Whenever I meet a baal teshuva, I always ask them how they became interested, but instead of being a normal dude, I ask them at what point they drank the Kool-Aid (in reference to them joining the cult of orthodoxy) and who indoctrinated them. I sure as hell love being frum, but if I didn’t grow up frum I could never imagine wanting to join up, just like I could never imagine leaving the cult since I am a full fledged member of it now and have been brainwashed by years of mussar and olam habah indoctrinations.
To 10 kiruv indoctrination practices:
Shabbos Meal: The most widely used kiruv practice is to invite over some unsuspecting guests for a Friday night meal. To us regular folks it’s really nothing special to sit down with some random family and break bread with them but to many folks it is. Many folks don’t get to eat with a diverse group of people, sing songs, do weird rituals that always seem so cool and spiritual and get to see kids. Most people have one or two kids, rarely do they get the full on experience of a Shabbos meal. Kiruv rabbis find wives that can cook. If they couldn’t cook it would scare away potential customers.
Gematria: It isn’t only a Chabad thing anymore and the more kiruv rabbis use this, the more I get pissed off. I just hate gematria, it’s always far fetched and I feel like it’s only a good practice for those gung ho brand new brainwashees that can’t get enough of this stuff.
Motivational speakers: Kiruv organizations always seem to have someone who led a really cool life before they became frum that speaks at their events. So you have these Gurus, Buddhists, Motorcycle folks and other strange people that threw away their cool lives to become frum. I usually notice that they don’t retain the coolness, just the memories of being cool.
Frum Theologians or Scientists: Kiruv organizations love the frum intellectual. If they could put someone who taught at Harvard and then became frum and learned in kollel on their dinner events they are set.
Former Ministers: I have seen Asher Wade speak and he is good, almost good enough to make you want to become frum. I am sure there are ministers and priests that have become frum Jews who get paid by kiruv organizations to motivate people to drop their churches and get Aished.
Beginner’s Minyanim: I still don’t know how they find these people, but if you show up to a beginner’s service they always seem to be packed. They also always seem to be led by a former modern orthodox Israel activist that learned in the Mir.
Pay you: I never thought the day would come when I could get paid to attend services or come to a class, but on college campuses this is starting to become the norm for non-Chabad Rabbis to do. They tell you that if you come to class every week they will give you $500 or a “free” scuba diving trip (another chance for kiruv indoctrination) I have also heard of rabbis paying people to attend services, or put on tefillin every day.
Free trips: Even birthright has its motives, mostly to get you to marry Jewish even though the folks who pour money into it are apparently atheists. I guess it’s a cultural thing – this whole marrying Jewish concept. Chabad has loads of trips for students to learn and do cool stuff, while slowly sipping the Kool-Aid. BT yeshivas do these deals to get to Israel and there the indoctrination begins.
Books written by famous people who became frum: There are dozens of books out there written by once famous people who threw it all away to become frum. These people are also motivational speakers. The frum community has a secret love affair with ex-movie stars and ex-Christians who became frum.
The Internet: Try typing something Jewish into any seaerch engine and much of the time two sites will pop up. Aish or Chabad. Both super expensive websites that are designed to catch you on the search engine and drag you into the world of online kiruv. Even this here website has been mekarev people, though I have no idea why they would be turned onto yiddishkeit by my writing. There are so many people who become interested in Judaism or orthodoxy because of their Internet searches. Don’t forget the thousands of Blogs just like this one devoted to any aspect of Judaism you can find.
Other lesser things that didn’t make the list:
Girls – I heard that Aish sometimes sends some hot girls to try and get guys in the Rova to come to their classes
Music- Matisyahu has definitely made a lot of people feel proud to be Jewish and more curious about orthodoxy
Ask the rabbi
Kaballah – when Chabad wants to market chassidus, they just call it Kaballah or mysticism
Jewish arts events like Limmud