Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Lakewood Dinner Innovation

Board members at top yeshivas are not too happy with the changes Lakewood has made to their upcoming dinner.

Trying something new to invigorate America's largest yeshiva's dinner which of recent years has had half their set up tables remain empty, Lakewood has completely revamped the entire event.

The location has been moved from an elegant Hilton to the heimishe Chinka Hall of Parkville. There will be no guest of honor or other awardees. The sit down dinner will be replaced with a buffet setting. The journal will feature ads with people honoring or thanking a person of their own choice.

It seems to be mirroring the annual informal picnic under the tent that the Yeshiva hosts for Lakewooders.

Other yeshivas fear it will take away the publics' appetite for their own formal, conventional dinner, which is a big source of revenue for them. Pressure will be put on them to accommodate the publics' transient desires.
posted by Yeshiva Orthodoxy
at 3:43 PM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good for them. Lakewood will make their money anyways, why waste some on the hilton?

11:47 PM  
Anonymous SephardiLady said...

It is so expensive to run these hotel banquet dinners and apparantely some organizations are not making the amount that is needed to make it worth throwing this type of costly event. I have even heard of an organization that lost money because they had a very expensive speaker.

The thing is that when you take money from a person and you end up netting a much lower amount than was expected, you are not going to just be able to come back and collect the difference.

So, if Lakewood thinks that they will make better money (or even the same money) using a different and less expensive format, I say excellent! Give it a try!

And, if it works, than others will follow suit. And, maybe someday with a little re-education, we won't have to spend thousands and thousands of dollars to make money and a simple mailing will do.

(That being said, we don't attend any banquets and only send checks to the organizations we like. I'm sure the banquet is good for the morle of some, but we would prefer to stay home with our family, rather than hiring a babysitter to go to out to a banquet where we can't really enjoy each others company.)

9:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I sent this letter to the editor of the Yated. Since I am sure he will be too wimpy to print it I am posting it here in the hope that somehow it will reach the people it is directed at.

Dear Editor,

As gratified as I was to read your editorial "It Takes A Community", I saw no need to comment. The point you made was clear and your analysis of the Lakewood Dinner was cogent.

It is only today, after reading the letters in response to that editorial, that I have taken pen in hand. It seems that many people missed the point and I feel it needs to be reiterated in simpler terms.

Rabbosai: The reason Lakewood is not making a major dinner is because those who are in a position to make a major dinner happen have abdicated their responsibility. Period.

This is not about long speeches or evenings spent away from the kids. This is about one of the leading Mosdos HaTorah of our time in a position where no one is losing sleep over its financial viability.

Allow me to spell out for you how this is supposed to work.

It takes important balebatim to influence other important balebatim.

It takes a major honor -accepted by a major balebos- to enable the cycle of fundraising that will garner respectable donations from friends and associates of the honorees.

It takes a major venue -ie. NY hotel and full course dinner- to establish the credibility of an awardee who will be giving $100,000 plus and asking his people to contribute large sums.

This format has worked well in the instances where the involved balebatim (assisted by a dedicated Yeshiva staff) have gone all-out to capitalize on the opportunity presented to them by the honorees. Most involved balebatim will not stand for it if they accept an award and discover that no one is doing the all-important legwork -personally visiting & calling every name on their lists.

Unfortunately there does not seem to be involved balebatim affiliated with Lakewood. Where once there was the likes of Irving Bunim Z'l, Yisroel Bloom Z'l & ybl'ch Dov Wolowitz, there now seems to be a void.

That is what the editorial was saying albeit in less specific terms. This is the churban we are witnessing.

To add insult to injury there is a coverup. "We heard you..." proclaims the ads. You don't like dinners..its a waste of time...honorees are boring..

This line of advertising is an insult to the devoted balebatim and staff of every Mosad out there which is working feverishly to conduct dinners and similar events to raise money. Are these people uncaring? Dare they be cast in a negative light? For shame!

All of you parents, friends and alumni of Lakewood who cannot afford more than $180 and have been wondering all these years "why do they need me to shlep to Manhattan?" The answer is that you have played a role in creating a venue where the Yeshiva can raise the millions of dollars they so desperately need. You are not merely props; you are the bedrock of reliable support that makes it an honor for the big boys to accept an award in front of you and sacrifice themselves to call in the favors due them on the yeshiva's behalf.

Are there balebatim out there ready to accept the challenge? I do not doubt it. Perhaps they are hesitant because of the many names that appear on the Board of Director listings of BMG. Perhaps the current balebatim ought to consider resigning therby making way for new balebatim who will fulfill the responsibility of being a board member of Klal Yisroel's greatest makom Torah.

I am a proffesional in the fundraising field. I have been privileged to witness and work alongside some of the most devoted balebatim there are. They deserve better than to be slapped in the face by these ads. And Lakewood deserves balebatim like them to make future dinners happen.

YM, Brooklyn

3:28 PM  
Blogger Yeshiva Orthodoxy said...

Why resort to personal insults?

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Although I'm sure Lakewood didn't do this to save us time and money, It certainly would be great if this was a stepping stone to rid us of all the time wasting. Perhaps innovative Ballei Batim can figure out a way to raise the money for Journal ads, by working the phones, and email. A new way of fundraising is long overdue. The proliferation of mosdos and honorees have us at a dinner or melave malka nearly weekly. enough is enough!!

6:54 PM  

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