Monday, April 21, 2008

Pandering Tzedaka Ads Make Me MADDDD!!!!!

Well, I should be writing something about Pesach.

Isaac Kaplan pretty much summed up how I feel about hotels on Pesach. In his piece, he mentions that a sum equal to these exorbitant amounts of money spent on hotel stays should be contributed to charity. Meaning, if a wealthy family chooses to spend $15,000+ on Pesach, they should donate a like amount to Tzedaka.

On the topic of Tzedaka, my fingers have been itching to type this post since Shabbos.

We received an insert from a particular organization, chronicling their "success stories."
It was the most pandering, condescending, and patronizing thing I have ever seen.

They told a story of a young man, who, of course, struggled with shidduchim. A story about a young woman in that position would be, well, obvious. This young man tried everything, from davening at Kevarim, receiving Brachot from Gedolim, but to no avail. He suddenly decided to donate to this organization, and for some reason, had his mind set on donating $2,000. Not $20. Not $200. Two thousand dollars.

Since he didn't have that kind of money hanging around, he collecting from whoever would give him so that he can donate to this organization...and whaddya know? Before the money was even delivered, he was redt a shidduch....need I finish? Didn't think so.

In each one of this obnoxious anecdotes, they were sure to stress that the donation was a "significant sum" or a "very considerable amount," or, more bluntly, "very generous."

Their point was that if you donate to them, you will see a yeshua.

Let's get this straight. You talk to me like I'm a nebuch case, desperate, willing to try anything, and all I have left is donating to your organization. Then you say that in order to have a "yeshua" like these people had, I need to donate "generously." You say your organization is backed by "Gedolim." You hang illegal posters all over Brooklyn, and spend countless dollars on condescending advertising. I don't know. Why should I trust you?

Yad Eliezer, on the other hand, was the lucky recipient of my check this Pesach. Why? We received a letter in the mail on a plain white sheet of paper, in black ink. They simply stated the cold, hard facts regarding the declining value of the dollar combined with the rising cost of food. No pandering. No promises for Yeshuos if I donate "a considerable amount." I gave what I could, and that was all.

And, oh, yeah, have a Chag Kasher V'Sameach...whatever's left of it. :)


At 4/22/2008 5:48 AM, Anonymous arnie draiman said...

great. i wish more people would take 'giving' seriously.

the second part of taking it seriously is to be sure that the place you give to is not wasting your tzedakah money. they must be using it efficiently and effectively, low overhead/admin costs, etc.

otherwise, you are basically stealing from poor people what is rightfully theirs.

yasher koach.

arnie draiman
philanthropic consulting

At 4/22/2008 7:11 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

i'm not going to lie, I only read the first two paragraphs of this blog post. After reading that thing about going to hotels on pesach, I just had to reply. I am staying in a hotel for pesach. This is my first time ever doing that. My in-laws came to NY for pesach and paid for room/meals for my husband and i and my brother-in-law/sister-in-law. They're not just some wealthy family who is too lazy to cook though. The only way they would get to spend pesach with us is in NY and rather than have me and my husband(in our first year of marriage) and my brother-in-law and sister-in-law (who are both phd students) spend exorbitant amounts of money on pesach food and ridiculous amounts of time cleaning, they came to NY and we're all staying in a hotel. If they didn't come, my husband and I would have had to spend pesach alone because he has school during chol hamoed. Not everyone is just doing it because it looks nice or because they're lazy. Some people just want to be with family and sometimes the more expensive way is the only way that's possible.

At 4/29/2008 6:40 AM, Blogger Michelle said...

Jessica...that might explain your situation, but i doubt that's everyone else's

Now, please read the rest and tell me what u think ;)

At 4/29/2008 3:15 PM, Blogger Jessica said...

So I read the rest. As for the tzedaka group that was trying to scam you out of $2000... you're not supposed to donate more than you can afford. If that "guy" had donated 20 bucks instead of 2000, he may have been able to go on more dates and find his shidduch faster. :-P

At 4/29/2008 11:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually I don't see a problem with spending that much for a hotel, if you can afford it. The money just doesn't disappear--it goes back into the community. The people who work for the hotel or whoever is promoting the Pesach package need to be paid.

As for Arnie Draiman's statement --I'm not trying to hijack the thread but -- that made me think of the recent news of David Rockefeller's donating 100 million dollars to Harvard, which has a 35 billion dollar endowment. I thought it was ridiculous for anyone to donate any money to Harvard (because it's like donating to Bill Gates), much less donating that amount. If he wanted to donate, he could easily have given it to a few financially strapped small colleges.

And then there was the lady a few years back who left an estate of 100 million dollars to a poetry magazine. It turned out that she might have put the money aside long ago, and not realized how much it had turned into.

(Sorry Michelle if I went off the subject, but I needed to vent.)

Ichabod Chrain

At 4/30/2008 5:18 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

Oh, I forgot to mention. All the food that is left over from the hotel we stayed in goes to a soup kitchen. And I know what you're thinking, "Ew. It's pesach food." Trust me, the food may have been made with matza meal, but it was not Pesach food.

At 5/04/2008 7:50 AM, Anonymous Tzurva Merabanan said...

Playing the "baal-habas on someone else's money" game is very dicey. First of all, you have to pick your battles in life. Going to hotels for Pesach is not a major impropriety or 'treif-keit' in need of rectifying. 'Halevai' this should be the worst thing going on with jews and their money. Second of all, there are many good reasons for some people to go. Jessica's comments are the tip of the iceberg. I could enlighten you regarding others.

At 5/04/2008 7:43 PM, Blogger Michelle said...

tzurva- i didn't say that it's the worst thing. But think also about the kashrus issue. Wouldn't it make more sense to go away for Sukkot (which most of them do anyway) when Kashrut isn't what it is on Pesach?!

At 5/05/2008 5:18 AM, Blogger Jessica said...

They have someone checking over the food and cooking 24/7 at the hotel... Just because people choose to go to a hotel, does not mean that they are lax in their kashrus.

At 5/13/2008 4:07 PM, Anonymous Tzurva Merabanan said...

Michelle, your issue now is your concern about Kashrus? Come on. That's not the only - or even necessarily the biggest - reason to be against going. You're really reaching. It does just so happen that the places run by responsible people tend to have impeccable Kashrus. And the Kashrus hardships are WHY Pesach became the popular holiday to go away for.


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