Orthodox Judaism outreach

Orthodox Jewish outreach, often referred to as Kiruv (Hebrew: קירוב "bringing close"), is the collective work or movement of Orthodox Judaism that reaches out to non-observant Jews to encourage belief in God and living according to Orthodox Jewish law.[1] The process of a Jew becoming more observant of Orthodox Judaism is called teshuva ("return" in Hebrew) making the "returnee" a baal teshuva ("master of return"). Orthodox Jewish outreach has worked to enhance the rise of the baal teshuva movement.



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.[citation needed]

Rabbi Noah Weinberg was one of the pioneers of this movement with Aish HaTorah.[citation needed] Ohr Somayach has also played a major role in the baal teshuva movement through its education of generations of students.[citation needed]

The world's first baal teshuva yeshiva for men was Hadar Hatorah which opened in New York in 1962 under Rabbi Yisroel Jacobson, and continues to operate today.[2] Other baal teshuva yeshivas include the Diaspora Yeshiva, founded by Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein in Jerusalem's Old City in 1967,[3] and Dvar Yerushalayim, established in 1970. Baal teshuva yeshivas for women include Neve Yerushalayim, founded in 1970, and EYAHT, affiliated with Aish HaTorah and founded in 1982.

Concurrent with the opening of baal teshuva learning programs in Israel in the 1970s, a small number of Orthodox outreach workers began approaching English-speaking, college-age students visiting the Western Wall and inviting them to experience a Shabbat meal with a host family or to check out one of the baal teshuva yeshivas. These outreach workers included Rabbi Meir Schuster, Baruch Levine, and, beginning in 1982, Jeff Seidel.[4][5][6]

Modern Orthodox

Within Modern Orthodox Judaism, the Union of Orthodox Congregations created the National Conference of Synagogue Youth (NCSY) to reach Jewish teenagers in public schools.[citation needed] Founded by Rabbi Pinchas Stolper, the movement also developed its in-house literature geared to the newly observant, mainly written by Rabbi Aryeh Kaplan.[citation needed]


In 1987, an organization called National Jewish Outreach Program (NJOP) was founded by Ephraim Buchwald.


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.[citation needed] 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."

Since the 1940s, Chabad has been active in reaching out to Jews through its synagogues and communal institutions, as well as more direct outreach efforts, such as its Mitzvah tanks. The organization has been recognized as using free holiday services to reach out across denominations.[7] Chabad led the first Jewish outreach organization in the United States following the Holocaust, to date it remains the most successful with a world wide presence.


Jewish women

United States

Esther Jungreis was the founder of the international Hineni movement in America (Until her passing August 23, 2016).[9]


Day schools

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.

Orthodox Rabbis in outreach

  • A list of some Orthodox rabbis who have been/are involved can be found here
  • A history of involved rabbis, organized by time period, with greater detail, can be found here

See also


  1. Ben Harris (November 27, 2007). "Focusing on Orthodox outreach". JTA.org. draw nonobservant Jews closer to their heritage
  2. "Hadar Hatorah Celebrates Golden Jubilee • CrownHeights.info - Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch NewsCrownHeights.info – Chabad News, Crown Heights News, Lubavitch News". crownheights.info. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  3. Lange, Armin; Diethard Romheld, K. F.; Weigol, Matthias (2011). Judaism and Crisis: Crisis as a catalyst in Jewish cultural history. Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht. p. 330. ISBN 978-3525542088.
  4. Winer, Todd (9 February 1996). "'Hunter' at Kotel Seeks Shabbat Dinner Guests". Chicago Jewish News. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  5. Rossoff, Dovid (2001). Where Heaven Touches Earth: Jewish Life in Jerusalem from Medieval Times to the Present (Revised ed.). Feldheim Publishers. p. 537. ISBN 0873068793.
  6. Pensak, Margie (27 December 2014). "BJL Exclusive: Jeff Seidel and Yohanan Danziger Miraculously Escape Jerusalem Arab Stoning Unharmed". Baltimore Jewish Life. Retrieved 17 June 2015.
  7. Fishkoff, Sue. "‘Praying without paying’ becoming a more popular option among shuls", Texas Jewish Post. Accessed September 22, 2007. "Many people credit Chabad-Lubavitch with spearheading the movement for free holiday services across the denominational spectrum."
  8. Hebrew Musar (מוּסַר), from the book of Proverbs 1:2 meaning moral conduct, discipline, instruction.
  9. William Grimes (August 26, 2016). "Esther Jungreis, 'the Jewish Billy Graham,' Dies at 80". =The New York Times.