Nic and Cat Trammell of Los Angeles just installed their very first mezuzah, as have hundreds of other young couples and singles due to an initiative of the Young Jewish Professionals of Los Angeles—a Chabad center for young adults—and has spread to more than a dozen other Chabad centers catering to young Jewish professionals from Miami to Montreal.

“Cat and I had had talked about getting a mezuzah for years,” says Nic, who grew up in Denver with little Jewish education, “and we even looked online, but we were not able to tell which ones were authentic.”

At a recent “Friday Night Unplugged”—an a cappella Shabbat service and celebration, sponsored by the Young Jewish Professionals of Los Angeles, which takes place the last Friday of every month—they heard Rabbi Mendel Simons announce that he would be installing a first mezuzah for anyone who did not have one for a token amount of $5.

After the Trammells, both in their early 30s, signed up online, the rabbi and his brother, Zalman Simons, visited their home.

“They found the right doorpost. We said the prayers and put up the mezuzah,” recalls Nic. “Rabbi Simons then asked me if I had ever put on tefillin before. I told them that I had not. He taught me how to do that, and I wore it then for the very first time. They saw my wife’s acoustic guitar, so the rabbi [who is also a musician] played a Jewish song, and we celebrated the milestone. It was a lot of fun and a great Jewish experience for us.”

The Trammell home was one of a dozen stops the Simons brothers made that day.

The drive got new impetus now that the mitzvah is also being dedicated for the welfare of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.
The drive got new impetus now that the mitzvah is also being dedicated for the welfare of soldiers in the Israel Defense Forces.

“We have been doing this since 2012 on a local level, installing around 100 mezuzahs every summer,” says Rabbi Mendel Simons, a native of Sydney who has led Young Jewish Professionals of Los Angeles with his wife, Rachael, since 2010. He has also since joined forces with Rabbi Moshe and Rivky Greenwald of Chabad of Downtown Los Angeles for many projects serving the city’s young Jews. “The mezuzahs are donated by some very generous friends, and we ask for $5 because we believe that the individual needs to invest something in the mitzvah—to take ownership of it, and feel like it’s his or her own, adding value and meaning.”

‘A Web of Protection’

This year, as Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza dominated the news for much of the summer, Rabbi Simons decided to take things to the next level. After arranging funding for 1,000 mezuzahs, he networked with Chabad rabbis catering to young professionals throughout North America. Now, mezuzahs are going up on doors all over the continent.

Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff of Houston, in the background, helps Brian Levinson affix his new mezuzah. (Photo Jillian Levinson)
Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff of Houston, in the background, helps Brian Levinson affix his new mezuzah. (Photo Jillian Levinson)

“Unity is our greatest strength,” the rabbi explains, “and through bringing so many communities together for a mitzvah, we feel we are creating a worldwide web of protection for our brothers and sisters in the Holy Land.”

Exactly 40 years earlier in the summer of 1974, the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—launched an ongoing campaign to ensure that all Jewish homes were fully outfitted with kosher mezuzahs. At the time, the Rebbe quoted Torah verses and rabbinic teachings explaining how the mezuzah protects the inhabitants of the home, as well as the Jewish nation as a whole, specifically those living in Israel.

Simons says the campaign is dedicated to the memory of his parents, Zev and Rochel Simons, saying: “My parents are a driving force and inspiration for everything I do, and this campaign is part of their legacy as well.” The campaign was sponsored in tribute to the late Rabbi Levi Deitsch, who held the cause of hanging mezuzahs very dear and promoted it very strongly, especially during difficult times.

Rabbi Levi Shmotkin (pictured with Jeremy Lyman near a newly installed mezuzah) is affixing mezuzahs all around midtown Manhattan.
Rabbi Levi Shmotkin (pictured with Jeremy Lyman near a newly installed mezuzah) is affixing mezuzahs all around midtown Manhattan.

Since he launched the online campaign ( www.joinprotectiveedge.com) and month-long Facebook event, Simons says he has fielded requests from all across North America.

Seeing the initial success of the campaign, Chabad on Campus came on board to help distribute mezuzahs and will also be installing an additional 1,000 of them, bringing the total up to 2,000 in the very near future.

Although the campaign is being run by the young professional Chabad centers, the discounted rate and installation is being offered to all Jewish people who wish to have their first mezuzah, regardless of age or location.

Participants can sign up at www.joinprotectiveedge.com
Participants can sign up at www.joinprotectiveedge.com