Article by Rabbi Mendel Dubov: More families than ever are looking to go on Shlichus, and so we need start-up shlichus: New, effective, and practical ways for the work of spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus.
By Rabbi Mendel Dubov – Shliach to Sussex County, NJ
We need start-up shlichus: New, effective, and practical ways for the work of spreading Yiddishkeit and Chassidus within the framework of Mosdos Chabad. We are not lacking manpower and goodwill. More families than ever are looking to go on shlichus. What we need are new avenues harnessing their incredible energy.
The “Start-up” mentality is a quality that even the nations of the world have attributed to the Jewish people. We do this well. If this pertains to worldly matters, how much more so should it be applied to דברים העומדים ברומו של עולם.
Below are some ideas that to me, as a Shliach, are both exciting and very practical. One thing to remember: these are start-ups; ventures that have to be developed. Doing so responsibly means maintaining a stable source of income at least in the early stages, or even indefinitely
Shluchim Servicing Shluchim
Shluchim are maxed out. Only mosdos with larger budgets can bring out a program director. And then they get maxed out. Volunteers can only do that much, and there are some things that mekuravim just can’t do.
Here’s the thing:
The great majority of shluchim will have some kind of budget for some extra peulos. They only wish a qualified shliach could come, get it done, and go on.
Enter ‘Shluchim Servicing Shluchim‘. These are shluchim who are contracted – not hired – by a shliach to manage and operate a certain peula – be it one-time or ongoing.
Here are just some ways in which this can happen:
- Mivtzoim services:
The ‘servicing shluchim’ move to a certain area and offer a package of doing a certain mivtza for local Shluchim. Let’s take Ois B’sefer Torah: For a set price, the servicing shliach will come to the Hebrew School or a large event at the Chabad House and man a nice stand with details and sale of “Ois B’sefer Torah”.
Or let’s take neshek: For a set price the servicing shlucha will come with a beautiful display of neshek items, have the ladies and girls submit a photo of themselves lighting Shabbos candles. Perhaps they can organize a raffle for doing so, and so on.
In short, the servicing shluchim make the (tiered) package, the shluchim pay a set fee for what they do, and they both then move on.
Sign me up!
Now, in the above case, the peula is costing the host Shliach money. But here’s one that won’t even involve that: Mivtza Bayis Molei Seforim. Remember Merkos Shlichus? Selling seforim! The servicing shliach shows up to an event with a display of seforim and books of all kinds, does his thing, and everyone is happy.
Every Shliach and Shlucha have events of all kinds they just wish they could do. Well, now they will have someone who could do it for them.
The servicing shluchim offer a choice of events they do, and are contracted to run these events by shluchim in their area (or beyond). They provide the ads, materials, and do the event. For a premium, they can even do the calling (“Hi, I’m Mrs. X, we are doing the Challah Bake at Chabad with Mrs. Y”), setting and cleaning up, etc.
Many of us are old enough to remember Reb Yossel Weinberg. An icon of dor hashvi’i; a true Chossid and mekushar whose multifaceted activities and impact are legendary. His official function was a shadar for Tomchei Temimim: to “plant ruchniyus and reap gashmiyus.”
There should be no argument to the fact that there is no shortage of mivtzoim and shlichus work to do. The question is how to pay for it. Shluchim spend a LOT of time fundraising. As I once heard from R’ Levi Wilimowski: Shliach is Roshei Teivos: שנורר, למדן, ירא שמים, חסיד.
Here’s the idea: Hiring a new shliach is a big and ongoing ‘Chad Gadya’. But let’s say you work it a different way: the mosad is bringing over a fundraiser, a shadar (”Director of Development”, “Donor Experience Officer”, you know what I mean…). His function is to bring revenue for the mosad.
The terms of his relationship with the mosad, his mode of activity, and who gets how much are worked out from the start. The fundraiser does his thing, and if he succeeds, everyone is happy. He comes to the mosad as an exclusive financial gain. There is no pressure from the mosad that the Shliach be “worth” his salary: If he does any other work for the mosad, he is paid separately for what he does. The shliach is also free to be active in the kind of peulos that are up his alley; he is not an employee (at least for this part of his job).
In circumstances where there is possibility and goodwill, the mosad will allow the ahliach the “luxury” way of fundraising, namely, the cultivation of hitherto untapped donors b’ruchniyus and b’gashmiyus. Another option is taking over or expanding some fundraising activities already in place.
But, Olam Hazeh is such that in many cases, the fundraising will need to take on a more “dry” form. All good! Nothing to get nervous about. Every Shliach does a lot of that too. Here are some common ways in which a mosad will have not yet realized it’s financial potential:
These take different formats in different countries, but pretty much everywhere there are private and governmental grants available for the kind of work done in a Chabad mosad (depending on what it is). The process of applying for and getting these grants are mostly long and tiresome. But in many cases, once you’re in, you’re in.
Now flashback to a few paragraphs ago: once you’ve got the gelt for one mosad, there’s a decent chance you could do the same for another once in the same area. Commission round two for you.
The advertising industry is massive. The entire media in the West is funded by advertisements.
Many Mosdos publish annual calendars and the like that are a revenue source for the institution. But this can be expanded exponentially: every email, every brochure can contain an advert – and more than one. Every event can have multiple advertisers in multiple ways. You just have to go get ’em.
There’s more: Does the mosad send out a nice magazine a few times a year? There’s some more advertising opportunities. How about a well-made podcast of you farbrenging with some big-shot about their charitable endeavors and how much they love Chabad? There’s a buck to be made in that. And so on.
Here’s a bold suggestion: every mosad should at the very least have a dedicated, part-time fundraiser.
The Merkos-Shlichus Chabad House
There are scores of places around the globe that have a small number of Jews and cannot realistically sustain a full-time shliach. In many cases is not even feasible for a family of shluchim to live there permanently.
A wonderful development in various areas is that which we can dub ‘The Merkos-Shlichus Chabad House’: A shliach who is involved most of their time in another shlichus will be given a remote area by the regional shliach to cultivate as much as possible.
They may go there for a Yom Tov, or to put on a small peulah. They could be an address for lifecycle events. A website, PO box, and phone line can be maintained. As in any Chabad House, some fundraising on a small scale can be done from the locals.
I know of a particularly large and rural area in the US that already has more than five such shluchim. Some of their operations grew to the degree that they are now maintaining a permanent space in their area. Some not. Whatever the case, it is a wonderful development.
To be sure, the shluchim doing this will always need to be doing something else – and probably most of the time. The beautiful thing about this set-up though is that the shliach and shlucha will not have any expectations or need for size or budget. With a small overhead, they will be able to devote themselves lovingly to the exhilarating work of ואתם תלקטו לאחד אחד בני ישראל.
Anyone who had the fortune of going on Merkos-Shlichus knows the incredible feeling that accompanies such activity.
Do you have other new and practical Shlichus ideas? Let us know in the comments below!