Recently, the creative team at Bottom Line Marketing Group was privileged to work alongside Yeshiva Darchei Torah of Far Rockaway on a commemorative book to coincide with the chanukas habayis of their glorious, new $31-million building. This undertaking resulted in the production of a 192-page stunning, coffee-table sized volume: “Building Worlds,” which was distributed to some 2000 chanukas habayis attendees. The book contained six chapters of the yeshiva’s history, a fascinating piece written by the renowned Reb Yisroel Besser, captivating photos and a section recognizing the commitment of the yeshiva’s many generous donors, giving the yeshiva the opportunity to express their hakaras hatov to them.
Obviously, the investment that went into this book was an expense that had to be carefully weighed to ensure that its ultimate value would be greater than the cost. This is the obvious dilemma that every organization must grapple with, and even justify, before spending precious mammon hekdesh. (Although I must add that in almost all cases, a generous donor sponsors the marketing costs — as happened in this case, where some gracious friends of Yeshiva Darchei Torah sponsored the book in honor of the rabbeim).
The resolution to this dilemma could be gleaned from some of the lofty thoughts I heard expressed during the dedication address by Rav Yaakov Bender, the rosh yeshiva of Yeshiva Darchei Torah.
One of them was a story of the Chofetz Chaim renowned for his great humility and simplicity, among his other sterling character traits. The Chofetz Chaim initially opened the famous Radin Yeshiva in his modest home, some 40 years later, when an opportunity presented itself, he moved the yeshiva into a more spacious building of its own which remained open until the churban of World War II began. Even though it is used as a community center today by the local municipality, its ornate walls give testimony to the fact that the Chofetz Chaim spared no expense when it came to kavod haTorah.
A second story Rav Bender related concerned Rav Akiva Eiger who published his first volume of Sefer Ha-Ketavim in Warsaw in 1834. Rav Eiger’s eloquent introduction contains instructions to his sons to print it “on beautiful paper, with black ink and fine letters, because, in my opinion, the soul marvels; the wisdom and the intention awaken when one learns in a fine, luxurious book.” The sefer is still around today. It was indeed printed on thick, high quality paper, manufactured especially for this book print. The Kedem Auction House Ltd., which recently auctioned the sefer, noted that the watermarks bear the name of the manufacturer and the name of the person who ordered the print: “Eiger.”
Neither the Chofetz Chaim nor Rav Akiva Eiger would have done any of this for their own personal honor. The concept of Zeh Keli V’Anvehu, “This is my G-d and I will exalt him,” is what impelled them to do their utmost for kavod haTorah.
Today, when we come across full color advertising campaigns, newsletters and brochures for yeshivos and chesed organizations — when we ponder whether this was a necessary expense, we can see that there are precedents. In our era, distribution of informational material is the only way by which an organization can get its message out of their office and into your home. It is their way of giving honor to the Torah; by keeping you informed of their accomplishments, goals and needs and to show you the ways in which you can contribute to their cause, if you choose to do so.
There is another value-added concept at play here. By creating and distributing institutional material, an organization forces itself to appraise its strengths, gaining a greater appreciation for all of its efforts and hard work.
In the process, the organization provides chizuk to itself, and to vital organization insiders, including the board of directors, the hanhala and the dedicated staff. This positive reinforcement boosts morale and reverberates throughout the organization.
This Week’s Bottom Line Action Step: Give rein to your yeshiva or organization to promote itself appropriately and take pride in its day-to-day and long-term accomplishments. Raise awareness in the community of what you have done and what you need to do next. And see what a difference it can make.
Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, and recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line’s notable clients include: Mike Bloomberg for Mayor, Dirshu and TeachNYS.
Readers are encouraged to submit their marketing questions to: ys@BottomLineMG.com