In a utopian Jewish dream world, every Jewish family would be able to send their children to Jewish day school, Jewish summer camp, and also manage to squeeze in a trip to Israel in between sessions so as to maximize Jewish education, identity, and cultural development. And, by the same token, in a utopian secular dream world, every family should be able to send their children to expensive private colleges in order to optimize their education – and still take a yearly winter ski trip to Vale to maximize physical fitness and a summer trip to Europe for cultural development. And, of course, every family should raise their children in an appropriately sized mcmansion to assure adequate space for physical and spiritual growth. But we do not live in utopia – thankfully! In the real world, parents are expected to make personal choices and even personal sacrifices. The criticism against the Teaneck yeshivas expressed in the Feb. 25 article “Scholarships v. camp or Israel trip” is symptomatic of the whining mentality of entitlement that has overtaken the modern American Jewish community. Whatever happened to the embarrassment associated with accepting charity? What happened to the pride of personal responsibility? What arrogance it is to expect to reach into the pockets of others when your own pockets are far from empty.
And woe to the parents who rely on summer camps and Israel programs to nurture Jewish character, identity, and connection. It is a sheer abdication of their own responsibility. My daughters went to public school and Chabad Hebrew school (which they voluntarily continued throughout high school). They never attended any camp. And they forfeited a party and presents for a bat mitzvah trip to Israel. Now in college, they are leaders of Jewish organizations on their respective campuses, they have Torah-driven value systems, they have unshak-able connections to Israel in spirit and in deeds, and they outshine many of their Jewish day-school colleagues who are products of the “me first” society.
In the real world, as opposed to a utopian fantasy, actions speak louder than dollars.