Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Say What?

I received a copy of a flyer via email that kind of has me scratching my head. It's for an evening being sponsored by The Erna Lindenfeld Hachnosas Kallah Fund of Queens. Parents of singles and the general public are invited to hear Shaya Ostrow, MSW, author of The Inner Circle: Seven Gates to Marriage, as he gives insights into "Empowering Parents Through the Challenge of Shidduchim." This program will be Tuesday evening, July 14, 7:30 p.m., Lander College, 4th floor, Kew Garden Hills.

What part has me scratching my head? The "Empowering Parents" part. Taken at face value that word empowering would lead me to believe that parents are not at present empowered, kind of a hard concept to have to swallow. But if you link parents with shidduchim it might be a bit more intelligible: a whole lot of parents who feel they have absolutely no control over any of the shidduch making process. (Although an awful lot of singles would challenge that vociferously.) And yet.... Parents are going to be empowered through the challenge of those shidduchim?

I'll admit that I have been guilty a time or two of aggrandizing a program I've been asked to do the publicity for: kind of difficult otherwise to distinguish one PTA "come and buy what we have for sale because we need the money" kind of evening from others just like it. And yes, I once advertised an evening where we were having a speaker as being "A Night of Glittering Jewels," basically because the speaker hadn't yet decided what he would be speaking about, but he was the shul President's brother, and woe betide anyone who would simply have put down "Topic to be decided later" or "He has no idea what he's going to talk about but we guarantee that he'll be talking."

Some day I'd like to see someone be really honest and advertise a speech like this: "Hey folks, there's good news and there's bad news, and you're going to hear some of both, although the bad news probably outweighs the good news. But hey, our speaker is going to try and make you feel better even if that isn't going to change much. Besides, it's a chance for you to gather with others in your sorry boat and co-kvetch."

Whatever happened to plain, simple English, the kind that doesn't require 15 minutes of study to understand, if that's even possible? Or to quote Mark Twain, from his short story "A Fable," "He said that when it took a whole basketful of sesquipedalian adjectives to whoop up a thing of beauty, it was time for suspicion. ..."


Anonymously said...

Sometimes the only exciting thing about a program offered is the title. You get there and discover just more of the same old same old.

You might have something there with the "co-kvetching". Skip the speaker and just let us all talk to each other.

Is it ok to kvell a little here? Haven't been online much because we have a new choson and a new grandchild. So much for a relaxing summer.

G6 said...

A couple of years ago an "emerging" tznius organization (which I am refraining from specifying - though part of me really wants to) had a video presentation for which the advertisement touted a COMPLETELY UNRELATED topic!!
I suppose they thought at that time,that a video on tznius would not bring in as many women as a video about personal growth and reaching one's potential.
I attended, and irrespective of the quality of the video, I was so turned off by the fact that they felt that it was necessary to "trick" women to come and hear about tznius.
Though this organization has since grown, I refuse to attend any of their subsequent events.

Rae said...

The truth in advertising law doesn't seem to apply when organizations are advertising functions or programs. Can't even begin to count how many times we've gone to a program expecting one thing and found ourselves, like G6, facing something else entirely.

I wish I could believe that the false advertisement was just a matter that the person writing up the flyer had no skills in English and didn't really mean to say what was said. Mostly I've come to believe that these people set out to create the deception, no accident involved.

JS said...

Having spoken to many people who help organize these speeches, I make it a point to not go. 9 times out of 10, the speaker is someone who is a brother, in-law, distant relative, good friend, chavruta, etc of someone important at the shul (rabbi, board member, donor) and the person is only being brought in as a favor so they can get an honorarium, sell a few books, and use it as advertising for the next speech they give.

The speeches are almost always the same tired stuff, rehashed, and repackaged with some snazzy title. There's the baal teshuva speech about how wonderful Judaism is and how shallow all other religions are, there's the empower yourself through tznius speech, there's the power of mikvah speech, there's the Israel is amazing speech, etc.