Thank you to Ruchi Koval, Co-founder and Associate Director of the Jewish Family Experience in Cleveland, OH and author of Conversations with G-d for the following insider look into the work of mekarvim everywhere. Buckle up and follow her through a typical “Day in the Life of a Kiruv Family.”
I hear the dog barking well before my alarm clock. We got a dog for one of our children, but let me tell you, he's been a huge kiruv bonus. Everyone connects with a sweet, friendly golden doodle - he makes us more accessible and somehow normalizes us.
I catch up on my emails quickly before the kids wake up. Among them: an invitation to a women's networking event at the Federation, which I forward to my secretary to register me for; an email from a woman who wants to drop out of Sunday school (ouch); a thank you from the family who ate over Friday night; a solicitation from a guest speaker who's traveling through our area but who we don't feel is a fit for our crowd. Last time we heard him speak his talk was full of "Hashem" and "shamayim" which most of our group didn't understand.
Getting kids off to school while fielding texts from women in my class this a.m. about who is and isn't coming.
I daven and eat breakfast. In a recent class I taught about putting your spirituality before your physicality, so I think I better practice what I preach.
Half hour till class. Should I clean up the kitchen? Run a quick errand or two? Before I can decide a woman calls me who has become frum and moved into the area. I know her son is struggling in his new Jewish school so I make a quick decision to take the call while cleaning the kitchen. It's hard to hang up at ten, especially as my daughter from Israel is clicking in on the phone, but I manage. Note to self: call daughter back. Kids must not lose out due to kiruv.
Class on mussar. I record the class to email to women who can't make it. I leave on a high - this is such a great group. They always tell me what a difference it's made in their lives. Nachas!
I run to Costco, remembering that we’re having all the families from my recent Israel mission over this Friday night. They're all coming over to cook with me, and I stock up on extra ingredients for the occasion. At the register the guy asks me if my order is for resale. Hm.
Meeting at Starbucks with prospective Sunday school family. Her first question is if her bat mitzvah daughter will be allowed to read from the Torah. Halfway through the conversation it becomes clear to me that she is not halachically Jewish. I do the best I can, sending up a quick tefillah to Hashem that I navigate the conversation respectfully and kindly.
It dawns on me that I'm starving. I don't have enough time to go home before my next meeting so I stop in to a convenience store and pick up pretzels and a diet coke. The caffeine won't kill me (thanks, dog).
Meeting with my committee about chairing our upcoming ten-year anniversary. We're working with our ten original families, and we want to the event to be open to the community so they can get an idea of how fun, accepting, and enriching we are. We hope. It's a great meeting - the right committee makes all the difference. The main discussion revolves around budget and how we're going to fund the evening which will probably run around $15,000.
Half hour till carpool, so I run home and eat something normal (leftover cholent). I rifle through the mail. Bar mitzvah invitation for my nephew - is it the same Shabbos as our monthly Shabbat program?? Phew, it's not - plus another thank you card from a recent bat mitzvah my husband ran. So sweet.
Carpool at my kids' school. I realize I: a) never called back my daughter in Israel, which I do now on speakerphone as all the kindergarten children in the back listen in, and b) have no idea what's for dinner.
Figure out what I'm making for dinner based on recent Costco purchases. I'm also busy on the phone with texts and emails, but I'm trying to ignore them once my kids are around. It's hard. My daughter asks me what we're doing on Shabbos, and when I tell her about all the families coming Friday night, she jumps up and down in excitement. This is good. Some of my kids don't actually love the crowds so we don't do it as often as we used to.
Doorbell rings. One of the women in my class stops by to drop off flowers for Friday night. I'm a little embarrassed at the casual attire I changed into once I got home. But hey, I gotta be me sometimes! She comes in, cutchi-coos the dog, we shmooze, she leaves.
We sit down to dinner as a family. My husband is a little rattled by a conversation he had with a disgruntled donor, but we know it's not the right time to discuss. We table the conversation and pay attention to the kids.
Homework and bedtime. 'Nuff said.
I get ready to teach a class and wonder if enough people will come, considering the weather. People get very funny about bad weather. I'm like, people, just get in the car and come! It's Torah! But yeah. Not everyone sees it my way.
Heading home. Great class, though small. Many women in the group are coming over Friday night and everyone is excited. At home I (surprise!) find the same mess I left at 7:30. Hm. I clean up while chatting with my teens (and sending them telepathic messages to help). Dog goes out, dog comes in, dog chews up my daughter's favorite headband. A few of our members call me but I need to let them go to voicemail. This is kid time.
Finally get a chance to talk to husband about his day. It's not simple. We brainstorm and strategize and come up with possible solutions. I ask him if he'll be home the night of the Federation event; he won't be, but we still feel it's important for me to go. We'll figure it out.
Must. Go. To. Sleep. Tomorrow is another day. Zzzzzz.....
For 24 hours, from Tuesday 1PM EST- Wednesday 1PM EST, outreach organizations from around the world will be raising $4M. Every donation will be quadrupled. Please join supporters of kiruv everywhere in this meaningful day of support. www.charidy.com/givingforoutreach
For more information or questions, call AJOP at 410-367-2567.