The Federation’s ShailaText facility was set up in June 2015 as a service for the entire kehillah.
ShailaText is dedicated in memory of Dayan Gershon Lopian zt”l, a long-serving Rov of the Edgware Yeshurun and a Dayan of the Federation, who made himself available to answer shailos day and night and warmly encouraged the whole community to ask questions.
The ShailaText service was never intended to take the place of someone having their own Rov, someone who knows and understands them and with whom they have an ongoing relationship. However, for people who for whatever reason have not yet managed to establish such a figure in their lives, or who are not able to reach their own Rov, it’s crucial that other avenues exist for them to find answers to their shailos.
In its first year, ShailaText was been contacted by over 1200 individuals, and answered nearly 7000 questions on a variety of topics, ranging from kashrus to hilchos Shabbos and yom tov and Taharas Hamishpocha.
ShailaText guarantees to respond to shailos within four working hours. When an SMS is sent to the ShailaText number, it is received by an administrator who ascertains the general topic of the question. Certain shailos are immediately directed to the correct department in the Federation, for example a query on the kashrus of a particular product will go to the Kashrus Department, and a more intricate shaila in Choshen Mishpot would be forwarded to the Beis Din (although as a general rule, such shailos are beyond the scope of the service to respond to in their complexity).
The majority of questions received by the service, however, are forwarded to a team of Rabbonim with many years of combined experience and wide expertise in different halachic areas. The ShailaText Rabbonim receive the shailos via an interactive mobile platform; they discuss the shaila amongst themselves and provide a response, with validation via a general consensus. The final answer is then sent back to the administrator and passed on to the original sho’el.
This process ensures anonymity every step of the way – no information other than the mobile phone number of the questioner, and any other details they choose to reveal, are seen by the administrator, and the Rabbonim themselves do not even see the number. Many highly sensitive shailos have been processed by the team, some of which may never have been asked had confidentiality and anonymity not been assured in this manner. From time to time situations may arise where further discussion is need – in these cases the sho’el is provided with the phone number of a ShailaText Rov and invited to contact them at their convenience – or if preferred, and with permission, their number is passed on for the Rov to contact them. ShailaText will also encourage the questioner to contact the appropriate organisation to receive further help and support where needed, particularly in situations where their mental health or shalom bayis is in apparent jeopardy.
Finally, where the shailos received by the service are very complicated with far-reaching ramifications, the ShailaText team is fortunate to have the full backing of the Federation Beis Din – they meet regularly with Dayan Lichtenstein, Rosh Beis Din, and refer shailos to him whenever necessary.
To submit a shaila via the website click here
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