People sometimes wonder what is the ‘trick’ to doing Kiruv. In truth, there is no trick and almost anyone who is sincere can be successful in reaching out to our secular Jewish brothers and sisters. The ‘chut hameshulash’ of Kiruv are Torah, Shabbos and creating a true bond of friendship and connection. While people or organizations will sometimes use certain recruiting methods or programs to get Jews initially interested, if one wants to be able to bring Jews to Yiddishkeit in a deep and meaningful way, it is those three things which are essential.
Torah is the wisdom of Hakadosh Baruch Hu. It is His ‘thoughts’ on how the world works and how we connect with Him in this world in the deepest possible way. This is why the gemara states that Hashem says about Klal Yisrael, “Halevai osi azvu v’es torasi shamaru, shehameor sheba machziran limutav. I wish they would forget about Me and they would safeguard my Torah, for the light in it will bring them back to good.” When learning with our students on campus, we have found that the thing which they enjoy learning the most is a gemara sugya in which they can understand both the sevaros and its application to modern situations.
Shabbos is the wedding ring that Hashem has given to Klal Yisroel which is our sign of love to Him. There is nothing more powerful and enjoyable than a Shabbos done right, with serenity, a geshmak and a group of people giving it the right sense of spiritual majesty and magnificence. We have a number of our Rutgers University students that are currently attending the Lakewood Fellowship and the Shabbatons that they attend in our community are so powerful and impactful because of the combination of great families, beautiful meals and ruach and powerful shiurim and chavrusa learning that accompany the Shabbatons.
Finally, people connect to people. If the right connection is made, where a student feels that he has a bond of kinship with the mekarev, he can grow in a meaningful way. We recently took 35 of our Rutgers students to Eretz Yisroel on a two week journey of daily learning, touring and free time. On our last night of the trip, while staying in the Royal Hotel in Yerushalayim, connected to the Ramada, we crashed a Chasuna of a Swiss bochur in the Mir to a Kallah from Hungary. At first the students were hesitant, but as time went on and the dancing more fun and intense, they were all in. By the time they were done they were jump roping with the kids, dancing with the Chosson and having the time of their lives. Some of the bochurim, including Yaakov Singer of Lakewood, made a point of making them feel welcome. One of the students came over to me afterwards and said, “Rabbi, I don’t know if I’ll ever be Orthodox, but I definitely want to have this type of wedding.”
We want to thank the Lakewood community for always opening up their hearts and homes to our student shabbatons throughout the year. We would like to invite the entire community to a BBQ on Wed night July 12 at the home of R’ Eliezer Breiner, 25 Garfield St.
Pictured are our students at the wedding with some bochurim from the Mir.