Enhancing Workplace Kiruv

10

By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA

Director: Jewish Professionals Institute, Email: rudomin@jpi.org

Formerly Director Sinai Heritage Center (‘ 88 – ‘ 95) 

Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/

Probably one of the greatest opportunities for Kiruv Rechokim by Frum people is when they are at work “nine to five”! In a prior article it was mentioned that just by being present and not doing anything specific all Orthodox Jews are role models and examples that are being watched as “representatives” of Orthodox Judaism by all their co-workers.

Based on past years of first-hand experience I have had many adult students who worked in Manhattan who over the years became more observant and in turn became inspired by Frum co-workers and then wanted to inspire others. There are many ways to inspire fellow Jews in the workplace who are not Jewishly observant but are definitely curious about Yiddishkeit but don’t know how to go about knowing and doing more. The following are pathways that are helpful in such situations:

Always stay calm and realize that you don’t really have to “do” anything or “say” anything because your very presence is a “lesson” in Yiddishkeit to all around you. The way you act in day to day situations, the way you dress, the way you talk and think are being noted and noticed. As a small example, most secular Jews have never heard of “Shemiras HaLashon“, what is “Loshon Hora and Rechilus“, “Taharas HaLashon” and “Lashon Nekiah” and unfortunately gossip and sadly even inappropriate language is the norm at many times in our modern age in most societies today. It comes as a great surprise to secular Jews to observe a Frum co-worker who does not gossip and does not curse and generally watches what they say. This sinks in over time to all around you in your office and job and it makes a profound impact. It is a great Kiddush HaShem and it is great Kiruv Rechokim because decent people will be impressed and curious about your good mode of behavior and speech and will consciously or unconsciously want to emulate you and at least be impressed by your behavior and the way you talk and express yourself.

Invite your fellow Jewish co-workers to go out for some light refreshments at a Kosher store or restaurant. People get overwhelmed and think they must invite secular Jews for Shabbos which is a great challenge for all concerned as pointed out in past articles. A simplified thing to do is to go out for a slice of pizza or some sushi or coffee or a soda at a Kosher place that is informal and casual. This will make a big impression displaying your friendliness and that you are as “normal” as everyone else and enjoy the same light refreshments as anyone else just that you are strict about Kashrus and you say Brochas (blessings) before and after eating, and are not ashamed to do so openly.

One of the greatest ways to “sell” Yiddishkeit is by giving a curious co-worker a well-known reliable book about Judaism in English or in whatever language they speak and know well. I have had students who set aside money as their “Tzedaka” to give away or loan out well-known books that will interest people at the “beginners” level. As some examples, all the books written by the late Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan especially about Shabbos, Tefillin, Mikva, and many more topics are available in many languages and are always appealing to newcomers to Judaism because of their clarity. Other good books that are perfect “Kiruv catalysts” are “The Bamboo Cradle”, “Anatomy of a Search”, “Black Becomes a Rainbow”, “All for the Boss” and many other books like this published by ArtScroll and by Feldheim publishers. There are also many excellent Shiurim by many famous Kiruv Rabbis and Rebbetzins that are easily accessed online and are fascinating to watch and learn from.

Finally, the best way to really influence someone is by having them attend a Kiruv-oriented lecture and Shiur or even spend a few days at a seminar or weekend run by most of the well-know Kiruv organizations. It is important to know who the Kiruv organizations are and how close they are to you and to know their numbers and contact information. Try to refer people when they are really interested to a local Kiruv Rabbi or Rebbetzin, it is so easy to know. There are always local Kiruv organizations and personalities in every major city where Jews live in greater numbers anywhere in the world!

These are just some helpful hints and guidelines for Kiruv in the workplace.

To be continued…

{Matzav.com}

10 COMMENTS

  1. Kiruv is crucial. The unorthodox may be a yid to be.

    The scary is that the hate of the unorthodox is so great that you may never be right in their eyes just because you have a faith that G-d is Trusted.

    Still, watch them well. They have a ton of conspiracies, they have a ton of hate for Torah and they have a ton of negative christian based emotions.

    The gold is not the value of the willing safe bet that G-d is just going to save them in their long run. The whole world is for Torah.

    If the orthodox can add the unorthodox to their prayers during the shemonei esrei for the wicked, we can add hope to our faith. The scary right thought is that G-d is completely against any unorthodox thought of favor of any thought that argues any way against Torah.

    We must defend Torah values and that means making every effort right with Kiruv. Take your unorthodox friend to a kosher restaurant, hope that maybe he will join you to daven; maybe ask him how bad he realizes that a non-kosher diet is for a jew and then tell him holocaust stories and discussions of antisemitism. Eventually he may get it or else you will just serve your G-d.

    The sadness is that the treif urge is so great in the unorthodox that many would rather direct the whole of the wit of all of their days into becoming boorish and hateful to human liberty and common worth.

    Safe to say my own kiruv efforts so far are a total failure to “convert” a non-orthodox jew so far (may it be possible someone listens to our right to make the discussion of kosher right). But in all essence, I am growing in my neshama by defending Torah values and I know that Hashem is pulling all for the orthodox.

    Read any Torah book from Artscroll or feldheim and you will see G-d is always with the orthodox. Still that the unorthodox jew is a person that Hashem wants dearly to find Torah. It is a clear reality.

    G-d is real. His precepts are gold. And his decrees holy.

    If you do not yourself find enough time to completely study Tanakh, you are yourself not strong enough to work for kiruv. The whole of All G-dly activity is the Jewish bible.

    Thus the kiruv is easy. Hashem will direct it, you will live the orthodox life and the soul of Israel continues to find purity and safe sanity.

    Shabbat Shalom. Next week is more to work.

  2. Fine ideas, but if as you say that you have not had success with Kiruv, in my opinion your suggestions are too extreme and you need to cool down and maybe that way you will finally succeed.

    Have a good Shabbos and an easy Tisha Be’Av fast.

    Sincerely,

    Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin.

  3. “Safe to say my own kiruv efforts so far are a total failure to “convert” a non-orthodox jew so far ”
    How do you know? Maybe a guy stopped speaking loshon hora because of you. Or orders “the fish” instead of pork chops. Or bought some English seforim to read at home. Keep up the good work. Only H-shem knows your successes.

  4. During this season of political turmoil, we should also remember that speaking only in a refined way also applies to politics. Regardless of our political convictions and preferences, we must express them in a proper and courteous way. We can be very firm and specific in stating who and what we are for, but we do not need to carry on at length with harsh or, as I have heard some people use, coarse language. If you don’t like a political figure, you can just say, “I don’t like so-and-so,” without getting angry or vulgar. To do so is an instant turn-off to those who are not yet frum.

  5. Kiruv kiruv kiruv! But nothing to fix the actual problems in the jewish community! Enough with the obfuscating. kiruv will not distract people forever! The real problems have be addressed also!

    • Could you please SPECIFY what the “real problems” are?

      You are mixing up at least two issues:

      1. I am talking about Kiruv that has to do with reaching out to NON-Orthodox Jews, while 2. you seem to be talking about (un-named) problems in the Orthodox world, and the two issues are different things.

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