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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘donations’

Selling Snake Oil for Charity

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

If this doesn’t make an Apikores out of you, I don’t know what will. Whenever I see one of these Segula ads, I begin to wonder what is happening to my Judaism. No matter how many times I write about them, and no matter how many respected rabbis rail against them.

What are rabbis saying about Segulos? Here is what one of them said. The Mezhbuzher Rav, R’ Avraham Yehoshua Heshel Bick is a quoted by Dr. Yitzchak Levine in the Aishdas archives:

[Segulos ] are nothing more than bubbe maasos, eitzas yetzer hara that give people a license to spend money way beyond their means and then ask for a yeshuah. All these formulae ­ saying Shir Hashirim forty times, Tehillim HaChida, etc. ­ are methods used by the yetzer hara to take from us the little [spirituality] we have left.

And yet Segulos seem to be on the increase. I just received an ad for one from the Jewish Press.Why are they on the increase?

There are probably two reasons for that. One is that desperate people will take desperate measures. The other is that it must be a very effective fundraiser.

The first time I saw an ad like this was for Kupat Ha’Ir. This is a legitimate charity that helps the poor in Bnei Brak, Israel. These Charedim are mostly people that do not make a living because they have been indoctrinated to stay in Kollel for as long as possible and have had no training whatsoever for the job market.

Even with working wives they often do not make enough money to make ends meet. Mostly because of their large families. Kollel stipends are a joke. The solution rabbinic leaders have come up with is a charity fund called Kupat Ha’Ir. This type of fund has been duplicated in other cities in Israel under different names.

While one can dispute (which I strongly do…) the philosophy that discourages every male from working in favor of staying in Kollel – the fact is that these people are poor and need the money. This charity helps.

There is of course never enough money to go around and these charities themselves take desperate measures to make money.

Some “genius” a while back figured out that they can make money by taking advantage of desperate people. Noting the problems of the day, they have searched for ancient ‘ solutions’ in the form of Segulos. These are ritualistic acts involving donations to their cause. So if for example a young couple is having fertility issues, this organization has found some sort of ancient formula that they promise to carry out on your behalf - IF – you send them a donation. Usually a fixed amount of money. Usually having to do with supporting a Talmid Chacham.

This time it is Yad L’Achim – a Kiruv organization that, if I recall correctly – deals mostly with Russian immigrants. I obviously have no problem with reaching out to Russian immigrants. But I do have a problem with this way of funding it. The vulnerable people they are targeting are single women looking to get married.

In the Charedi world the prime age for a young woman to get married is about 18 to 22. (That is an educated guess. The range might be even narrower – with the top limit of 19 or 20.) Once past that age, these women begin having problems getting dates. To those of us who have been paying attention, this is one of the hottest topics being discussed in that world. All kinds of remedies have been proposed to solve this problem. Including a radical suggestion by some to consider plastic surgery to improve their appearance.

The point being that Yad L’Achim did not let the ‘Shiddach crisis’ go unnoticed. They noticed. And they are taking full advantage of it right now to raise money.

By donating to their cause they promise you that 10 Talmidei Chachamim (a Minyan) will go to the city of Meron to pray for you specifically – by name at the grave site of the sage, R’ Shimon Bar Yochai in Meron and the nearby grave-site of the sage, R’ Yonason Ben Uziel in something called Amuka. This is mostly a Sephardi custom and it is believed to help people in need if prayers are said at those grave-sites.

And for some reason which is unclear to me, Tu B’Shevat ( the new year for trees)– which is tomorrow on the Hebrew calendar is supposed to be an auspicious day for that.

And just to make sure they will raise as much money as possible – they have added other major problems of our day, Parnassa, Refuos, Shalom Bayis, children… all will be prayed for by name in Meron and at Amuka.

And you can also buy raffle tickets.

This is not my Judaism. Taking advantage of desperate people by getting them to part with their money is not what I believe God intended for us as a holy nation. Even when it is done for a good cause. It is just plain wrong.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

Color Me Camel

Monday, December 24th, 2012

I don’t know how to start this post. Do I write about a young girl, a camel, or a terrorist attack? Do I write as a parent?

It’s a sad story that began … no, maybe it’s better to say it ended…on March 5th, 2003. On that day, a young girl went with her friend to plan the end-of-year celebrations for her school. An Arab terrorist boarded the same bus and blew it up. Tal and her friend Liz were among the 17 people killed; another 53 people were wounded.

I looked at her birthday – she was born three months and ten days before my oldest daughter. It’s part of every terror attack – what is stolen is not just a life, not just a moment – but so much more. All the future that would have been – a husband, perhaps, and children. Grandchildren for her parents, nieces and nephews who will never know her. It’s enough to break you, if you let it.

So there you have the young girl and the terror attack – and now the camels. What comes to mind for many who lose a loved one, especially a child, is how to help their memory live on. Each wants their way to be unique and also related to something of their child.

After their 15-year-old daughter Malki was murdered in the Sbarro terror attack, Arnold and Frimet Roth created the Keren Malki Fund. An Israel-based, non-political voluntary not-for-profit organization providing support and help without any regard for the religious or national background of the family. Keren Malki is focused on empowerment, allowing families from every segment of Israeli society to provide quality home-care for their special-needs child the way they believe it ought to be provided.

Malki Roth

Malki Roth

After their 13-year-old son was murdered less than a kilometer from him home by Palestinian terrorists, Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell created the Koby Mandell Foundation to offer a Jewish response to the impact of terror and tragedy— helping bereaved mothers, fathers,widows, orphans and siblings re-build their lives, and create meaning out of suffering.

Koby Mandell

Koby Mandell

There are too many instances of parents doing similar things but each one touches. On March 5th, 2003, Tal Kehrmann was killed. We know little of her life – it was filled with smiles and laughter and friends, but it was so short. Her father tells us she loved animals, especially camels and so he has a request for us as the 10 year anniversary of her murder comes close.

Tal Kehrmann

Tal Kehrmann

It’s a whimsical, almost silly request but it is important to Tal’s family and will bring them comfort. It will tell them in a world of too many victims, we still remember Tal. They’re asking us to color a camel for Tal. In her diary, they found a picture of a camel, but it had not been colored in – so they have asked people from all over the world to download the picture, color it in, scan it and send it back. There are already close to 2,500 camels posted to the site – they want to reach 10,000 by the 10th anniversary in just under 3 months.

We can’t always donate money to every worthy cause or donate the time to help – but can you spare a few minutes to color a camel? If you can, please go to:  http://www.tal-smile.com/DrawTalCamelE.htm.

Download Tal’s drawing and color it – use as many colors as you can – let her memory bring light to all who remember her and may her family continue to find comfort in the wonderous memory of this special girl. They  do not have her future, but if we take her with us into our future, we help them keep her memory alive. Please, color a camel for Tal.

Just two days before Tal died, she wrote a poem – it is, in many ways, a message to all of us, if we will but listen to her.

“People tend to disregard happiness,
And I think I know why.
Because, when you’re happy you don’t care why,
And you do not deal with it too much.
But when you are sad, you think of it and analyzed
Why you are sad,
Instead of let it be, let it go and be happy again.
I’m happy with no reason and I’m proud of it”

                                                  — Tal Kehrmann – March 3rd, 2003
Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/a-soldiers-mother/color-me-camel/2012/12/24/

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