HomeOctober 2014Hoarding the Torch

Hoarding the Torch

Dear N.:
So you’re a big writer now? Thousands of people read your little column every month? Mazal tov. Then maybe you can tell your readers why you never call your mother.
At that fancy college your father and I paid for, they taught you not to care about your mother? Some college; decades later and you’re paid by the word. Nu, so you didn’t have a head for medicine or law, but I thought maybe a rabbi, they make a nice living and how hard can it be? A Bar Mitzvah here, a sermon there. On the other hand, to be honest—and I say this with love—you’re not so good with people, either, so maybe it’s for the best.
I’m going to a Sisterhood meeting now but if it’s not too much trouble maybe you can call me later. I don’t want to be a bother.
— Your Mother, Not That You’d Remember
Dear Mom:
First, I think it’s important to note that I called you three days ago. Are you taking two Percocet at a time again?
Before judging, my readers should know that you aren’t exactly camped by the phone. Your social life is far more active than mine. Tonight it’s Sisterhood; tomorrow mahjong with your girlfriends while stuffing envelopes for the Federation fundraiser. Then there are Senior Nights at the shul, Hadassah meetings, and the lecture series at the JCC attended only by retirees because it’s scheduled for 2 in the afternoon.
Our community has its priorities, and you are clearly among them. We may be clueless about attracting and engaging the next crop of young leaders, but we do love our seniors. And why not? You’ve spent your time and fortunes building the familiar institutions that form the infrastructure of the American Jewish community. If these organizations fail to evolve to serve the needs of succeeding generations, is that any fault of yours?
Nobody knows better than the bubbes and zaydes populating our fundraising committees that programming for young leaders is a low return-on-investment proposition. They watch in despair as their grandchildren go to expensive colleges only to emerge as teachers, researchers, or writers. What are those kids thinking? It’s like they don’t even care that their names will never adorn a plaque in the social hall.
Besides, we send them to Israel for free, don’t we? True, when they get there, they don’t know the difference between Ben Gurion and Ben Gazzara. Day school and Jewish summer camp would have made a difference, sure; but without community scholarships, who can afford such luxuries? Especially when even a no-frills bar mitzvah (say, 300 guests, plus band, photo booth, and Russian dance troupe) is such a financial burden!
So, Mom, it all comes down to priorities. You are always one of mine. And next time I’ll try to call earlier, before the pain killers kick in.
— Love, N.

N. Troyer urges you to call your mother and read her this article. She’ll have a shayna gelechte and you’ll have something to discuss other than her latest medical complaint and your many shortcomings.

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