Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
News

This Phone Number Lets You Talk to Random Jews Around the World

A new phone number connects callers with Jews living all over the world — whether they are looking for kosher restaurant recommendations, local synagogues or just a chat.

Those calling “The Jewish Number,” or +1-323-310-0622 to be exact, can choose to get a “Jewsome answer” from someone in one of 22 registered cities around the world.

Though the current group of registered Jews skew male and Orthodox, there are no requirements to register to answer the phone other than being a member of the tribe and over the age of 18, said founder Shlomo Zirdok, who launched the service on July 18.

Interested Jews apply on the website and supply contact information and the name of a rabbi to confirm their religion.

Shlomo Zirdok, founder of “The Jewish Number” Image by Shlomo Zirdok

“You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be a Jew,” he told the Forward. “I want as many Jews as possible to unite and be a daily service that people can use for anything.”

Both Jews and non-Jews are welcome to call the number, Zirdok added.

The inspiration for the idea came from two sources: a similar number launched by the Swedish Tourist Association in April, which connects callers with random Swedes, and a phone call with a relative facing a religious conundrum.

Zirdok’s sister-in-law, who lives in Mexico City, was partaking in a Jewish custom where each member of a group reads a particular psalm to pray for the healing of a sick person.

The problem: she didn’t realize she had forgotten to read her section until after sunset, when it was too late. So she called Zirdok so he could read it for her, since the sun had not set in Los Angeles, where he lives.

“That made me think that Jews always need somebody else in another country,” he said.

Elhanan Ben-Hamu of Mexico City has received approximately six phone calls through the number since signing up a few weeks ago. About half of the callers were planning to travel to Mexico and wanted to know about local kosher restaurants, and the other half were simply curious to see who would pick up the phone, he said.

Ben-Hamu was motivated to sign up to answer the phone because he wants to help fellow Jews.

“It’s one way to contribute to helping Jews all over the world, with no investment. You just need to spend a few minutes a day,” he said.

Though Ben-Hamu identifies as Orthodox, he said he would provide information to callers asking about non-Orthodox synagogues or non-kosher restaurants.

“We’re answering to help people with their needs. It’s not for people to share their personal religious opinions and try to convince other people — that’s not the goal,” he said.

So far, 24 calls have been registered through the service, Zirdok said.

Contact Josefin Dolsten at [email protected] or on Twitter, @JosefinDolsten

A message from our editor-in-chief Jodi Rudoren

We're building on 127 years of independent journalism to help you develop deeper connections to what it means to be Jewish today.

With so much at stake for the Jewish people right now — war, rising antisemitism, a high-stakes U.S. presidential election — American Jews depend on the Forward's perspective, integrity and courage.

—  Jodi Rudoren, Editor-in-Chief 

Join our mission to tell the Jewish story fully and fairly.

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.