Cash from JeffIt’s pretty simple. You want to go to Israel, but you need some cash. So Jeff Seidel, this dude in Jerusalem, will give you a $500 scholarship towards your airfare and all you have to do is study in an affiliated Yeshivah for at least 4 weeks. Oh and I think you get free room and board too so it really is a sweet, sweet, deal. Why does Jeff Seidel do this? Because that’s just the kind of guy he is – he’s like the other frum Mayor of Jerusalem except he gets out and meets pretty much everybody that comes into the Old City. You need a place to eat Friday night? Just talk to Jeff. You need anything at all? See Jeff. Click here for more info but move fast – Jeff tells me there are still scholarships available but who knows how long that’ll last.

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About the author

ck

Founder and Publisher of Jewlicious, David Abitbol lives in Jerusalem with his wife, newborn daughter and toddler son. Blogging as "ck" he's been blocked on twitter by the right and the left, so he's doing something right.

51 Comments

  • Just a warning…many people view Jeff Seidel in a very cult-like fashion. At least one University in Israel has banned him from campus. I believe the cultwatch website mentions him more than once.

    I’m an observant, affiliated Jew, and I must admit, Mr. Seidel’s style is a little creepy. I’d stay away, folks.

  • fineline, I have to take umbrage with that comment. Jeff Seidel is so non-charismatic, its funny. I don’t know what kind of cult action you can get from campus pizza nights, free high speed internet access for students, free minimal commitment cash for your trip to Israel, free friday night home hospitality dinners with people, many of whom do not especially like Jeff, but accomodate him cuz he always brings ’em bodies for friday night dinner. Also, I know lots of people who have been through Jeff’s very low key kiruv efforts – none of them have ever claimed that they felt coerced or that they were in a cult or cult like environment. Funny how most of the people creeped out by Jeff Seidel are people that haven’t really experienced him first hand.

    But yeah – fuck the little exuberant Jewish troll. Let the kids spend friday nights popping E at Haoman 17 when they’re in Israel and as for the diasporah kids? Fuck them too, thankless ignorant turds. Who needs ’em. Certainly not the Jewish people.

    So yeah. Shabbat Shalom.

  • fineline,
    you are nuts! Jeff Seidel has been around for 20 years. The whole world knows about him. Yes, he actually encourages young Jews to pursue their heritage and in the process they might even become – gastp – shomer shabbos! Or shomer shabbos friendly, or happier, or…my GOD they won’t eat their mother’s cooking and they’ll make their parents and friends feel guilty about their own Jewish baggage (see EVERY post by Shtreimel- sorry couldn’t resist)….yikes a 5 ‘ 0” man is stalking jewish people…

    Puhleeze. I’m with CK on this…
    jsirpicco over and out.
    p.s. Jsirpicco, by the way…now there’s a SCARY dude!

  • Fineline,

    Jeff hooked me up with a bad ass, shtreimel wearing Hasid in Mea Shearim. I specifically asked him for that type of scenario. He did it. Twice. The guy never tried to force anything on me that I didn’t ask for in the first place.

    Jsirpicco,
    I seem to be appearing in your posts quite frequently. Glad I made an impact 😉

  • Not softening, just not fanatic. I’d like to think I’m somewhere b/w GM and yourself…w/ a pinch of TM.

  • I know Jeff Seidel and he really is an extraordinary guy who is completely committed not only to helping Jews experience and appreciate their heritage, but also to just helping Jews ‘bichlal’, period.

    Apart from the Shabbat meals Jeff hooked me up with when I was here as a college student, he was the one who helped me find a job in my field when I first arrived as a new olah. My first weekend here in Israel, I found myself short of meal plans. A friend of mine who worked with Jeff gave me his number and told me to call him to see if he could help. I did so and explained my situation–new olah, Shabbat orphan. Jeff’s response:

    “What do you do?”
    “I am a yadayadayada”
    “Do you have a job yet?”
    “No”.
    “Call these guys.”

    And he proceeded to give me the phone number of a company which treated me exceptionally well and where I was to work for three years. He also found me a meal, of course!

    Mind you, Jeff Seidel did not know me from Adam at the time. I was just another, random, new olah. He did not know if I were observant (I was not); nor did he ask. He just thought “how can I help this Jew”, and proceeded to do so. What he lacks in charm, he makes up a thousand times in hesed.

  • Jeff Seidel is the man.

    He helped us twice with erev shabbos meals, and frankly, it’s people like him that you meet much more often in Israel (than in ‘America’) that attracted me to make aliyah in the first place.

  • Nonetheless, folks, he has been kicked off campuses in Israel because of his “activities.” And despite the pro-Seidel comments all of you posted, it doesn’t disprove the point. Many people consider Jeff’s “outreach” to be a veiled attempt to snag kids without much Jewish background into a 0-60 in 4 weeks orthodoxy. I have no doubt that many people have had a positive experience with him (and yes, I’ve met him). But, the Hare Krishnas I met on the Mall in D.C. were also quite nice. I simply think that it’s sneaky.

  • I should clarify…

    I don’t have any issues with Jeff Seidel as a person. I think that he is a sincere, devoted individual who has devoted his life to klal yisrael.

    I have a problem with his approach. Hang out near the kotel looking for college kids who seem to be drifting a little, then get them into a warm, welcoming orthodox environment. It often works. A lot of people have become ba’alei t’shuva over their first hot pot of cholent. I just think that it is dishonest. It sells orthodox Judaism as a pleasant, social experience with sweet families and great food. While it often includes those things, the observant lifestyle involves major lifestyle changes, behavioral modification, numerous restrictions, etc. Believe me–many, many people drawn by that warm cholent have given up when the warm, fuzziness got colder and, um…, less fuzzy.

    HaShem did not say to Avram: “Lekh Lekha. Get up to Israel where all the families are sweet and the cholent sticks to your ribs like peanut butter. Mmmmmm…..peanut…butter.” Instead he sent him on a difficult, lifelong journey to improve the world for all.

    If you are going to offer money for travel to Israel to anyone willing to study in one of the yeshiva’s of your own choosing, at least be honest enough to say: “And by doing this, I really hope you become fully orthodox.”

    Again, Jeff Seidel is a good man, ok? His outreach approach disturbs me.

  • Hmmm, I believe I may have had a debate with him in front of the Kotel when I was a very young fellow (Esther, this was around the six pack period 😛 ). I seem to recall he had that doe-in-the-headlights look after having his assertions challenged by me (which must be extremely surprising to all of you seeing as I never debate, always try to keep the peace and rarely take an opposing viewpoint). I now gather he was surprised because he seems to target individuals who may not be too knowledgeable, or are lost souls. I guess I looked lost or stupid.

    He did succeed in “converting” to Orthodox a couple of people I know and they were most definitely lost or confused souls. I believe one of them lost his wife several years later after misleading her for months about losing his job.

    I agree with Fineline’s #12.

  • Fineline, You are too caught up in the media hype about the Jewish Denominations. He just offers people a glimpse into Jewish traditions. If someone from Reform, Reconstructionist, etc… wants to do the same thing there is nothing to stop them.

    Sheesh. When someone does something good.

  • moreover- who cares if he’s been kicked off Israeli campuses…Israeli campuses are NOTORIOUSLY UNPLURALISTIC when it comes to anything remotely resembling Yiddishkeit….

    I can’t even believe we’re still arguing about this yes, 21 years later…Fineline, you ARE caught in a time warp from 1984 where people were worried about the teshuva movement….

    And Jsirpicco Spoke to the Blog Saying: Get Thee a Lifeth!

  • Hmmm…Jeff Seidel is to be demonized because he starts people off, as it were, with the “easy” part of Orthodox Judaism? You may as well demonize my Senora Brown, my junior high school Spanish teacher because she started us off with basic conversation dialogues that were fun, easy to learn and encouraging instead of with Don Quixote.

    Yes, he wants Jews to be more observant and goes out of his way to show people a side of Judaism that will make them ask “hmmm…I wonder what else there is”. At the same time, no one can accuse him of having a secret agenda. He is very open about what he believes in. Every time I see the man he asks me if I have said a bracha today (my answer is pretty much invariably “no”).

    I will admit that I am also not a fan of the 0 to 60 in 60 style of Baal Tshuvah, as it tends to create wacked out fanatics. That being said, I suspect that Seidel’s influence is actually much more extensive than the creation of a couple hundred more observant Jews. For every Jew who goes to a meal and ends up with a stylin’ black hat in short order, there are probably countless other Jews who go to a meal, are touched by it, and who slowly slowly, in their own way, in their own time and on their own terms, start to learn about this thing that is Judasim. Maybe they end up more committed and active Reform Jews, maybe they end up Orthodox, but they do more than they would have otherwise.

    Actually,of the meals he set me up with, one of them was one of the nicest Shabbat meals ever (very warm, sweet, loving couple), and the other was one of the most vile (crazed right wing fanatics who were actually pushing and shoving Arabs as we walked through Damascus gate…because they hated them and because could).

  • Having worked with him once (on a class about Jews, Chrisitan, and the Church) I can honestly say that he means well and he does great work.

    The truth is…he fillls a void in Jerusalem and in Israel where there are no organizations do anything quite like he does. Where is JTS? Where is HUC? Why don’t they have people at the Kotel sending people over to people’s houses for shabbat dinner and running outreach programs on university campuses in Israel? Why is it that only orthodox organizations do this? (This is a theological discussion for another time)

    I don’t quite get what is wrong with his approach. Yes, some of his stuff is not for everyone. But really, it is better than nothing at all. No one is forced into anything, and to assume that all people become orthodox because of his programs (which when I was at HU, did nothing for me) is so incorrect. Sometimes nothing happens, and sometimes, he gets people to think about their heritage in the land G-d gave to them and what it means to be Jew.

    His main goal is strengthen jewish identity and encourage you to have a relationship with G-d.
    Whether this is done through Hasbara classes, or trips around Israel (that are co-ed), drinks at Mike’s place, or yes eating a shabbat dinner he’ll try it.

    As for the $500.00 towards the trip..I mean come on…it says…”YESHIVA”. The purpose of the funds are clear cut. Go learn in yeshiva (learn a shitikal of Torah). If you do not want to learn in yeshiva, than don’t apply.

  • How come people always have to give left handed compliments to Ba’alei Teshuva…okay, so they’re weird – eventually they grow out of it and wind up happier than most MO issue laden blog writing people out there, so yo! Back Off Daphne homey.

    Re: Campuses…not at ALL joking. They hate Judaism and the horse it rode in on…so there!

  • Whoa! I have no problem at all with Ba’alei T’shuva. I have a problem with those who seek to create them by taking people who they know to be in their formative years, grabbing them, slapping them into an automatic yeshiva bochur molding machine, and popping them out another clone. The orthodox world has much, much to learn from those who join it from the outside. You lose that if you don’t encourage people to grow into it, bringing their own views and personalities with them.

    I have bought into the media’s Jewish denomination hype? I don’t even have a clue what that comment means.

  • I’m telling you, fineline, you are stuck in 1984…nobody pops anyone into anything they don’t want to be popped into anymore. Jsirpicco KNOWS this…

    Listen, GIGO…that’s the rule.. the media hype is – the media hype against frumkeit and orthodoxy and anything that hints that people may actually find more fulfillment attaching to their creator than to their ipod…get it?

  • Jsirpicco,

    If by “hate Judaism” you mean to make a silly generalization without any basis, I congratulate you upon your success.

  • TM – wow – now THAT was a powerful riposte! Powerful! I lived in Israel for a decade, dude. I know whereof I speak…as to creator and ipod…uh, yeah, duh. Not my point.

  • jsirpicco, if your problem is that a secular, academic, historical or scientific outlook rejects many of the faith-based premises of a god-given Torah, apparently you consider virtually all universities in the West to be NOTORIOUSLY UNPLURALISTIC.

  • TM: Man. So funny. You would have hated me then. I was all Mr. Sephardic, arrogant as all heck, always joking around, never serious … uh… wait a minute… never mind.

  • I hear the hardest part of the Mr. Sephardic beauty contest is the swimsuit competition.

    But when I was at Hebrew U, we had a very diverse experience, with people from all walks of diaspora and Israeli life, and from all over the religious spectrum. I found everyone incredibly tolerant and accepting of religious observance, wherever we happened to be on the spectrum. And I remember Jeff Seidel as being a little out there, because none of us had ever encountered anyone like him before. But he did great things setting us up with families in the Old City for Shabbat meals, and I believe he was also in charge of the “Absolut Purim” party that got many of us blitzed shortly in advance of our 21st birthdays.

    At 21, college kids are making their own decisions about spirituality and observance. My impression was that JS helped by facilitating observance for kids who wanted it. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.

  • jsirpicco,

    I never said somebody got made into something that they didn’t want to be. I simply pointed out that the 0-60 ba’al t’shuva path (which a LOT of people still take) does not give a person time to learn and think for themselves before they are suddenly living a very different lifestyle.

    I don’t know that I agree that their is media hype about “frumkeit” and orthodoxy. But, as an orthodox person myself (who owns an i-pod…too weird), I fail to see how I’ve bought into any hype about the orthodox lifestyle being freaky and weird.

  • make that – oh, I don’t know anymore. I got all confused already and I forget my point – it’s all this Modern Orthodox mumbo jumbo trying to upset my view of the world! But yes, all Universities hate the One True Religion and the One True God…YESSSSS!!!!! It’s so liberating to say that…and here comes Esther, living in NYC (poor thing) to tell me NO…budhists are cool and blah blah blah, and the black guy in her building…and then shtriemel trying to explain to ANYONE that Vancouver has a reason to exist in the world? I mean, PuHleeze….and then everyone will gang up on me and say mean things and make me feel bad….

    But I am Jsirpicco. I am invincible. I yes, do have the truth in my pocket. As for ipods, I was trying to illustrate a point, duh. Something along the lines of Torah is der beste ipodishe!

  • jsirpicco: I understand maybe 20% of what you say on good days. But that 20% invariably makes me laugh my ass off. Don’t ever stop being you.

  • Jsirpicco…

    Your posts make you sound like you had one too many beatings in the playground as a kid. Now stop this nonsense, before you even lose CK (who finds your posts, uh, funny) as a fan.

  • “But that 20% invariably makes me laugh my ass off.”

    Really? Seriously? Wow.

    By the way, spent shabbos with one AB this past weekend. Claims he knows you. AB’s father taught at Hertz Snowdon and is now a teacher/rabbi/shabbat dinner host in Jersualem. AB was dating that blonde chick that was living upstairs at Hillel. Anyway, he says hi.

  • Shabbat Dinner host? In the old city of Jerusalem? Is his first name Abba? Because I am in the market for people willing to host American kids in the old city of Jerusalem for Shabbat. I also need a well spoken settler person to talk for like 20 minutes. Can I get any suggestions?

  • Universities and academics tend to be far more liberal than your general right wing orthodox Jew. I think it’s fair to say that orthodox judiasm and the secular university system might not see eye to eye on alot of things. Thats life thats the way it is and always will be. So Jeff can continue his Kiruv efforts and the universities can continue to kick him out. Whoever likes Jeff will still like him and whoever doesn’t never will.

  • Abba it is. A very close friend of mine. Actually, Etzy would’ve held that honor if the f’er didn’t pack up, move to NY and have babies. Bastard. Still, some of my best shabbos afternoons were with Etzy and his weird, but wonderful, family.

    Abba’s dad is going to be in Vancouver on May 13th I believe. I can ask him when I see him. I can also give you Abba’s email addie. What’s yours?

  • mine is ck@jewlicious.com – mail away!

    Wine Guy: What Universities have banned him exactly? He runs a kick ass student center near the Hebrew U. campus with free high speed internet access and laundry and classes and movies and pizza – doesn’t seem like they banned him there. And frankly, do any other universities really count? I mean, who the hell goes to Ben Gurion University? Haifa University is too far away, Tel Aviv University, built on the ruins of an abandoned Arab village offends my humanistic sensibilities and Bar Ilan bores me to tears. So what gives?

  • Shtriemel,
    I KNOW I have more than one fan! And my brain runs faster than you guys, so that’s why only 20% gets through. I’m like the GR’A of the blogosphere….it’s impossible to comprehend the depths of what Jsirpicco is truly trying to convey…Don’t you get it, I HAVE SECRETS I”M TRYING TO REVEAL< ONLY to those who can hear...You must be a pure "vessel." Oh. Wait a second. They're calling me again...

  • “Secrets you’re trying to reveal, or an out-of-control meth addiction.”

    Stop insulting meth addicts

  • Threatening to reveal secrets, being called by voices, ranting about buddhists and black guys in my building…Jsirpicco’s comments are so beyond me that I feel like I’m the one with the meth addiction. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m gonna drop some acid and put on Dark Side of the Moon and see if it really syncs thematically to The Wizard of Oz.

  • Sorry ck I don’t know what universities have banned him, if any, fineline was the one who mentioned it. The point I was trying to make was umm…who cares what the universities do. And I have to agree, he does a great job, he’s set me up with shabbos meals in the old city on more than one occasion and he wears great shoes.

  • The Esther thinks that the Jeff Seidel does not wear the superfantastic Manolos. But the Esther does not know if the Wine Guy has some superfantastic knowledge of the Seidel’s footwear.

  • Hmm I’m not so well versed in the realm of fine footwear but they were nice two tone brown and white wingtips which not just anyone can pull off but Jeff does it quite well

  • The ck, he cannot believing how we started talking about sending the bambini to Israel and now we are blogging about the shoes of the Jeff Seidel! The two tone wingtips they are good for Americans and good for the Jeff Seidel because surely, they are sturdy, and he is always walking, walking, walking! But please, do not try those shoes at your home. You are knowing what I mean.

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