July 24, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Hisoriri: Rejuvenating Shabbat Together

When Dov Winston, a third-year semicha student at RIETS, found himself struggling with having inspirational experiences on Shabbat, he decided to do something about it. That something would not only rekindle his inspiration for Shabbat, but rekindle the spark for Shabbat within other Jews as well.

“I thought, what better way to inspire myself than by helping to inspire others as well,” Winston says. The idea for Hisoriri was born.

Founded by Winston this past April, Hisoriri, whose name means “awaken” or “rejuvenate yourself” and is taken from the Lecha Dodi prayer sung at Kabbalat Shabbat, is an organization whose mission is to provide Jewish communities throughout the tri-state area and beyond with groups of passionate Jewish students and young professionals who will liven up the Shabbat experience of that particular community. Since April, over 150 volunteers have signed up, with nearly 20 communities participating.

Winston began building Hisoriri by reaching out to communities he was familiar with while also trying to find new communities to work with. Armed with the advantages of social media, he began by sending the word out via Facebook, recruiting volunteers. The response to Winston’s idea was overwhelming. “Communities started pouring in, as well as interested students and young professionals,” explains Winston. “We had our first few Shabbatons within a few months of our inception.” What began as an organization of just Winston’s immediate friends has since expanded to include a wider network of students and professionals, as friends told other friends and then brought them to join Hisoriri.

Communities that request a Hisoriri group through the organization’s website will be visited by a group of about 4-6 volunteers, who will offer drashot, divrei Torah, run youth programming, lein and lead davening. But they aren’t just visiting to strictly lein and daven. “On Hisoriri, our mission is to do chesed in any way we possibly can,” explains Moshe Kurtz, a Hisoriri volunteer.

Hisoriri has visited many communities, such as Yardley, PA, Manalapan, NJ, Holyoke, MA, New Hyde Park, NY, Rockville, MD, and Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Communities pay the cost of the group’s transportation, and Hisoriri requests a small donation to go towards keeping the organization up and running.

Hisoriri is also affiliated with Shabbat.com. Winston reached out early on to Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, Shabbat.com’s CEO and founder, and explained to him his idea for Hisoriri and its mission. Rabbi Klatzko was extremely interested and offered his advice and support. The two organizations support one another strongly. “We are simply two Jewish organizations that support one another and do a little advertising for each other,” explains Winston. “I think that our relationship is a model for the way that Jewish organizations should interact with one another.”

Hisoriri does Yomim Tovim in addition to Shabbat, most recently spending Shemini Atzeret and Simchat Torah with the Jewish community of Rockville, MD. As evidenced by the community testimonials on its website, Hisoriri has made a lasting impact.

Since participating on her first Hisoriri Shabbaton this past summer, and subsequently becoming the organization’s director of communications, Talya English has become more aware of the needs of the Jewish communities around her. “Now, whenever I go to a Shabbos in a different community, or even when I am in my own community for Shabbos, I look for what they need,” she says. “Hisoriri has made me more aware of other people.”

Another volunteer, Moshe Kurtz, who is planning to train for semicha in two years’ time, sees Hisoriri as practical experience for a future career in the rabbinate. “What Hisoriri provides for me is an opportunity to work in different types of Jewish communities in different states, and to thereby have a form of on-the-job experience,” says Kurtz.

“Everyone seems to really appreciate what we do for them…just about all communities have had return Shabbatons, so it seems like we’re doing something right!” says Winston.

To learn more about Hisoriri, please visit http://www.hisoriri.com. Students and young professionals interested in joining Hisoriri should sign up on the website. Communities interested in hosting a Hisoriri group should email [email protected]
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By Esther Hirsch

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