Is H2H only about Shabbat dinners? What if I can’t/don’t want to run a Shabbat dinner?
Not at all – we simply aim to connect Jews to Jewish experiences and Jewish community, by inspiring and mobilizing religious students and communities to understand their opportunity and responsibility to this cause. But that could take place at/through Chabad, Hillel, or on your own. However we (and esteemed researchers) did find that intimate, peer-led, decentralized, relationship-based models of Jewish community and outreach work best – which could be a Shabbat dinner, or a Shabbat lunch, or a Chanukah party, or Pesach seder, or sitting with someone new at Chabad, or bringing them to Hillel’s chevruta learning program, or talking to that kid on your hall about Judaism until 2am, etc. The possibilities are endless! It just starts with a little love 🙂
How do I run a H2H Shabbat dinner? Where do I get funding?
It’s pretty easy – you’ll find all the answers you need at Shabbat Dinner and in particular, the section on funding. And if you have any other questions/special circumstances, just ask!
Is there H2H on my campus?
Quite possibly – check out our Map
How do I start H2H on my campus?
H2H starts with students who live vibrant Jewish lives and are part of meaningful Jewish communities wanting to share of that with their peers. Get together with other involved students who are passionate about their Judaism and the wider Jewish community, and brainstorm together. Identify what’s meaningful in your Jewish experiences and community and would be meaningful to others, or talk to your Jewish peers who aren’t as connected and think of (or find out) what the barriers might be and what you can share with them. One of the best ideas we’ve found is running intimate Shabbat dinners with a mix of involved and uninvolved Jewish students.
How do I find uninvolved Jews on my campus?
You probably already know people from around campus. If not, open your eyes – there are probably lots of people looking to connect to Jewish life all around you. For more tips, check out Finding People or email us to talk about your campus’s specific opportunities and challenges.
I’m not a college student – can I still be involved?
Of course! Why don’t you bring these models and messages to your community? To your synagogue? To your family? Currently, most of our work centers on colleges because we believe (and studies show) it’s a really opportune time for people to discover and decide their life’s path, and because that’s where we have found the most interest. But we’re open to expanding anywhere – across age or geographic limits – and have already started with post-college young adults in NYC, Boston, Chicago, LA, St Louis, DC, and Tel Aviv, among other places. And you can also help out with our on-campus work in other ways, even if you’re not a student.
What’s with the H2H Shabbatons?
They’re a different branch of H2H, mainly geared for campuses without strong – or any – Jewish community, or simply looking for something new or something more. It’s a different model but still part of the same network because it’s still about connecting Jews to Jewish life and Jewish community by empowering and inspiring involved peers to share of themselves – only here it’s across different campuses.
What’s with the Jewish resources lists (e.g. Kosher food) and College Advising?
We’re all about building Jewish communities on campus and supporting Jewish students. A large part of that is reaching out, expanding, and decentralizing from within, but sometimes it also means building from the ground up and assisting the existent communities. That means working with religious college students and communities to give them the resources, connections, and guidance that they need, and helping them think strategically about their growth. Working with high schools (e.g. here, here, and here) is also related: helping students choose colleges based on Jewish factors, and helping them enter college prepared intellectually and spiritually for Jewish life and leadership – including getting involved in Heart to Heart!
How is H2H different than Hillel?
Hillels work great for students who already have strong Jewish backgrounds and connections, who then form the core community. For the other 75% of Jewish students, that one building and one institution isn’t enough, especially when intimidated by the “insider” crowd. H2H reaches uninvolved Jewish students by working with this core community, through a grassroots community-organizing approach, to engage and welcome in their peers. It’s more decentralized, more accessible, and more personal, deliberately working with and targeting the students who need it most. In creating micro-communities, our goal is to connect students to each other and to sustainable and meaningful communities, which are often found at Hillels. And so we work closely with Hillel – on an international level and a local level – to effectively operate within and beyond the great work that Hillel is doing.
But aren’t there already Chabad rabbis, Hillel directors, engagement interns, and others all doing outreach on my campus/in my community?
That’s great – but are they effectively and sufficiently reaching every single Jew around? Can they possibly? Most research shows that you can only effectively maintain relationships with 150 people – and in that case you’ll need a lot more rabbis! Besides, there’s a world of a difference between rabbis, uninvolved students, and older staff, versus involved peers sharing their Jewish lives, experiences, and community. Trust us, there’s always more to do – and no one more qualified than you! Besides, if you’re not doing it then you’re missing out on that potentially transformative opportunity…
Where does Heart to Heart get its funding?
We get a large amount from the Orthodox Union through working with their NextGen department. And we apply to (and win) grants, fellowships, and awards – PresenTense, YU’s CJF, BYFI, JFNA Jewish Community Hero, UJA COJIR, CJP Young Adult Community, Steinhardt Foundation. But the rest, and a large chunk of it, comes from you – from students, from recent alumni, from parents/grandparents of students, and from people who heard about what we’re doing and want to be a part of it. True to our decentralized, grassroots model, we try to garner support from the community and we love to have as many people as possible supporting this work – because after all, it’s all of our work. On a side note, our volunteer-driven, decentralized model means that our costs are extremely low – operating at a fraction of the costs of similar organizations, with exponentially more impact (however you measure that) per dollar.
Do I have to be Orthodox to do Heart to Heart? Are we trying to make people Orthodox?
Who said that you have to be Orthodox? We’re looking for Jewishly involved students and young adults who are passionate about Judaism and Jewish community, and care about engaging and sharing with the wider Jewish population. That could be Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, posttransdenominational, or anywhere in between – but we’d prefer if you left those labels behind. Instead we use more useful terms like ‘insiders’/’outsiders’, ‘regulars’/’non-regulars’, ‘involved’/’uninvolved’, ‘hosts’/’guests’, or ‘knowledgeable’/’less-knowledgeable’. And we’re not paying anyone to do it, so it’s self-selecting; anyone can do it if they care enough – and get in touch with us! As for an agenda, we don’t prescribe end goals for participants – we want people to find their place in a meaningful Jewish community, but the details are for them, you, and God to figure out. Though one good sign of success is when someone turns from a “guest” into a “host”!
What if guests at my meal find out about Heart to Heart? Should I tell them??
You don’t need to advertise everything as “Heart to Heart”, because we want you to make this your own – but feel free to let others know, especially if they’re curious or if they might want to get involved as a future host, gusts, donor, etc. Don’t worry to much – you don’t have any secret agenda (hopefully) and you don’t have anything to hide, so being transparent will only be helpful. If they ask, you can tell them you’re part of a network of Jews sharing Jewish experiences with their peers – who wouldn’t want to be a part of that! We believe (and studies have shown) that most Jews want to be more Jewishly involved, so you’re really just helping them do what they already want to do — sounds pretty objectively innocuous and beneficial.