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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Return of the Gedolim Album: Series 2

I wrote a few weeks ago about the phenomenon that has been sweeping through Yeshivas - the Gedolim Album. Well, as wholesome a conception as the album seemed, its execution was not exactly uncontroversial. Many children (and their parents) resented the fact that some cards were "held back", making it impossible to get all the cards in the series until they were released. Some said that this wasn't an issue at all, as baseball cards are distributed similarly. There will always be rarer and more common cards. However, this rationale was not accepted by many of the series' detractors, moving some to go as far as to take the producer of the project to Bait Din. You see, it was more complicated than just not being able to complete a collection. The whole thing was actually a contest, with those who finished their albums first being eligible for all sorts of prizes, such as trips to Israel, bicycles and Seforim. People felt that if the project's creator was actually doing what was alleged, holding back certain cards completely until he sold enough cards to make back his investment and then some, then there was actually no possible way to complete the albums at all until the cards were released at the marketer's whim. Aside from being, according to an attorney pal I spoke with, possibly illegal, one could certainly make the case that this was unethical, and contrary to halachic business practices. As a matter of fact, a local Rabbi who gives Gedolim stickers along with a lollypop every shabbos to children from the shul, actually stopped giving them one week, stating as his reason the Din Torah (he inexplicably chose instead to give out cards with pictures of aircraft on them, and reportedly told a kid who asked where the rebbe cards were, that "The Chafetz Chaim is on the airplane!", but I digress). In any event, this little kerfuffle, paired with the unhealthy level of competition that some parents felt in induced in their children, stories of enterprising (some would say price-gouging) kids selling the rarest of cards to their classmates at a huge profit, and the rush to spend untold sums in order to be among the first to complete the albums, gave the whole endeavor a whiff of unpleasantness for some families.

Well, to put an end to this saga, my kids came off the bus today all abuzz. It seems that Series 2 of the Gedolim album has been released. But apparently, the project has been taken over completely by new management, and has a whole new methodology. From the front page of the album:
The New Gedolim Album
Introducing the "No-Pressure" Series
1) All 300 cards are available upon initial release of the new series
2)No "first-to-complete" contest to be held
3) Prizes and awards meet educational standards

Children! No need to rush! This is not a contest!
Everyone has an equal chance to be a winner!

Looks like this time around, whoever is organizing this is hoping to avoid the ill will that was generated by the first series. Though I learned a long time ago that there will always be complainers, I would have to assume that the changes made will turn the project into one that actually acheives what so many had hoped Series 1 would - a wholesome hobby that teaches the kids about the names and likenesses of some of our great Torah Sages. Of course, I'll have to pretend I didn't hear my son just say to his brother: "I'll trade you 314 for 345!"

14 Comments:

Anonymous Naomi said...

This is a neat idea - I didn't know these cards even existed.

11:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better they collect baseball cards than this nonsense.I had 2 of these guys as a rebbe many years ago.uch un vey

11:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Better that some spots of grey matter are taken up by these names than the stats in the baseball card albums of our youth/?

12:11 AM  
Blogger MDmom said...

better concept this time around. something similar had been going on in the school where i teach in israel (along with other schools who participated as well). the kids got albums which were tied in to a contest called "bank mishnayot." along with the card albums they were given a booklet of mishnayot to learn by heart, and every day while the contest was going on, teachers took up positions in the yard and students went to them recite their mishnayot learned from the booklet. the cards were handed out immediately upon recitation of the mishnayot and the winners of the contest (boys and girls) were the ones who had learned the most mishnayot. they not only had to memorize, but also explain what they memorized. the cards were simply the way to keep track of the mishnayot learned. the winners (one boy and one girl in 5th grade) learned more than 350 mishanyot each! runners up in other grades also learned impressive numbers of mishnayot. it was also explained to them that the 6th grade student council decided to dedicate the learning to the refua shleima of a little girl in a local hospital. it was great to see the kids so jazzed about learning -- the emphasis wasn't on the cards at all, though they loved filling up the albums -- it represented something more than pure acquisition.

9:21 AM  
Blogger gabe said...

Orthomom, you have only half a story on the dintorah. The manufacturer was taken to din torah by his partner, the photographer that provided all the photos for the first album. The manufacturer is a sleazebag that claimed he didn't make any profit at all. While his partner the photographer (a former resident of your area, which would explain why a local Rav would know that there was a din torah at all) provided him with material which he worked his whole life on.

9:32 AM  
Blogger MoChassid said...

There goes an opportunity to teach our kids capitalism. Who's going to go into investment banking now and support all of the koillels?

9:43 AM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

"Orthomom, you have only half a story on the dintorah. The manufacturer was taken to din torah by his partner, the photographer that provided all the photos for the first album. The manufacturer is a sleazebag that claimed he didn't make any profit at all. While his partner the photographer (a former resident of your area, which would explain why a local Rav would know that there was a din torah at all) provided him with material which he worked his whole life on."

Oy! What a gevaldik lesson in temimos and ehrlichkeit for the kinder! I'm sure at least a few of the photo card subjects are rolling their graves!!

11:36 AM  
Blogger Jewboy said...

This just proves the notion that frum people are making ahuge issue of everything nowadays. Everything has to be a hock.

1:15 PM  
Blogger Still Wonderin' said...

How does this prove that frum people are making a huge issue of everything nowadays?

3:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I happen to be acquainted with Mr. Gordon and I can add two things to the discussion. One is that the ads were indeed paid for in advance not at the rate card rate but pretty close to it. And, second, Mr. Gordon and Rabbi Reisman----the Rabbi in question---have a very good working relationship and are both cordial and appreciative of their different roles in our community. Additionally I know that Mr. Gordon's concern was that ---as the ad states---no one G-d forbid---dies unnecessarily because of this difference of opinion. To me it seems that the 5 Towns Jewish Times is only a vehicle for responsible organizations and others to promote themselves and their projects in a healthy and productive environment. Why does the paper or its editor have to have an agenda or an opinion to publish an ad. If the paper runs an ad for sushi at a restaurant does that mean that Mr. Gordon must like sushi? I don't think so.

12:05 PM  
Blogger David said...

I have yet to understand why collecting pictures of people and revering them is considered a good thing.

In my shul, I have seen folks bring out the "rebbe placemat" and place it in front of them when davvening. I've seen cards with pictures of Rabbis on them used in the same fashion.

Why should this be encouraged? Isn't it dangerously close to avoda zara?

11:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

the serirs #2 is a pure geaiva bec they stole the pics from other people

11:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Indeed!!!Our generation is very fortunate.Never has there been so many great gedolim as we have today.Not in Europe .Not even in PUMPEDISA.

2:53 PM  
Anonymous www.salamanca-3d.com said...

Thanks for the post, really effective info.

8:41 AM  

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