May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

GoDaven.com a Go-to for Minyan-Seeking Travelers

Bergenfield–It’s the night before the big family vacation and the parents are looking over their list of preparations: Mail and newspaper stopped? Check. Suitcases packed? Portable electronics charged? Snacks? Check, check and check. Places to find minyanim along the way? Check that one off too.

Thanks to Dr. Yosi Fishkin of Bergenfield, travelers can venture across the world, and still find a place to daven with a minyan by searching the database he maintains on his website, GoDaven.com. In any given week, over 10,000 people use GoDaven.com. Fishkin, an ophthalmologist with a practice in Emerson, spends up to an hour each night editing and updating the site.

As busy as he is, there is a strong link between his full-time job, and the success of GoDaven. In 2001, during Fishkin’s ophthalmology residency in Far Rockaway his hours were unpredictable and sporadic. As a self-professed “computer geek,” he kept track of the many minyan options in the area, by creating a database of times and locations in his Palm Pilot. The information was helpful to many others, so he put them up on a website. “Why not include New York City minyanim?” He expanded to New York State minyanim, and grew to include the United States, and eventually expanded to the global database it is today. What made this website unique was that prior to GoDaven.com, the databases for Orthodox minyanim were only for proprietary minyanim. “The Orthodox Union listed OU minyanim. Chabad had a listing of Chabad shuls. But no one had compiled all the Orthodox minyanim into a single source.”

Fishkin welcomes user feedback, and acknowledges that the website’s success is largely because of the interest the users invest in it. People will e-mail Fishkin if details about a minyan change, if there is a duplicate entry, or if the minyan does not fit in on the website.

Over the past 14 years, GoDaven.com has evolved. And users should know about more options available through the website. As requests poured in for added features, Fishkin added the “Start a Minyan,” option to serve workplace and community populations, as well as a “Temporary Minyan” search. People will often start new minyanim when they move to a new office building and want to find minyan-minded people nearby. Or a Jewish community might look to expand their minyan options. “Start a Minyan” seeks those looking for a permanent minyan, whereas “Temporary Minyan” is exactly what the name suggests: a list of short term minyanim. As the North Jersey day schools head into “yeshiva week,” the “Temporary Minyan” feature becomes very popular, as people travel to Orlando or the Poconos, or wherever.

Fishkin explained that the site is used primarily by businessman looking for local minyanim as they travel, and individuals looking for a minyan when saying kaddish.

Fishkin “shepps nachas” at seeing how others integrate GoDaven features into new apps and devices. Whether one has an Android or iPhone, someone has developed an app to help find a minyan (Siddur by Rusty Brick for iOS and Find a Minyan for Android) and it integrates with GoDaven through the phone’s GPS. Even Google Glass has integrated GoDaven into its features. Someone wearing Google Glasses can have the GoDaven app guide them to their minyan as they walk through an area.

There were also requests to start a database of shiurim similar to that of minyanim, which inspired the shiurim tab on the website. It, too, is popular and integrated into many other uses. The electronic Artscroll Gemara partnered with the shiurim database, and in the digital version of the Gemara, clicking on the page will link to the nearest Daf Yomi Shiur.

The website and its maintenance are the results of a selfless act by an individual whose main goal is to “increase minyan going worldwide.” Fishkin does not receive any money for the service he provides to Klal. His biggest profit is the positive feedback from people who use what he calls his “productive hobby.” Over the years, he received e-mails from individuals who never missed saying a kaddish during their mourning period thanks to GoDaven and word-of-mouth praise for it during shiva calls. Others use Temporary Minyan feature to organize minyanim on their cruises. Users are finding minyanim throughout the States, and as far away as Singapore and Thailand; across Europe and anywhere anyone posts a minyan. Fishkin’s work is never done, but he is accomplishing his world-wide mission. Getting people to daven with minyan.

By Jenny Gans

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