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Sometimes people want a big program, for a variety of reasons:

  • Feeling like they're part of something really big.
  • Feeling like they're part of one big Jewish community
  • Helps unite different factions of the community - in case the exist, and in case there's tension between them.
  • It could also be easier for someone new to show up without feeling awkward, because everyone will be awkward and no one will really notice them.

Do it in big space, perhaps somewhere that elicits school spirit (like a gym or auditorium) and will attract new people

Things to be careful for:

  • Not just a cafeteria or a restaurant, where you leave the same way you came in, whether in a group or on your own
  • You need to add meaning, content. What makes something Jewish other than having a lot of Jews there?
  • How do you make sure only Jews come? Non-Jews are great too, but if you're trying to build a Jewish community or Shabbat community, you'll need to be selective in who's coming
  • You need to make sure everyone there is taken care of. In a big crowd, many people fall through the cracks - especially if they're new/outsiders. So you need to have people, a lot of people, whose responsibility it will be to do that (and not just sit with their best friends and have a good time).
  • A sign of success is when people come as strangers and leave as friends. An important thing will be to make sure people meet new people, and the right new people - so you're bridging Chabad&Hillel, Orthodox&Conservative&Reform, regulars&non-regulars, religious&nonreligious, etc. Naturally, people will just sit in the same cliques, in which case you didn't accomplish much.
  • How are you going to follow-up with people? First of all, how are you going to know and keep track of who came? And then how are you going to effectively follow up with all of them? Your best bet would be to decentralize it, so instead of you following up with 1,000 people, you have 100 people each following up with 10 people. Makes more sense, right?
  • Costs are a lot higher per person - even if you get discounts on food, you have to pay for renting space, tables/chairs, staff/helpers, clean-up, etc. (sample costs: 1,000 people - $15 food/person, $2,000 space rental, $5,000 staff/cleanup costs, $3,000 chair&table rentals)
    • Heart to Heart normally funds $10/person assuming most of them are new people.

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