MAILBAG: Flatbush Community – WHERE ARE YOU?

28

Dear Flatbush Neighbors,

NO – this is not a fundraiser. I am not asking for money. I am writing this letter out of true sadness and perplexity over the recent Mikvah Yisroel campaign that is taking place.

To be completely honest, I do not always use the Mikvah on Ave L (I use the Syrian one sometimes), but at the same time I recognize that this Mikvah certainly is the Ashkenaic Mikvah in Flatbush, and throughout my married life my husband and I have never donated any money to this Mikvah (outside of a usage fee).  When we first got married, we lived in an out of town community and the local Mikvah was the one institution that everyone understood was critical for each and every family to support.

The mitzvah of Mikvah is not an easy one to say the least.  It is a mitzvah that has been given to us women, and one that should be treated with the utmost respect – not from us women – but from the men of the community.  Do men not feel that their wives deserve a nice respectable and beautiful Mikvah?

Two nights ago, my husband and I sat down and decided that this was one of the most integral institutions in our community, and we chose to support it to the best of our financial ability.  However, before I decided to write, I did a bit of research as to the need and why this renewal campaign is happening.  So allow me to share with you some facts:

  • The Mikvah (which was state of the art 25 years ago) is now in desperate need of an upgrade. It needs a new waterproofing system, to fix many years of water damage, new boilers, and new computer system just to name a few major costs.
  • Aesthetically, the Mikvah is extremely outdated and many of the preparation rooms are beginning to fall apart due to the extensive wear and tear.
  • The Mikvah still services between 1,800 and 2,000 tevilos per month.
  • Although I do not have details, I was told that the “wealthy” members of the community already gave extremely generously to this project.

Is this not reason enough?

I took a look at the online campaign this morning (it has been going on for the last 48 hours), and I cannot believe that only about 215 families thought this was important enough of a cause to donate to.  Can the Flatbush community, with all the money we have been blessed with, only muster up a little over $100,000 for this campaign?  It is beyond embarrassing!!!!

We spend so much money on our homes, cars, simchos, vacations, etc. and good for us.  We should!  I am not complaining at all about how much money we spend and on what we spend it on, but to see how little we care about this precious institution saddens me to no end.

If the mitzvah of Mikvah was given to men, I have no doubt that the community would raise $5 million overnight and it would be the most spectacular, updated and modern facility possible.  The men of the community that have deleted the campaign e mail without donating should be ashamed of themselves, and should really take a moment and think about what their wives go through to perform this mitzvah and how little they value it.  The men spend millions of dollars a year on trip to kevarim all over the world, yet when it comes to their wives Mikvah, zero!

In talking to my friends about this, I quickly began to realize that people who don’t want to give have every excuse in the world.  “I use the Syrian Mikvah”. “Who needs it to be nice?”. “The parking stinks”.  If you want excuses, there are plenty out there.

When you walk into the Mikvah now, there is wall of what looks like a thousand names of people that generously gave so the Mikvah could be built 25 years ago.  These are our parents (and in some cases grandparents), yet we either ignore it or give a small token donation.

Think about the size, wealth and generosity (to every other organization) of our community.  Only 215 families chose to donate to this. Yes 215! Millions of dollars are given out each year on Purim to everything under the sun.  Yet for our own Mikvah, 215 families were able to give a little more than $100,000.

As I’ve said, I’m saddened, perplexed and dismayed by the respect the men of our community have for their wives and for their taharas hamispacha. I guess this isn’t going to make a difference, but at the very least I had to vent about my disgust at our priorities.

Name withheld upon request.

NOTE: The views expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of YWN.

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28 COMMENTS

  1. Author: “this is not a fundraiser. I am not asking for money”

    Also Author: Why is no one giving money to the Mikvah?! Everyone needs to give money to the MIkvah!!

  2. Wow. Some letter. Spot on. Surprised me as well that so few families responded. I actually got the link from 2 Shul lists I am on and was happy to get the reminders. Not sure though if all of our Shuls or Rabbis pushed this. I hope they did. Not to many other things I can think of that every family in Flatbush has to feel the responsibility to help. We each have our own shuls and schools and we all help hatzoluh and others but this Mikva is Flatbush and is probably the only thing we have that really belongs to the entire community.

  3. I had the exact same thoughts, this is a community need, what ever amount is needed should have been raised in under 48 hours. Every member of the community should have stretched and given at least 1800.

  4. You raise an excellent point. Mikva is a special mitzvah and needs to be supported very generously. However, please don’t make this a man versus woman thing. Those big houses that you’re talking about in Flatbush are built by women also. They are the ones actually spending the money. They are many mitzvahs given to men and still those organizations struggle to raise funds. The hardest thing to collect money for is Torah. A mitzvah given to men. So be realistic and instead of making this a man versus woman thing, urge the women to push their husbands, just like they push their husbands on anything they really want.

  5. Well said. I see the same thing every day. Money to fly to Meron every year, to kever Yisrael every years, but for our school,s mental health problems, our shuls or mikvah everybody say yenah do it

  6. So last Shabbos my Rov (and I believe all rabbonim in Flatbush) spoke about the Mikva and urged everyone to donate generously. Now that we see how much the community cared, I think every Rov should speak about how bad of a response this got.

    Embarrassing.

  7. When you do for Kedusha, you will find that it becomes difficult . The yetzer horah feels threatened. This should be your proof of the great work you are doing. Hatzloche rabba

  8. the cynic in me believes, if this would have been for a mikva in uman, tsfas or lumberton south carolina it would have gained more traction. the realist in me believes, people are responding in other ways besides the 48 hour online campaign.

  9. A few thoughts
    Firstly the sentiments in the letter above in my opinion are spot on.
    And I am a man.
    However let me mitigate your frustrations a bit.
    For starters there are many other venues to donate.
    I got a letter About this, from a mossed I am affiliated With.
    I mailed out a check immediately.
    Is that reflected in the forty eight hour online campaign? I can’t see how as they don’t even have the check yet.
    Next , and this is a point you raised.
    I believe this is a huge marketing mistake they made.
    I happen to be very close friends to many of those leading this campaign.
    I asked two of them, individually , the same question.
    One million dollars, in flatbush 2019 is a lot of money?
    It should be two three phone calls and done!
    To which one told me, of course. Just the renovations are many millions, we made those calls and that’s what is covering the rest.
    We want / need the tzibur to be involved as well.
    The second one said the same and gave me some details too.
    The wall of one thousand names.
    I well remember that.
    Every rov and every yeshiva REQUIRED every family to either donate x amount or sit with them to explain personally why you could not.
    I remember then there was plenty of communal grumbling, but it got done
    Unfortunately we live in a different world today. Such a move would never succeed.
    Can you imagine the blogs exploding with nasty comments against rabbonim if they were to require! You to donate.

    To the cynical poster who thinks they caught out the letter writer asking for donations after saying it’s not a fundraiser
    Genius
    What she meant was obviously, she is not on the fundraising committee, is not asking anyone to mail them checks through her, and really has no official direct personal involvement in this campaign.
    .
    It’s attitudes like yours that prevent the community leaders from possibly pressuring the community to step up to the plate

  10. Please also realize it is not the ONLY WOMEN”s mikvah in flatbush. There are others that alo need support. My wife has never used that particular mikvah and we support the mikvah she does use.

  11. I do agree with the author that the campaign seemed like a disappointment. However, I for one mailed a check and I hope many people did the same. So the online campaign may not be the whole story. Also the marketing seemed very light and many people might have overlooked it.

  12. The letter writer and fundraisers should also take note of how many new mikvaos gave been built within a 10 minute car ride of this one in the last 2 decades. This no longer THE Flatbush mikva.

  13. FLATBUSH IS NO LONGER THE FLATBUSH IT WAS 25 YEARS AGO!
    I do not have the time to elaborate right now but due to many reasons the migration to NJ & Upstate NY has been going on for a long time now. So people are asking what is the future of this community?

  14. Do woman not have a strong voice if not the voice in almost every household. So much hate towards men in the words of this letter , did that hate encourage anyone to donate. Good intentions , and good cause but sad to see her view of men.

  15. I’m a little overwhelmed with my Pesach bill, my tuition bills and my daughters coming back from sem and kids going up to camp and the bar mitzvah bills etc
    A little limud zchus please. I’m spending beyond my means to begin with and now you add this?

  16. Beyond our means – we all are, but we can all still do something. Anything is better then nothing

    Justme22 – my feelings as well but I have been watching the campaign today and they are raising money so she has to get credit where credit (might be) due

    Lakewhut – Really, I have not seen a packed shul in a few years.

    Apushitayid – It is my understanding based on the advertising that this is the ONLY ashkenaz mikva open every night of the week in all of Flatbush. If that is incorrect please list other “ashkenaz” ones open every night

    lowerourtuition11210 – see line above this – it IS our only ashkenaz mikva in our area open every night.

    talmidchochom – you probably speak for nobody other then yourself because anyone who really wants to know what renovations are being done can call and ask. I did and was very satisfied with the answer. Of course the next thing is if you are planning to make a very significant donation you should ask. But if you are just giving $100 its a bit unrealistic to ask and expect someone to sit and explain everything to you

  17. Guess what ,our chasidish neighbors in borough park just opened a 14 million dollar mikve .(besides the lot that was donated by one person )
    And it is the biggest (over 40 rooms) most beautiful and tech modern mikve in the world.

  18. The letter writer is out of line, this is extremely offensive to all men out there. I’m expressing my opinion as one that has donated to this Mikva, I have not during this campaign. While I fully agree everyone in the community should support this mikva, what’s with the hateful letter. Yes it was an important fundraiser, however so was the other 14 I received via email and WhatsApp this week. We are in the digital age much fundraising is being done by charidy.com /raise it. I for one ignore most of these campaigns not because they aren’t worthy organizations, rather it’s out of hand. Everyone you know if sending a link to some campaign as of it’s the most important in the world and pressuring for a donation Monday you give $250, Tuesday another $100, Wednesday $150, and oh the Next day Flatbush mikva pops up. You dont ignore it because you dont support women, rather enough is enough you need to pay the credit card bill. Yes there are many people that can swipe away without a chechbon,most cant.

    I for one try to give directly to families in need. From the beginning of pesach until now I gave $2500, for me that’s allot of money. Does that mean I dont support women because I ignored this campaign?.
    There are many good causes out there, you cant support them all.
    May I suggest going forward they raise the price by $10 per visit & allocate those funds for future renovations.

  19. Klal Yisroel has a great many needs. We also have legendary and huge generosity. And with the greatest of respect to this situation, there is something missing from the discussion. With the many needs of Klal Yisroel, there is little to no direction how to allocate available tzedokoh monies. Each needy cause will consider itself priority. Supporting of yeshivos is critical, hachnosas kallah, orphans, rescuing children from abuse and other forms of tzuris, protecting ourselves from missionaries, kids at risk, and the list goes on an on. In our quest to be machmir on everything (even things our ancestors and Gedolei Yisroel never considered), perhaps Hashem is being machmir, too, on the לא יחדל אביון מקרב הארץ.

    This letter can be rewritten with minor changes, and address any of the above mentioned causes or others. Yes, there continue to be important needs. It requires more than anyone’s personal desperation to determine what the priorities for Klal Yisroel, both בכלל and בפרט should be. I hope the support this project deserves comes in lavishly and respectfully. But the state that this need supersedes anything else in Klal Yisroel is simply unfair, and probably dishonest.

  20. @26 estates – I am sure the men hating was not what pushed people to donate. Despite that I knew her letter meant well and was for a good cause.