A large group of Shluchim gathered last week for an…
In just one week, Shluchim grew the number of shared files on ShluchimExchange.com’s Purim database by more than 200% as part of a massive Purim upload campaign.
ShluchimExchange.com and Shluchos.com are the sister sites where Shluchim and Shluchos upload files such as fliers, brochures and lectures for other Shluchim to use. “Why should a Shliach in Texas have to remake the very same program his colleague just made in Ohio?” asks Rabbi Simcha Backman, Director of the Shluchim Exchange.
The Exchange began back in 2001 when Rabbi Meir Geisinsky, currently the youth director at Chabad of the Five Towns, spent many hours creating a game called “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” for his youth program. The next day he discovered that Rabbi Zalman Marcus of Chabad of Mission Viejo had created the very same game.
“I thought to myself, ‘this has to stop,’ and set about creating an email group whereby youth directors could share ideas and not have to recreate the same projects,” says Geisinsky. The group was called “Rebbe Youth” and had just a handful of youth directors.
Eventually, other types of questions were being asked, and many more Shluchim joined the group. “Simcha really took it to the next level,” he says of Backman. “The group was renamed ‘Shluchim Achdus’ and soon thousands of Shluchim were discussing hundreds of topics.”
While Achdus remains the busiest of the exchange’s forums with several thousand posts per month, there are now more than 150 different forums, ranging from project related groups such as Hebrew Schools, to regional groups. This is integrated with Shluchos.com, another unity based project that allows Shluchos to communicate, share and network together, and discuss issues uniquely related to their mission.
Under the auspices of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the exchange has blossomed. Operations Manager Rabbi Mendy Margolin, situated in Merkos Suite 302, offers Shluchim full time technical assistance, ensuring they receive the most of the service.
“In the past six years alone, tens of thousands of files have been uploaded, in 15 different languages,” says Margolin. “Hundreds of thousands of posts have been sent through our email forums.” His statistics are a strong testament to the essential role the exchange fills in the life of a Shliach.
“The success of the exchange is its unity,” says Kotlarsky. “On his own, each Shliach is obviously immensely capable. Share with him the knowledge and talents of thousands of other Shluchim worldwide and he becomes an unstoppable force.”
A vast majority of Shluchim and Shluchos are daily users of at least one of The Shluchim Exchange services. Whether it is asking for vegan recipes, discussing complex Halachic issues, or brainstorming a preschool paint activity, every Shliach has something to gain from the exchange.
“We’re constantly adding features to the site,” says Backman. “On certain Yimei Depagra, Shluchim are able to digitally sign a Pa”n Kloli which is then brought to the Ohel. Our last Pa”n had close to 1,000 signatures.”
A recent initiative launched at the Kinus Hashluchos pairs Shluchos together to call each other on a regular basis, providing an understanding ear, support and encouragement. “Our system helps strengthen the consistency vital to the relationship, through text and email reminders,” adds Backman.
What began as a tiny email forum has grown into a mammoth undertaking that constantly evolves with the latest technological advances. Geisinsky, still active as the moderator of the Achdus forum, speaks glowingly of how Merkos and Backman have elevated the Exchange. “I wanted Shluchim to communicate and assist each other, but I never dreamed it would grow to this level.”
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