September 27, 2023
September 27, 2023

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Tefillin Whatsapp: Connecting to Hashem

Eitan Katz will perform at the Sept. 10 event.

Avromi and Moshe are friends on a mission. They joined forces in February through a confluence of events with the singular goal of bringing Klal Yisrael closer to Hashem through the beautiful mitzvah of tefillin.

Touched by stories of near disasters, illnesses followed by miraculous recoveries and other life-altering events, they decided to pursue a campaign to encourage Jews worldwide to strengthen their bond to Hashem.

It began with Avromi meeting a non-observant Jewish stranger on a plane and Moshe having a lunch with a colleague while in California, both of whom hadn’t worn tefillin for decades. They individually invited the two men to put tefillin on each day and asked them to send “Telfies” (tefillin selfies) to each other to reinforce daily communication. After months of seeing the consistency and daily commitment from these two people, Avromi and Moshe initiated a tefillin campaign by inviting males of bar mitzvah age and above from around the world to submit Telfies of themselves donning their tefillin daily.

Their WhatsApp invitation sent shortly after Pesach initially resulted in about 30 participants. As a result of daily raffles and other unique incentives, the chat has grown to nearly 2,000 people proudly posting their tefillin selfies from around the world throughout each day. People from Austria to Singapore, from Dubai to South Africa, from ages 13 to 88, from observant to not-yet observant or formerly observant individuals posted, all with the sole goal of connecting with Hashem through this simple mitzvah.

For some, this project has motivated them to put on tefillin after many years on hiatus. For others, it’s an opportunity to inspire random fellow Jews around the world through the simple act of posting a picture. The incredible growth of the chat has been primarily due to members sharing the chat’s link on their WhatsApp status, Instagram as well as various other social media platforms in addition to ads in The Jewish Link. Every day a person shares their “Telfie” they are automatically entered into a daily raffle for incredible prizes including gift cards, electronics and amazing seats to sporting events throughout the world.

After receiving many calls from women throughout the community, the duo added a “40 Day Nishmat Challenge” solely for women around the globe. All that is required to join the Nishmat Challenge is that participants post a picture of the Nishmat that they are reciting, which will make them eligible for the raffle. The prizes include the choice of a Bottega Veneta, Louis Vuitton or YSL handbag or an $1,800 gift card to the department store of their choice. To date, nearly 200 women have taken up the daily challenge.

The third component of the initiative was created when one of the members of the tefillin chat and his wife were in a horrific car accident. After Moshe visited them in the hospital and heard of their newfound commitment to thank Hashem for miraculously saving their lives by saying Modeh Ani each day, the “Modeh Ani Challenge” was born. To enter, all one needs to do is post onto the chat a “WhatsApp voice note” of the participant’s recitation of Modeh Ani each day. This roughly eight second recording results in eligibility for daily raffles and prizes. All ages are invited to participate in this segment of the challenge. The number of participants so far is over 400 people worldwide.

With the Yomim Noraim approaching and hopefully with individuals focusing on intensifying their relationship with Hashem, Moshe and Avromi decided to create an event with the goal of welcoming even more participants to the chats as well as expressing gratitude for the thousands who have already joined their various communities. In partnership with the American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, New Jersey the daily tefillin chat will host a free special community concert on Sunday, Sept. 10, at which inspirational Jewish songwriter and performer Eitan Katz will perform.

The completely free event will begin at 9 a.m. outside the Nickelodeon Universe amusement park at the mall with an uplifting Shacharit service. Following the davening, all are invited to enjoy a sumptuous breakfast where many raffles for incredible prizes will take place. At 1 p.m., the entire community is invited to attend the free Eitan Katz concert at the Dream Live Theater.

Moshe and Avromi are hopeful that their chats will help awaken a spark of heightened ahavat Hashem within the broader Jewish community as the Jewish world approaches a new year filled with renewed hope for the future of our people throughout the world.

To RSVP for the Shacharit service, breakfast, raffles and free concert, visit Availability is on a first-come basis.

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