #1 in life: Don't be obnoxious to people of whom you're asking favors.

So basically, in conclusion: 1) I'm slightly offended (yet slightly flattered) that I am good enough for people have no exposure to Judaism, but not for the girls who go to the very same school that I graduated from?
2) Am I supposed to be guilt-tripped into doing this thing? Am I right in being honest and telling her that I probably won't be able to fulfill my promises? Should I just jump in and do something totally against my nature?


At 5/17/2006 6:39 PM, Blogger jew-unit said...

I sort of said this in my comment on your last post,if you don't want to do something like that don't do it because then it becomes a pain in the butt. you sound like the perfect type to maybe have someone over shabbos or take someone out to lunch and get to to talk to them.If they connect with you then you'll have a great time, seeing the change that you cause in them will give you a feeling that you can't buy any place else.

as far as the feeling of being slighted I know what it feels like butits not healthy to dwell on those feelings

(p.s. the schadchan would like you to do it...hahahah)

At 5/17/2006 7:24 PM, Blogger Lakewood Venter said...

I wouldnt do it!

At 5/17/2006 7:25 PM, Blogger The Unorthodox Yeshiva Guy said...

"Just think: WWSS?"



I too, have personally turned down similar offers on similar grounds...

I usually feel that it would be irresponsible of me to take such a position when I know that I won't be able to give 110%.

It seems like you probably made the right decision; assuming that the kiruv organization will be able to find reasonable alternatives to a half-way effort from Media Michelle.

Also, I can definitely see why the girls comment would get you frustrated! Talk about a lack of tact!

Good luck on your finals!


At 5/17/2006 8:24 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

it would be 100% irresponsible to take on such a responsibility if you can foresee that you wont be able to follow through regularly. people dont realize, but in kiruv, every chance could be the last one and you cant play around with people that way. i once heard a rabbi in neve say, our only responsability in kiruv is not to mess things up, the rest G-d will take care of.

Lakewood venter, why wouldnt you do it?

At 5/18/2006 2:20 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Yeah, I mean, I feel guilty for saying no, but is it better to risk screwing someone or playing it safe, yet giving up a chance to help another?

At 5/18/2006 3:54 PM, Blogger Limey2001 said...

as nike ad says
you may just change someones life
(for better or worse)

At 5/19/2006 6:06 AM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

i say play it safe! if you do want to help someone, be honest with how much you can do. maybe seeing someone once or twice a week is too much of a commitment, so make a smaller one - one that you know you can stick to - maybe once a month, or on chagim... the thing with kiruv is that once you set your agenda aside and you start to see them as people, its not a burden or a 'responsability' anymore, its just helping out someone you care about.. but you first have to get to that point of caring.
michelle from what ive seen here you probably have a lot to offer someone in a kiruv situation, youre sharp, intelligent, outspoken, real, those are qualities people will connect to, especially if you try to teach them torah - theyll realize youre not sugarcoating and they can trust you.. that being said, it'still better to stay out of it if you wont commit and risk having someone with potential get lost by falling through the cracks because you ended up being too busy!
- just my very shiny two cents about kiruv! -

At 5/19/2006 9:31 AM, Anonymous Chani said...

In response to issue #1, I know exactly how you feel, because I recieved a similar call. First of all, anyone who knows me knows that that is very not my type of thing. I'm not good at talking to people that I don't know or particularly want to know.(I don't mean to sound like I wouldn't want to know the people this organization would have me talking to, it's just that if I don't know them from Adam, I don't have any interest in trying to talk them-call it lazy or immature, or whatever) Also, I felt them same way as you-I wasn't good enough to do anything in high school, & now all of the sudden, you're recommending me for this? Thanks, but no thanks. Obviously you're not the only one who still hasn't gotten over high school. I guess I'm still hurt.
In response to issue #2, I say, go for it! If you think you might be able to do it, just try! The initial thing is just a get together of tons of frum & not(yet)frum girls so they can talk & maybe start some friendships/relationships that might continue. It's not a commitment for anything, it's "I'll try & we'll see what happens." I think you'd probably be great at that sort of thing, because as much as the principals may want to be mekarev you, you still have certain principles & a passion(should I call it a bren?) for yiddishkeit that many people who are more "frum" than you are sorely lacking. Let me know what you decide to do!

At 5/19/2006 1:05 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

Guys!! I have to make a decision! You're making it harder for me! Some are saying I should, and some are saying I should not! It's obvious that this is no "no brainer." Nevertheless, I really appreciate your input. I guess ultimately it's a decision that I will have to make. But keep em coming. Thanks for the compliments :-)
Also, I'm not so high on talking to that girl again. I don't want her to think/realize that her manipulative words might have affected my decision, if I do say yes.
Please continue to contribute your input.

At 5/19/2006 2:23 PM, Blogger ClooJew said...

I'm not sure, lulei demistafina, that you're taking it the right way--that you're good enough for (potential) BTs but not BYs...Obviously, you know the situation better, but based on what you wrote, I'm not sure that's the case.

In any event. The whole Kiruv Komplex doesn't seem to know what it's doing. They seem to take the throw-it-at-the-wall-and-see-what-sticks approach. No good. Attitudes like "exposing them to Yiddishkeit and letting them make their own choices" smack of resignation. Obviously they will make their own choices, but you can't go in there without a game plan either.

The attitude that "we don't want to lose someone" is equally useless. They are already lost! If you want to get them back you have to be more proactive, and also more selective with who you deal with, both on the mekareiv and nikrav sides.

Okay, my soapbox is starting to creak. Better get down now!

Shabbat Shalom/Gut Shabbos

At 5/21/2006 6:05 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

CLOOJEW!!!!!!!! YOU'RE BACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you for your meaningful input!! I'm so glad to hear from you again.

I don't think the girl I spoke to knows what she's doing. I mean, she's running the thing, but seems clueless. I don't know about Kiruv in general. I feel like if people want it enough, they'll come, and then it's our job to help them. And one must be extremely qualified to handle that situation.

At 5/21/2006 11:32 PM, Blogger anonym00kie said...

michelle, i dont really agree with what you wrote. you said if they want it enough they will come to you - but of course most of them wont want it enough to come to you.. they dont even know what there is to want. if they realized the value of judaism they wouldnt need the kiruv! i also dont think a person needs to be extremely qualified. most kiruv doesn get done thru answering tough questions with brilliant answers. most if it is done thru meeting honest, real, people living meaningful lives, happy wholesome families around a shabbos table. the stuff that attracts people to judaism isnt the brilliant proofs of how long ago the universe was created, its the morals and values and warmth they experience when meeting religious jews.


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