In a nutshell, here are four ways in which Rabbi Shmuely Boteach proposes to improve Birthright. To rebirth it, as it were… [Insert icky baby joke here.]
NUMBER ONE: Instead of threatening the
potential carousers Birthrightiputians, give them a rousing speech instead! Here’s a sample…
Please understand that unlike the Bahamas, Israel is surrounded by those who believe Jewish people should have no home. It is protected by a nation of humble men and women who serve their country for three years in their teens and watch as loved ones sometimes never come back from war. What we’re saying is, you’re in a sacred place. Please allow your conduct at all times to reflect the dignity of this magical country whose democracy was carved out in the harshest of neighborhoods.
Second of all, not all the humble men and women Birthrighticans will meet will have served their country for three years. Some will be fashion models or ultra-Orthodox or Palestinian and would not have had the opportunity to don IDF greens…
NUMBER TWO: More VALUES! More VALUESy discussions! Here’s another choice quote…
You’re at Yad Vashem. Six million Jews dead, murdered. Question, anyone here believe in vengeance? Hands go up. OK, what about forgiveness. Can we forgive something this gruesome? Jesus said love your enemies? Is that something we Jews ought to embrace?
NO COMMENT. Moving on.
NUMBER THREE: Did you take? Now give back!
Okay, this is the one idea I actually liked… if you go on the trip and get ten days on the Jewish people’s dime, you have to give back three days. Vacuum synagogue floors! Serve as camp counselors! Work in a local hospital! Conduct emergency tracheotomies!
NUMBER FOUR: Establish
Cults of Personality Learning Circles
This last one read like an attempt to revive Sabbateanism … but seriously folks, the thought of rustling up thirty charismatic Jews, hooking them up with thirty TYPE-A-organizational-type Jews and suddenly all those ex-Birthers, ehmm Birthrighters will have something Jewishy to do and reconnect with the community…
Couldn’t we plow that potential cash into something less blingy… ? (Note how the weekly class and discussion was last on Rabbi Shmuely’s list of high profile events… Sigh.)
You can read his whole pitch here.