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Eli’s recordings of Jewish music opened a path for other observant Jewish musicians and vocalists, and created an entirely new genre.
One is remembered for his mitzvahs and good deeds, and Rabbi “Heritage House’ Schuster will be remembered forever.
As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.
"And the servant said to him…" (Genesis 24:5). The biblical portion of Chayei Sarah comprises two chapters in the Book of Genesis. The first (chapter 23) deals with the death and burial of Sarah and the second (chapter 24) deals with the selection of a suitable wife for Isaac.
Twenty-five years ago, when kiruv was still a relatively new concept, a group of four young rabbis left Ner Yisrael with families in tow to head down south to Atlanta, Georgia. Rabbi David Silverman was one of those pioneers who founded the Atlanta Scholars Kollel. He is a powerhouse of kiruv – his charisma, sincerity and broad knowledge have helped him inspire thousands of Jews, including this writer.
One of the most popular tourist destinations in the American South, Savannah, Georgia is a world of exciting history and activity. Rich with landmarks from over 275 years, the city boasts unique architecture, Civil War commemorative tours, and a long list of beautiful squares and parks. In addition, Savannah’s Tybee Island provides a beach atmosphere for those who want to relax on and off-shore. Interestingly, Savannah also hosts a small but thriving Jewish community. The Savannah Jewish Federation offers family services and community resources, and there are a number of places to find kosher food. The city has three shuls: one for Orthodox, Conservative, and Reform congregations, respectively. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to speak with Rabbi Avigdor and Rebbetzin Rochel Slatus of the Bnai Brith Jacob Synagogue.
A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.
Most people have difficulty discerning Hashem's call since His messages are usually hidden behind many veils. On occasion however, hashgachah pratis – Divine providence – is so clear and obvious that even a blind man has to see it, a deaf man has to hear it.
I have a girlfriend I'll call Esti who works for a kiruv organization. During the summer semester, this organization offered an experiential history program. They taught a subject for a week, and then the next week toured the places they discussed in order to experience history firsthand. If they studied the First Temple era, for example, they would then visit the City of David.
Nowadays, Jewish parents and educators must ask themselves how they can present Torah and mitzvot in a way that speaks to this generation. To many youth today, Judaism’s rich heritage seems outdated, irrelevant and boring.
Many moons ago, when I established Hineni, kiruv - outreach - was a foreign concept. The Orthodox world looked askance at the idea. "You're wasting your time," I was told. "Maybe they will become observant for a day, or even a few weeks, but then they will go back to their former life style."
Something different is happening in Israel. It's been going on for a few years already. Now it's just about everywhere: The presence of Dati Leumi kiruv movements. Israelis are used to seeing Chabad of course, and some attend lectures by Arachim and Aish HaTorah. But this is new. For the first time, you can find Jewish outreach stands manned by individuals wearing kippot serugot at shopping malls, bus stations and major intersections throughout the country.
The Stories 1. Josh is a 20-year-old college student who was given a yeshiva education from kindergarten through 12th grade. No doubt his parents spent well over $100,000 for his solid Jewish education. He is involved in Jewish life on campus and attends minyan regularly, though life on campus is a spiritual battle. So when he told me he went to his college football team's stadium to attend a game on a Shabbos afternoon, I was a little disappointed.
Dear Rebbetzin Jungreis: I come from a solid, yeshivish family. My parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles are all "Torahdik" people. Most of my friends have similar backgrounds, and when the time came for me to go to seminary in Yerushalayim, I was most fortunate to be accepted with my friends at a great school. I had an amazing year in learning and in inspirational experiences. An entire new world opened up and I loved every minute of being in Yerushalayim. Now that I am back in New York, I truly miss Eretz Yisrael and feel sad not to be there. It was probably one of the happiest years of my life.
Living from Convention to Convention: A History of NCSY, 1954-1980 by Zev Eleff charts the history of NCSY since its inception. These formative years allowed the national youth organization of the Orthodox Union to become what many say is now the largest force in bringing Jewish teens closer to their heritage and religion.
Dear Rabbi Horowitz: Our family is recovering from the terrible, unexpected loss of a loved one who passed away far too young. My husband and I have differing views on seeking professional help to help our children cope with the tragedy. (Thankfully, at least on the surface, they all seem to be doing well.) I am strongly in favor of seeking this help, while my husband, who is an amazing father and has been our bedrock throughout this ordeal, thinks that we should leave well enough alone and not subject our children to the agony of pouring their hearts out to a stranger. We are regular readers of your columns and recently re-read your "Open Letter to Teens Who Lost a Parent," where you very clearly encourage them to seek help if they are having difficulty dealing with their grief. But what if they don't seem to be exhibiting any such signs? We would greatly appreciate your thoughts on this matter. Respectfully, Susan
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