Forgive Us for Clicking on Sam Horowitz's Bar Mitzvah Drama

We All Played Some Small Role in Helping It Go Viral

Proud Moment? Sam Horowitz may have enjoyed the 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) sparked by his gaudy bar mitzvah video. But truth be told, we all played a role in making it go viral.
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Proud Moment? Sam Horowitz may have enjoyed the 15 minutes of fame (or infamy) sparked by his gaudy bar mitzvah video. But truth be told, we all played a role in making it go viral.

By Jordana Horn

Published August 23, 2013, issue of August 30, 2013.
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Ashamnu: Our failings are self-destructive. In embracing the idiotic, in celebrating the tawdry, in passing along such things with a fevered frenzy even if only to condemn them, we contribute to a culture in which we venerate the wrong things. This failing is self-destructive: In spending time on the idiocies so readily available on the Internet, we forfeit time that we could spend constructively using that social space to help our fellow Jews and fellow people.

Bagadnu: We have betrayed what is most essential about us as a people: not the impulse to judge one another, but the ability to act on behalf of one another’s interest.

In the same week that the to-do broke over the Horowitz bar mitzvah, one family in New York struggled to find the funds to pay for their baby son to have a bone marrow transplant to save his life. Idan Zablocki, a boy of not even 2, was born with an extremely rare immunodeficiency that, even his mother admits, untreated is nothing short of a death sentence. He has found a match for a bone marrow transplant, and while the best hospital for his particular procedure is in Seattle, the family’s insurance refuses to cover this treatment in full. Idan’s mother, Amanda Zablocki, has taken to the Internet and press to plea for financial help to save her son’s life.

This story, about a little Jewish boy whose life can literally be saved with financial help from the community, hasn’t gone as viral as a bar mitzvah spectacle in Dallas. Idan’s parents are not on “Good Morning America.” His mother’s story has not gotten as many links or hits (although it was written about in The Forward).

Have we fallen so far from our ideals that a mother should have to put on a Vegas showgirl outfit and do an elaborate dance routine to get our attention?

Gazalnu: We have stolen the conversation, the time, the effort and the social media energies that should have gone to better causes.

Dibarnu dofi: We have talked out of both sides of our mouths. We have judged others for what we deem to be showy spectacles, but in doing so we have failed to realize our own potential for doing good in the world. We have judged others freely, perhaps because in doing so, we implicitly absolve ourselves from the difficult, yet crucial, obligations of self-examination.

Each year, we confess. And each year, we are offered the opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Let’s begin.

Jordana Horn is the former New York bureau chief of The Jerusalem Post and is a contributing editor to the parenting website Kveller.com


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