Never Alone Again

February 15, 2024

The A-Friend Network of Volunteers Has Your Back

Rabbi Eliezer Cohen

Aviva exited the arrivals hall and looked around for a compassionate Jewish face; perhaps she could get a ride instead of spending even more money on a taxi.

It had been a heartbreaking few months, and her head was spinning. Her beloved daughter was in a facility far from home for therapy. Improvement was slow, and nobody really knew what the next day would bring. It was the proverbial emotional roller coaster and an enormous financial strain, even after insurance, and she and her husband had a large family to take care of besides.

The Uber would cost $80, and she had taken her last $200 cash along to pay for her daughter’s expenses, so a ride would be a lot better. As for hospitality, there was a large local Jewish community, and someone had given her the number of a family that had guest accommodations, but if it wasn’t free, she hoped to find a budget hotel room, although staying there over Shabbos would be uncomfortable.

But no ride was forthcoming. “I’m sorry, but our car is full,” was one person’s reply when she asked. The next person said the same. And the third. Oh, but they did offer her a bag of cookies.

So she took an Uber and spent the $80 she didn’t have. And after visiting her daughter, she tried the hospitality number, but although it was Jewish and hospitable, it was an Airbnb that cost would “only” $500 per night. She fought back tears, as she had done so many times before, and took a room at Motel 6.

How ironic, she thought as she got ready for bed that night. In a city full of frum Jews, a mother of a large Jewish family should have to go to sleep like a beggar in a smoked-up motel room, which would better befit truckers and laborers… I’m sure that if people were aware of my situation, there would be an outpouring of help.

This true story happened not long ago. Similar stories happen often, to many people, in many ways; perhaps you’ve had your own experience trying to manage in an unfamiliar setting.

And there really is no reason this should happen to a Yiddishe mamme or any other frum Yid ever again.

Which is why the A-Friend Network was born.

One nation, many friends

As the name implies, A-Friend is a network of volunteers in each community who offer to serve as a “friend” to visitors or newcomers who have nobody to ask for help. Without the preambles and introductions, the “friend” answers the phone like an old friend, providing advice and information in a candid, helpful way.

People suffer so much already, and the least we can do is direct them to services available. And it doesn’t have to be as dramatic as Aviva’s story. Often, people who find themselves in unfamiliar cities can use help finding kosher shopping, information about the eiruv, a midday Minchah, the best local pizza shop, or a place to take the kids. Even if they are staying at the home of a local resident, they may not want to trouble their host with trivialities. Instead of reinventing the wheel, they can simply call a knowledgeable “friend.”

No, you have not heard of them yet, because the A-Friend Network is being launched with this article that you are reading.

At this time, A-Friend seeks like-minded founders to help create the A-Friend Network concept as well as volunteer “friends” in all cities who would be willing to offer information and advice to visitors who are unfamiliar with the local demographics, physical and/or spiritual.

A-Friend would maintain a database of these friendly Yidden in each Jewish community around the world. Volunteer “friends” have no obligation and can choose how they would like to be contacted; they can also opt out of the network at any time. The operating guidelines will be set and overseen by gedolei Yisrael on a constant basis.

“Friends” can also offer help, each person according to what they sign up for. This can include providing resourceful information about kosher shopping and venues or engaging in more complex tasks, such as arranging rides and hosts for a night or weekend.

Further down the road, A-Friend will im yirtzeh Hashem provide contact information of volunteers who are available to coach on high-level issues, dubbed “Journey-Friends.” These are volunteers who lo aleinu have been through a journey of a medical nature, such as a sickness or tragedy in the family, amassing much practical knowledge. They want to make it easier for others to navigate and cope with a similar challenge and are willing to share their knowledge with others to make their journey a little smoother. The benefits of such friendship cannot be overstated, as anyone who has been through such a crisis can attest. As a “friend,” they will share their experience dealing with the day-to-day emotions, the resources available, what worked and what didn’t, and so much more—so that no struggling Yid ever feels alone again.

Circle of friends

Here is a chance to be the “friend” you always wanted to have. If you’d like to extend your hand in friendship to someone who needs it, join this new and incredible kiddush Hashem by emailing A-Friend a short message of what you can offer, and easily make a difference in another person’s life. You can also help grow the global circle of “friends” by passing this article around.

Additionally, if you are creative and idealistic or are established in the field of marketing and design, your input to help get this off the ground can be invaluable. Friends bring friends—and marketing makes it happen.

A-Friend also seeks to build a base of financial stability by creating a group of founding members, enabling this project to achieve its full potential.

Of course, no organization can solve of all the world’s problems, or even half of them. But this initiative is sure to greatly improve our achdus as a nation, which is something not to be taken lightly. Most importantly, people like Aviva will have been touched by the warmth of another community that cares.

Because life is so much easier when shared with A-Friend.

The A-Friend Network can be reached at