Do you remember way back when, when I blogged about Moishe House, with a quote from the JTA:
"Say you’re a few years out of college, living with friends and working in a low-paying job for some do-good organization. You don’t go to synagogue but you miss the camaraderie of your college Hillel, and you like to invite people over for Shabbat meals.
"Imagine if someone was willing to pay you to keep doing it?"
Well, Ben Murane has thrown down on birthright NEXT's similar initiative on Hazon's Jews-n-food blog "The Jew and the Carrot," under the heading "Do We Need to Pay Birthright Alumni to Have Shabbat Dinner?"
"Once again, the organized Jewish community has decided to answer the droopy quality of Jewish life offerings with a marketing campaign and financial largess. I think NEXT’s money is mispent."
Now, what makes this such a tremendously worthy read is that the very first response to Ben's post is from none other than Birthright Israel NEXT Executive Director (and fellow blogger) Daniel Brenner:
" . . . we are proud that through small grants that we have been able to encourage over 600 people across the country to host meals in their homes. For a majority, it has been the first time in their life that they hosted a Shabbat meal. So far, 74.6% of those meals have been homecooked by many hands. Most people had 14 guests! We sponsored many vegan shabbats, raw food shabbats, organic shabbats, you name it. And good food is often not cheap — and not everyone has the luxury of being near a farmer’s market. And not everyone has the time or skill to cook!
"Could we do it for $15 per person? maybe so. But we felt that $25 per person would make for a special meal.
"By the way, we are also providing financial assistance for Birthright Israel alumni to attend the upcoming Hazon Food Conference. We do so because we have found that in these economic times, people in their twenties do not have alot of spare change to go to Jewish confereces."
But wait! Who is the next comment from?
"Don’t worry, Rabbi Brenner. I’m hosting plenty of birthright NEXT shabbat dinners at the apartment I share with Mr. Murane . . .Read the whole fun debate, and then get yourself some excellent baby swag, at The Jew and the Carrot.
". . . The money isn’t an incentive for me to host a dinner. It’s an *enabler*. Big difference."