Your votes have been counted, and your opinions have been heard.
62% of you were against the idea of putting a hechsher on books, for a variety of reasons: The Israel Book Shop logo is a hechsher of sorts (A.W.) [good job, A.W!] Books…already feature haskamos (Sara) A book that is perfectly suited to an individual from one background can be confusing to another. (C.L.) We need to trust our adults to make responsible decisions…(Chanie Greenberg)
38% of you voted Yes to a hechsher. Many people suggested alternatives to a hechsher, such as a rating system, or an age recommendation, haskamos, or asking a friend.
Israel Book Shop Publications, in response to all of the opinions posted, plans to ensure that our back cover descriptions be as accurate as possible in portraying the book properly in order for discerning readers to be able to make an informed judgment.
Look out for a new question in the next few days…
The following are the winning answers from each category:
Opinions regarding the suitability of reading material is not only SUBJECTIVE, but the criteria for each and every Jew SHOULD vary.
Factors like individual background (ffb/bt), occupation (kiruv, rabbonus, counseling, etc.), and personal sensitivities are highly relevant. Some situations REQUIRE specific knowledge, while another person is best off unaware of the very same content.
Yes, sometimes, you have to be discerning-all by your little old self. Or ask someone who knows you well to help you decide.
F.W. in Brooklyn Says:
Regarding your question of whether Jewish books should require a hechsher attesting to is kashrus, the answer is obviously a clear and resounding YES!
In recent years the standards of kashrus, regarding food products has been upgraded and improved. Consumers eye labels intently, searching for a respected kashrus symbol.
Mashgichim are sent overseas for weeks on end to ensure that only the most kosher of kosher reaches our pantries.
Why all the fuss? Why all the hiddurim?
The answer is self-understood. We all go to such lengths to ensure that our souls remain pure and untainted.
When an author writes a story, his emotions, opinions and hashkafadik views all flow through his pen and onto the paper. The text is saturated with his attitude toward Yiddishkeit, his sentiments, and mental feelings. Everything is there, waiting to be read and inscribed upon the reader’s heart and soul.
Can we risk exposing our souls to foreign values? In today’s world of confusion, it is always better to be safe rather than sorry. Our souls can be tainted be eating and by reading. Should we place a competent hechsher on both of them?
Other interesting answers:
Thank you for doing this survey! It is true that as mature individuals everyone has the capacity and “right” to choose which books are appropriate for themselves. However, there are 2 important reasons that I feel a hechsher or standard could benefit everyone.
1- as a busy mother, always looking for good reading material for myself and my children, I don’t always have time to read the book before I buy the book/while I’m standing in the store. (Is it right to the owner of the store to have people reading entire books?) It has happened more than once that I purchased a book and then fount that it’s not appropriate for its reader.
2- If consumers demand a hechsher, this can raise the standard for all books. Book companies will of course try to meet the standards in order to receive the hechsher. Everyone stands to gain!
We are taught “Chanoch l’naar Al Pi Darko”. Every child, family, and community has its own derech. What might be completely appropriate for one family will be actually assur for another. For example, in some families a boy is expected to ride his bike if he wants to go someplace. In other communities – a boy is not allowed to own a bike. Should a book in which a boy rides a few miles to visit his friend be approved? The same is true for playing certain sports and many other examples. And these are the easy topics. Discussing death, divorce, war and other major issues are dilemmas. Literature is part of a child’s chinuch, and must be individualized for each child and family.
A responsible parent should assess each book individually and with the rav’s guidance choose what is appropriate for the family.
Life is about making your own decisions. You gotta train yourself, for people are not out there to make decisions for you every step of the way. Having a hechsher solves this issue (maybe) but it’s just covering up the fact called “life”!
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