Kiruv: It’s in the Cards (Jewish Observer)

One Person Can Make a Difference

Chaim Nechemia Wolf

Kiruv: It’s in the Cards

Tragically, millions upon millions of our fellow Jews don’t understand what living as a Jew really means. We interact with these Jews, and we are obligated to be mekareiv (reach out to) them. The sefer Avosos Ahava (Feldheim ’02) enumerates six positive commandments that we fulfill when we do so. However, many of us don’t know what to say, or how to handle the questions and discussions.

If being mekareiv were simple and not time-consuming, people would definitely do it. The breakthrough idea is: If we give one of these fellow Jews a card with a list of kiruv-oriented websites, we present an entire world of information, without any discussion. (Experience has shown that people appreciate receiving a card.) Say something like: “Have you checked out Jewish websites? Here is a list of some fascinating ones. Please tell me what you think.” (It’s important to express that you care.) If he did check out a website, inquire about it and encourage him to pursue it further….

Or, wait until something Jewish comes up in real-life (a simcha, a mezuza, Shabbos, Yom Tov, etc.) or in conversation, and try saying: “Here are excellent websites which can fill you in on the significance of this. I would be quite interested to hear your feelings about it!”

You will be planting seeds that will sometimes grow after the first attempt, sometimes after several. Plant seeds in a way that shows the person that you genuinely care and want to benefit him (perhaps after some light conversation etc.), nurture them with warm encouragement, and don’t give up. He should not feel you are trying to get anything or experiment with him.

(The strongest effect, of course, is with people whom we actually deal with on a constant or recurring basis. Even if the person throws away the card the first time, when it’s mentioned again, he will probably say that he misplaced it… and take another one. Eventually, he will check it out, and eventually, we pray, he will become more and more interested. However, even if you meet someone for the first time and he tells you that he’s Jewish, or you know he’s Jewish, say, “This is for you – enjoy.” You never know what will result. Also, he might receive a card numerous times from different people he meets.)

We suggest always having a supply of cards on hand because you never know whom you’ll meet. And you can include them in mailings, deliveries, and e-mails…. It helps to make it more personal by putting your name in the space provided. This shows that you really care and you want to hear about it, but doesn’t mean that you’re getting involved – the websites themselves will steer anyone that’s interested to a more personal program. If you do want to get involved, there are kiruv experts ready to assist you.[1]

It is not at all necessary to see any websites before telling others about them. If asked by a candidate, “Have you seen these websites yourself?” you can say that we benefit from live mentors and study sessions.

Of course, the greater our own appreciation of Yiddishkeit is, the easier it will be to convey it to others. The reverse is also true; inspiring others strengthens one’s own Yiddishkeit.[2] Having said all this, imagine the kevod Shamayim that would result if the entire frum community promoted the Torah perspective among the people they deal with or meet[3].

Chaim Nechemia Wolf lives in Brooklyn (now Lakewood). This article is an expansion of the text of a display promoting the above idea, which has the backing of many Gedolei Yisroel.


[1] Rabbi P. Jung (845-425-6533), and Rabbi Yitzchak Rosenbaum (646-871-4444).

[2] It is our fervent wish that this project raise the appreciation of Yiddishkeit and elevate the level of yiras Shamayim among all Jews: The frum community should inspire those who are not yet frum whom they deal with, at the same time impressing the chashivus (importance) of what they are promoting upon themselves, driving them to improve themselves, and even further improve others….

[3] The websites on the cards have been screened, but there are “Jewish” websites that are very misleading. Also, the fact that we are promoting kiruv via Internet should not, in anyone’s mind, minimize the need of avoiding the dangers of the Internet (and of seeking Rabbinical guidance about it). Please tell us your thoughts and feedback about this project at 718-501-2110. Also please call for cards or a display.