Friday, our first real day on our assignment, we were on Main Street in Walnut Creek, going through stores and navigating through tables in search of our Jewish brethren.

As we entered a food court, we noticed two students with their laptops enjoying the weather at one of the tables. We approached them and inquired if they were Jewish. One of them—we will call him Raz—replied, “Yes, I am. Do you speak Hebrew?”

We continued to chat with him and eventually wrapped tefillin on him. Raz said he was born in Israel and came to America at the young age of seven. He has never had a bar mitzvah, so this was his first time doing this special mitzvah. As a direct response, we started singing the familiar tune often sung at Jewish celebrations, “Siman Tov U-Mazal Tov.” And the all the people in the food court came to congratulate Raz and wish him well. As Raz put it smilingly, “Now that was cool. Who has ever had a bar mitzvah on the street? My mom just left ten minutes ago. She would have enjoyed seeing this. I will update that on my Facebook.”

We then continued to Pleasanton for Shabbat, where we replaced the irreplaceable Rabbi Raleigh and Fruma Resnick.

The service on Shabbat morning was great, and the community was warm and welcoming.

After the services, all sat down for a kiddush meal. We joined together in song, and shared Torah thoughts and stories. We hung out together until about five.

As the people were leaving, Dave, one of the regulars at Chabad, said “Rabbis, you passed. You now can open your own branch!” We all had a good laugh.

Sunday morning we moved on to Antioch, with Jewish calendars and other goodies in hand.

We rang the bell of a home on our list. The door was opened and we were welcomed in. Mark invited us to have a seat, and we began to discuss all kinds of topics, including Jewish life and growth in Antioch.

As we were about to leave, we asked Mark if he has ever put on tefillin before. He replied, “No, but I have a pair here.” Mark went to his bedroom and came back with his very own pair of tefillin. “I have never put these on. My grandmother bought them for my bar mitzvah. I now am 62, so do the math . . .”

We opened the bag, and the tefillin were in great condition. With our assistance Mark put on the tefillin, recited the Shema, and even practiced putting them on himself.

At the door Mark commented, “It shouldn’t have taken so long for you guys to come and finally teach me how to put on tefillin. I am sure my grandma is smiling from above. Thank you so much for coming.”