At 7 a.m. Eastern Time, seven days a week, amidst the static and crackle of the shortwave radio bands, dedicated Jewish amateur “ham” radio operators across the U.S. switch on their equipment. Dials light up, knobs are spun, meter readings are checked, antennas are aimed and the Mishpacha (Hebrew for “family”) Network is on the air on the 20-meter amateur radio band at a frequency of 14.326 megahertz.
Two radio pioneers, Julius Rosen, call sign AJ1W, and the late Myer Delnick, KZ4ML, founded the Mishpacha Network decades ago. In its earliest years, the network offered Jewish ham radio enthusiasts a forum for conversing in Yiddish. Then, some 40 or 50 ham-radio operators (called “hams”) from around the world would check in to the network each morning.
Over the years, the Mishpacha Network (most old-timers still use the Yiddish pronunciation “mishpoocha”) has evolved into English-only chatter. The network is an interesting mixture of old friends and newcomers. While many have socialized with each other “up close and personally,” others’ decades-long relationships are only through voices.
During the hour that the network operates, operators kibitz a little, share brief weather reports from around the country, and wish each other a good day. Fridays usually see the most check-ins, with operators taking the opportunity to wish each other “Shabbat Shalom.”
The daily Mishpacha Network is cochaired by two Florida hams, Mort Schwartz, N4ETT and Mel Peskin, WA1UDI. They keep the conversation flowing in an orderly fashion while giving all operators a chance to add their two shekels.
All appropriately licensed metropolitan area ham radio operators, Jewish or not, are welcome to check in, give a weather report, and generally have a little schmooze.
There are also nets on other frequencies and the internet. Chaverim International has chapters throughout the U.S. and Canada and is in touch with amateurs in Israel and around the world. The local chapter of the Chaverim International meets usually at a restaurant in Brooklyn every three months and has a weekly net on the 2 meter band. For further information on the Meyer Dolnick Mishpacha net, Chaverim International, and becoming an amateur radio operator, please contact Robert “Bob” Schoenfeld WA2AQQ, 1989 North Jerusalem Road in East Meadow, or call 516-483-2666. v