New York – See You On Shabbos!…Dot-Com: Where Shabbos and Kiruv Meet


    New York – We live in an age of global access that our bubbies’ bubbies wouldn’t have dreamed of. Today, we can “visit” the Kosel via a 24/7 live broadcast; frum web sites make limud Torah a “click-to-download” away; and matchmakers are online, reuniting neshamas who last saw each other at Sinai. Now, in the spirit of online convenience, making Shabbos plans will be easier than ever before with an innovative new site that will match Shabbos hosts and their guests and put a hands-on kiruv opportunity within the reach of every frum family.

    The seeds of this ambitious project were planted when Rabbi Benzion Klatzko, the site’s founder, realized the scope of the Shabbos placement problem. “Originally, the thought was, ‘We want to inspire people to keep Shabbos, but there are 52 shabbosim a year and if they don’t have places to go, then keeping Shabbos is not a practical option.'” In the end, he knew that a concerted effort was needed in order to link individuals to families. “We the Jewish people have many, many resources, but we’re not always as organized as we could be. Everyone has good intentions, so if we can take everyone’s good intentions and put them on one web site as a resource that everyone can use, we would have a tremendous amount of power.”

    Geared primarily towards the newly religious and the hundreds of students around the world who are interested in learning more about Yiddishkeit, is a revolutionary service that will provide Shabbos placement for any Jew, anywhere.. The site offers a number of features: “Search for hosts in your area,” view “A host’s profile,” and “Book a Shabbos,” to name a few. Using location and other criteria like pet or food allergies, a registered guest can select a host family that best fits their needs. There is even a link called “Shabbos Facts” which serves an informative, “Shabbos-101” tool for first-timers. For registered hosts, the site outlines five security measures (like viewing a guest’s profile) that will help protect the families who partake in this amazing chesed.

    Rabbi Klatzko has been working on the front lines of kiruv and rabbonus for 21 years. As one of the initiators of kiruv on the West Coast, and currently a director for college outreach for North America, he has seen the need first-hand for this type of database. “Hundreds of people are becoming frum each year and many hundreds more are interested in learning about yiddishkeit. But the community is not organized enough to be a resource for them,” Rabbi Klatzko says. “All in all, it is almost impossible to arrange Shabbos while trying to maintain momentum on the front lines of kiruv.” A site like this, Klatzko envisioned, would serve the dual purpose of enabling a sustained path of growth through students’ connections to frum families and other like-minded individuals, “while eliminating much of the time and energy expended in order to place them for Shabbos.”

    For kiruv professionals, who may have 100 students to place, the site will serve as a networking gold-mine.

    Identifying the Shabbos placement problem was easy; creating the web site has been a lot more difficult. As one could imagine, there is a lot of grass-roots networking needed to implement a project of this magnitude.”We have been working on the project for 14 months, with a staff of 12 working full or part-time on the logistics,” Klatzko says. He needed each one of them because, “The logic behind how to create booking, add friends, and allow guests to confirm their plans, were all very difficult to create.”

    Starting the site has involved a lot of brainstorming, Klatzko admits. After all, several key factors would affect the success of the site in achieving his objectives. The “See You On Shabbos” team discussed the following: “How do we give enough information that a guest will feel comfortable enough to go to a host without compromising the host’s security?”; “How do we create a design that is pleasing to the eye, and a simple user interface that wouldn’t be daunting to the average user?”; “How will we ensure that every Jew, regardless of their background and denomination, will want to use the site?” The issues are complex, and behind the scenes, combining them into a seamless web site has been a challenge.

    Students who have heard of the site are thrilled about the prospect of finding Shabbos hosts more easily. “‘See you on Shabbos’ reflects the genuine desire of Jewish people all across the world to welcome other Jews into their homes,” says Sammie Goodman, from Merrick, NY, an alumna of Neve Yerushalayim seminary. “I think that this site will help create beautiful Shabbos experiences, connect people, and help to build Klal Yisrael. “As a ba’alas teshuvah who needs a place to spend Shabbos each week, the outpouring of people looking to host guests is very meaningful,” Goodman says.

    The site will prove to be more of a long-awaited resource than many non-kiruv-professionals might think. “One of the hardest things about becoming frum is connecting to frum families,” says Marnie Kruschen of L.A. “As a ba’alas teshuva myself, I can remember the days when I felt too embarrassed and shy to call families I didn’t know to invite myself to their home. If I could have used ‘’, my life would have been much easier. It would have taken the awkwardness out of calling families because I would have known [that since] they were on the sight, they wanted me!”

    “” will also be an unparalleled resource for those returning from ba’al teshuvah seminaries or yeshivas in Israel, who may not have any personal contacts in frum communities in America. “Being newly frum, you live a dichotomous life that involves trying to shed the negatives of your past and embrace the positives of your future,” Kruschen says. “This website acknowledges that dichotomy and eases your way into your new frum lifestlye.”

    Rabbi Klatzko’s vision for “See You On Shabbos” does not end at Shabbos placements. “Ultimately, I am looking at this site becoming the epicenter of the Jewish worldwide web, where a person can go on and find places for Shabbos–shuls, kosher eateries, shidduchim, and eventually, jobs as well.”

    There is a lot of work to be done before’s potential is realized. In its first month nearly fourteen hundred people signed up on the site, from countries as diverse as Sweden, Germany and Belgium. Its founders are hopeful that the efforts of those who hear about this exciting project in its early stages will help spread the word, register themselves as guests or hosts, and expand the resource base quickly.

    Families who are thinking of participating should know how much the gesture of hosting one Shabbos meal can affect a Jewish neshama. “Shabbos is a time where an individual can get one-on-one time with inspirational individuals, get a taste for the beauty of Shabbos first-hand, and experience a life of honesty, spirituality, and purity,” says Kruschen. “Hosting individuals for shabbos is the single most impactful thing you can do for kiruv.”

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    1. I have shabbat meals at my house but my girlfriend does not feel she can cook all the ethnic foods. Can I sign up for this service so my girlfriend can have hands on experience in Shabbat food?

    2. I wish the Rabbi much Hatzlacha with this website. I see great potential and many mitzvos coming out as a result of this. I hope its a smashing success and brings many people closer to Hashem.

      • You have to put references , a family you know or maybe rabbiem, so instead of saying “This person seems nice” and inviting them to stay with you , you can make sure they are safe and what not before bringing them into your home.

        Kol hakavod Rabbi Klatzko , Tizku l’mitvos

    3. Allthough I strongly believe in kiruv,this is dangerous . In todays sick world you can’t just host any shmo off the internet. It was said that one of the mumbai terrorist stayed at the chabad house dressed up jewish , yes it can happen anytime , anywhere , its just the stories you hear about meating people off the internet, craigs list etc. I think the rabbi has good intentions, but its a scary world.

      • I believe that Chabad took anyone in off the street. On the SeeYouOnShabbos website, there are 5 levels of safety. See the safety and security link on the site. While it is a crazy world, if it paralyzes us, we will never ever accomplish anything in our lives. Kudos to the Rabbi and this long overdue website!!

    4. I think this is very useful. In regards to safety, you can limit yourself to inviting only people who put up pictures on their profile and give a good description of their background. I plan to invite only people who are frum, and that is a safeguard already. You can ask on the phone where did they go to school, etc.

      • inviting only frum people is defeating the purpose of the website. and by the way, it is no guarantee of anything. just look at the abuse and theft that happens amongst frum people. that should be enough of an indicator that simply being frum is not enough.

      • I would like to add that we must take into consideration the need of widows, divorced, baalei tshuva and out of towners. We often invite people these people to our home and they are very, very thankful for it. Many of these people will spend shabbos alone and this is not rigth. Imagine being a divorced, widow, or baal teshuva and having to spend shabbos seudos eating alone? The Torah tells us often not to forget them and invite them to our simchos.

        We have had many, many shabbos guests in the past several years and there was never a problem. I think the likelihood of having people steal or do something really bad is very small (tell me otherwise). And if you do proper checking on the background, such as finding out other hosts they have been to, who is their Rav, which synagogue they go to, then I believe you should be ok, principally if you are talking about just hosting a meal.

        #12 says inviting only frum people is defeating the purpose of the website – who says so. My purpose is to help out those who are frum or on the way to become frum. I actually doubt that a lot of non frum people whould be interested in this.

      • Dear Boruch,
        Perhaps you didn’t know this, but, among frum people, a Shabbos invitation is in reality a great insult because to invite someone means you look down on them. So, why would you want to insult a frum person by inviting him for Shabbos? Among frum people, Shabbos invitees are limited to: singles, baalei teshuva, gerim, divorcees, agunos, the frum homeless, etc. Be careful who you invite because you are actually saying to them, “I want to insult you with my ‘Shabbos Invitation’ because I think you are really a nebbach.”

        Stick to unaffilitated Jews who don’t know the invitation is really an insult.

        • Uh, are you for real? It is attitudes like yours that drives our people away!!! A Shabbos invitation can be as simple as, I enjoy your company, lets share a Shabbos meal and words of Torah together.
          Sounds to me like you need an invitation for Shabbos…

          • Maybe from one Baal Teshuva family to another Baal Teshuva family but for an established Heimische family, they are limited to inviting only Nebbachs because to invite another Heimische family is considered an insult.

        • Thanks for the enlightenment. Last June my wife and I were invited for Shabbos by the local Chabad Rabbi. We felt it was a very nice experience as non-frum Yidden to spend the time with the Rabbi, the Rebbitzen, and the kinderlach. We didn’t realize we were being insulted. Thank you for explaining this to us.

            • For what purpose? To insult him back? I hope we are better people than that. And now we have been educated that what we mistook for kindness was in fact pity.

          • Please don’t believe a word that porter said. It is very common that people invite other frum people to their homes. If this guy never invited a frum person or was never invited by a frum person its because he has no friends. Hence his bitterness. Non frum people are being invited because its a chessed. Never an insult. If it were an insult than that would negate Hashem’s mitzvah of hachnossas orchim- welcoming guests. Avraham avinu welcomed in 3 people that appeared like idol worshippers and stopped speaking to Hashem! He wasn’t insulting them. He was doing chessed!

            • The problem with the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish world today as I see it (And I have been frum since 1991–18 years) is that the whole concept of “hachnassas orchim” has been dramatically altered since WWII, I think mostly due to the Hungarian survivors, who brought with them to America this concept that it is shameful to be a guest. I know for a fact in Boro Park, the only people who are invited as guests fit into the traditional “nebbach” category, baalei teshuva, gerim, divorcees, etc… and this is only so their neighbors will see them doing “chessed”, but the chessed never translates into a traditional friendship and the unsuspecting guest is given food, but without the warmth and cameraderie normally associated with hachnassas orchim. There is never any attempt to build a two-way friendship where the guest is made to feel an equal with his host. He is always put down and made to feel put down until he decides to stop going. It is also a power-trip for the host, so he can feel like a big baalebus serving the nebbach guest. If I had to make an educated guess, I would say that it is this breakdown in the mitzvah of hachnassas orchim that is causing yissurim for klal yisrael.

            • Not every host is for every guest and not every guest is for every host. It seems to me that you have been going to hosts who are well above your level and you should lower your expectations. Some people are really nebach, don’t have a decent job, have low IQ’s, don’t look good, don’t know how to dress (not fancy but even according to normal stardarts), etc. These people are going to be generally looked down by those who hold higher standards or are generally more normal (I am not talking about circumstance such as being divorced, baal teshuva, etc, as you can be pretty normal even under those instances).

              I recommend that you look for different hosts, who may be closer to your category, someone who feels he can buddy with you.

              I have hosted people before and some of them have clear mental problems – maybe part of the reason why they either never got married or got divorced. It is a nebach situation and they should be happy we are inviting. If you don’t like it, just decline the invitation, as you are not a match for each other either.

        • I would like to add more. We generally have great time with our shabbos guests and I believe they feel the same. We really feel that they do more for us than we do for them in that it’s such a pleasure for us to have them over. We talk about different topics, we sing together (males), we share divrei Torah and enjoy the company of other people. My kids always get very excited when we have guests over and our guests know that – they know their prescence is very well appreciated.

          At one point in my life I was in need of invitation and am truly thankful for all those who had me over. I never thought of myself of a nebach, but of a case in motion. I knew the day would come when I would have my own home and be able to invite others in.

          I have no doubt that besides the enjoyment we have with guests on shabbos, in shamayim we have great rewards for all the kindness we have given. Olam chessed ibane.

    5. “Rabbi Klatzko has been working on the front lines of kiruv and rabbonus for 21 years. As one of the initiators of kiruv on the West Coast”

      this is where i have a problem. all groups are entitiled and encourage to reach out to our fellow yidden…but GIVE CREDIT WERE CREDIT IS DUE! chabad has been on the west coast for over 6 decades! when chabad first went out we were mocked! how true is it what our holy rebba has said …first they will mock us, then they will copy us, and then they will take all the credit and say they started it first…puhleeeze!

      • Nobody says that Chabad doesn’t do kiruv. But let’s be honest, shall we? We all know that Chabad wants to be mekarev people to Chabad, not mainstream yiddishkeit!! They can deny it, play coy, rant, rave, and scream, but we all know the truth. I have heard it MANY MANY times from people with in the Chabad movement. That is why Chabad has an “us against them” mentality.

        It’s a pity. Kiruv is about bringing people closer to Hashem, not jut my Rebbe or your Rebbe. With all the resources that Chabad has, they will always be hostile towards the rest of the frum oilem (except if you are not religious, in which case they will welcome you with open arms, because they can still get this person for Chabad).

        Ahavas Yisroel RARELY extends itself from Chabad to other frum yidden (unless the person is modern and a possible cash-cow, in which case Chabad will move a “sheliach” to the boondocks, set up shop, and slowly but surely milk this cash cow). And that is why we need and want mainstream kiruv. And that’s reality folks. Let them deny and act self righteous, but we are not and were never fooled.

    6. This is such ridiculous banter. I live in Lakewood in a very frum community, we invite families over all the time for Shabbos, and we have gone out to them as well. The only real issue, is the sensitivity of having couples eat together too often, which could lead to issues. So many people steer clear from inviting other couples due to that. Some people might feel like guests takes away their focus on their own familiy, and thereby limit the amount of times they have guests.

      • That is because you have your priorities correct. People from out of town beleive Kiruv is one and everything else is secondary. I have met many people who believe Kiruv comes before family. They put a significant amount of effort and energy into kiruv and have little left for their families. Their communities? Forget about it, unless it is a kiruv community. You are fortunate to live in a place where people have their priorities straight.


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