Thursday, June 27, 2013

So misguided

Recently, someone was posting pleas for Hachnassat Kallah everywhere in the social media world, at least in the social media world I am part of.

I understand that Hachnassat Kallah is a very important mitzvah, it really makes sense to help those less fortunate get on their feet at the beginning of their married life. Especially in the case of a bride or groom without family support.

However, this plea really struck me as inappropriate. The writer says that they don't have beds, enough money for food monthly, or "even" a HAT to wear to the wedding!

This plea just turned my stomach. It made me think of how messed up people's priorities are. They are arranging for a HUGE wedding, with a band, and catering, and wanted a special wedding gown, a special suit and hat, presumably because that is the cultural norm. It seems to be expected that couples (or their parents, or a benefactor) will go into debt to throw a party beyond their means... Not only that, but then they refuse to accept used items, for couples who don't have enough to meet their basic needs on a daily basis.


When we first got married, I accepted used items. I still do. Without that, we'd be in trouble, as it is really hard sometimes to make ends meet, even with gainful employment. Especially in Israel.
When you tell us that the Chatan learns half a day and works half a day and cannot afford food for his family, does it really make the case that we should all give him money? Just so he doesn't have to accept the indignity of working full time?

Why not sponsor a modest backyard wedding, with homemade food, a very small crowd... and help the Chatan find a full time job? And with all the money saved - a lavish wedding costs a TON - help them get on their feet? Who needs flowers? There are so many ways to make a "simcha" on a budget, and this organization, instead of trying to turn that into a dignified answer for people who don't have a lot of money, has chosen to make it their mission to help destitute people look like they are "keeping up with the Cohens"! So misguided, in my opinion.

I was reminded of this article on Orthonomics, and I think it would be great if our communities could re-examine the way we celebrate smachot.

Here is the basic text of the plea - it is bound to be replaced with another "current couple in need" at some point soon.

Currently, while they have a hall, catering and music, they have absolutely NOTHING ELSE! They lack even cutlery and crockery for the food! There isn't a photographer at this point in time either!

The bride has nobody to drive her to the Chuppah, no proper wedding dress, nobody to help her with her make-up on the big day and not even a pair of shoes appropriate for the wedding day! There are no flowers! She has no special bridal chair to sit in! She lacks a veil! In short, there are some serious basic necessities missing to make this Simcha even the start of a true wedding Simcha! In addition, the guests - mainly the Avreichim of the Kollel - have no way to get to the wedding. They require a bus to take them through and we have no way at this stage to assist them with this!

The couple lack beds for themselves, a stove, fridge, washing machine. But more, the Chatan does not have enough for a Tallit or even a hat! The Chatan learns half day and works half day but his salary does not provide enough even for food each month! They lack the basics in clothing and by no means have the ability to purchase new clothes for the wedding!!!

We accept ANY new items to assist all our couples - which are passed on directly to the couple. Financial donations may also be given. Money is not usually given directly but rather used to purchase the items the couple actually need - and which are then given to the couple directly - much to their delight!!!

If you are able to give ANYTHING to this couple (items or Tzeddakah), you will be truly taking part in a very special Mitzvah assisting a special couple! Financial donations can be done directly on the website below. Anybody who has a wedding-service they could provide - see services that are needed as above - including just coming through to dance(!) is asked to please contact me as well. Money is not the only thing needed here. There are real items and services that are required to make this wedding a success! Those who can donate services or items please contact us immediately


  1. Items and services are needed to make this wedding a success? How about ruach, happiness, just close friends and family, guests taking photos to share, friends lending kalim and cooking dishes... Unbelievable.

    1. Yes, it is unbelievable. Thanks for validating my feelings...

  2. I also found this upsetting to read, but decided not to comment at the time... if I couldn't afford to get married, I would probably have a pot luck wedding. I also find that the people who have the least insist on "New" things - I tried to pass my babies crib (not the mattress( off to someone who I had been told was in massive debt and she told me she was only having new things for her baby .

    1. It is so strange. I remember way back when, the Rebbetzin in our community at the time called me up and hemmed and hawed and finally asked, "please don't take this the wrong way, but do you accept hand-me-downs for your kids?"
      I laughed and said "of course!", and that I even buy second hand stuff for myself!
      She was so happy to hear as she had been having a hard time finding someone willing to take the kids' clothing that members of the community had asked her to help give away... Yet, I knew of several people who had less than we had and had turned her down. Apparently, they liked shopping.

  3. One part of the mitzvah of giving tzedakah is to help those in need get back to the level of comfort they were once used to, so if this is what used to be standard for them, it is perfectly in line to ask for these things.

    1. From the story given, it sounds like it is absolutely not what was standard for them.
      Here's the background given: Yanke and Estee* are Balei Teshuva and due to get married this Sunday 23 June 2013. The Chatan made aliyah at the age of 16 on his own from the Ukraine. From a young age dreamed of living in Israel. Once he finally arrived, he served in the army; was a lone-soldier (lochem be yehida muvcheret). He doesn't have any family in Israel, apart from a younger brother. The Kallah is an Olah Chadasha, also from the Ukraine and later Australia. They have 2 small children and since becoming Baalei Teshuva, want to make a fresh start. It has been a long journey, but they want to live according to the Torah and have a Chuppah Kedat Moshe ve Israel.

      *Not real names

    2. The young couple are not the ones asking for these things. It's the community asking, and it is the community's standards that are being represented here. The community is asking for tzedakah help to fulfill their mitzvah of hachnasat kallah.

    3. If this is truly the standard of living their community can afford, and I question how many communities can actually afford the lavish weddings they throw - then why are they turning to people outside of their community for help in doing this? When we made a Bar Mitzvah a couple of years ago, we set a budget that was very modest and stuck to it. I know, it was a VERY simple affair, but we did not go into debt and we were able to celebrate in a way that was fitting.

    4. They turn to people outside of their community because there are people who want to give tzedaka to these sorts of causes. Those who don't want to don't have to provide anything. This is a way to reach those who do want to contribute.

    5. I think you are looking at the picture of this one couple, as a one time thing. I am looking at the bigger picture - the phenomenon of Jewish weddings being way out of proportion to what people can afford.
      Have you read the Orthonomics article on weddings? It is about American Jews, so some aspects may not be a perfect correlation, but overall, it is very relevant to this discussion.

    6. In your original post you wrote that what made you upset was this specific plea, so I commented on this plea, too...

      I agree with you that weddings are getting way out of hand.

  4. B"H

    Normally, I wouldn't comment on personal blogs, such as this. I believe, of course, we're all entitled to our own opinions. And, we live in times which allow anyone to post those opinions online.

    That said, I'd like to make a couple of following points.

    The ability to post one's opinion at any time in a blog, does not negate one's responsibility to research and do so in a responsible and beneficial manner.

    The Shears immigrated to Israel under dire financial and otherwise conditions. They sincerely empathize with other immigrants who are getting married, also, with no means. Their efforts in this arena are to be complimented and copied.

    The writer of this blog, and those supporting commenters, should view the online photos of this wedding. What I see (I was not there) are four-five small tables for the men's meal, a couple of young orthodox musicians, who look to me like volunteers, the 'wedding' is held in an unroofed courtyard which seems to be around three by five yards square.

    Reportedly, the bride's veil was sown by Mrs. Shear that day.

    They tried helping a lone-soldier and alone-in-Israel-girl, both from Ukraine to have a simple decent evening.

    My gosh, from the description and the few uploaded photos, I don't remember ever seeing a simpler wedding.

    And, from the looks of it, one with more simple internal joy.

    With hopes and prayers that this couple holds warm and loving memories of that special night forever in their hearts.

    And H' blesses the Shears for their efforts, and to continue even more in the future.

    Rabbi Fishel Jacobs
    Kfar Chabad

    1. Rabbi Jacobs,
      I believe you that it was probably a simple wedding - but the requests being made were not for only simple things. There were requests for things that many of us consider extras, as well.
      Especially the requests for only "new items" to pass on to the couple. That is chutzpah. Since when do people in need get to have only new items? We do not live in a disposable world, and very often we make do with previously used items. A couple who chooses the life of half-learning and half-working will quickly need to reconcile that idea into their lives. Secondhand is not bad.
      I am sure the Shears are involved in very good work. I hope they can continue to do chesed, but keep in mind that with the world economy as it is, many people without money will have to be willing to accept previously used items, or have a wedding with few flowers, and perhaps forget about a hat.

  5. Rabbi Fishel Jacobs of Kfar Chabad has answered most of these barbs.

    The photos of the tables, the simple chupah, etc., show the absolute simplicity of the wedding. The fact that it took place at Kever Dan, which is where the chatan learns, shows that we are not talking about a gala affair.

    I think that the author of this blog should be more careful about casting aspersions on others, especially a couple like the Shears. The author of the blog has spoken with tzar ayin against a couple whose whole life is dedicated to helping others.

    Again, read Rabbi Fishel Jacobs' letter. Doesn't this teach us that we should give the benefit of the doubt before we say such things? Isn't today Tisha BeAv? I think an official letter of apology is called for.

    My name is Avraham Sutton. I know the Shears and can testify to the sterling integrity of everything they do. Shalom, Avraham Sutton, Telz Stone, 0525-640-249.

    1. I am sure the Shears mean well. I was not casting aspersions on them. I just question a culture that requires so much gashmiyut that when helping people of limited means we are told our secondhand items are not good enough for them, for example.