Shana Tova -- One-Size-Fits-All

No point in waxing nostalgic over old New Year's greeting cards… Things change. Fact of life. Yes, when I was a school girl, sending Shana Tova cards was quite a project (only it wasn't referred to as a project, nor an enterprise or an assignment). We walked into the center of town, to our favorite bookshop or kiosk, that now had a table laid out with an enormous selection of cute, small cards with matching envelopes: with and without cherubs and doves, with and without silver or gold sparkles. You had to choose carefully, which you'd send to whom, how much you'd spend, how many plain ones you needed and how many fancy ones. Anyone from my generation, growing up in Israel when I did, remembers this, and I'm sure it's been documented in various novels, short stories, newspaper articles.

So, if there's no point in pining for Old Times, what am I complaining about?
I'm complaining about the other extreme: Sending one Shana Tova greeting to your entire list of Contacts, Friends, or Customers, or your entire Address Book. By email or by texting (SMS, to Israelis.)

I know it's efficient. I know you simply don't have the time to send an individual email greeting to each. I know that most of the people who include me in their Shana Tova mailing list do indeed mean it, and do indeed think of me not only on Rosh Hashana. Still, it simply doesn't have the same impact. No matter how clever and original your copywriting, it's still impersonal, and I have not gotten used to it.

Do I have a solution? Not exactly... not as such. I've become so upset by this phenomenon in the past couple of years that I've stopped sending greetings altogehter. I phone some people; I send a few personal emails; I enclose a real, tangible card when sending, say, an invoice/receipt or any other bit of correspondence that requires the use of snail-mail; and of course I reply to the greetings I receive by email. Because, as I said, the senders are my friends who truly wish me well and whom I really want to wish a Happy [Jewish] New Year. But I just can't bring myself to create and send a mass message.

Hope I haven't offended my friends. I'll probably get my comeuppance next year, when my friends will say, "Well, ma'am, if that's the way you feel about it, no problem, I'll just delete your name from the list." And I'll be the only person in Israel not getting any New Year greetings, and shall feel very forlorn…

I wonder whether there's an in-between method. How would that work?

- First of all, either phone or send a paper greeting card to elderly people who don't have a computer and/or computer skills.

- Next, prepare one e-greeting for family. If you don't have too huge a family, you can even give their names in the body of the email, and/or make the text a bit more specific, e.g., Sweetie – may your enterprise flourish, Honeybunch – knock their socks off, Baby – enjoy your new job/apartment, Auntie – hope you can go back to running this year; and so forth.

- Stage three – prepare one text for friends in Israel, wherein you can allude to local issues; and a slightly different text for friends abroad, wherein you can express your hope of their coming to visit you in Israel next year (or not).

- Stage four – a text for customers, both current and prospective. Should be easy to wish them success in their business ventures, with the implied hope that they count you in and send some work your way. And a separate text for colleagues, who have helped you in the past and whom you wish to thank and wish well.

- Stage five – well, anyone else who has not been included in the previous categories, but whom you do not wish to leave out.

Does this sound like a lot of work?... Almost as time-consuming as going into town and hand-picking paper cards, addressing them and sticking on stamps?... Aw, shucks! I guess it's time I got used to the mass e-greetings.

Thank you, my friends, for thinking of me. Shana Tova to all.


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