by Rabbi "W"
MOMENT OF KIRUV
Tips to successfully handle your Moment of Kiruv.
As we go about our daily lives we can find ourselves in "A
Moment of Kiruv." A secular Jew asks us a question. A
business acquaintance searching for something "more" in life.
A friend who seems open to hearing about Judaism.
How will we respond? The person's life and those of his or
her children and great-grandchildren can be influenced by
what we say. There is no on else around and they trust and
feel comfortable with us. It can happen anyplace, anytime.
In this column we will give you tips on how to handle your
"Moment of Kiruv." You weren't expecting it. You are not a
kiruv professional. But you do not want to lose the
opportunity. With the tips we will give you, and your own
innate talents and personality, you can handle you Moment of
Kiruv with great success!
All those involved in kiruv, whether for a moment or
as professionals, fear rejection. Perhaps they won't like
what I have to say? This fear is, of course, part of any
human endeavor. But in kiruv, even kiruv for a
moment, we simply need to try anyway because the stakes are
In fact, almost every Jew is interested in knowing more about
his or her Judaism. Their souls are literally crying out for
it. They may have some defenses to protect themselves from a
feeling of ignorance or inferiority, but if you approach them
nicely, its rare that you will get a real rejection.
The concept of anti-religious Jew is, with a few notable
exceptions, a fabrication of the media. In Israel, for
example, where the anti-religious Israeli is considered the
norm, one study found that some 75 percent fast on Yom
Kippur, 77 percent mark Shabbos in some way, 98 percent have
mezuzas on their front door and 89 percent want their
children to be at least somewhat observant! They may be
ignorant, but they are not anti-religious. (The few anti-
religious ideologues are unfortunately concentrated in the
media and the government.) Outside of Israel, the situation
is much better. There is more ignorance, but they have had
much less anti-religious brainwashing and are even more open
to real Judaism.
When we approach a Jew about Judaism we just need to remember
that he is really desperately interested in what we have to
Moment Of Kiruv Tip 1: The Key
The key in virtually all kiruv opportunities is to
People are drawn after those who smile. If you are smiling,
they figure you must have something to smile about. If you
are not, yet, someone who habitually smiles, at least smile
when talking to them. They will feel that you like them --
which you probably do.
Even more importantly, they will feel that you respect them.
Why is this important? Secular Jews have been taught by the
media that religious Jews, chareidim in particular, hate
them. That we look down on them and don't even consider them
Jewish. When you smile at a secular Jew, you show that you
consider them to be a "human being" worthy of respect.
At a deeper level they, in many cases, really consider you to
be G-d's representative. Which, of course, you are. So when
you smile at them, they feel G-d is smiling upon them and
that G-d likes them. (Needless to say, you do not need to
smile upon them if the wrong message would be conveyed or if
they are in the midst of an activity that G-d does not
approve of. This still leaves a lot of other time for smiling
If they feel G-d likes them, it is much easier for them to
begin seeking Him out.
Moment Of Kiruv Tip 2: Praise
Find out what mitzvos they do keep. These can be mitzvos like
lighting candles, having a mezuza, or even saying
Kaddish on a yahrtzeit. Praise them for their
mitzvos. "Really? That's wonderful!"
Actually, each mitzvah is wonderful. It is an affirmation
that they believe in G-d and Judaism. Tell them that: "You
know, each mitzvah that you do shows your connection to G-d
and to Judaism." If they say, "Well, we just kind of do it
out of habit," you can say "Yes, but you never stopped. That
shows a real depth of commitment."
At this point they will feel very good about their mitzvah
and themselves, and deservedly so.
Next week: Relax.
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