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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Gedolim Gripes

I've been thinking about the topic of this post for a while, but I finally got annoyed enough to post about it today. Here goes.

A contest was spearheaded in Yeshivas all across the US and Canada, called The Gedolim Album Contest. Basically, the Yeshivas distributed albums to the students. Within each album, there are 204 spaces for stickers of portraits of various Gedolim, past and present. The students need to fill the albums in as quickly as possible to be eligible for all sorts of prizes. From the type on the back of the album:

We invite all children to join our exciting campaign!
Be the first 135 to complete the full collection and win valuable prizes!

5 Grand prizes: first five completers win a free trip to Eretz Yisroel and to meet Gedolei Yisroel.
10 First prizes: 10 runner-ups win 10x speed bicycle.
20 Second prizes: 20 runner-ups win stereo system.
100 Third prizes: 100 runner-ups win Seforim.

Early-Bird Awards!
Be from the first 25 to collect 102 cards (halfway through) of different Gedolim and win:

5 prizes: first five win a bicycle.
20 prizes: 20 runner-ups win 50 packs of Gedolim cards (100 cards total).

Now, let me preface my rant by saying that the idea behind this project is one that I can certainly embrace as a positive one. Who can object to children buzzing about cards of great Jewish religious figures, as opposed to trading baseball cards or Pokemon cards? I certainly can't. However, the execution of this project leaves much to be desired.

The project started out with an assembly. Each student was presented with an album, and a few packs of cards. They were told that they would receive additional packs as a reward for good behavior. That all seemed perfectly noble to me. Who doesn't love a reward-based system for good behavior? My son was beyond excited, and spent the first few weeks excitedly and meticulously placing the stickers he had earned in his album, working toward the exciting goal of the hope of winning the huge prizes he had read about on the back cover. Until.

He came home one day, complaining that his friend had filled so many more spaces in his album. My son happens to be doing very well in school, both behaviorally and educationally, so I was a bit surprised that his friend seemed to be receiving so much more positive reinforcement. I brought it up at Parent-Teachers Conferences, worried I was missing something in my son's behavior. I wasn't. The Rebbe explained that while my son was behaving beautifully, and was receiving packs of stickers at a good clip, there were many students in the class that had their parents purchasing the cards for them at the local Judaica store. I was floored. I had no idea that these cards were also being sold, up and down the avenue, at $1.00 for a pack of 4. As soon as my son got wind of that, he was begging me to do the same as so many of his more well-off friends' parents were doing, and buck the system by buying huge quantities of sticker packages. I couldn't help but be reminded of the scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, where Veruca Salt, the insufferable spoiled brat, has her filthy rich father employ an entire factory of workers to unwrap and discard thousands upon thousands of candy bars in order to find one winning ticket. The comparison is even more apt when you factor in the "random" nature of the stickers in the packages. I found this out the hard way. I finally gave in to my son's begging, and purchased a stack of packages to award him with when I felt his behavior warranted it. Unfortunately, the packages I bought all seemed to have been from an unshuffled print run, and my son received at least four of almost every card. I am not a statistician, but I would think that for him to receive 6 packs, with almost the identical cards in each pack by chance, would have to be a highly coincidental event, and statistically improbable. So my splurging for the cards didn't even get my son anywhere. Seemingly, in order for my son to be competitive, I would have had to purchase hundreds of packs. But the kicker was when my son came home, aslking me for a dollar, to buy some cards off an older kid who was selling them for a "discount" on the bus. (Yes, I called the Yeshiva to inform them of the wheeling-and-dealing that one of their students were involved in. Though I have a feeling that this particular student will have his name prominently displayed on the main Yeshiva building in 20 years.) In addition, the prizes were all won very early on in the contest. Likely by parents who had a similar game plan to that of the aforementioned fictional Mr. Salt. Which, of course, made the contest a heck of a lot less competitive.

Now, I have no particular problem with the school running a behavior contest. A point system for good behavior can be fun, and competitive, and the prizes can be just as large and extravagant. But points cannot be bought in the local Judaica store or kosher supermarket. When they can, it becomes less a behavior contest than a wealth contest. And Lord knows we have enough of those around here.

Another issue I had with the contest was the subjectivity of the albums. For example, I personally know that there is a Lubavitch parent in my son's school who was extremely offended and incensed to see the past Lubavitcher Rebbe omitted from the album. Where is Rav Yosef Dov Soloveitchik, inarguably a Gadol of our generation? Who was the arbiter of who the top 204 Gedolim are?

Again, let me reiterate that I think this project was of noble conception. But also of extremely poor execution.


Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

Ah yes -- the Rebbe stickers. Our Rav had mentioned that many kids have been requesting those (currently, he distributes Rebbe cards along with a lollipop to anxious children after davening Shabbos morning).

You do raise a valid point -- failure in execution is usually attributed to little planning or thinking in advance. Many people have good intentions when they come up with things (think back to the BMG Chinese Auction fiasco), but don't know how to properly implement those ideas.

Last week I heard of someone who went to a local bookstore on the avenue and purchased an entire box of stickers. At first, I was dan l'kaf z'chus figuring that person would give his kid a pack a week for good behavior, etc -- but then the bold statement was followed by another comment of "you'd be surprised, but there weren't really that many duplicates in the whole box"... which would mean all of the packages had to have been opened.

My son takes his rebbe stickers seriously and strives to get more of them -- but I'll tell you that it isn't for the prizes mentioned on the back. And to me, just the fact that he knows the names of these gedolim and can visually match a face to a name, that alone is worth it.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Great classic Om post. Classic.

About the topic, I agree. The veruca Salt comparison is brilliant.

11:59 PM  
Blogger Rafi G. said...

I agree with what you say. In my kids school they solved the problem by making their own cards of gedolim for an album so you could not replace it with purchased cards. They had to be from that set.
It probably was a result of lack of forethought and proper planning.

6:20 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

OrthoMom: Well, we have the concept and execution worked out perfectly (for a change) here in Israel.

We have the same albums (yet in Hebrew). However, they aren't part of school at all. They are part of the nation-wide "Avot U'Banim" program, where parents and children learn together every motzei shabbat at the local Beit Midrash or shul.

You get a pack of gedolim stickers every time you show up. Thats it. Not connected to behavior...not connected to anything...just show up with a parent and learn. It doesn't have to be learning for school...just learning.

I must admit, its a great sticker book, and I personally learned alot from it.

Next year in Yerushalayim!


6:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a different problem with this scenario that bothers me just as much.

Kids should be pushed to excellence and have them challenge THEMSELVES competitavely.

It is for this reason I hated the star system where kids would recieve a star and their successes would be ranked on the classroom wall against one another.

Since when should my child be measured against 20 other kids in the classroom???

Self esteem and confidence comes from children who feel that they have succeeded in their own benchmarks. They should say that they accomplished what they set out to do...

9:39 AM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

i'm surprised that you're surprised

10:04 AM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Another good one, OM.

I thought the teachers in my elementary school were wise - in 2nd grade, we all had our own "Kochavim" cards which were not on the wall etc. to compare. We held them on our own to be proud of them - and each time one was "finished" we'd trade it in for a prize.

In 6th grade, our teacher tracked "points" for us, and taught us a bit of economics. We could trade in 6 for a soda, or wait until we had like 100 for a small siddur with our name in it. But the points were non-transferrable and private: Only you could "earn" yourself a point.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Noam S said...

Hmmmmm. lots and lots of pictures of guys in hats and kaputa's. Oh, and beards and peyos. I bet some are wearing talessim, and some maybe wearing tefillin. Can you really tell them apart?

Before I get yelled at for being mevaze talmedei chachamim, consider this: Is this the group of people who have just said that the Rambam's approach to science and Talmud is kefira? That women should leave shul before Ain Kelokenu on shabbat so that there will be no mingling of the sexes after davening?

Certainly todays gedolim symbolize great learning and personal piety. And as such they are to be admired and respected. However, they are also taking Yiddishkeit down the path of obscurantism, anti-rationalism, and keeping the halacha and practice mired in 18th and 19th century concepts of society and defense against the reform. It would be much better to give children role models who emobody not only learning and personal piety, but also an appreciation and knowledge of today's world. Or, those from our long and glorious history who represent all that is good in our tradition- Rambam, Ramban, Rashi, etc.

11:09 AM  
Blogger Renegade Rebbetzin said...

Despicable. I'm so sorry for your son.

I'm the last person in the world to dish out parenting advice when it wasn't asked for, especially to obviously superlative parents such as yourself, but I'm so upset on your child's behalf that I'm not going to feel better until I make my little suggestion (and vicariously pretend that I did it, see):

When he fills up his album, or even before he fills his album but reaches some other milestone (60% of it filled, or something), reward him with a super-fun outing for him and a few friends.

OK, I'm done now. Give him a hug for me. :-)

12:23 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...


My son isn't particularly distraught over it either. But the whole system of aquiring the stickers is what disturbs me. And there are certainly kids who have a more competitive streak than he does, who are agonizing over completing their albums.

rafi and Jameel:

Both of those systems sound less competitive overall, and focus on the right values.


I agree, and OF COURSE I would hope that the understanding on the part of each teacher is to expect each student to be performing well according to his own abilities. I don't think it's based on actual number grades, so much as effort.




This system, in its original inception, was not dissimilar to those you're describing. Just that makiung the cards (or points, or kochavim) available for purchase corrupts the whole system.


It's not that bad. The gedolim that are represented are inarguably deserving, and well-representative of most walks of Judaism, and most are not weraing talleisim. And if anything, Rashi, Rambam and Ranman are names my children hear about and learn from on a daily basis in Yeshiva.


Thanks for the hugs. And the idea is a great one - I will definitely be doing that. As I noted above, my son is not overly competitive, and has been able to see the project as a valuable one even when the context of a contest is taken away, but many other students feel otherwise, and are really consumed with this.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Darchei parent. I was not aware this was a contest. My son asked for a pack of the cards as a reward for a beatiful report card, and I thought this was an excellent (and economical)idea. Perhaps other parents were rewarding their sons as well for good behavior. Perhaps they felt it was an affordable chanuka gift.

1:47 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

LOL. The cards aren't quite THAT expensive.

5towns mom:
That's very nice. I'm glad that your son. like mine, was happy with a few packs. But that was not the case with other children. These may well be children who are used to receiving their every request from their parents, but they are certainly receiving this one. I actually asked the man behind the counter at the local Judaica store today whether people are buying the cards up in huge quantities, and he said that not only are parents buying them by the box - but KIDS are coming in with 20$ bills asking for 20 packs of cards. I don't necessarily think that this is an unwholesome way for children to spend their Chanukah gelt, especially as compared to video games or comic books, but this certainly isn't perfect. It isn't like buying a book, or even a toy, where you get exactly what you pay for. These kids are buying the packages of cards, gambling on the fact that they will get the cards they need to finish the album when the open the 20 packs of cards they have just splurged on. Instead, they are learning about the random nature of the packaging of these cards the hard way, by being left with tens of duplicate cards for the money they have spent. I am not crazy about the lesson. Yes, if every parent went ahead and used them as occasional rewards for good behavior then there wouldn't be a problem. But that's just not gonna happen in the Five Towns.

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Or in Brooklyn, Teaneck, Monsey, Baltimore, or anywhere else.

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OrthoMom, I have to ask. Your comments and critiques are so insicive and spot on while still being very respectful. Why dont you get involved in your son's PTA? I'm sure you would be an asset to the school.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I gotta tell you, that I disagree with the presmise that this is a worthwhile venture, even if it was conducted properly.
What educational message is being conveyed to the children? I'm sorry to say that I don't see any difference, at the deepest level, between this and baseball cards or even People magazine. It's all about celebrity worship. What are the kids learning from this? What Torah message is being conveyed? All you end up with is an album full of pictures of dudes with beards, albeit very holy dudes, not to chalilah deride them. But ultimately, the kids learn nothing.
My objection are rooted in the following:
1) You noted the absence of pic. of the Lubavitche rebbe or Rav Soloviechik. Not to ruffle any feathers, but you will note that there are also no women, not even chareidi women included.
2) Obviously you would have wanted your kid to see other gedolim. What about the ones who should be omitted? Do you really want your kid to emulate the Satmar Rav? I certainly don't. Again, I am not minimizing his frumkeit, but his ain't mine, and I want no part of it.

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also, how about teaching some Torah here?
You can have stickers with something pertaining to Tanach: The Kelim in the Mishkan, the Sheva minim, Halachic concepts like different brachos or the melachos os Shabbos etc.
Why gedolim? Because at the end of the day, even the Chareidim are living in a People Magazine culture.

3:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure they're not available in stores? I've seen them around.

4:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree. It's a wonderful project.

4:32 PM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Great post. You know, until now, my only problem was with the big picture of diefying rabbonim; rabbonim from one particular segment of frumkeit no less. I hate the trend and think it terrible. Before this whole album narishkeit, I wouldn't let my wife buy gedolim cards and rather settled on the 'mitzvah cards'. When this album came home, I rolled my eyes, but kept my mouth shut for the sake of my son. I had no clue there was a contest involved (israel, bikes?!) until last week, and had no idea that this was a motivational gimmick until now.

5:16 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

I saw one in Israel that was 'historical places' - Kever Rachel, Me'aras Hamachpela, etc. I thought that was cool.


This system, in its original inception, was not dissimilar to those you're describing. Just that makiung the cards (or points, or kochavim) available for purchase corrupts the whole system.


6:25 PM  
Blogger DovBear said...

I don't know why the lot of you remain "darchai parents"

What you are describing is disgusting.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

DB, this is not just darchei. And I quote:

"A contest was spearheaded in Yeshivas all across the US and Canada.

In fact many schools in Brooklyn are running the same contest and the same phenomenon is occuring there.

6:59 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I disagree with all those claiming that this is 'celebrity worship' and for that matter those who claim that gedolim worship is necessarily bad.

Firstly, if your child has any contact with the outside world (i.e. sports, tv, movies, etc), he already is 'indoctrinated' into celebrity worship, so having him 'worship' gedolim is actually a step in the right direction. Instead of 'worshipping' the knicks or giant players, or tv stars, he would be better off 'worshipping' gedolim.

Secondly, I don't agree that these sets of cards, or a yeshiva's acts supporting these cards, means that they support all the views of the people depicted on them. It can be just a matter of showing respect for the torah knowledge possessed by these gedolim. So although you might not agree with the views of the Satmar Rav (for you mo rabbi), you admit that he knows a wealth more torah than you or I do. Although different rabanim may disagree on various topics, they still respect each others knowledge. I see nothing wrong with my child doing the same. Its not as if he is going to become a ________ (choose your least or most favorite gadol here) fanatic in elementary school. As he gets older he will learn the finer points of the different views of the gedolim and may then choose who he wishes to follow etc. Now its just a matter of familiarization with torah greats.

A final point is that unlike sports cards where the players are chosen based on fixed rosters, there are no official rosters of gedolim. As such, it is likely that no two personal lists of gedolim will be the same. (especially with 204) It doesn't mean that the practice of promoting gedolim cards is a bad one.

7:10 PM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

Sounds like it's just a matter of time before these little yeshiva brats figure out some way to play poker with all their extra Rabbi cards -- some kind of Texas Godol 'em.

By then these do-gooder Rabbi Card marketing whores will have started yet one more another superficial obsession to fill the heads of bored, under-stimulated yeshiva kids.

Will they ever get tired of being wrong?

7:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, OY. I am not a fan of "rewarding" kids for good behavior in this way. Good behavior should be EXPECTED of them. We are all expected to obey traffic signals, the laws of the US, the laws of human decency, etc. As far as I am aware the US government doesn't have a system where I am reviewed every 3 months, and if I maintain a perfect driving record, I get stickers of past presidents. Rewards only reinforce that good behavior is to get something, rather than to BE something. I read your blog often, and have never posted, but this post hit a nerve. No disrespect meant to your yeshiva or community OM. It is just the method of encouraging good behavior that I take issue with. You and OrthoDad seem to be involved and conciencious parents - your son is lucky to have you!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So is kids are indoctrinated into a culture of celebrity worship, we should encourage a more acceptable form of it rather than actually trying to educate them when they're young? Oy.
Moreover, I don't go for the argument that they know more Torah than you or I for two reasons:
1) So did Acher, or for that matter Moses Mendelsohn, and they ain't making it onto any stickers any time soon. Now the truth is that I want my child to know that there are stripes and variations of Judaism, to the left and right. But this project is not accomplishing that in any way.
2) As I mentioned, at the end of theday it is an empty project. No ONe is actually learning anything from this. When I was a kid, we were rewarded for studying Mishnayos by heart. By those standards, this is bitul Torah at best, and at worst (which is more likely) something far more nefarious.

7:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oy vey! I certainly missed out on this one!

The cards and albums are very popular here in Chicago, but they are not being used by any of the schools as part of reward system. The albums are being distributed through the Avot U'Banim program, but other than that, the kids are on their own to spend Chanukah gelt or cadge money from their parents.

I guess we got in on the craze after most of the prizes had been awarded (or were assumed to have been awarded), so now the boys are treating them like kosher baseball cards, trading their extras or foisting them onto younger brothers, etc.

Interesting that the girls are not particularly taken by this enterprise. Not sure if they'd react differently if an appropriate way existed to depict female role models or if girls by nature aren't as keen on collecting cards of this nature.

8:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll tell you--sometimes when I read all this I'm almost glad my son got thrown out of his day school. This nonsense doesn't go on in public school.

11:55 PM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...

I'm not sure if the Israel cards and the US ones are the same, but in Israel, the focus is not so much on the "gedolim" but with a heavy emphasis on what sefarim they wrote. Its very educational and not really "godol worship" at all.

My kids like the album...its also more interesting for them to read than the Yiddish "maisim toyvim" card game some joker gave my kids for Chanuka.

7:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The wheeler dealer of my yeshiva days continues his wheeling and dealing up to this day.And guess what,his family's name is on one of our local yeshiva buildings.

9:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If your son has duplicates let him trade with other kids.half the fun of collecting cards is trading.

10:05 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

MO Rabbi, you are being quite hypocritical. You state that "now the truth is that I want my child to know that there are stripes and variations of Judaism, to the left and right." However, in same breath as decrying their exclusion of RYBS, you decry the inclusion of the Satmar rebbe.

You are not advocating substituting the yeshivas' closemindedness with openness. You merely want to substitute their closemindedness with your own.

11:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so you gave in and became the very ppl you attack. partof the problem or solution.....

11:34 AM  
Blogger DovBear said...

I cant fugure out if you are insulting beryl wein or paying homage to him.

1:38 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

neither can we

2:21 PM  
Blogger topshadchan said...

Torah cards are a business.
It should be assured in schools.
they use the cards like we did with baseball cards, by playing the flip with them (you know where you see which side the card ends up on.)
its a total bizayon.
And I agree with a fellow commentor, this will work itself into poker or gambling.
I was at a party where the 8th grade yeshivishe kids were placing bets with a bookie over the phone.

5:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Krum as a bagel:
I do not think that I am being hypocritical. I don't really decry the exclusion of the Rav, nor the inclusion of the Satmar Rebbe. I am not so trite as to make this another banal discussion of "open mindedness vs. closed mindedness". What I *am* saying is that when Yeshivos encourage my child to engage in a given activity, it should contain some educational, inspirational and meaningful message. I want my child to be learning values. As such, there are values that I want him or her to be learning, and there are values that I do not. I want my child to have the values of Rav Soloveitchik: intelectual, rigorous, engaged with the world on many levels, community oriented etc.
I do not want my child to have cetain of the values of the Satmar Rav: Anti-Zionist, isolationist, extreme, superstitious etc. (The Satmar Rav is a straw man, obviously. You'll note that based on some of the "Satmar Rav" criteria, I wouldn't want my child to have the values of, say, Rav Zvi Yehuda Kook either. )
As a parent, and a Rabbi, I think it is my prerogative, nay, responsibility to make these descisions.
My major objection to this project is not its "closedmindedness" but the fact that in my estimation it is teaching nothing, at best, and at worst, the message of empty hero-worship.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Orthomom - I think you see how a good post can go bad. You made a valid point about the execution of this project in yeshivos, and meanwhile there are those who claim it will lead to gambling, and one who is happy his kid is in public school and doesn't have to worry about gadol-card shenanigans - he only has to worry about the activities (guns/knives/drugs/sex etc) that his son's classmates are engaging in.

As for MO Rabbi and others, when looking for a yeshivah for your child, you try to find the place that most matches your values. To find a yeshivah exactly spot on with everything you believe, is almost impossible. It is then your responsibility to explain and show your child how some of your views differ from those held by the yeshivah and others. Instead of complaining about the card project, you can simply explain to your child that there are those who you believe should not be in the set and those you think should be added - you can even make your own cards for those. That is the responsibility of parents. By complaining about what yeshivah's do - especially a project with only good intentions, you are actually teaching your child something quite different than you intended.

7:23 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Personally I think you have a lot of animosity to those who are more fortunate then you.
Personally, I think you are wrong. Do you think it will break the bank for me to buy my son the same 100$ worth of Rebbe cards as some other parents are doing? I can tell you that it won't. This isn't a matter of means, it's a matter of value systems.

Try picking on some of the negative things they do next time.
Clearly, that's what I'm doing. At least in my opinion. And if you don't agree with my opinion, that's OK. It's MY blog.

7:27 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Orthomom - I think you see how a good post can go bad. You made a valid point about the execution of this project in yeshivos, and meanwhile there are those who claim it will lead to gambling, and one who is happy his kid is in public school and doesn't have to worry about gadol-card shenanigans

Listen, I hear you. That being said, I don't think that the risk of causing people to jump on the gripe banwagon means that I am not allowed to lob any critcism whatsoever at my children's educators. I am entrusting my son to the Yeshiva he attends six days a week, eight hours a day. Factor in the 11 hours a night he is sleeping, and he spends far more time daily with his educators. I am entitled to level a reasonable amount of respectful criticism at those people who are taking my job over for such a good part of my son's life.

7:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sing it, sistah!! You go, OM!

9:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think the gambling aspect of these projects is a huge problem that should not be ignored. Money and values MUST be connected. And, the fact that people are allowing their children to spend their discretionary money gambling on the chance that a certain Rebbe's card will be in that $1 pack seems to me like a "gateway" to playing the lotto.

Gambling is apparantely becoming a serious problem in the frum community. I don't know the extent of the problem being that I am primarily around adults and toddlers. But, I from the risky financial behavior that I see adults in the frum community engaging in, it would not surprise me a bit that the teenagers are just as attracted to a quick buck.

11:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think that the risk of causing people to jump on the gripe banwagon means that I am not allowed to lob any critcism whatsoever at my children's educators.

Orthomom - I was not saying you have no such right, all I was pointing out is the negative direction even constructive criticism can lead to.

Its actually good to see you justifying your right to criticise - although if you've read the comments on this or any blog you'd realize that many people don't feel such a need. At least until someone is criticizing THEM.

1:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What kind of values are they teaching if seforim are third (actually fourth) prize?

9:34 AM  
Blogger Jameel @ The Muqata said...


5 Grand prizes: first five completers win a free trip to Eretz Yisroel and to meet Gedolei Yisroel.

Much better than sefarim.

10 First prizes: 10 runner-ups win 10x speed bicycle.

Think how quickly kids will be able to bike to their local Beit Midrash to learn? Zrizim makdimim.

20 Second prizes: 20 runner-ups win stereo system.

Download Daf Yomi MP3s files (or listen to the Chvera). Gets kids in the mood for learning.

100 Third prizes: 100 runner-ups win Seforim.

Didn't win any of the big prizes...maybe you can trade them in for more gedolim cards for a chance to win next year ;-)

6:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Now, let me preface my rant by saying that the idea behind this project is one that I can certainly embrace as a positive one. Who can object to children buzzing about cards of great Jewish religious figures, as opposed to trading baseball cards or Pokemon cards? I certainly can't. However, the execution of this project leaves much to be desired."

I couldn't disagree more. Gedolim are not celebrites. If you don't want them trading baseball cards, don't allow it, but there's no question in my mind that if they trade cards, it's better that they trade baseball cards than Gedolim cards. This is a trivialization of talmud torah and talmidei chachomim and no surprise that it comes from a group that claims to venerate them.
You should also be aware that many prewar gedolim did not want to be photographed at all - some refused period, others have photos taken only for passports and official documents - and they would consider this near avoda zora.
The fetishization of gedolim pictures is an abhorent practice. Talk about not keeping the secular world's values out of Jewish society!

4:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Firstly, if your child has any contact with the outside world (i.e. sports, tv, movies, etc), he already is 'indoctrinated' into celebrity worship, so having him 'worship' gedolim is actually a step in the right direction. Instead of 'worshipping' the knicks or giant players, or tv stars, he would be better off 'worshipping' gedolim."

He'll be better off learning that we behave differently and don't cheapen and commoditize spiritual values and leaders.

4:30 AM  
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5:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please distribute my email address to anyone willing to trade stickers. It seems I have multiples of Gedolim stickers for about 70% of the total collection. I have a list of what I need to complete both albums 1 & 2 and am willing to trade even 2 for 1 to obtain the outstanding photos to be inserted.

Louis Schonfeld

12:59 PM  
Anonymous Noam S. said...

I am a teacher at one of the largest schools in the New York area. Having been in Jewish education for over 20 years, I can comfortably state that the Taryag project is the most advanced and state of the art curriculum in Jewish history. They have been endorsed by Jewish leaders from ALL communities. To set the record straight, my understanding is, is that there are two levels of the Mitzvah cards; one with pictures and one without, for the older students. The organization has been solicited by countless judaica stores worldwide, to sell publicly the attractive and educationally sound Junior Mitzvah Cards but have declined, as the way I understand it, it is available only through schools as it is part of a much larger Torah/Jewish educational program.

To quote my headmaster, "What Artscroll has done for the world of Jewish publishing, Taryag is doing for the world of Jewish education" yet I wonder why the Schottenstien Shas has no endorsements from MY roshei yeshivot like Rav Shechter and Rav Lichtenstein (only endorsements from charaidi, right wing rabbonim) yet have no problem approaching their students, some of them who studied with me in YU for their sponsorship and funding. My headmaster took the Taryag program to myself and 25 of my colleagues and noted that aside from the outstanding and professional materials; the reason he is bringing it into his school, is directly due to the fact that Taryag Legacy Foundation has sought and included endorsements and support from rabbonim and community leaders in all communities including my own. Is our money kosher and our rabbanim traif?

There is also in work a 20 volume encyclopedia that is the most comprehensive work ever published on the Mitzvos in Jewish history. It includes the laws of each mitzvah, the suggested reasons and a wealth of Medrash and stories from the Talmud pertaining to the mitzvah. It is already out in Hebrew, English and Spanish and as I understand due to be released this coming year in Russian, French and Yiddish.

The closest thing to justifying the concept of “Gedolim” cards or stickers is found in the Jerusalem Talmud Tractate Shabbat Chapter 1 where it states; “When quoting a Tanah or Amorah it should be as if you see the actual face and person who is being quoted in front of your eyes” This entire idea of rabbanim stickers and cards are born out of two misguided or perhaps worse fraudulent and Taliban like ideas. The creator and seller of these types of cards, shrewdly observing a large portion of the Jewish community in great need of hero worship makes the quick buck. The community at large then, as in many Jewish areas play the role of the blind leading the blind.

Continued in next comment. ------>

7:15 PM  
Anonymous Noam S. said...

My father in law who lives in a small industrial town in Texas, and does not have a strong Jewish background once asked me after receiving a copy of a leading charaidi Jewish newspaper asked me the following. “Son, I am just curious how the rating and labeling system is designed?” Mr. Levi, R’ Levi, now it’s Reb Levi, then Rabbi Levi. Leaving the minor leagues behind, one now graduates to Rav Levi then Harav Levi (now to the Major Leagues Harav Levi shlita’ then we go back 1,500 years in history and bring in the Geonim.) Harav Hagoan Rav Levi Shlita and then, nearing the top and depending on what color kippa one wears we reach MARAN Hagoan…. He asked me “if this is based upon age, jeans size (oops!) number of students, frequent flyer mileage (which has become a prerequisite to becoming a gadol) I know! I Know! Of course, our gedolim are constantly on the move from city to city to give chizuk to us, simple and lost sheep. My 5 year olds understanding of a true gadol is one who sits and learns; not spends their time traveling or posing for photo opps. Is the title awarded in the newspaper given after they are given a written exam and score in the top 2 percent?

My dear brothers and sisters, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but we are lost, confused, arrogant and are being led by the blind.

We teach our children to label others, judge the scholarship, social and rabbinic status of our fellow Jews based upon the externals of life. Divisiveness and bittul (putting your fellow Jew down because he is not like you) has become the venom that parents, teachers and rabbonim from all communities breastfeed their infant children from birth. As the Talmud states in Tractate Yevomot; “Under certain conditions the house of Hillel considered the children of Shamai as biblically legal BASTARDS, yet they held each other in the highest regard and respect.” Certainly the recent disagreements regarding the issue of Heter Mechira is a far less serious issue as it does not involve capitol punishment or Kareis should not cause hatred and divisiveness. I respectfully challenge anyone to cite a source that the color of ones kippah or length or lack of beard, plays any role in the biblical precept of Ahavat Yisroel, loving your fellow Jew. Pherhaps one of the thousands of Gaonim in America can deplane and educate us all. As the Talmud states at the end of Tractate Sotah 49b; “THE FACE OF OUR GENERATION IS LIKE THE FACE OF A DOG” Sadly, this is where we are.


7:16 PM  
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