Friday, July 17, 2009

What's a nice Jewish boy doing with a gun? (Or, the Pintele Yid)

One of my favourite blogs is up and running again for the summer. Roving Rabbis is the group-blog of all the young Lubavitcher men sent every summer to all corners of the world, to meet estranged Jews and give them a chance to put on tefillin or light Shabbat candles, possible for the first time ever.

The blog really brings home just how dispersed we are, and how there so often turns out to be a Jew in the most unexpected of places.

Take Reuven in Puerto Rico:

We made the trek up windy roads and dangerous cliffs, and at long last, arrived at the beautiful home which he had built. The house is decorated with classic judaica, including a menorah, and Jewish art. He was overjoyed to be able to offer us produce from his garden. The emotion was palpable as Reuben showed us the tefillin which he wears every morning.

Talk about isolation, Reuben tells us that he is the only Jew for an hour's drive in every direction. Can you imagine? When he lights his menorah, there is probably not another one within a hundred miles. Quite a far cry from the Midwestern suburbs where we grew up among kosher butcheries and bagel shops!

Or, from Tombstone, Arizona:

It's a real Wild West city with rough looking guys sporting rifles and 10-gallon-Stetsons. We had heard that there was a Jewish section in the old cemetery so we decided to visit and recite some Psalms—after all, the town was not named Tombstone for nothing!

We asked a cowboy if he knew where it was. He told us that he did and that he was (gasp) Jewish. He divides his time between doing real cowboy things and standing around town looking nonchalant. He offered us free tickets to his shooting exhibition (which we declined) and we offered him the opportunity to put on tefillin (which he accepted). He told us that it wasn't his first time: some Chabad guys in an RV in New York had done the same thing with him when he was there a few years back…

When we got to the cemetery we discovered a startling fact. Nobody in these parts ever died: They were all killed by Indians or their fellow cowboys.

It's great stuff. Kol hakavod, Lubavitch.

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