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Sunday, March 12, 2006

Purim Politics

Spring is in the air, another holiday is upon us, and it's that time of year when thoughts turn to writing a new classic Orthomom rant (TM) on the (mostly) wonderful community the Orthofamily calls home.

Purim. A holiday of fun and festivities. A joyous holiday where kids and adults alike can concentrate on the seemingly fun and relaxing task of visiting friends and family to deliver packages of food and wine. Well. As with everything else in the Five Towns, things aren't so simple out here. With the joy and celebration Purim entails comes the endless battle of one-upmanship that some residents of the Five Towns seem to live for engaging in. Here are a few examples:

Which child doesn't look forward to dressing up for Purim? I remember fondly the days of my youth, when I would agonize for days over what to dress up as for the holiday. Except. Long gone are the days of homemade, construction-paper and glitter crowns for Ahashverosh and Esther, and beards drawn on faces (with Mom's eyeliner) for Haman. Oh no. Some of the costumes that I see on the backs of neighborhood children these days are nothing short of breathtaking. I mean, we are talking worthy of Best Costume nominations at the Oscars. I have seen girls walking around in little Geisha costumes that are authentic enough to fool the most discerning Western businessman (kidding). Firemen that have not only a full uniform and hard hat, but an axe, oxygen tank, rescue ladder, hose - I wouldn't be surprised to see some local kids being chauffeured around to deliver Shalach Manot in a rented fire truck. Which brings me to the next topic.

Shalach Manot.
These packages of food are distributed to friends and family members. Used to be, a small bottle of grape juice with baggie of homemade hamantaschen loaded into a little basket and you were good to go. Not anymore. Now, Shalach Manot are as much a staus symbol as the luxury cars and designer shoes that mark status out here. A few years back, "theme" Shalach Manot were popular. I remember getting countless packages that included a decorative teapot, tea bags, honey and lemons. Another recurring theme was a fishbowl containing goldfish crackers and a bottle of water. These days, when minimalism has become de rigueur, the hottest trend seems to be color coordination. Last year I received a blue box with everything inside in the same hue. Blue candy, a cobalt blue glass bottle of vodka, cookies with blue icing, and it was all wrapped up with a blue ribbon and a custom printed blue decal with the distributing family's name and purim wishes imprinted on it. In addition to the obvious cash expenditures that go into making these creations, the enormous amount of time that go into them is another thing entirely. I have acquaintances that have been packaging these for weeks, using every spare second of their time. And of course, who would trust their children to assist with the packing as I remember fondly doing when I was a child? Young children might commit the cardinal sin of tying a ribbon askew, or neglecting to include one of the myriad coordinated items that make up the package. That would border on the disastrous. I went to a friend to drop something off last week, and though she was not home, her housekeeper was sitting at the dining room table, packing and wrapping her employer's Shalach Manot packages. Is it just me, or is there something very, very wrong about paying a non-Jew to package your mitzvah up? Something else that really bugs me? As many shuls do, the sisterhood of my shul gives shul members the opportunity to participate in giving and receiving a package that the sisterhood creates and delivers, for the cost of around $70. This ostensibly saves time, as well as doing the service of helping raise money for the shul. Which is a wonderful concept - if it actually worked. Though an understanding exists that people should not give private Shalach Manot to anyone included on the list, more and more people have been ignoring that unwritten rule in recent years, and some have lately expressed to me that they wonder if the whole idea had run its course if people are just going to give each other twice. Another big trend in Shalach Manot is that now, the kids create themed packages of their own to give out to their own friends. We're talking fancy. My kids received packages from their friends last year that were far nicer than anything I ever gave out. And in exchange for delivering these fabulously appointed goodie baskets, they receive "Purim Gelt" at the doors of the recipients. Which, of course, brings me to the next subject.

Purim Gelt.
Does anyone else remember getting a quarter at the most? Well, apparently, the neighborhoods kids banded together to demand a Cost of Living increase. Because my kids made a serious amount of money last year. They got at least a dollar (each!) at every house - and they received five-dollar bills from more than a few package recipients when they made the drop-off. Couple that number with the ever-growing list of recipients (this year I made 75 packages!) and... you do the math. That's a pretty good take for something that's a mitzvah as well. The amount of one-dollar bills that I need to pick up from the bank grows every year. I learned my lesson a few years back when I oh-so-pathetically had to borrow from one of my kid's stash when I ran out.

Welcome to the Five Towns.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Time to make aliyah! :)

3:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lol. Great post. Classic OrthoMom.(TM)

3:57 PM  
Blogger MoChassid said...


You forgot one other aspect: The tzedakah card. This, too, is a good idea run amok. It is supposed to be in lieu of sending shalach manot but it ends up being something extra.

MHW and I decided to hold our ground a number of years ago. Each of the kids gives to a couple of very good friends and to their rebbes and morot (if they are local), we give to immediate family, do the shul thing, buy the tzedakah cards and that's it.

MHW is making hamentashen right now with our daughters. Just like in the old days.

4:01 PM  
Blogger MUST Gum Addict said...

I will agree (and vehemently so) with every one of your points. I'll admit that when I first got married, it was fun as my wife and I spent quality time together coming up with cute ideas for shalach manos. At the same time of course, being a young couple, we couldn't afford anything extravagant -- I can't remember us spending more than $5 at best on a package.

Of course, it's also important to realize that we had only to create packages enough for our immediate family and just a few friends.

Today, that has all changed. Dramatically.

Yes, we give to towards the shul shalach manos, but there are also several shuls in the community now and there are plenty of people on our block should be getting shalach manos as well (or so we a led to believe). Then add the kids (a list of their friends and a lisst of people who they want to become friends with).

Oh, it really goes on forever. This year specifically, I had hoped that it would stop. I know people who spend sick amounts of money on these "gifts" that are just either regifted or tossed in the garbage anyway -- I used to bring a large bag of candy to work after Purim back in the day.

But what gets me the most is the whole "package" thing. The mitzvah is to give 2 foods. So where does a salad bowl fit in? A challah board? A picture frame? An ice bucket? A serving dish? It's crazy.

The wife and I have made a decision to give Chai Lifeline cards instead of most of our shalach manos, of which I encourage others to do as well (or for other tzedakas), but yet, I am still finding my house filled with lists of people, etc. It seems you can't get away from it.

Ein Ledavar Sof?

4:03 PM  
Blogger chareidi said...

I just buy two big shalach monos for two rabbis I know and all the other hundreds of shalach monos I get goes around in a revolving circle. Many people I know just reroute the baskets they get to the next relative or friend. keep it simple.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Ezzie said...

Amazing post, OM, and it's not just restricted to the Five Towns. I didn't understand as a kid why my parents in Cleveland wouldn't give more than about 20 Shaloch Manos... and would only let me make like 7. But after a couple of years where ppl in Cleveland went a bit nuts, most people there settled into normalcy.

What I don't understand is (please don't take offense) why you take out all the singles to do the same as your neighbors. Why not give out a quarter or two? The kids are excited to get anything - a couple candies would (or should!) make most of them happy. Instead of continuing the trend, why not stop it yourself?

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The visual of the maid wrapping up your frind's shlach manos is rich.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So it's ok for there to be inflation when your kids want their 'gelt", but if the teachers want their COL increase, then they are "money-grubbing". The pots are calling the kettles black I think.

4:23 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Ezzie, no offense taken. I don't really mind about the dollar bills, it makes the kids happy and doesn't make or break whether we can pay our bills. It's just significant in light of the obscene amounts of money some of my co-5-Towners spend on other aspects of the holiday. When you spend as little on the cheap cheerful (but adorable) shalach manot as we do, the giving of a dollar remains a pleasure. If I spent the $10-20 per package that people do out here, the extra $100 in gelt adds up.

4:27 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

So it's ok for there to be inflation when your kids want their 'gelt", but if the teachers want their COL increase, then they are "money-grubbing". The pots are calling the kettles black I think.

Um...the Cost of Living reference was a joke. It was meant to bring to mind the increase the teachers are requesting. Kids don't really band together and make demands. Oh, forget it.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So it's ok for there to be inflation when your kids want their 'gelt",

Why does it seem that whenever someone makes a pro-LTA argument here (often on posts having nothing to do with the LTA), vaguely anti-semitic imagery is used?

5:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I saw this post coming from a mile away. And it wasn't $70, it was $65.

5:38 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

I would actually feel highly uncomfortable if someone brought us a $20 bottle of liquor since the reciprocation isn't going to be more than some baked goods and a piece of fruit.

I really hate it when people decide to be machmir on getting smashed out of their mind and outdoing their neighbors. Hardly the spirit of Purim.

Chag Purim Sameach, Orthomom.

9:16 PM  
Blogger and so it shall be... said...

"Kids don't really band together and make demands. Oh, forget it."

...oh, you didn't hear? The kids are unionizing and plan to picket in front of Ashur Mansdorf's office tomorrow demanding more money for delivering Mishlach Manot. Their union rep issued a statement that declared something about "if Lawrence teachers can engage in empty, hateful gestures that resolve nothing but fomenting hatred in the community, then why shouldn't they do it, too."

9:58 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

...oh, you didn't hear? The kids are unionizing and plan to picket in front of Ashur Mansdorf's office tomorrow demanding more money for delivering Mishlach Manot. Their union rep issued a statement that declared something about "if Lawrence teachers can engage in empty, hateful gestures that resolve nothing but fomenting hatred in the community, then why shouldn't they do it, too."

LOLOLOLOLOL. Thanks for the laugh, SW.

10:09 PM  
Blogger queeniesmom said...

Can i deliver your shalach manot? I've just found a way out of my ttuition crisis.

Chag samach!

1:24 AM  
Blogger YMedad said...

Why "politics"? This is a cultural issue of adopting what you see around you and bringing it into the internal Jewish world. Unless, of course, you are somehow intimating that since Rabbis don't take a strong position against such outlandish and unnecessary expenditures, someone else need apply him/herself to the job?

7:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow - I still put homemade hamentaschen and a handful of pretzels (and maybe some hershey kisses) on a nice paper plate in a big ziplock bag... I am feeling so inadequate right now I can't even tell you...

I'm not even being sarcastic or ironic or anything. I've just missed this whole thing. I'm not sure if I should be stepping up what I'm doing or keep it up and hope that other people will suddenly feel the "true meaning of Purim" when they get my little bag o' stuff.

Seriously... this is sort of weirding me out. I don't even live that much in the sticks. Maybe I'm still too young or I just have the wrong friends? If I got an expensive teapot or a bread tray or anything that wasn't food before I had read this I would probably have been really embarrassed or assumed it was a mistake.

The costumes, on the other hand, I've seen. That's true on Halloween, too, as far as I've ssen - and it looks like it must be a status thing. Which is really a shame, because kids are even more susceptible to negative peer pressure than adults are.

10:19 AM  
Blogger Elie said...

We must be living in the past here in the stix because we still give Shaloch manos exactly like the ones you described from your youth! Our typical one is a couple of hamentaschen, a piece of fruit, a few candies and a soda or small grape juice! And we use those cardboard boxes our Jewish book store sells for 75 cents each.

And most of the ones we receive are the same or less fancy. We get one color-coordinated one like you described and everyone rolls their eyes and kibbitzes about the "supermom".

May the Shaloch manos inflation - like the czar - stay far away from us!!

10:50 AM  
Blogger Just Passing Through said...

Mom, another peeve I have (even though I do it) is calling it Shalach Manot. Isn't it Mishloach Manot? I have that same peeve with Sholoshudes.

My kids have had home-made costumes more years that they've had bought ones. The homemade one's always elicit more 'awwws..' that anything you can buy.

You made 75 'shalach manots'?? Wow. OrthoMom sure is popular!

MoChassid: I agree with you. A couple of problems though: usually, you don't know who participates with the shul mishloach manot until the day of. That doesn't give you much time to prepare to give those that didnt participate. I always told them they need to list who is participating before Purim. Also, with the shul and tzedaka cards, what do you do when someone anyhow comes over and delivers to you. Not give them back?

Heshy: Without 'recycling', I'd never make it through the day! Just be sure to remove any cute poems and other identifying items!

10:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In many of your posts you make the point that [the craziness of the day] is proof that the 5T is somehow more extreme than other neighborhoods, yet the comments, and my experience, indicates that [the craziness] is commonly found in many other Jewish neighborhoods.

My point: Make your point without bashing the 5T.

And another pet peeve: Not all the 5T is the same. Isn't it possible that the problem you describe is common to YOUR neighbrohood, but not found in other parts of the 5T (Inwood, let's say). :)

11:46 AM  
Blogger Sarah said...

Like many adults, I'm not often struck by the Muse of Creativity, so when it strikes, I'm there. Mishloach Manot (MM) is an easy way for me to be creative. I don't do it competitively, nor would I ever look down on more simple gifts. I do it to satisfy a creative drive and to make my friends feel special, because I try to tailor the MM to them a bit. As for the expense, as long as I tithe my 10% to tzedakah, why would anyone care how I spend my money? If other people feel inadequate (which I don't think they should) for giving standard MM, that is their issue.

My husband and I do two tiers of MM. Some cute but average ones, for most people. We save the "fancy" ones for our closest friends.

Purim sameach!

12:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree OM. It abhorent to think that the housekeeper is packing the shalach manos-- does she light the chanukiyah, too?

I've never run across the Purim gelt situation which you've outlined...a good thing about living not too far from the bounds of the 5 Towns. That's unbelievable, in fact! I think this totally feeds into youngsters' conception of instant gratification. Why should money be exchanged in this manner? The money could be spent on community programs such as Tomchei Shabbos/Yad Yeshaya. Kids shouldn't be 'tipped' to deliver shalach manos...the mitzvah shouldn't be turned into a money-making event.

1:29 PM  
Blogger rebba shlita said...

the shaloch manos we give out are $5 tops and look nice. and the kids get a candy not money. the real money i give goes to tzedaka on purim. people could say what they want about our shaloch manos but i know what i can afford and i have not nor will let an insane community dictate what i should be giving out. it is a real shame that people feel pressured into doing things they dont want to do or what they cant afford. i have heard horror stories. somthing really should be done and soon. its funny b/c today, taanis esther we give machazik hashekel, this was the amount given no more no less no matter how rich or how poor everyone gave the samethings, no one tried to outdo the next one. a freilicha purim!

2:04 PM  
Blogger YMedad said...

And to be on the positive side, here at Shiloh (really way out in the sticks; 28 miles north of Jerusalem, between Ramallah and Shchem), we have a charity fund, named after Yehuda Shoham, a five-month old infant killed by an Arab stone that came through his parents' car window. We donate money in various scales and they do the delivering of the Mishloach Manot to our neighbors.

Of course, a few very close friends (those that cook for you when you're sick or have your children dumped on them when you have to run to the hospital in town, etc.) get your regular fare but I think this could be adapted to even a place like Five Towns.

2:06 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

For most of our friends, we send tzedaka cards instead of shaloch manos. For many, we franticly take from what we have received, repackage and hand the new bag to the person who delivered.

We at one time had a list in shul where we were allowed to deliver to a (randomly chosen by the list keeper) set of tw people and we received from two (different) people.

This year we are out of town so we will give shalach manos to my daughter and her husband. The rest get the tzedaka cards.

2:08 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

What, if any, is the source for tipping the kids?

2:20 PM  
Blogger nikki said...

i'm with 1st anonymous... time to hop over the pond. while in my neck of the woods our purim would seem "fancy" by israeli standards, it is nowhere near the 5t, or flatbush or the major ny metro area. homemade costumes abound (which are much cuter and more creative than the store bought junk)and people for the most part stick to the shul mishloach manot or tzedaka cards. what people here do is have their kids choose a number of friends to send to and deliver them so that they get the experience of mishloach manot... and parents don't go overboard as the packages are going to other kids. schools and ganim send mishloach manot to various institutions including old age homes and military units. one year, my daugter's gan sent mishloach manot with letters and hand-drawn pictures signed with the kids' names and phone numbers to the gannenet's brother's unit. during the seuda my little 5-year-old got a phone call from the chayal who got her package -- he wanted to thank her personally and told her he hung her picture over his bed... it made her chag! purim is all very homegrown and innocent and has not at all lost it's meaning here.

4:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here you have Orthodox communities where everyone is miserable and in competition. Meanwhile go to a small town in middle America and you'll probably find a tight knit community with good people who support each other. Does anybody besides me think that there's something rotten in Denmark?

5:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Super Post! I was waiting for someone to bring this topic up - especially the part of kids needing to send Shaloch Manos, this year my 5 and 8 year old "need" to prepare some because last year we had friends come and had to throw last minute ones together. And I don't live anywhere near 5T.
A Freilichin Purim to all!

6:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The shalach manos we give out are very simple. We just give a box of raisins and a glass of water (we ask for the glass back so as not to waste money) and we wrap it in a dirty tissue. Plus our kids don't dress up, they merely tell people what they wanted to dress up like. So much more fun.

Our neighbors don't give dollars, or even currency that maintains value. In fact, it is our custom to give old Israeli shekls that have been devalued.

Everyone in our anonymous, boring community in the middle of nowhere is so happy that we bottle it and sell off the extra happiness we don't need. What a shame those miserable, unhappy, so sad, so materialistic, so obviously wrong people who live in the Five Towns can't be as happy as me and my neighbors are.

If only they'd be more like us, they would be. After all it is impossible for anyone to be happy unless they are doing exactly what we do. It goes without saying that if they do something we disagree with, regardless of whether or not they enjoy it, it must be wrong and I have to express my disapproval with smarmy, patronizing comments on this irritating, one dimensional blog.

1:20 AM  
Blogger Sarah Likes Green said...

nice post. i agree. even here in australia things like extravagant mishloach manot happen!
but it's fairly simple to make a nice little package (that fulfills the mitzvah) that doesn't break the bank to be able to give to a large lot of people.

purim sameach!

5:30 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

it must be wrong and I have to express my disapproval with smarmy, patronizing comments on this irritating, one dimensional blog.

I get the irony in your comment. Really, I do. But seriously, if you find my blog "irritating and one-dimensional", feel free not to visit.

In terms of the comments that have taken issue with the fact that there may be more communities than the Five Towns that do things this way, you may be right, but I haven't seen it anywhere. My part of the Five Towns is the only community I am aware of where the residents mix the worship of wealth with the milder worship of Ultra-Orthodox values in such a way that it permeates evrything that occurs here. Every parlor meeting is an opportunity to outdo one's neighbor in terms of setting up flowers and fancy edibles. Every shabbos the getups you see on the women in shul are just so. The kids regularly dress in outfits that cost hundreds of dollars. And yes, the Shalach Manot packages are outrageous. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. My family is one such exception. But don't tell me that it does not go on here ad absurdum. I have issues with it, but live here anyway because the good outweighs the bad. But the bad most certainly exists. And it's my blog. So if I want to vent about something in my neighborhood that bothers me, and you don't like it, don't read it. But don't tell me I can't say it, or that I'm wrong. Neither is true.

Simchat Purim to all.

8:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OM--Your's isn't the only community that has residents worshipping their wealth. How sad.

10:17 AM  
Blogger orthomom said...

OM--Your's isn't the only community that has residents worshipping their wealth. How sad.

Obviously. But the 5T has a unique flavor and method of doing it.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, surely you don't need to send out 75 packages. 75? That means you are getting 75!!! Surely that is extreme, no matter how modest your packages. I do think, though, that if people want to make creative packages they should. I don't feel the need to compete. I am very uncreative that way.

I would let a few people know before the holiday next year that you are very busy and will be giving donation cards to all but a few people (those who wouldn't be getting from anyone, generally). Or start your own project where everyone gets one package with a list of names of friends (that's what we do here). We raised a lot of money last year.

What surprised me when I moved to Israel is how few people here give homemade goods. I'm not sure if it's because they figure people won't eat the stuff because of kashruth or because they are too lazy to cook.

Thanks to our project, I sent out about 10 packages. One to a neighbor, 2 each for every child's friends, and one to a new couple in town. I still recycled a lot and end up with way too much junk. But 75? I can't get over that.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Two points in Megilat Esther are not clear. Firstly, what brought on the decree to destroy all the Jews, and secondly, what suddenly happened that caused the decree to be canceled? To understand this, we will look at the story of Purim.

Like a bolt of lightning, the decree "to destroy to kill, and to annihilate all Jews, both young and old, little children and women, in one day" fell upon Persian Jewry. The reaction of the Jews to this edict was quite puzzling. The Megilah says that the "City of Shushan was in consternation". Consternation? Certainly, a more normal reaction would be to shout or cry. But "consternation"?

But if we take a glimpse at the of situation Persian Jewry at the time, we would see that consternation is the reaction we might expect after all. For it never entered their minds that such a thing could ever happen. They were the biggest patriots! They were the most loyal to Achasverosh! That is why when Achashverosh (nine months earlier) sent out invitations for the 180-day feast, the Jews were the first ones to confirm their attendance. All this despite the protests from the "extremists" such as Mordechai, who warned against their participation in such a feast, since it's intention was to make the Jews assimilate. But the Jews wanted to prove that they are not different than the rest. Thus the reaction of consternation upon hearing the shocking decree.

But then the Megilah continues: "And Mordechai knew all that was done..." He had no illusions, and understood fully what caused the decree. He knew that the assimilation - precisely what the Jew thought would ease anti-Semitic tensions, was the very cause of the decree! For the rule was learned since our days in Egypt: Whenever the Jew tries to water down his Judaism and be accepted by the gentile, the latent hatred (which is always there) of the gentile towards the Jew outwardly manifests itself.

If so, why was the decree annulled? Because immediately upon receiving word of the decree, Mordechai, as we mentioned, knew the reason for it, and did not give up. He also did not go on a boot-licking campaign to plead the case of the Jews to the king or his cabinet, despite the fact that he was no stranger to the palace and had connections there. What he did was to undergo a last-ditch effort to awaken the Jews to understand the real cause of the problem - that precisely their effort to shed their uniqueness as Jews and to blur over their Jewish identity and be like goyim is what brings upon them bad times.

Indeed, it is not easy to convey such a message to a Jew, when he is so caught up in having the goy love him. Because such a message seems to contradict all logic. But in Shushan, a great miracle occurred, and it is the real hidden miracle of Purim - the Jews did "Tsheuva"! And not just "Tsh'uva" of talking without backing it up, but rather one of deeds. Instead of continuing to grovel to the Persians and bring down barriers as most Jews naturally react, they made themselves subservient to the truth of Mordechai only, admitting to their original mistake of participating in the forbidden banquet. This was the significance of the mass fast which was declared. It signified a genuine "Tsheuva" to G-d.

By the way, now we can see why the Name of G-d does not appear in Megilat Esther, despite the fact that the theme of the story is "Tsh'uva to G-d". It is to tell us that when there is distress, one should not just rely on G-d to solve our problems in some miraculous fashion. Rather, we must prove by our actions that we understand the reason for the distress, and then do the right thing, even if it appears to be "illogical".

This should give us encouragement for today. For the problem of today is the same: Our need to copy the gentiles, to blur over our uniqueness as a people, and our absolute dependency on the world. At times it seems there is no hope. Can our people ever understand that America won't save us? And behold, we have a precedent in our history where from great distress, the Jewish People were able to wake up and to cling to the truth of Hashem. May we see the same awesome "Naha-Fochu" (a turning of the tables) quickly.

3:09 PM  
Blogger westbankmama said...

I have never heard of tipping the kids who deliver mishloach manot until today. Kol Hakavod to you Orthomom for bucking the trend in your neighborhood - if more and more people follow your example then things should get back to "normal".

6:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course, as you point out, it's your blog. And, as well, I am sure you and your family are wonderful --let's say, even exceptional, people in a world gone mad (cue the drama music). The point being made by the commentaters, and that you seem to be missing, is that there is an aspect of lashon hora to publishing nothing-but criticisms of your (and by extension my) neighborhood. Please be more careful with your words. Thanks.

4:14 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

The point being made by the commentaters, and that you seem to be missing, is that there is an aspect of lashon hora to publishing nothing-but criticisms of your (and by extension my) neighborhood. Please be more careful with your words. Thanks.

Actually, that is not a point my commenters often make. Feel free to temper my criticisms (which I am comfortable making, by the way) with positive words of your own. That's why I have comment threads. And sorry, but I don't feel pointing out the excess in my neighborhood (which is extremely evident to anyone who walks through the streets here) is some sort of well-kept secret, or even a truth that is objectively terrible. If people here didn't want their shows of wealth to be discussed, I would imagine they would rethink their choices of cars, homes, and styles of making simchas.

5:31 PM  
Blogger Orthonomics said...

I think that we absolutely need to discuss the shows of wealth in our community to come to grips with what is ostentascious to the point where it is inappropriate.

I see no need to hold back these discussions. The showiness is not limited to the 5 Towns and it is bankrupting many people in our community who feel the pressure to keep up, whether legitimately or illegitimately.

Keep up the great work Orthomom.

5:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually the LTA posts and these are related. Do you think it is lost on the teachers making salaries that most members of YI of L-C would find horribly inadequate that the people voting down their budget and treating THEM like greedy pigs are the ones living in the most obscene, ostentatious, and materialistic manner? I don't miss it, and while I have already said that the union is wrong for protesing outide individuals places of work, I find your condemnation of the desire of middle class workers to get a piece of the pie that will otherwise be thrown out with the tissue paper and sour sticks to smack of shallowness and hypocrisy. Yoou live in Sodom, and you don't even know it.

11:35 PM  
Blogger orthomom said...

Do you think it is lost on the teachers making salaries that most members of YI of L-C would find horribly inadequate that the people voting down their budget and treating THEM like greedy pigs are the ones living in the most obscene, ostentatious, and materialistic manner?

Sigh. I was waiting for this. Every time I talk about the wealth out here, I get a bitter comment implying that somehow, LTA teachers are entitled to a piece of the pie of the private school comunity's income - based on how the private school community chooses to spend it. Sorry. Thats just not how it works. We are taxpayers, and pay our fair share, but teachers are not entitled to tithe off of our frivolous spending.

10:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said OM.

10:56 AM  
Blogger Ayelet said...

My opinion is, no one forces anyone to do anything. Yeah, tons of people in my neighborhood do the themed, dressed-up version of Mishloach Manot. Anyone who gives me (and many people do) knows that I do NOT do that version. In fact, I make up 5-6 packages and give them to the first few people who show up. Everyone else gets a hearty thank-you and Purim Same'ach. I have a feeling they're relieved to have one less useless basket floating aroung their house. My neighbor has a different twist on my method. She straps an orange to a can of soda with duct tape and writes Happy Purim on it with a Sharpie. It's all about NOT keeping up with the Joneses (or Friedmans or Cohens).

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Here, I do not actually imagine it will have effect.

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