By Rabbi Yitschak Rudomin MA
Director: Jewish Professionals Institute www.jpi.org/
Author: The Second World War and Jewish Education in America www.jpi.org/holocaust/
Part of a series devoted to Kiruv Rechokim.
For those who work in “nine to five jobs” lunch hour breaks are a wonderful opportunity to learn about Judaism. Many Frum people stop during that time to Daven Mincha and some even attend a compact Daf Yomi or other type of Shiur.
Taking this concept further, lunch hours are fantastic opportunities for Kiruv Rechokim. In past articles it was noted that during work hours the behavior of all Orthodox Jews is being watched by co-workers and it’s an opportunity for “winning friends and influencing people” making it a great opportunity for a big Kiddush HaShem! During lunch hours and after work non-Orthodox colleagues can and should be encouraged to attend a lunch hour or after work class about any aspect of Yiddishkeit.
Focusing on what can and is accomplishable during lunch hours it is well-known that “Lunch and Learn” programs have been successfully running for many years in most metropolitan areas, business districts, boardrooms and offices as Kiruv rabbis have set up many programs to teach Torah texts or give short Shiurim during lunch hour breaks. Shiurim can also take place in Kiruv centers and Shulls that are located in downtown or working areas.
Personally I ran such a program in the Wall Street area of Manhattan in New York City from 1988 to 1999 and its effectiveness was noted and published in “Effective Outreach Programs” (pp. 53-54, Compiled by Rabbi Dr. Walter Orenstein, AJOP Publications, NY 1991) called “Lunch Hour Mini Lectures” describing and explaining how to go about setting up and running a Torah Kiruv-oriented Jewish Studies Program.
The most important practical principles for any such effort must have at least these five things (in any order): (1) WHEN: Setting the exact TIME and DATE for the class or lecture, (2) WHERE: LOCATION or PLACE where it is to be held, (3) WHAT the TOPIC or SUBJECT will be about, and (4) WHO the class is for and WHO will give the class or lecture, (5) WHY people should come to such an event.
There are two directions to go when setting up such a program, in-house at the Kiruv program’s center or offices, or in the offices and work places of people willing to host such a program in their own corporate or business offices. Then there is a further direction to move in that is whether to set up one-on-one learning with an individual student or to set up a program that invites multiple attendees or that has people inviting each other. This is another choice of whether one is to rely on personal invitations and word of mouth or if one wishes to advertise such programs and opportunities by printing and distributing flyers and by advertising in local Jewish print and online newspapers and publications that are often distributed free of charge in most busy places in American cities.
The “curriculum” such as it is can consist of Torah and Hashkafa texts or lectures and talks on special topics of interest that can lead to questions and answers and all sorts of interesting discussions.
In my own case for in-house lectures during lunch hours at the centers I was Director, there were classes on every Monday to Thursday from about 12:30 PM to 1:30 PM that is the time-range for most working people’s lunch hour breaks. On Mondays and Thursday’s the class was on Chumash Breishis using English translations. Wednesday’s lunch hour was devoted to the Parsha of the Week, and Tuesday there was a class on Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers). Every class would end with some students from the working world staying to ask follow-up questions. Then it was time for me to head off to other offices to learn various Torah subjects and texts one-on-one with executives in their offices or boardrooms. At night there would be programs with guest lecturers or programs at other locations in Manhattan.
There are may ways to go about doing this. If you can give a class then do this yourself, otherwise refer people to nearby lunch hour and after hours Kiruv programs or contact a local Rabbi and Rebbetzin and best of all get to know and be in touch with a nearby Kiruv organization that should know exactly how to help you and go about setting up and running this Avodas HaKodesh. Hatzlocha Rabbah.
To be continued…