'Family Friday' attempts to restore traditional values

Shishi Mishpahti to launch new Family Friday advertising campaign to create awareness of importance of family togetherness and bring back Friday gatherings.

family 88 (photo credit: )
family 88
(photo credit: )
A new group of people from different professional backgrounds, countries of origin and streams of Judaism is attempting to bring Israelis back to traditional family values. According to Shishi Mishpahti (Family Friday) - an initiative that boasts former basketball champion Tal Brody and former government minister Ya'acov Ne'eman among its main movers - changes in lifestyle, frantic pursuits of careers and attempts to keep pace with technological developments are all contributing factors to the breakdown of Jewish family norms. Brody told a news conference on Sunday that a friend had driven his son from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and the two had not exchanged a single word during the whole journey. "What do you say to kids these days?" Brody's friend had queried. This Thursday, the group will launch the new Family Friday advertising campaign to create awareness of the importance of family togetherness and bring back Friday gatherings. Joining Ne'eman and Brody in the bid were businessman and former police chief Assaf Hefetz, Integrated Security Services head Shimon Shoval, Ophir Tours CEO Boaz Waxman, former Prime Minister's Office director-general Moshe Leon, President of the Institute of Certified Accountants Reuven Schiff, former Israel Airports Authority head Gabi Ophir, weatherman Danny Roup and advertising guru Reuven Adler. The NIS 5 million seed money for the campaign has been put up by a group of American Jews who wish to remain anonymous, but who are concerned about the erosion of Jewish education and values and the degeneration of the family nucleus in Israel. A strong family is even more important than a strong police force, said Hefetz, who noted that he spends nearly every Friday night in the company of family and friends. Waxman, meanwhile, noted that his generation grew up without grandparents because most of them perished in the Holocaust. Today, he said, there are many three- and four-generation families, and it is vital for them to maintain regular contact. Ophir, who spent 33 years in the army before joining IAA, said that during his military career, it was not always possible for him to be home on Friday nights, but once he became a civilian, he made sure that he was home for candle-lighting and kiddush with his grandchildren. His large and impoverished family had made aliya in the mid 1950s, he said, and although there wasn't always food on the table, there were always people around the table, because his parents realized the significance of the family unit. Roup, who is secular, said that Family Friday had nothing to do with religion or tradition, but with the ability to relax from the turmoil of the rest of the week and exchange views and experiences with other members of the family. "We live in an 'I' generation - iPhone, iMac," said Adler. "The computer and SMS have become everyone's best friend. In order to get out of this technological isolation, it is essential to meet at least once a week with family." Ne'eman, aware of the number of single-parent families and of needy families whose dire economic straits might not allow for festive Friday night dinners, stressed that it was important to get to know such people and to invite them to Friday night dinners. A survey conducted by the Mutagim (Brand Names) Institute among 500 adult respondents representing a broad cross-section of Jewish society in Israel indicated that 92% of families in the religious community dine together on Friday nights, as do 82% of traditional families and 73% of secular families.