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Spotlight on… Brooklyn Jewish Xperience (BJX)
Name and Position: Rabbi Moshe Fingerer, Director
Location: 2915 Avenue K
Number of Employees: 5
Years in Business: 13

You have a degree in biology and had plans to become a physician. What made you shift to kiruv?

I continue to be very inspired by nifleos haBorei and the sciences. I enjoyed chemistry, biology, and physics. The goal of becoming a physician was to be able to help people, save lives, and educate people to live life to their fullest. Today at BJX, our staff and I are blessed to be able to do exactly that every day: help people, save lives, and improve their quality of life through a connection to Torah and mitzvos.

When did you start your organization?

The organization began 14 years ago. Initially, we had to borrow or rent catering halls or shuls to host classes and events. Baruch Hashem, we have branched out to other locations in Brooklyn and have seen much growth.

Are kiruv and outreach the same thing?

The mission of BJX is to be mechazek the frum and be mekarev the non-frum. Baruch Hashem, we have seen tremendous success and growth in both demographics. We have separate divisions for each. What begins as outreach to our secular achenu bnei yisrael via social events and cultural programs – which fosters a greater sense of Jewish identity – gradually morphs into kiruv. This involves one-on-one mentoring, weekly shiurim and Shabbatons, and community events aimed at promoting a deeper understanding of Judaism.

What’s a typical day like for you?

There is no typical day. The avodah of reaching out and positively impacting Hashem’s children is 24/7. We have students from both demographics who are learning in Israel, and we also assist families who made Aliyah. We have divisions for public high school, college students, and young Jewish professionals; we offer adult education; and we have a beis medrash that conducts Shabbatons and shiurim. We focus a large part of the day on addressing sensitive issues that come up with students vis-a-vis their school, work, or relationships. Additionally, a tremendous amount of planning goes into programs and community events.

Can you describe Shabbos and Yom Tov at BJX?

People who daven in BJX describe it like being at the Kosel. There’s a mix of energy, warmth, and achdus that is hard to describe unless you experience it. A BJX mispallel is caring, growth-oriented, non-judgmental, and looking out to help another Jew. These middos typify our mispallelim and our students. It is due largely to the incredible kochos that my brother, the Rav of BJX, puts into everything he does. His shiurim scintillate with mussar, chassidus, and halachah. You will find Jews from all backgrounds and levels davening and singing. A Rav from Long Island who has his own beis medrash just visited us and said, “This is a very special place. As soon as I entered, I felt the light.”

You offer leadership courses where teens can meet successful CEOs. What is the purpose of this? How does it relate to kiruv?

People aren’t aware that there are thousands of Jewish teenagers in local public schools. Without the intervention of BJX, most of them will assimilate. BJX has a leadership course for bright public high school students and a separate track for ambitious college students. We begin with a delicious hot dinner, and then our BJX madrichim and madrichot learn in groups. After the group learning, we present a lecture on Judaism as it relates to leadership. We conclude each session with successful CEO presenters who discuss business, ethics, and their role as observant Jews in the workforce. All the students also experience their first Shabbos. We provide our leadership graduates with a stipend and a certificate. Before the summer, we had 50 public high school seniors who kept their first Shabbos and loved every minute of it. Baruch Hashem, all the students slept over for Shabbos and gained tremendously from this program.

Every Wednesday is “Girls Night Out” at BJX. How is kiruv approached differently for girls versus boys?

We feel that it’s important for the girls to have their own time and space. Young women appreciate a welcoming and safe environment. We have women’s classes and events to foster a sense of community and encourage open discussion. They enjoy sushi and drinks, socialization, and shiurim. Many of the girls are Bais Yaakov graduates. The goal is the same for both young men and young women: to inspire a love for Judaism and a desire to connect with their heritage.

Can you share a success story?

How much time do you have? Our public high school students come from schools such as Murrow, Madison, Midwood, and Brooklyn Technical. They come to BJX not knowing anything, and recently, two young men made a siyum on an entire masecheta. One of them even learned every Rashi inside. Just today, a young man from a completely secular background flew to Israel where he enrolled in yeshivah. Yesterday, a young professional committed to keeping kosher, giving up his favorite restaurants and his mother’s cooking. He will need to purchase an entire new set of pots and pans. Many formerly secular Jews are now fully shomer Shabbos. We have numerous young men and women from frum homes who were at risk and are now strong and committed in their Yiddishkeit.

What can parents do to keep their children connected to Yiddishkeit?

Here are a few of my tips:

Constantly model happiness and hakaras hatov.
Emphasize mitzvos in a joyous and positive way. You need to make Shabbos special.
Talk at the Shabbos table about emunah and relate personal stories from the past week of hashgahchah pratis.
Never badmouth other Yidden.
Accentuate the positive and model being dan l’chaf zechus.
Raise your children to be mission driven. Teach them early on that they are on a mission to help other Yidden and improve the world.

Should every Jew be involved in kiruv?

Rabbi Akiva said that the greatest mitzvah we have is to love our fellow Jews. How can one love his fellow Jew and not take an interest in his spiritual life?


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