Wednesday, August 18, 2004

continued from yesterday

The big pediatrician stands 5"6 and weighs perhaps 150 pounds. We call him the big pediatrician because he's so important. Sometimes, we even do the little hand motion and intone our voices like Mel Brooks: The beeeg peediah-trish-an, accent on the trish, trill on the "tr."

He kenned at once the reason for L's puzzling behavior

"Modern shuls won't answer an appeal like that," he said referring to the email the shteeble's GT had circulated,"L knew you'd go medieval on him for bad-mouthing the shul if he tried to explain that to you."

So instead I went medieval on the BP.

"Are you joking? Are you flat out of your mind? Nobody gives more money to shuls and schools than the OMJs. For starters, they have more money because, most of the time, they have fewer kids, and better jobs..."

The BP cut me off. "All true. But they won't answer an informal email appeal. They'll give to an established organization, or to a collector carrying a certification issued by their rabbi. The GT's sloppy email? That they will ignore."

"But this collection is on behalf of a neighbor," I said.

"Says, you" the BP replied. "First, he doesn't daven in their shul, so he's not their neighbor. Second, only the GT knows who he is. There's no way to prove he's actually a neighbor. The OMJs will worry about those details"

"You're ridiculous. " I answered, "And I am going to prove it."

(to be continued)


I predict that BP was correct. OMJ's do give plenty of tzedaka, but they make out checks to established non-profit organizations, not to individuals. A generalization, of course.

$1 says that if you advertise it at the shule, asking people to give money to an individual person, maybe 2 people will respond.

But if you say "a chessed fund for this particular family has been set up; make checks out to the shule, and write "neighbor fund" in the memo," then 5 will respond.

And if you say "it has come to the attention of the shule that there are members of the community who require financial assistance to pay basic bills. Please make a donation to the shule and write 'neighbor fund' in the memo, and we will give it to those who need it" -- that is, make it as vague as possible so no one has to wonder which neighbor it might be -- then 8 people will respond.  

I find this blog thought-provoking and most edifying; I am most grateful for your insights.

Sarah, as a (reluctant) member of the board, I created and chaired a chesed committee at my C shul. Never mind the heavy stuff, I even had trouble getting rides to services for people. This reached a gobsmacking nadir when I couldn't get anyone to go across the street to the old folks' home and take a couple of ladies with their walkers in their car, back to the shul so they could attend services. I kid you not. I'm still speechless about it.

My question to you, is why does what you suggest work? I made personal appeals face-to-face and it didn't help. Your way, may in fact, be a really good way. Any thoughts on this would be very much appreciated. Once things settle after my move, I want to be involved in organising opportunities for chesed again.

And Adam, I am waiting breathlessly for the next installment!  
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