Roving rabbis can trek thousands of miles to visit one Jew in an isolated village in the mountains of Asia, or they can be stationed close to home, in a city with multitudes of Jews and a vibrant Jewish infrastructure. Though the circumstances vary greatly, we have a singular mission: bringing the light of Judaism to those we come in contact with, and encouraging them to utilize the power of a mitzvah to make this world a better place.
My friend and I fit squarely in the latter category--we are spending our summer in Miami, Florida. We’ve met many Jews in their homes and offices, as well as on the street, offering them all an authentic Jewish experience.
Just yesterday we drove by a large furniture store and decided to inquire within if there were any Jewish employees. There were not. We continued on to another store, spent several moments there, and then passed the furniture store again on our way back to the car. One of the employees, Mike, was outside on his lunch break, and since he had been on the phone earlier we figured we would try our luck.
“Hi sir, are you Jewish by any chance?”
“Oh, my mom is. But I grew up in Mississippi and I never really learned what being a Jew is about.”
Pressed for time, we gave him a quick overview. “You know, Mike,” we added, “Judaism places a large emphasis on action. Every mitzvah we do binds us to G‑d. Did you ever have the opportunity to put on tefillin?”
“No, we really weren’t Jewish. I never even had a bar mitzvah.”
“Well, how about we do it right now? How does a lunch-break bar mitzvah sound?”
“Great, let’s do it!” He was as enthusiastic as we were.
We helped him put on the tefillin, said the accompanying blessings together word by word, and snapped some pictures. Mike was very moved and we promised him that this was only the beginning--we would see him again and help him delve deeper into his heritage.
A few hours later, we received the following email:
Dear Daniel and Mendel,
I just wanted to thank you both so very much for giving me the bar mitzvah I have dreamed about one day having. It was such a moving experience and I feel truly blessed to have been extended the kindness you both offered me today. My mother loved the photo and became teary when I shared it with her and my experience earlier today.
I can't begin to thank you both enough.