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An Impromptu Bar Mitzvah in a Camera Shop

An Impromptu Bar Mitzvah in a Camera Shop


No, we weren’t in the market for a new camera, although we have to admit we may have noticed some pretty newfangled models.

We were in Marina del Rey, a seaside Los Angeles neighborhood, to assist the local Chabad Rabbi, Rabbi Danny Yiftach.

During out stay we visited hundreds of homes and businesses, finding and connecting with Jews who are generally not yet involved in the local Jewish community. After the first meeting we often met up more times, to bring a warm challah on Friday afternoon, or just to enjoy the warm camaraderie.

Back to the camera shop. We walked in, and made our rounds amongst the staff asking them if they were Jewish. The unanimous response was a polite no. As we were about to leave, we noticed a man perusing the cameras.

“Hello sir, are you Jewish?”

“Well, not really,” Long pause. “I mean, my mother is Jewish but I myself am not.”

“Of course you’re Jewish!” we replied. It had been a slow day, so we made a feeble attempt to tone down our enthusiasm. “If your mother is Jewish, then so are you according to Jewish law.”

Further discussion revealed that this gentleman had never had the opportunity to have a bar mitzvah. When we asked if him if he wanted to put on tefillin, he quickly agreed, and thus he celebrated his bar mitzvah in the aisles of the camera shop.

He appeared visibly moved when we were done wrapping the tefillin on his arms and head. We planted a yarmulka on his hair and helped him say the blessings word for word, and then showered him with the customary mazal tovs before removing the tefillin and packing them away.

Typically, that is when we would ask the person if they wanted to stay in touch, but our new friend beat us to it. We exchanged contact information and warm hugs. He lives a few miles from Chabad of Marina del Rey and G‑d willing it will soon become his home for Jewish life!

Mendel Groner & Yechiel Fayershteyn
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