Frequently Asked Questions About the NEXT Shabbat Program
NOTE: These FAQs are intended to quickly answer your questions about the NEXT Shabbat Program and may therefore lack the full explanations you will find in the NEXT Shabbat Rules. The NEXT Shabbat Rules and the corresponding NEXT Shabbat Agreement are the final authority on the administration of the NEXT Shabbat Program and these FAQs should not be read as replacing or super-ceding the NEXT Shabbat Rules or the NEXT Shabbat Agreement. Wherever there is a discrepancy between these FAQs and the NEXT Shabbat Rules or the NEXT Shabbat Agreement, the NEXT Shabbat Rules and the NEXT Shabbat Agreement will govern.
Q. What are the recent changes to the NEXT Shabbat program?
A. As of October 24, 2011, the following changes have been made to the rules:
1. The maximum number of meals a host can host is 6.
2. We will only provide payment for guests who are at least 18 years old.
3. Your meal must have a minimum of five (5) people (including the host) at your meal.
4. Meals may NOT be held in a location where another NEXT Shabbat is being hosted in the same weekend (e.g., if you have a roommate who hosted a NEXT Shabbat on Friday night, you cannot host a NEXT Shabbat in the same apartment on Saturday).
5. All NEXT Shabbat hosts must submit contact information for each guest for whom you wish to receive payment.
Q. Who is eligible to host a NEXT Shabbat meal?
A. Taglit-Birthright Israel trip alumni and former bus-staff (madrich or madricha) who are legal residents in the United States or Canada are eligible to host meals. Please see the NEXT Shabbat Rules for more detailed information on NEXT Shabbat host eligibility.
Q. How many NEXT Shabbat meals may I host?
A. You may host one (1) meal per calendar month, for up to a total of six (6) meals over the course of your participation in the NEXT Shabbat Program.
Q. Can I co-host a NEXT Shabbat meal?
A. NEXT Shabbat meals are intended to be small gatherings. Therefore, in an effort to maintain the vision of NEXT Shabbat as an intimate experience for the host and his/her guests, you may not co-host a NEXT Shabbat with other alumni (i.e., alumni may not individually register for meals and then combine their NEXT Shabbat funds).
Q. Do I need to do anything special at my meal?
A. Not really. This is Shabbat your way, so have fun with it. However, we do provide resources for you to use at your meal, if you so choose. Please also be sure to familiarize yourself with additional restrictions contained within the NEXT Shabbat Rules prior to registering to host a meal .
Q. Does my NEXT Shabbat meal need to be kosher?
A. We encourage you to have a kosher meal but it is not required. At the same time, please remember to be mindful of your guests' needs (vegan, kosher, allergies, etc.) and ask them in advance if they have any dietary requirements so you can plan the meal accordingly.
Q. I've never hosted a Shabbat meal before. How does it work?
A. We're excited to help you host your first Shabbat meal! Take a look at our recipes and hosting tips for some ideas, and check out our Shabbat Essentials for more information about the rituals and traditions of Shabbat. Also, if you’re a first-time NEXT Shabbat host, you will find a lot of helpful materials and information in the Shabbox we send you.
Q. What is a Shabbox?
A. The Shabbox is the lovingly-named resource guide that we have created to send to first-time NEXT Shabbat hosts. When you register your meal, you can opt for us to send you one in the mail. We provide a challah cover, candles, and information about Shabbat blessings so that you can give some of the ritual aspects of Shabbat a try.
Q. When will my Shabbox arrive?
A. Your Shabbox will arrive on Thursday or Friday before your meal. In the rare situation when your Shabbox does not arrive before your meal, do not panic and please know its on it's way! Your meal is still registered to happen and you may still host your meal. Please note NEXT Shabbat signs do NOT come in Shabboxes.
Q. I am a Taglit-Birthright Israel alum currently studying or living abroad (Israel, Spain, Italy, France, etc.). Does NEXT Shabbat cover meals in places outside North America?
A. NEXT Shabbat meals may only be held in the United States and Canada.
Q. Do all my guests need to be Taglit-Birthright Israel alumni?
A. No, but we encourage you to invite your Taglit-Birthright Israel friends to your meal.
Q. Do all my guests need to be Jewish?
A. No; we believe that inviting guests from different backgrounds can help inspire a lively discussion about Shabbat and Jewish life. We do encourage you to invite your Taglit-Birthright Israel friends, and your other Jewish friends, to your meal, although this is by no means a requirement.
Q. Do my guests have to be a certain age?
Q. Can my guests be my family members?
A. No, but we will only provide payment for guests who are at least 18 years old.
A. While we do not prohibit you from inviting family members to your NEXT Shabbat meal, the intention of the program is for you to create a community of your peers. Family members should comprise less than 25% of your guest list.
Q. How many guests can I invite?
A. You must host at least 5 (five) guests (excluding yourself), but you are allowed to invite as many as you like. Birthright Israel NEXT will only pay for up to 16 people, including you, the host.
Q. Can I host my NEXT Shabbat meal potluck-style?
A.Yes, potluck-style meals are now offered through the NEXT
Shabbat program as of February 7, 2013. Simply select the option during
the registration process and you will be reimbursed at the rate of
$8/per attendee to cover the costs of the main dish that you provide to your guests. All other regular NEXT Shabbat program guidelines apply to potluck-style meals.
Q. How do I invite guests to my meal?
A. You are welcome to invite guests any way you’d like! We do provide a link to Facebook so that your meal can automatically be posted to your Facebook wall. We also provide an "invite your friends" email template. Let us know if you would like to see other applications like this!
Q. How do my guests RSVP?
A. We understand the difficulty in getting people to commit in advance, so your guests are not required to RSVP prior to the meal. You can use any method you choose to keep track of which guests will attend your meal. NEXT Shabbat payment is based solely upon the number of people actually at your meal -- not those who say they’re going to come.
Q. Do I invite my own friends or does NEXT send me guests?
A. As the host, you create your own guest list. NEXT does not match guests to meals, and you will never be required to host anyone you don’t want to host.
Q. I need to cancel my NEXT Shabbat meal. Is there a penalty for cancelling?
A. No. If you need to cancel your meal, you can do so at any time by clicking here.
Q. I need to reschedule my NEXT Shabbat meal. How do I do that?
A. If you need to reschedule your meal, you can do so at any time by editing a meal. Please remember to reschedule your meal prior to hosting it on a date for which you are not registered. Failure to properly reschedule your meal may result in your being ineligible for payment.
Q. Why does NEXT ask for guests' emails? What will you do with the emails?
A. NEXT is committed to protecting the information it receives when you use this website. You, as a registrant for the NEXT Shabbat program, may periodically receive email from us about upcoming events and opportunities. Guests’ emails are also used as a tool for us to know who is attending your NEXT Shabbat meals and identify when those guests become NEXT Shabbat hosts.
Q. What if I prefer not to spend the full amount to which I am entitled?
A. Our donors want you to eat a great meal on Shabbat, so go all out! However, if you do not spend the full amount, there is an option in the payment application to request less money.
Q. What if I spent more for my NEXT Shabbat than the amount that I received from NEXT?
A. Because NEXT is a non-profit organization, your NEXT Shabbat may qualify as a "contribution" that you may be entitled to claim as a tax deduction. The deduction amount which you may be entitled to claim is the difference between your actual expenses incurred in putting your NEXT Shabbat together (including food and beverage costs), and the amount of reimbursement which you have received from NEXT, but only where your actual expenses exceed the amount of reimbursement. Please remember that the above information should not be considered tax advice and you should always consult an independent tax adviser concerning your specific tax situation.
Q. Do I need to save my receipts?
A. Yes, please save your receipts. While we do not require receipts to be submitted as part of your payment application, NEXT reserves the right to request and review your receipts before sending payment, and to pay based on those actual expenses. You will not be required to submit your receipts unless asked to do so.
Q. I never got my NEXT Shabbat sign! Do you mail it to me?
A. You will receive your NEXT Shabbat sign as an attachment to your registration confirmation e-mail as soon as you complete registration in your NEXT Shabbat Host Center. Your NEXT Shabbat sign will NOT come in your Shabbox. You can also download your sign from your Host Center at any time after your meal is registered.
Q. Do I have to print my NEXT Shabbat Sign or can I take a picture with it on my tablet/laptop?
A. If you cannot print out your NEXT Shabbat sign before your meal, signs displayed via tablets or laptops with the Shabbat sign clearly loaded across the entire screen are also allowed. Photos without NEXT Shabbat signs, with user-created (e.g. hand-drawn) NEXT Shabbat signs, or with NEXT Shabbat signs which have been digitally altered or added to the photo, will make the corresponding meal ineligible for payment.
Q. What are the requirements for my NEXT Shabbat photo besides having the NEXT Shabbat sign present?
A. Photos must include either all guests at your meal OR ample food preparations and place settings reflecting the number of attendees you are claiming payment for (e.g. 10 attendees, 10 place settings). Photos lacking such details will make the corresponding meal ineligible for payment.
Q. When will I receive my payment?
*During high volume periods, such as Passover, Rosh Hashanah and other holidays, payment may take longer than the typical six (6) weeks.
A. You can expect to receive a check in the mail within six (6) weeks from when you complete your payment application. A confirmation e-mail will be sent when you have successfully completed your payment process. If your confirmation e-mail does not arrive within a few hours of attempting to complete your payment process, please check your spam box, and if an e-mail has not arrived, log back in to verify that your payment process was correctly submitted.
Q. I registered to host but I can't access my meal online. What do I do?
A. Go to www.birthrightisrael.com/shabbat, click on “Register a Meal.” You can only access your meal if you are logged in with your username and password (see below for instructions).
Q. I don't remember my username/password. What do I do?
A. Click here to recover your username and password. If your email address changed since you went on the Taglit-Birthright Israel trip, create a new username and password here with your new email address. Your information will then be updated in the NEXT database.