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Orthodox Jewish outreach commonly referred to as Kiruv or Keruv (Hebrew: קירוב , קֵרוּב "bringing close"), is the collective work or movement of Orthodox Judaism that reaches out to non-Orthodox Jews to believe in God, engage in Torah study, and practice the Mitzvot in the hope that they will live according to Orthodox Jewish law. The process and act/s of any Jew becoming more observant of Judaism is called teshuva ("return" in Hebrew) making the "returnee" a baal teshuva ("master of return"). Orthodox Jewish outreach has always reacted to and worked to foster and enhance the rise of a modern-day baal teshuva movement.
Orthodox Jewish outreach in the modern world is often directly associated with, and may function as a trigger, partner and response to, the modern baal teshuva movement.
Orthodox outreach workers and professionals include activists, rabbis, lay leaders and all kinds of organizations advancing this initiative of "Jewish outreach" mainly based on Orthodox Jewish education some call them "kiruv professionals" or "kiruv workers" as well as "kiruv volunteers."
The late 1960s and early 1970s saw the founding of the non-Hasidic, Haredi institutions that eventually became the Aish HaTorah, Ohr Somayach, and Machon Shlomo yeshivas.
Rabbi Noah Weinberg was the pioneer of this movement, and his Aish HaTorah has experienced greatest success. Besides its main Jerusalem campus, where it has accorded rabbinic ordination to 200 students, it has 30 educational branches on six continents, staffed by student-graduates. More than 100,000 people attend its seminars, singles events, executive learning groups, Shabbat and holiday programs, and beginner-style synagogue services each year. The Aish.com website, has over 400,000 subscribers in four languages, and receives over a million visits per month. It features articles, videos and audio segments on spirituality, parenting, dating, weekly Torah portion, Holocaust studies, an "Ask the Rabbi" service, and political articles.
Ohr Somayach has also played a major role in the baal teshuva movement through its education of generations of students. Besides its main campus in Jerusalem, the yeshiva has 10 branches overseas, based in Canada, England, United States, South Africa and Australia. The yeshiva's rabbinical training course, Ohr Lagolah, graduates rabbis to lead communities in the Diaspora. Ohr Somayach also maintains a website of articles and audio classes on a full range of topics.
Within Modern Orthodox Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Congregations created the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) to reach Jewish teenagers in public schools. Founded by Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, himself a noted charismatic speaker and writer, the movement also developed its in-house literature geared to the newly observant mainly written by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan. In addition, many Modern Orthodox professors have developed and used a sophisticated modern terminology to present Judaism in a scientific manner. Their books on Jewish sciences are the most readily accessible.
In 1987, an organization called National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) was founded. Headed by a leading outreach rabbi, Ephraim Buchwald, in the first fifteen years of its existence it had managed to create, co-ordinate and guide thousands of volunteer teachers and tens of thousands of Jewish adults. They participated in programs advertised via the mass media and taught at Reform, Conservative and Orthodox synagogues, as well as Jewish non-religious organizations, such as Jewish Community Centers.
Using mass marketing techniques, NJOP have won the support of major Jewish philanthropists, and an ever widening audience by advertising via the media for the Crash Course in Hebrew Reading, Crash Course in Judaism and other programs.
Finally, outreach professional have been convening national conventions to bring together the professional outreach workers with leading Orthodox rabbis. The Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals (later renamed The Association for Jewish Outreach Programs) (AJOP) was founded in 1988 and is based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, 6th leader of the Chabad-Lubavitch branch of Hasidic Judaism, and then his successor, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson were responsible for turning Chabad's activities toward outreach. Each in turn sent out rabbinic emissaries, known as "Shluchim", and their wives to settle in places across the world solely for the purpose of teaching those who did not receive a Jewish education or to inspire those who did. The vehicle chosen for this was termed a "Chabad house."
Chabad has been active in reaching out to Jews through its synagogues, and more direct outreach efforts, such as its Mitzvah tanks. The organization has been recognized as one of the leaders in using free holiday services to reach out across denominations.
Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneersohn, the 6th Lubavitcher Rebbe, had a core of dedicated Hasidim who maintained underground yeshivos and mikvaos, and provided shechitah and circumcision services. They served as the rabbis who jump-started the teshuvah movement and had these services in place so that the new baalei teshuva had whom to turn to for their religious questions and needs.
Chabad, with its thousands of Chabad houses throughout Israel and the world, and yeshiva programs for Israelis, Russians, French, and Americans, reach out to thousands. Followers of Chabad can be seen attending to tefillin booths at the Western Wall and Ben Gurion International Airport as well as other public places, and distribute shabbat candles on Fridays. There are also Chabad houses in almost every location that Jews might be located, whether as permanent residents, on business, or tourists.
Chabad rabbis and their families were sent to teach college students, to build day schools, and to create youth camps. Most of these were geared towards their secular or less religious brethren. Additionally, unmarried rabbinical students spend weeks during the summer in locations that do not yet have a permanent Chabad presence, making housecalls, putting up mezuzot, teaching Judaism, and simply reminding people that they are Jewish.
Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson initiated a Yeshiva for baalei teshuva (returnees to Torah observance), Hadar Hatorah, and a parallel seminary for female returnees (baalos teshuva), Machon Chana. He also initiated the Jewish children's movement, Tzivos Hashem (lit. "Army [of] God"), for under bar/bat mitzvah-age children, to inspire them to increase in study of Torah and observance of mitzvot. Rabbi Schneerson also encouraged the use of modern technology in outreach efforts such as Mitzva tanks, which are mobile homes that travel a city or country. The Chabad website, Chabad.org, a pioneer of Torah, Judaism outreach on the Internet, was started by Rabbi Yosef Y. Kazen and developed by Rabbi D. Zirkind.
In addition, nearly 7000 people a year visit Chabad's Ascent of Safed, which is a combination recreation center, Jewish youth hostel, and religious retreat that exposes Jews to Judaism, particularly the mystical aspect of it. Chabad of Safed is know for its strong mashichists movement, that has "not yet accepted the Rebbe’s passing" and still regards Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the 7th and last Lubavitcher Rebbe, posthumously as the (living) 'King Messiah' and 'Moses of the generation', awaiting his second coming.
In June 1994 Rabbi Schneerson died leaving no successor. Since then more than a thousand couples have gone out to do outreach work, bringing the total of "shluchim" to four thousand worldwide.
The Association for Jewish Outreach Professionals (AJOP) was established in 1987 to unite and enhance the work of outreach rabbis and their wives. AJOP is led by prominent rosh yeshivas and is not affiliated with Chabad.
The Boca Raton Jewish Experience (BRJE) is an aggregator of nationally-developed educational programs servicing Palm Beach County. BRJE has classes for people of all ages and interests including those with little or no Jewish background. The program was developed by Rabbi Josh Broide with the support of Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of the Boca Raton Synagogue. Goldberg and Broide also collaborated on two outreach projects called Jewish Pride Films and Jewish Pride Radio.
The Jewish Enrichment Center (JEC) located in Manhattan's Greenwich Village works to develop a downtown Jewish community in New York. As the official alumni center for the Birthright Israel Alumni of the New York Metro area, the center services young Jewish New Yorkers.
The Kiruv Organisation was founded in 1995 by sefardi Rabbi Yossef Mizrahi in New York for the purpose of connecting Jews to Judaism and Torah, and teaching musar. It is giving out DVDs, Audio CDs, MP3 CDs for free, sponsored by dedicated Jews, Noahides and Gentile people as well, and can be ordered by internet.
In 2004 Rabbi Mizrachi launched a successful orthodox outreach website named DivineInformation.com, part of Kiruv Organisation, offering hundreds of audio and videos lectures in English, Hebrew, some with subtitles in Turkish or Russian language, free for download. As of 2013, Rabbi Mizrachi’s FaceBook page has over a million visits per month and more than 56,000 and rising daily followers.
The Ma'aynei Hayeshua Kiruv Movement is a Religious Zionist outreach movement in Israel founded by Avichay Buaron and Religious Zionist rabbis in 2000. The organization's main activity is utilizing "street-kiruv" methods in order to build participants, making Orthodox Judaism accessible to the secular Israeli. Activities include: production and distribution of literature and music; matching learning partners (chavruta); weekly activities; street stands throughout Israel on Fridays; a year-round Outreach Training School; two 24/7 "Bayit Yehudi" Outreach Centers of Jewish Activity; a yeshiva for Ba'alei Teshuva; and a weekly magazine with an estimated circulation of 70,000.
The Manhattan Jewish Experience (MJE) is a program for young Jewish professionals in New York City with little or no background in Judaism which provides Jewish content in a social context. This program was started in 1998 by Rabbi Mark Wildes. MJE has locations in Murray Hill, the Upper West Side, and the Upper East Side.
Ohra VeSimcha is a project spearheaded by Ohr Somayach of Monsey NY that is designed to address the unique challenges and difficulties that confront both individuals and families in the 'post teshuva'stages of life. A year round calendar of day,weekend and week-long family seminars hosted at Ohr Somayachs luxurious Beit Shvidler conference center are the centerpiece of Ohra VeSimchas programs.
Project Genesis is a Baltimore-based kiruv effort to increase the numbers of baalei teshuva. It focuses on education, involvement, and online teaching through its Torah.org, TorahMedia.com, and JewishAnswers.org websites.
One of the earliest pioneers of outreach to men and women is Rebbetzin Esther Jungreis, the founder of the international Hineni movement in America. A Holocaust survivor, she has made it her life's mission to bring back Jews to Orthodox Judaism. She has written popular books and made tapes. Another notable pioneer of women's Orthodox outreach education is Rebbetzin Leah Kohn founder of the Jewish Renaissance Center (JRC) in New York. Rabbi Lawrence Keleman - a teacher at Neve Yerushalayim has been teaching classes and written books aimed at the Baal Teshuvah population. His Essays "Permission to Believe” and “Permission to Receive” provide information on the case for believing in God and believing the Torah was give to Moses at Mount Sinai respectively.
Torah Umesorah: The National Society for Hebrew Day Schools was founded by Rabbi Shraga Feivel Mendlowitz. It is an American Orthodox organization which has opened hundreds of day schools and provides resources to many different Orthodox Jewish day schools. It has an outreach effort called Partners In Torah whereby volunteer Orthodox men and women learn on the phone for an hour a week with a non-Orthodox study-partner. A similar program run by Chabad is called Jnet. Torah Umesorah also sponsors the SEED Program whereby young Yeshiva students spend a few weeks during their summers teaching, this is similar to the Chabad Lubavitch "peace corps" which are Yeshiva-student pairs that visit remote Jewish communities over the summers to help develop Jewish communities by teaching.
English, Russian, French and other translations of classical rabbinic literature and modern Jewish works are crucial to the growth and popularity of the Ba'al teshuva Movement. Some of the most important publishers include: