[Track on-going developments in the Israeli response to Hamas rockets, here at the Muqata. Updated throughout the day.]
I believe in having Bar Mitzvah boys / Bat Mitzvah girls write Thank You notes for the gifts they receive, as well as for the other efforts people make to mark their entry into religious adulthood in a beautiful and meaningful way. Gratitude, humility, thinking about other people - these are indispensable elements of a mature personality and of civilized society.
And as my Rebbetzin and I grew up with written Thank You notes, that's what my Rebbetzin and I expected our son to do as well at the time of his Bar Mitzvah this past year, and so he did. Writing each note involved him thinking about his relationship with the person who had given the gift, and about the gift itself, with the goal of writing a note that would be meaningful.
I mention this because someone asked me the following question yesterday: She received a "Thank You phone call" from a Bar Mitzvah boy. Is that better than, worse than, or of the same level as, a Thank You note?
On the one hand, a Thank You phone call is easier to do, mechanically, and it may reflect a casualness and lack of effort. My initial reaction, certainly, was to view it as less 'serious' than a Thank You note, and to group it with Thank You email, unworthy as a response to a gift.
On the other hand, a call can be more meaningful than a note, since there can be a "How are you," a conversation, and a spelling-out of ideas which thirteen-year old arms tend not to write out in full, legible sentences.
Further, many teens have a hard time holding conversations with anyone other than their friends; the Thank You phone call may actually represent more of an emotional investment, for them, than the Thank You note with its distance.
So I'm not sure. What do you think?