Circle, Point and Line Kiruv

In September 2014, Mishpacha published an article called “Is the Door Closing on Kiruv?” which is summarized here.

In a recent response, four kiruv and Chabad professionals wrote articles stating that the reports of Kiruv’s death have been greatly exaggerated. Points made included:

-There is good growth in some measures of Kiruv.
-Measuring success just by the numbers is insufficient.
-The focus of Kiruv efforts is always changing and that’s to be expected.
-Kiruv has always been difficult.
-The success or failure of Kiruv is our collective responsibility.

For me the series of articles highlighted three models of Kiruv.

In circle Kiruv, which is widely practice, the guiding assumption is that living within the circle of Torah Observance is good. The goal of circle Kiruv is to move people from the outside, to the inside of the circle where the Mekarev is standing.

In point Kiruv, which is used by Chabad, the guiding assumption is that doing an individual mitzvah, a single point is good. The goal of point Kiruv is to get the individual to do a single mitzvah, like the Chabad Mekarev does regularly.

In line Kiruv, which is practiced by a few, the guiding assumption is that moving along the line from distant to closer to Hashem, is good. The goal of line Kiruv is to get the individual to take the next step in getting closer to Hashem. In the case of line Kiruv, the Mekarev should also be moving along the line taking their next steps.

In the future we’ll look at the benefits and drawbacks of each of these models of kiruv.

3 comments on “Circle, Point and Line Kiruv

  1. Excellent summary-how can someone who views himself or herself as a mkarev not grow in their Avodas HaShem as well?

  2. Micha, Thanks for the comment and the questions. I want to think about them a little bit. They will be very helpful in clarifying this model and how it can be successfully applied.

  3. Nice metaphor(s)!

    I assume that “In the future we’ll look at some possible reasons why circle Kiruv is so prominent and what would be the benefits and implications of moving towards line Kiruv.”

    One simple reason is fundraising. The number of people who went off to yeshiva, kashered their homes or kept Shabbos is a measurable goal. It gives donors a way to measure success and to decide what size wedge of their philanthropy pie this organization is worth (to them).

    Open question (I don’t know what I think on this): Would you consider a tzedaqah that measures success by how much lower intermarriage is among their alumni than among the general population to be engaging in “circle kiruv”? Or is “circle” really only about being within the halachically observant community vs those on the outside? This is a very broad circle being drawn, if we do.

    Tomorrow begins the 12th Mussar Kallah, and as I leave tomorrow, it naturally comes to mind. The Mussar Institute doesn’t directly teach Shabbos, kashrus or taharas hamishpachah, and doesn’t go after people to put on tefillin. Instead, it teaches about middot and the religious content of interpersonal mitzvos, and we share tools on how to develop ourselves. (And if Shabbos just happens to be a wonderful tool for working on menuchas hanefesh (equanimity), on bitachon (trust [in G-d] and on yir’as Shamayim, then yes, Shabbos — or mezuzah or…. — will come up. But that’s a minor piece of the picture. This is more for people who are not looking for what we usually associate with kiruv.)

    Is The Mussar Institute engaging in kiruv? And if so, where would you put it in your taxonomy — line?

    What about being an O presenter at a Limmud event? (Assuming one’s poseiq holds there are no prohibitions involved in participating.)

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