Monday, April 22, 2013

Discount Sale on Orthodox Judaism!!!

     It may seem like a vague generalization when I refer to "highly subsidized programs" meant to entice non-orthodox Jews to take a closer look at orthodoxy. After all, in these tough financial times, who can resist a good bargain? I usually discuss programs that are offered to college students, but in this case, I had a few interesting emails grace my inbox over the past week or so. These emails, from Project Inspire (a program offered by Aish International, part of Aish HaTorah's outreach program,) are meant for kiruv [outreach] professionals to share with the non-orthodox folks they're attempting to recruit to orthodoxy. Just in case you were wondering, yes, it is billed as a "kiruv retreat" only to those in outreach. The colorful printed brochure meant to be given to the non-orthodox does not mention "kiruv" or "outreach" and targets adult professionals who may or may not be married.
The first of a series of emails I received, promoting a Kiruv Shabbos Retreat.
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     The initial email makes reference to bringing "less affiliated friends, acquaintances, and relatives." Notice in the text portion of the picture above that this weekend will be "discounted." Well, that was easy. What outreach professional couldn't use a weekend away? And at a discount? And while doing Hashem's [God's] work, recruiting non-orthodox Jews to the fold? But of course, that discount to get kiruv workers to bring their "less affiliated" folks in doesn't help to convince those non-orthodox Jews to show up. After all, these are hard times and at $499 per couple, before figuring in the cost of children,  a weekend retreat can be a bit of a strain. Maybe a financial incentive would be in order?
Orthodox Judaism is on sale with a subsidized weekend away!
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Project Inspire decided that a subsidy for the "less affiliated" was a good idea, and via email to kiruv professionals on April 15, 2013, offered to "further subsidize the cost for $50 per person or $100 per couple."

Orthodox Judaism is *still* on sale! But only if you're not yet orthodox!
(click to enlarge)
     I checked my email a few hours ago, not expecting another email from Project Inspire's Jinspire program, but lo and behold, there was another email. This email offered, in bold print, "sponsorships that allow [them] to further subsidize the cost by up to $100 per couple." This led me to believe that there was now a $200 discount available. So I got on the phone and called them about this. The first thing that I was told, upon calling was that the subsidy was "not for people already frum [religious.]" I explained that I understood this, but was this an additional hundred dollar subsidy per non-frum couple? The receptionist gave me a very curt "no" and said nothing more. I thanked her, said goodbye, and hung up. I suspect she figured I was going to try to finagle a further discount, but I was just curious.
You can get all this and more with your subsidized weekend of
kiruv.
     As for the actual weekend's lineup of events, I've included a picture of part of the brochure for your viewing pleasure. It seems pretty innocuous until you realize that the "World Famous Discovery Seminar" will be offered. World famous? Yes. This seminar is offered to educated professionals and college students all over the world, and attempts to prove the Torah and orthodoxy true through science and proofs. It's several hours long, gives a lot of information, and has drawn a lot of criticism. I will discuss this at length in a future post, however, you should be aware that Discovery is meant to "shock and awe" people towards orthodoxy.
     People attending functions such as this should be aware that several recruiting tactics are used in order to draw people in. Removing people from their usual environments and putting them into an environment dominated by the organizers of the weekend, managing guests' time with packed schedules,  and bringing in charismatic speakers are all part of the recruitment process. The initial deception that this is simply a "Shabbos retreat" as opposed to a "kiruv Shabbos retreat," as well as offering financial subsidies in order to get people through the door are other major tactics used by many kiruv/outreach organizations.

4 comments:

  1. So, this is set up like some sort of multi-level marketing or something?

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    Replies
    1. I'd definitely have to agree that it is, not just this, but kiruv as a whole. From the initial deception to get people in, to the recruitment process and tactics used on those who aren't orthodox, there are definitely similarities.

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  2. I have nothing to add or subtract from this post except to say that you are doing excellent work, keep it up!

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