Sunday, January 10, 2010

What Jeff Seidel doesn't tell you


Jeff Seidel is definitely doing a good job. If you come to Jerusalem, you are Jewish and looking for a Shabbat meal, Jeff is one of the best addresses to inquire. You can meet him after candle lighting or on Shabbat morning (approx. 11am) at the water fountain on the men's side in front of the Kotel (Western Wall).

However, what Jeff doesn't tell you is that he has a firm system behind his hospitality. A business with AISH HATORAH and OHR SAMEACH; the two men's Yeshivot together with the women's programme at NEVE YERUSHALAIM. Besides the meals, Jeff is trying to get young people into these programmes in order to turn them into religious Jews. LITVISH, and only litvish. He never suggest anything chassidic and Chabad not at all. For him, only the three programmes exist.

Inviting people for meals is fine but trying to get them into Yeshivot / Seminaries sometimes is very unfair when the young person has no clue about where he is going to. Only seeing the light for a short period of time cannot be called becoming frum. Religion means work and most Baalei Teshuva do not have an easy life at all. Only figures of youngsters running into Yeshivot won't make it but serious information.


  1. This is unfair. Chassidus is inherited, whereas standard yiddishkeit would identify more with litvaks.

  2. B"H

    I think that Jews who are interested should get information about litvish and chassidic ideologies and not only one. If you look at AISH HATORAH today, they even employed a kind of chassidic (a little Breslov) lecturer (Rabbi Yom Tov Glaser) to satisfy the student's demand for Chassidut. Meaning: There is a demand for both sides.

  3. Ohr Sameach here in Monsey has some chassidim on staff, such as Rav Naftali....can't remember his name, but remember his shiur from ten years ago as if it were yesterday. Talked about the power of a human kiss.

    To "N," just for the record, what year was it that chassidus became inherited? Just remind me. I think it was 1907, but I can't quite remember. If only the Ba'al Shem Tov read your comment!!!

  4. besides the fact that this is a lie, it is completely unfair to jeff, who spends his life trying to help anyone on whatever level they are at.

    ever heard of r chaim of yerushalayim (chassidish) or maayanot (chabad)? their places are definitely not litvish and yet jeff sends there. how about midreshet rachel?

    i think it is preposterous to write something that you know nothing about!

  5. B"H

    First of all, I know Jeff Seidel for more than TEN years and I used to work for him for a certain period of time. So, I claim that I know the subject very well !

    I know Chaim of Yerushalaim but my concern was not the Shabbat meal but sending people to Yeshivot. And those recommendations include LITVSH. Neve Yerushalaim pays and AISH, I suppose, as well.
    Neve even pays the taxi for the girls coming from the Heritage House.

    By the way, the Heritage House is a free hostel in Jerusalems Jewish Quarter working together with Jeff.

    Midreshet Rachel doesn't have a Hashgacha and Jeff does send girls. The same with some guys to the national religious Machon Me'ir.

    However, Jeff's main goal is sending people to Neve Yerushalaim or Aish and Ohr Sameach.

  6. Bsd
    Not true!!! With jeffseidell i went to a Ieshiva bt of chabad

  7. B"H

    So, Jeff probably sent you to MAYANOT in Jerusalem. Maybe because there was no way that you would have fit into AISH or Ohr Sameach.

  8. Jeff Seidel's Scholarship Fund gives money to Mayonot Jerusalem which is a Chabad program. The same is for Neve, Aish ect. He works for the student not the yeshiva or seminary. His wife is lubavitcher. I think you should do your homework before you make your comments.

  9. B"H

    Fundraising has become difficult and I don't think that Jeff is supoorting Mayanot. Usually AISH, Neve and Or Sameach are very grateful when Jeff sends students. Neve even pays the taxis for the girls coming from the Heritage House.

    Indeed, Jeff is independent and doesn't work for a Yeshiva. However, you have to consider how many places are connected with each other. Him, Aish and the Heritage House, for instance.

    Is his wife still active in Lubavitch, as I haven't heard anything about that from Chabad in the Old City ? But if his wife comes from such a background, Jeff is deeply Litvish !!!:-)

    By the way, I know Jeff better than you might think.

  10. This post is comparable to receiving a gift and then complaining about the color of it. How lame it is to knock someone who helps others at a scale which very few people do!

    Jeff helps people every Shabbat/holiday find meals and tries to inspire them into yeshiva programs, the insinuation that he chooses yeshivas that he feels are ideal and does not send to every yeshiva may or may not be accurate insinuations, but either way, who cares?! He is bringing people closer to Judaism!!! If they are not comfortable in a Litvish yeshiva then they can choose somewhere else, nobody is being forced into anything.

  11. B"H

    The issue is a little more complicated and one has to look behind the scenes what is going on there. Of course, when you go to the water fountain at the Kotel, meet Jeff and get a place for Shabbat, you are happy to have something. Very nice. However, in order to understand what I meant in the text, one has to be around for a while and see what is going on.

  12. Miriam, I read what you said about Jeff Seidel. I do not know him but from your description he is doing AMAIZING work. Who cares whether he encourages people to go to Litvish or Chasidish yeshivas/seminaries. It is torah either way. If you feel so strongly that people should be introduced to Chasidish programs instead of writing about Jeff Seidel on the internet, why don't you make more effort to do kiruv yourself in the way that you prefer. Frankly these are desperate times and we are losing so many Jews to assimilation. Whether Jews come back through a Litvish or Chassidish setting makes no difference.

  13. B"H

    YOu are 100 % right and it is Torah but ... And now comes the BUT:

    Even as a newcomer to Torah or Ba'al Teshuva, you have the right knowing about the choices you have. The right about being informed about all kinds of DERECH (DERACHIM). Jeff, however, mostly leads you into one direction and does the same as the Heritage House which whom he works together.

  14. Tons of people utilize Jeff's hospitality arrangements for Shabbat meals EVERY week, and they are not going to Yeshiva- maybe he just wants to give people an opportunity to experience a Shabbat table experience? Furthermore, his father in law who recently passed away was Chabad and Jeff had a lot of respect for him. I PERSONALLY heard him suggest to an inquiring student to check out Maayanot, a Chabad kiruv Yeshiva.

  15. B"H

    I want to point out one fact again and again:

    I am not claiming something out of the blue but I do know Jeff and I used to work for him. If someone comes to Israel as a tourist, sees what Jeff does (and what he does is definitely great for many Jewish tourists) but is accusing me of not knowing of what is going on, is a little cheap. Consider that you are in Israel as a tourist and maybe get an artificial picture of what the country is about. If I was a tourist somewhere, I would be overwhelmed by all the great things too. However, you have to live somewhere for a while in order to realize what is going on behind the scenes.

  16. Just stumbled upon this as I was looking for Jeff's site so I could go and rent some machzorim I could afford instead of staying at my home for all of the hagim. This blog appears third when you search for Jeff.
    I don't know if you consider yourself a religious person, but you should ask yourself what your goal is here. Anyone that wants to know more about getting meals for the holidays or shabat, or even inquiring about Jewish learning and Jeff is the only person to ask so they look him up... you are greatly discouraging anyone from associating with him by implying that there is something almost sinister underneath it all. Is he stealing from me? Is he trying to hurt me? Is he preying on people with emotional and psychological disorders so that they believe everything he's telling them about a cult? No. I don't think so. So what is this about "firm system?" There need to be firm systems behind every institution. 20 year old secular kids have brains too.

  17. B"H

    You are asking what this is all about. This is telling me that you haven't even dealt with this blog but just picked out a couple of opinions on Jeff Seidel. Moreover, you haven't even understood the article but just looked at the criticism. It has become a real fashion hinting to Lashon HaRah to everyone saying out loud his opinion.:-)

    So coming to the facts:
    You don't need to rent a Machzor. If you are staying in Jerusalem's Rova, AISH HATORAH is offering a Rosh Hashana as well as a Yom Kippur service for all Jews. The service is organized by AISH, the Heritage House as well as Jeff Seidel. Jeff is usually blowing the Shofar.

  18. I once blew a shofar and then I was all puffed out