Monday, July 21, 2008

On wedding presents

Here in North America, actual gifts are just as common as ones of cash. And while Ari and I had a registry for items like plates, cutting boards and the garlic press, we also deeply appreciated the cash we got for things like an eventual down payment on a house, and paying off student loans.

The Israeli custom of only bringing monetary gifts is one of the many things I don't "get" about Israel. Consider this:

Gift credit

We’re in the thick of the Israeli wedding season and wedding present methodology has just reached new heights of absurdity.

Wedding hosts can now rent an automated teller machine that takes guests’ credit cards, allowing them to punch in a shekel figure and leave a ‘gift’ for the bride and groom that is transferred into their bank account the next day. The machine, which is rented for NIS 500, even prints out a deposit slip for the guests who can sign a quick mazal tov and slip it in a box for the happy couple.

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I have strong opinions about not buying returnable gifts, having wished many times that people had not wasted their money buying me art that is not to my taste and items I'd never find useful. But ultimately, a gift needs to be freely given to be a gift ... otherwise, it's noting but extortion.


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