January 6, 2005

by Reb Yudel
A commerical for Mishpacha.org

(Modified 5.25.06 because the Google AdSense robot didn't get the joke.)

There actually is a Jewish public service hidden behind the colorful "Mishpacha: A virtual community for real parents" button over yonder on the left.

In the past, Mishpacha has successfully helped connect Jews to Judaism and the Jewish community. People from across America came together, learned a bit about Judaism, and discovered that the whole Jewish community thing isn't quite as scary as its made out to be.

Mishpacha doesn't try to convince people of the ways of a self-styled, one-true-path Judaism. It's much more interested in helping people connect to the their own Jewish journeys, to use the language popularized by sociologist Bethamie Horowitz.

The result was increased engagement in Jewish life by participants.

Most impressive was the participant who dropped out after only a few weeks. It seemed she was afraid to go to the synagogue because it seemed like a closed club.

Once she heard from other program participants -- and the moderator -- that plenty of people in the pews find the rabbi boring and pedantic, that showing up didn't mean buying-in to the whole megillah first, she decided to get involved in the synagogue. She quickly became so involved she had no time to log-in to Mishpacha.

I bring this all up now because Mishpacha is hoping to launch another session shortly. During the dot-com boom, we were financed by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture. Since then, I've kept Mishpacha on hiatus. Now, there's interest from a small congregation so we're getting to roll again.

If you're the sort of very involved, Jewishly-obsessed person from whom Andy and I are blogging -- well, Mishpacha is most probably not for you.

However... you might know some people for whom it might be a good fit.

Young parents, asking questions about religion now that they have children. People who ask you to recommend introductory books about Judaism. Maybe even -- and here my voice drops to a whisper lest certain people overhear and freak out -- intermarried families.

So... if you think you know anyone who fits the bill... Check out the program. Email me if you have any questions. And tell them that IF THEY ACT NOW, THEY CAN JOIN MISHPACHA FOR NO ADDITIONAL CHARGE. And, FOR A LIMITED TIME ONLY, they can get a free one-year subscription to YudelLine. But that's not all....

No, really, preaching the money-saving thing would be dishonest. It's not as bad as selling Kabbalah-water to the drowned, but for those who enjoyed Mishpacha and went on to join congregations, it did end up costing a pretty penny.

But the limited time thing is real. We hope to assemble a group of about 20 families, and once we launch this group, who knows when the next one will get together?

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