Category Archives: Consumerism

Who Is Rich?

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February 1, 2012

Brent Chaim Spodek
Happiness comes neither from having every desire satisfied nor from denying that desire exists. It comes from working directly with one’s hands to satisfy longing. More »

Our Money, Our Children, Ourselves

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February 1, 2012

Marcella Kanfer Rolnick
Rather than judging what and when to buy non-essentials for our children or judging their purchases, we give them a relatively modest weekly allowance that they divide into the three compartments: one part wallet (“spend”); one part piggy bank (“save”); and one part tzedakah box (“share”). Here are a few questions that we might ask ourselves regarding how we talk to our children about money and the lure of possessions:
1.  Why do you want this item? How might your life be different if you were or were not to get it?
2. Do you have the money to buy it? Is it a good use of money (which is limited for all of us, to a greater or lesser extent)? Is there a better use?
3. Do you have room and time in your life and your home / room for it? If not, what will it replace? Is that a good trade-off?
4. Is it well-made (for what it is) and likely to have some longevity? Or is it junky and likely to end up in the scrap heap soon?
5. Is it a long-experienced desire or a passing fancy?
6. Does it enhance who you are or are becoming? Does it build skills or capacities?
7. Where did it come from? Is there anything problematic about how it was made?  If so, how might we mitigate those problematic aspects?
8. Can it wait? Let’s sleep on it and talk about it tomorrow when there is less consumerist urgency. More »

The Mixed Message of Ritual Consumption

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February 1, 2012

Jenna Weissman Joselit
Virtually everywhere you turn in modern day America, materialism — or, more precisely still, the spirit of consumerism — has managed to insinuate itself into the nooks and crannies of Jewish life, transcending denomination. More »

NiSh’ma – Consumerism

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February 1, 2012

“And you shall bring no abhorrent thing into your house or you will be under the ban like it. You shall surely despise it and shall surely abhor it, for it is under the ban.” —Deuteronomy 7:26 Simply read, this verse bans the abhorrent from the Jewish home. In doing so, it asks us to More »

Ethical Consumption

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February 1, 2012

Ruth Messinger & Jordan Namerow E.F. Schumacher’s 1973 classic Small is Beautiful introduced many of us to the concept of “enoughness” — the antidote to scarcity and the moderation of excess. It’s a concept that I hope calibrates my consumption habits wherever I am — at a kiddush lunch in California, a coffee farm in More »

Consuming the Consumers

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February 1, 2012

Noa Kushner Let’s start with this perspective: People who come as consumers to “The Kitchen” (or any Jewish religious community) have more potential for Jewish religious growth than those who don’t show up at all. This is significant because, in San Francisco in 2012, this group — those who don’t attempt any regular Jewish religious More »

Discussion Guide – Consumerism

February 1, 2012

1. What are our moral obligations as consumers? For example, in
a more globalized economy, how do we take into account the conditions of manufacturing what we buy? Are we, as individuals, what we own?

2. What is the changing relationship between production and consumption? Is the Jewish community — by way of independent minyanim and a host of other indie nonprofits — experiencing a blurring between those who “produce” Jewish experiences, learning, etc. and those who “consume” them?

3. What is the impact of the growing costs of “doing” or “consuming” Jewish — from synagogue membership to day school tuition? Are Jewish ritual practices being transformed by a consumer spirit? More »

Responsible Judaism and Sustainability

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February 1, 2012

Lisa Kempler In his December 2011 Sh’ma essay, “Sharing a Divergent Path,” Bruce Weinstock, my husband, accurately and respectfully depicts my perspective regarding leaving lights on during Shabbat. In fact, my discomfort extends to other standard practices in observant homes, such as leaving on the oven, the air conditioner, or the heat. When Shabbat is More »

Goodbye, Jewish Brands: Hello, Jewish Memes

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February 1, 2012

Joshua Avedon The social media revolution is bringing an end to unified brand presentation. Today it is our relationships, rather than direct communication with brand sources, that mediate our perception of brands. Technologies like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all empower individuals to become brand curators for their like-minded peers and social networks. Ultra-niche targeting is More »