ברוכים הבאים בשם ד
This message is not about the Torah being the quintessential program for life, or about importance and greatness of Kiruv; by the time this convention is over you will have heard all this.
R’ Noach Weinberg wasn’t content with teaching Torah and Yiddishkeit to those who weren’t taught, and he wasn’t content with directing an army of paid professionals to engage in outreach. He realized the job was too big. He therefore envisioned involving the entire Frum world in reaching millions of our brethren. He said “We need to awake the sleeping giant”.
B’ezras Hashem Project Inspire is set on realizing this vision and has accomplished an enormous amount. 10,000 people were impacted! However if one is thinking and dreaming of changing America, there are over 10,000 ADDITIONAL people that need to be reached every YEAR! And so while the giant is out of his COMA, he is still fast asleep!
For those of us who currently aren’t really involved we need to promote a course of action that is effective, yet feasible. We can’t promote a level of involvement which many will perceive as too hard; it won’t get done.
Let’s focus on the idea of giving out Kiruv cards, (cards with Kiruv websites) which for years have been available at Project Inspire events, and discuss some techniques.
In a place where there are a number of not-frum people, one can bring in some food from, or in honor of, a bris, a bar mitzva, a wedding, a siyum, or, on someone’s yahrtzeit, and mention the occasion. Disperse some cards on the table and anyone interested in what it’s all about can take a card and check it out.
It happens all the time, someone will say something to you like ‘When is candle-lighting?’ or ‘Happy Hannukah’ (it’s called ‘bageling’). Their intent is to connect and show they’re Jewish. Here, B’ezras Hashem, a warm response will make all the difference. And don’t forget to leave a card as well.
If a Yom Tov is around the corner or you are at a Simcha you can say: These websites can fill you in on the significance of this. If a doctor sees your Tzitzis, use it as a springboard for giving a card. You can ask ‘Would you like to visit the Kotel this evening?’ Aish.com and others offer a live Kotel-cam. Use your imagination. (You might suggest that if he finds something interesting, he could share and discuss it with you).
The direct route also works: “I have some Jewish websites; can I offer you some?” (say this while holding a card, so you don’t give the impression you’re offering something bulky).
If you meet someone regularly, or live close, it’s important to understand that even though the card is like a seed which has great potential, you cannot compare the results of throwing a seed on the ground with the results of ongoing personal care of the seed, which would include insuring adequate water and sunlight etc. A personal relationship can really make all the difference! It would seem that bringing over something from your kitchen, is the classic way to start a relationship. Keep on doing just that, and if an opportunity arises where something Jewish is discussed, only then would I suggest offering a card, which BEH at that point, will really blossom!
It seems that some of us find it difficult to actually offer someone a Kiruv card, especially at a meeting or other professional setting.
Perhaps it’s a fear of being considered judgmental. (This has been addressed in “Kiruv made easy” literature, a forerunner of Project Inspire) Realize that if you tell someone he dropped his wallet or you suggest a good restaurant, he doesn’t consider you judgmental. If it’s said in a caring and respectful way, he will be touched.
It could be we fear resentment, because that person obviously doesn’t fully appreciate observant Jewry, and might even harbor some negative impression.
Keep in mind that true greatness exists within observant Jewry. A truly observant Jew, whose courtesy is in accordance with his knowledge is an ultimate human being. Since the Judaism you’re attempting to encourage is only this kind, it’s an honor. When you approach Kiruv with this attitude, even if you do not articulate it, your confidence will be noticed, and your efforts will be respected.
So those of us who currently aren’t really involved, please pick up some cards, and take time and identify who you could reach out to. Next decide exactly what your approach will be. Determine whether and which hurdles you might need to overcome. Sit down with someone at the convention and get detailed guidance on all this. The real secret to success would be to make a commitment in writing, Bli Neder.
The way to really accomplish the most is to create Mekarvim, by spreading awareness of all this among our Frum acquaintances, so make sure you don’t leave the PI convention without a load of cards. When you’re asked ‘Nu, how was the Project Inspire weekend?’ say ‘First of all you must know, (as Rav Brudny shlit”a at the recent Agudah Convention stated) that the biggest issue facing Klal Yisroel is that 80% of our brothers and sisters don’t know what it means to be Jewish! And I must tell you they gave us a clear practical plan.’ Make sure to sit down with your friend, give him cards, and go over the material down to the fine details, so your friend will actually do it!
BEH the benefit of all this will be staggering, as it will bring us closer to each other and closer to Hashem.