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

Turn Friday Night Into Family Night

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

I cannot recall in my lifetime a man elevated to the presidency who was abandoned by his father as a small child. Barack Obama is eloquent and open about the pain his father’s absence caused. But even amid such candor, these things often repeat themselves in the generational life of a family.

The president-elect is likewise refreshingly honest about how his political life has pulled him away from his own children. As The New York Times reported two days after the election,  “Since 1996, when he was elected to the Illinois State Senate, Mr. Obama has spent long periods away from home, and by his own admission, he is a part-time parent at best. The past six years have been a particularly punishing set of marathons, as he ran for a United States Senate seat, then spent weekdays in Washington, then traveled on the presidential campaign trail for nearly two long years.”

But Obama has announced the best-possible solution to his previous absenteeism: family dinners.  “His election,” the Times reported, “will help realize a long-held, cherished family dream: For the next four years, the Obamas will finally eat dinner together.”

Close your eyes for a moment and picture the enormity of the spectacle. The most powerful man on earth, leaving the emergencies of the Oval Office during an economic meltdown, every night at about 6 p.m., to show his children that the world can wait. They come first.

Yes indeed, this is precisely the change we need. And with that kind of example being set, is there any mom or dad on earth who can claim to be too busy to have dinner with his or her kids?

It has long been my cherished dream to establish a national campaign to “Turn Friday Night into Family Night,” encouraging American parents to give their children one uninterrupted night a week without the distraction of all the electronic noise generated by TV, iPods, DVDs, and the telephone. And while this can happen on any night, Friday is best because it sets a tone of togetherness for the rest of the weekend so that the family can feel closer and hopefully choose to spend even more time together.

A tsunami of research bears out the importance of family dinners to a child’s stability and wellbeing. Studies by Columbia University and the University of Minnesota found that teens who do not have regular family dinners are three and a half times more likely to abuse drugs.

Researchers at Columbia also found that teenagers who have infrequent family dinners are twice as likely to smoke daily and get drunk monthly. Girls who have regular family dinners with their parents are one-third less likely to develop unhealthy eating habits or abuse diet pills.

But despite this compelling research, eating dinner together is for many families a rarity often performed in front of a blaring TV. Don’t parents realize that when they leave the TV on or bring reading material to the table they are telling their kids, “You bore the heck out of me”?

Over the past 20 years there has been a massive decline in the number of families who eat dinner together, with more than a third reporting they have irregular dinners at best and one out of ten admitting they never eat dinner together at all.  For those who do, it’s a pretty limited affair, lasting about 26 minutes. And about sixty percent of families eat dinner with the TV on and seventy percent regularly answer the phone!

That’s why “Turn Friday Night into Family Night,” which aspires to have three million families signed up at FridayIsFamily.com by December 2009, is all about rooting out any and all electronic distractions so that for one night a week, at least, children and parents can be heard. This was the gift that was given to me as a child in a Sabbath-observant family. But the full focus of  parents on their children, for at least one night a week, should be the birthright of every boy and girl, Jewish or not.

American teens don’t know how to interact with other people, immersed as they are in an electronic reality where they text instead of speak and where the only “face” they encounter is the first syllable of a popular social networking site. The result is a bland personality and a blank stare. Teens seem to come alive today only when left alone.

My goal, which is now the primary campaign of This World: The Jewish Values Network, is to gift the Sabbath to the world and return us to the salons of old, a time before television when family togetherness revolved around stimulating conversation and laughter rather than watching a movie together.

Our plan follows a 2/2/2 theme: two hours of family dinner, with the family inviting two friends as guests, and with two subjects suggested for all to discuss. And it’s better if the kids invite the guests since it teaches them the blessings of hospitality — and the family home, rather than the local mall, becomes the preferred hangout. 

We plan to publish a weekly curriculum that will include topics for discussion and quizzes that parents can use to generate conversation and spark interest. We also have several leading Hollywood celebrities who will discuss the dysfunction that was fostered in their own upbringing through a lack of family time and how American families must act to correct it.

America is reeling under the pain of an economic meltdown. People are looking for something wholesome with which to anchor their lives. We need family and community like never before. Let’s encourage families to invite people who have no family and get singles to band together on Friday nights to create intelligent salons where they can meet each other instead of going to a degrading meat market at a bar.

As for the president-elect, we’re asking him to conduct a national monthly lottery to give parents who sign up for “Turn Friday Night into Family Night” a chance to be selected to join the first family at their own family dinner in the White House. So what are you waiting for? Add your name and make America one big family.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s daily national radio show on “Oprah and Friends” can now be heard on Sirius 195 as well as XM 156.

How To Fix Orthodox Jewish Dating

Wednesday, November 5th, 2008

The religious Jewish dating scene is severely broken. In the secular world men and women date by meeting each other at co-ed schools institutions or at events like parties and weekend getaways. They begin to date and the relationship unfolds gradually and organically as they get to know each other better over time.

This is not to say that all things are hunky-dory. There are major problems in this model, like the fact that pretty girls and overtly successful guys are going to get noticed over those with quieter and subtler virtues. Likewise, sex has come to play such a prominent role in secular dating that couples get to know each other physically rather than emotionally, creating distance and a lack of real intimacy in relationships.

But in the religious world, where dating is so often dependent on third parties making introductions, young men and women are at the mercy of others to meet a potential spouse. Those third parties are often professional matchmakers or friends who set them up. There are several flaws in this model:

First, it prevents men and women from meeting directly and creates instead a dependency on those who are not principals in the dating. Second, professional matchmakers often treat their occupations as an impersonal job and take no real interest in their clients. Third, it involves so much work. Since a matchmaker is making an introduction to someone you’ve never met, you have to make the effort of finding out more information about the person in question. Fourth, it all seems highly unnatural, even tiring. Very often these introductions are done arbitrarily and almost randomly. You’re a girl, he’s a guy. You have a pulse, he has a pulse. So a mutual friend thinks, ‘Wow, what a great match!’

What often happens, therefore, in the religious dating world is that it becomes a game of trial and error. Since people are introducing you almost randomly and without a lot of personal information to justify the introduction, you decide to go out anyway on the off-chance that it might work. And even if it doesn’t, at least it will teach you about what you’re not looking for.

But the more you date, the more desensitized you become. Men and women slowly lose their mystery. After a while, you’ve dated so many people that not only do they become a blur, but you’re reduced to using the most superficial criteria to distinguish them.

Because of these flaws in the religious dating mechanism, we’re beginning to see phenomena the Orthodox world expressly preaches against – particularly people dating many potential partners, choosing superficial criteria like looks and money by which to choose a spouse, getting married much later, and consequently having much smaller families just when the Jewish people are hemorrhaging large numbers to assimilation.

And the matchmaking system is getting worse in our time for a number of reasons. First, the Orthodox Jewish community has exploded numerically. With so many men and women looking to get married and so few matchmakers to assist, the system is buckling under the load.

These huge numbers might have been remedied by Internet matchmaking, which has worked well in the mainstream culture. But Orthodox Jews are wary of online dating due to its reliance on superficial items like photographs and because of its casual dating reputation. Also, those who have profiles on Internet dating sites are often treated as though they are desperate.

This issue bothers me greatly, not only because I am raising six daughters, thank God, within the Orthodox Jewish world, but because one of the principal Jewish contributions to the culture is the sanctity of marriage and the strength of family. You would expect these qualities to be most pronounced in the religious Jewish world. But if we don’t address this crisis soon, we will no longer be known for having a superior dating system that leads to blissfully happy couples.

I do not propose to remedy this problem in a single column, but here are some suggestions:
First, the religious Jewish community should immediately set up a matchmaking organization, administered by top professionals, whose purpose it is to gather profiles of nearly every man and woman who wants to get married and to employ leading relationship experts to e-mail one person per week who may be a potential match.

For that to happen, the widespread reluctance to provide personal details to professionals must be overcome by rabbis giving sermons in their various communities encouraging all to participate and send in their details. Yeshiva and seminary heads must sign on if this is to work. If the Orthodox community succeeded in getting nearly every man and woman in yeshiva and seminary to register for Tay-Sachs tests, surely it can get them to register for a potential match. The service would of course be highly confidential.

Second, an aspect of religious education at all seminaries and yeshivas should be one that enables men and women, by the time they reach marriageable age, to focus not only on getting married themselves but on introducing their friends to potential marriage mates. In effect, the religious Jewish educational system should make every young man and woman a matchmaker in training, thereby vastly expanding the matchmaking pool.

Third, the religious Jewish world should provide opportunities for men and women of marriageable age to meet. To be sure, my daughters are raised to be in a single-sex environment up until marriageable age. And even my daughter who has reached that age continues in a religious women’s college with limited exposure to men. And yet, logic would suggest that once they are ready to marry, men and women should be afforded some outlet to meet one another in educational forums such as classes, lectures, or working together on a charitable project.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s daily national radio show on “Oprah and Friends” can now be heard on Sirius 195 as well as XM 156.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/how-to-fix-orthodox-jewish-dating/2008/11/05/

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