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Monday, June 26, 2006


Save the Russian Children!

Following the thread of tzedaka organizations that employ questionable tactics in marketing and soliciting funds, I present the latest mailing from Shuvu. (Which added "Chazon Avrohom" to its name, so as to drive home the implicit haskama of R' Avrohom Pam, zt''l. And then, to make sure you get the message, they put "Shuvu & Rav Pam An Eternal Bond" on the organizational masthead.)

But I don't know that R' Pam would have approved of this latest campaign.

Listen, the group provides Jewish education and positive experiences for Russian kids in Israel. What could be bad, right? The problem is, they've pitched their summer program as follows:

1. You must send the Russian kids to summer camp.

2. Because otherwise they're going to hang out in malls and restaurants.

3. And that's where the TERRORISTS USUALLY STRIKE.

They've moved beyond the traditional, "We have positive role models and the alternative is a secular or negative experience." Now they're saying, "Send the kids to camp, or else they're going to DIE!"

Some choice quotes:
"Once, summer camp was a luxury. Now, it is not!"
"The Shuvu summer camping experience... can mean the difference between life and death."
"For $100 a child, you can save a life!"

They've taken great pains to point out that we're not just talking about spiritual life--we're talking about physical life.

So what are they actually saying? It's okay if Sephardi or chiloni kids get blown up? Or are they saying that they have an agreement with the terrorists, and Shuvu campers are automatically safer than any other children in Israel?

Of course not.

But what they are doing is painting a camp fundraiser as a matter of life and death, and that's irresponsible.

You want to save lives? Give blood. Send bulletproof vests to the soldiers. Help the people living in Karnei Shomron build a hospital.

And by all means, make sure the Russian children get Jewish educations.

Please know, I'm not writing this as a screed against Shuvu. They do incredible work. But their ad campaign rubbed me the wrong way, and I felt the need to vent about it here.

Maybe Kupat Ha'ir has a segulah to help cure me of this negativity?

I ran across your post two months late. I do not read your blog but I ran across it when I was searching on how to donate money to Shuvu.

Your post is foolish on two accounts:
1) They do not have an implicit haskama from Rav Pam - it is EXPLICIT. Rav Pam was Shuvu. It may have been his life's greatest work (not to diminish other things he did, but this was awesome). Rav Pam would have had no problem adding his name to the organization and if he felt it would bring more money he would have required it.

2) They are not saying if a child doesn't go to camp they will be blown up. They are saying that the society has become so secular that if a child doesn't go to a Jewish camp it is likely they will be hanging out and getting into trouble. They will become SPIRITUALLY dead.

You should really think twice before blogging things that could hurt the reputation of an excellent organization.

This was irresponsible blogging.
I disagree, but respectfully.

It was irresponsible to Shuvu to link "hanging out" with "getting blown up by terrorists." And that's exactly what they did.

If they would have said, "Save these kids from a summer on the streets, with all the influences of the clubs and the drugs," I would have had no problem.
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