11/1/09

Video: Check Writer and Mega-Blowhard Michael Steinhardt Disrespects Jewish Leadership for Doing Gournisht


A highly flawed self-serving survey came out claiming a program called Birthright Israel which sends Jewish youth on free trips to Israel has diminished intermarriage.

Nonsense. The kids who elected to go on these trips already decided to affirm their Jewish identities by choosing to participate. The program's cohort is skewed from the get-go towards those youth who decided being Jewish is a high value. The program itself probably had little to  no measurable effect on these already decided committed young people.

About this softly articulated but strongly insulting video clip, Steven I. Weiss says, "Billionaire philanthropist Michael Steinhardt delivered a bold speech indicting Jewish leadership for not doing enough on Monday. The speech came at an event touting a study claiming Birthright Israel, which was founded in part by Steinhardt, has ... achieved quite a lot to combat intermarriage."

The notion that Birthright created change and nothing else matters is just baloney. Guys like Steinhardt want to feel good about the checks they wrote. Credible researchers are happy to oblige with studies that validate the expenditures and programs. Nobody faults a rich guy for wanting to feel good about his lucre at the end of his greedy life. Philanthropy can be a virtuous afterthought of a life of bullying and stepping all over weaker and more naive people.

What is going to change the appalling level of Jewish education in the non-Orthodox world Steinhardt asks? Simple. Get Jews to read more books every day. Taking a trip is a nice vacation and recreation and yes may be informative. But it ends and the youth go back and either they read books or they don't. Schools and courses and tedious hard study will alleviate ignorance.

Three minutes of saying, "I did something useful by writing a check and none of you guys do anything meaningful in your sustained careers," - well the only reasoned answer those Jewish professionals and academics can possibly have to that claim is, "Go to hell Steinhardt."

2 comments:

Anonymous in Teaneck said...

Hi Tzvee,
Why do you think the survey was flawed? I don't disagree that it is, but I'd like to hear you expand your analysis.

tzvee said...

This year, according to the Jewish Week, "more than 20,000 applicants for trips this year were unable to go due to lack of funding. Ten thousand slots were filled at a cost of about $3,000 per trip." I have no clue what that means. Did they run a lottery to determine who gets the free trip? If not, then what were the criteria? Did they take the least committed Jews and miraculously inoculate them against marrying out? Did the 20,000 rejects go anyway on their own dimes? If the trip works, why did any marry out? Why was there no other positive change or outcome? Is birthright doing anything to correct its failings across the board in other areas? How many books were written by birthright participants? newspaper editorials? how many became teachers of judaism? maybe all these questions are discussed in the study. or not. it was funded in a total conflict of interest situation. of course the authors say they were unbiased. my children are the most handsome and smartest of all - i can tell you because i am unbiased - they did not even fund me to say that.