Two young Chabad-Lubavitcher rabbis will visit Tallahassee from June 23 to July 13 as part of their outreach summer training. They will be equipped with books, programming ideas, and upbeat Jewish cheer to bolster Jewish pride and enhance Jewish education.
The couple, Rabbis Gopin and Melik, will carry suitcases of videos, brochures, books, Shabbat candles, mezuzahs (a religious scroll placed on the doors) and kosher food, and will work closely with Chabad de Tallahassee and FSU.
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Rabbis regularly give classes, including one on Kabbalah, and organize Shabbat dinners in the towns they visit. Gopin and Melik will contact unaffiliated Jews to help them rediscover their heritage and will spend much of their time making house-to-house visitation.
Rabbis Gopin and Melik are part of a global program sometimes referred to as the “Lubavitch Summer Peace Corps,” in which some 250 young rabbis and senior rabbinical students visit thousands of places around the world, including countries like Bolivia, Cambodia, Fiji, Ireland, Portugal, and Sri Lanka.
The program was designed and developed by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, over 50 years ago and has been tasked with supporting Jewish communities and individuals around the world.
Over the years and places gone by, the welcome has always been warm. “Especially in my small community, where there is no rabbi to run Jewish things, it is incredibly important to people that Lubavitcher emissaries come here,” said Nissan Anavian, the community organizer at Kobe, Japan. “They bring light to people sometimes completely in the dark.”
But they don’t necessarily travel abroad. They also visit places closer to their base in New York such as Montana and Wyoming. While the communities they help don’t necessarily lack iPods or microwaves, many lack Jewish activities – both social and religious.
Chosen for their rabbinical and interpersonal skills, a duo travel to each location to meet with Jewish community leaders and educators as well as individuals.
“The most meaningful moment for me is the one I spent in personal and one-on-one conversations with families and individuals,” said Rabbi Gopin. “Many people contact us asking for advice on how to maintain or strengthen their Jewish identity, as the infrastructure is small.”
In Stockholm, where emissaries used to go in the past, that was certainly true. Adam Rafman, outgoing president of religious affairs for his community, said that “young people are more interested in Jewish life and all that is Jewish because of the hard work of the students. Then they go home, but leave behind a fire that will burn for a long time. “
Merkos Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitcher movement, sponsors the awareness program. To reach Rabbis Gopin and Melik, please email them at [email protected] or call 850-523-9194.
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