April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Question Should Be ‘Why Did You Not Show Up?’

To the JLNJ staff who, unfortunately, took the easy path of criticizing fellow Jews in the community for, in your words, not bothering to “show up” to this one particular talk on the tuition crisis: Shame on you for slandering good people by imputing characteristics of apathy and/or laziness to our community and, by so doing, possibly impeding progress on this important issue (“Want to Help the Tuition Crisis? Show Up!” October 26, 2017).

For the record:

Jews in our community do “show up” all the time for everything… and then some. They show up at their full-time jobs and often work overtime to make up for missed time due to early Fridays and Yom Tov. They show up at their homes to parent multiple children of multiple ages and stages within their immediate families. They show up at their grandparents/aunts/uncles/cousins/relatives’ homes to deal with the competing needs and demands of extended family. They show up at both Jewish and secular community events to lend their time, effort and support. And, they show up to perform many time-consuming tasks that are required to live the life of an Orthodox Jew.

Jews in our community do “show up” when it counts. When it means something. And when they know it will accomplish something.

And, the implication that they are lazy and/or apathetic simply because they didn’t drop everything they were doing, pay a babysitter a considerable sum, sit in considerable traffic and go to a meeting that offered a questionable return on their investment of preciously limited time and energy, is both unfair and unwarranted.

To the organizers of this event and any/all future events on this topic and other topics of import to our community:

Your efforts to inform us and engage us are extremely important and appreciated, but please don’t plan a live event as the sole method to do so. If you truly want a dialogue with both experts and lay people contributing ideas, we ask that you kindly consider the following suggestions:

1. If an expert who has the ability to effect real change has a true “chiddush” on the topic, which means not just rehashing what’s already been said ad nauseum and complaining about the status quo, then that expert should publish it and publicize it in the Jewish media via newspapers, magazines etc. where people can read about it at their convenience.

Or, if the material is better presented as a live presentation, then that expert should give the community the courtesy of live-streaming/downloading it to YouTube and/or transcribing it and then publicizing it via email campaigns/social media, so that people can watch/read the information from the comfort and convenience of their own homes and at a time of their choosing.

Then, create some kind of electronic forum for people to “talk” about it.

Thank God, we live in an era where, by use of affordable/free technology, it is possible to supplant live events with virtual ones, which not only helps make everyone’s hyper-scheduled, busy life a bit easier, it has the potential to expand the reach of the conversation way beyond 135 chairs set up at a meeting…

Perhaps The Jewish Link or a private individual or organization could set up a “Mod-Ox Chatterbox” online forum to address the important issues of our community in a structured, organized, pro-active way.

2. Please understand that we do have a lot to contribute to the conversation, and we want to do so. But, we don’t appreciate it when others misconstrue our absence at a particular event as a sign of laziness or disinterest and then, not so subtly, imply that we deserve this crisis because we didn’t “show up” at a meeting.

Making an effort to understand why people in our community didn’t show up to the meeting would have, could have, should have been the first step to getting people in our community to show up at future events. Showing us up for not “showing up” is not helpful and, perhaps, ultimately, the real reason that this issue has never been, and may never be, solved. After all, real solutions will only come from those who understand real people and the real problems that they face.

Looking forward to more “virtual” conversations on this topic and others.

Chaviva Rosenbluth

Highland Park

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