19 Nov Q&A With Dr. Yosi Fishkin, Founder of goDaven.com
Year goDAVEN.com started: 2001
Founder of GoDAVEN.com: Dr. Yosi Fishkin
People working on the site on a regular basis: Two spending significant time, and a team of about 5 people working on it part-time
Number of minyanim currently on the site: Over 6,300 minyan locations are currently listed. Most locations have multiple minyanim meeting there throughout the week.
Number of countries goDAVEN. com services: Over 70 countries
Current hits per day: Each day = 14,000-17,000 hits, coming from 2,000-3,000 individual
What is goDAVEN.com?
goDAVEN.com is the worldwide Orthodox minyan database. A major goal is to provide davening times and minyan information for all the minyanim in the world.
How have you revamped your web site recently? How have you made it better? Over the past year, we’ve revamped the entire website, both the front end as well as the back end. On the front end we’ve improved the user experience of the website, making it much easier for people to find minyanim. The interface was enhanced and modernized to work on mobile as well as desktop. Advanced search filters were added enabling people to search for specific minyanim by location, time, nusach, and other criteria. A new “Next Minyan Near Me” feature was added to enable people to quickly and easily find the next minyan in their own geographic area. On the backend, the minyan database was revamped and modernized to increase the speed and responsiveness of the website. This will allow for many future features. We’ve made new efforts to reach out to minyanim for updated minyan times to increase the accuracy of the database.
What’s the goal of your site? The goal is to track all the minyan information at all davening locations around the world, and present that information in real-time to Jews who are looking for a place to daven.
How did you come up with the idea? I lived in Far Rockaway during my ophthalmology residency, a very intense eye surgery training program at New York University. There were an abundance of minyan options, and I used my PalmPilot to keep track of the times at each location. After a while, I had a nice organized list of all the davening times in Far Rockaway. The internet was growing in popularity then, and I thought a website would be a good way to share the information I’d accumulated. Then I realized, why limit the site to Far Rockaway if it could include all New York minyanim? Why limit it to New York if it could include the whole country? Why limit it to the US if it could include all the minyanim in the world? Chabad websites had Chabad minyanim, the Agudah had a mincha minyan database, and there were a few other localized lists, but there was no one site with all Orthodox minyanim, so I decided to create one.
How many minyanim do you currently have on your site? Over 6,300 minyan locations are currently listed. Most locations have multiple minyanim meeting there throughout the week..
How do you get all the minyan places & times that you list on your site? I am very reliant on the thousands of volunteers around the world who take the time to submit information about new minyanim, as well as updates for existing minyanim. My dream is that every minyan in the world will have at least one person who takes it upon themselves to update goDAVEN with their latest davening times. We are constantly looking for more people to do this. If every person reading this would take the time to look up the information about their own minyan on goDAVEN and submit any updated information, the world would greatly benefit from increased minyan attendance.
Can one find on your site, where & at what time the closest daf yomi shiur is? goDAVEN has built up a daf yomi shiur database over time, and various Jewish apps use that information. We are currently developing an improved way for users to be able to access that information.
Is this a for-profit or non-profit endeavor? goDAVEN is a 501(c) (3) non-profit. It is purely a public service dedicated to help people find minyanim.
I notice that you have a few big name corporate sponsors i.e. Artscroll,Kedem, Cross River, The Ira Group etc. What do you do with the money they give you? It costs a significant amount of money to have a team of programmers develop and make constant improvements to the site, based on user feedback. Additionally, the funds enable hiring staff whose job it is to respond to all the minyan update feedback received from users around the world and manually update the database. Our staff also reaches out to minyanim to verify and update the information about davening times.
I am extremely indebted to Ira Zlotowitz who provided financial and organizational support which allowed goDAVEN to grow significantly over the past two years.
How would someone become a sponsor of the site? We are always in need of additional sponsors, and all of the funds go directly towards increasing minyan attendance worldwide. Contact us at support@goDAVEN.com to find out more.
What do you do when you are not working on goDAVEN.com? I’m an ophthalmologist with a private practice in Emerson, New Jersey. I see patients of all ages in my office, and spend my time performing eye exams and eye surgery.
If someones shul is not listed on goDAVEN.com, what should they do? Click on the words that say “Add a minyan” in the menu found at the bottom of any page at goDAVEN.com
How accurate would you say are the davening times on your site? How often do you find people saying that they went to a shul because they saw a time for a particular davening on your site & they get there to find out that there is no minyan at that time? I’m pleased that the davening times are quite accurate, and it reflects the immense efforts our team goes through to ensure all the information is accurate. Still, with all the shuls around the world updating their minyan times on a regular basis, some minyanim don’t contact us each time there’s a change to inform us, and it does happen, from time to time, that there is information on the website that may be out of date. Every minyan lists the date it was last updated to give people an idea as to how current the information is for each location. Still, I always like to warn people that whenever attending a new minyan for the first time, it’s always a good time to contact the minyan in advance to verify the information. goDAVEN should be used a resource, but it’s always a good idea to verify the information prior to showing up for the first time.
What would you say is the most challenging part about maintaining the site? The biggest challenge is keeping all the information updated. Every day, new minyanim are forming and davening times at existing minyanim are changing. Our staff tries, to the best of our ability, to contact minyanim on a regular basis to obtain updated information, but it’s only thanks to the information provided by thousands of users around the world that enables us to keep goDAVEN as up to date as possible.
Any crazy stories that you can share with Jewish Vues readers about how people have benefited from using your site? I love the feedback email the site generates. I’m inspired by the people who proudly tell me they didn’t miss a single minyan during their year of aveilus by using the site. I enjoy hearing people saying they base their vacation plans around the information they glean from goDAVEN.
Is there anything else that we did not discuss that you would like to tell Jewish Vues readers about goDAVEN.com? If every person reading this would go onto goDAVEN.com and check the information about their own personal shul to verify the information, and provide updated information, that would help further our goal of increasing minyan attendance worldwide!