At Passover, OU Urges Congregants of Its Synagogues to ‘Reach Out, Change Lives’

14 Mar 2007


As part of its rapidly developing “Reaching Out, Changing Lives” kiruv (outreach) initiative, the Orthodox Union today called on members of OU synagogues across North America to invite Jewish neighbors, business associates and colleagues who may be unaffiliated or marginally affiliated, to participate in their family seder.

In addition, the OU is asking its synagogues to inform them if they are holding public sedarim on Monday, April 2 and Tuesday, April 3, for listing on the OU website,

“It is well-known,” declared OU President Stephen J. Savitsky, “that Passover, with its universal theme of freedom, is the most observed Jewish holiday – even by those who may not even fast on Yom Kippur or light Chanukah candles. But for many, their observance may be only marginally related to the traditional seder. What we are encouraging our synagogues to do is to urge their congregants to invite people who may never have experienced a traditional seder to join with them and to share the exodus from Egypt through discussion and song. Just as we open our doors to Eliyahu the Prophet at the seder, we must open our doors – and our hearts — to our neighbors, to invite them in, and share with them the experience of Passover.”

According to Frank Buchweitz, OU Director of Community Relations and Special Projects, this “‘Outreach Passover Sedarim’ initiative is extremely important in sensitizing Jewry to address the declining Jewish population, to respond to assimilation and intermarriage, and to preserve our Jewish future.” He recently conducted a “how to” hands-on kiruv seminar for synagogue leaders in Atlanta, which was based on a similar session he presented to representatives of OU shuls from all over North America at the OU National Convention in Israel at Thanksgiving. The next seminar is planned for Fairfield, CT after Passover.

At Purim, the OU presented an outreach program in which synagogue members were called on to send Mishloach Manot gift packages to people with little or no familiarity with the holiday, along with a card prepared by the OU which explained the various aspects of Purim observance, including the significance of the packages.

In addition, in response to a call by the OU for kiruv proposals from its synagogues, a committee of OU leaders is now determining which one of the numerous submitted plans will be awarded a $20,000 grant to fund the proposed program. The decision will be announced at the end of March.

For more information on the OU’s outreach initiative, contact Frank Buchweitz at 212-613-8188 or