Beis Moshiach acquired a fascinating diary that was written by Rabbi Sholom Dovber Wolpo in 5728, 49 years ago. In it, he tells about a shlichus he did with a friend, Sholom Dovber Levitin, in Chicago as part of Merkos Shlichus. * The diary gives us a glimpse into the work done by pairs of bachurim who went (and still go out) every summer to wherever Jews can be found. * The diary was written as soon as their trip was over, and was submitted to the Rebbe.
The summer Bein HaZ’manim (school break) following the 9th of Av until Rosh Chodesh Elul, when the students of yeshivos around the world take a vacation to recharge their batteries for the new study year, is used by hundreds of T’mimim who spend the year learning in 770 to travel to outlying communities in search of lost souls. They try to inspire them to reconnect to their heritage.
The trips are under the auspices of and a shlichus of the Merkos L’inyanei Chinuch, and are referred to in Chabad shorthand as Merkos Shlichus. Generally, in the earlier years of the program, the young men would travel to those cities that did not yet have a full time shliach, and often based on the reports that they would write in to the Rebbe, Merkos would decide which of the places that they traveled to was suited for a permanent shliach and who among the locals would most likely be prepared to help towards that end. The seeds that these youngsters planted in some of the most far flung places often ended up sprouting into fruit-bearing trees.
Over many years, thousands of students have gone on Merkos Shlichus and brought Jews close to Torah, faith and Chassidus. The impact of the bachurim was profound; they arrived with their characteristic enthusiasm, shook hands, put t’fillin on people, and connected many wandering Jews to the source of light in 770. Many Jewish publications and mitzva-related items were sold.
There were times when the Rebbe spoke about how the very fact of the bachurim showing up in these Jewishly-remote places had an indirect impact. The very sighting on the streets of the strange phenomenon of bachurim wearing hats, with beards and with tzitzis flying in the wind, already awakened something inside the Jews who saw them. These Jews were reminded of their grandparents, and were moved to thoughts of regret and return.
THE REPORT ONLY CONTAINS DETAILS OF NOTE
In the summer of 1968, many dozens of T’mimim set out to various cities in order to spread G-dliness in the world. Among those shluchim were the T’mimim Sholom Dovber Wolpo and his friend Sholom Dovber Levitin (later to become the shliach to Seattle, Washington), on a mission to conquer the city of Chicago.
Recently, Beis Moshiach acquired a fascinating diary that was written by R’ Sholom Dovber Wolpo at the conclusion of the trip. It was sent as a report to the Rebbe. The diary is full of fascinating stories and descriptions of intensive outreach work to reach every Jew. The diary offers a glimpse into the summer work of the bachurim, and the extent of their impact and success in each place.
Already at the beginning, R’ Wolpo writes that “this report only contains special details worthy of note, or talks with certain people in which we saw immediate results. However, many instances of talks with people about Judaism, Chassidus etc, in which we did not see clear results, were left out, because ‘they are many and it is impossible to detail them all.’” R’ Wolpo also adds and points out that “all the details of visits to rabbis, sales of publications and the like, were also left out if there was no particularly novel element.”
THE SHLICHUS BEGINS ON THE PLANE
Their shlichus began even before the plane reached the landing strip in Chicago. During the flight from New York, the two of them approached one of the passengers and asked him to put on t’fillin. The man’s name was Sheldon Steinfeld, a marketer and salesman for a company named Playtime Westport in Connecticut, as recounted in the diary:
“We spoke with him for a long time, but he refused to put on t’fillin because, according to him, nowadays it was enough to be ‘a Jew at heart.’ In the course of our conversation, he mentioned that he was engaged to be married to a non-Jewish woman, r”l. We explained to him the severity of the matter and he promised to convert her by an Orthodox rabbi. We told him about the Rebbe shlita and gave him a picture of the Rebbe, the address of 770, and the phone number of the office, and he promised to try to visit and see the Rebbe before taking such a significant step. He makes a good impression, and it seems as if he will keep his word. He also told us that he would be visiting Eretz Yisroel in a few months, so I gave him my home address and he promised to drop by. We parted on friendly terms.”
120 CHILDREN SHOUTED YES
The two T’mimim-shluchim stayed in the home of R’ Tzvi Shusterman, shliach of the Rebbe and rabbi of Congregation B’nei Reuven. On the way from the airport to his house, the two stopped in order to get directions:
“After we asked directions from the Jew that we encountered, we started talking to him about Yiddishkait. It turns out that he has recently been part of the choir in a Conservative synagogue, but his wife is completely estranged from Judaism. According to him, her father was a complete non-believer etc. Their daughter of marriageable age has many gentile friends, and even though he would not want her to marry any of them, if she wanted to do so, he would not oppose her wishes forcefully. We told him that we would like to visit him in his home in the coming days, and he readily agreed.
“A few days later, we went to his house and arrived before sunset, so we immediately put t’fillin on with him. We spoke to him about the importance of putting on t’fillin, and he said that he would begin to put them on every day. We spent a few hours in his home, speaking to him and his wife. During our conversation, the wife recalled her mother and how she would light candles every Friday, and she became very emotional. We appealed to her emotions and spoke about how she too should begin lighting candles, and her husband said that he would see to it that she lights every Friday, and we showed him in the Siddur what blessing she should make.
“After that we spoke to them about eating kosher meat, and they promised to only buy kosher meat, and they also promised not to allow their daughter to marry a gentile ch”v. We explained to them that when their daughter will see that they light Shabbos candles in their home, and that the parents only buy kosher meat and the father puts on t’fillin every day, she will automatically feel that she is different from the gentiles and not want to marry one. At the end of our visit, they purchased a record of Chabad niggunim.
“On our way to the next place we visited, we passed a synagogue and Hebrew school named Shaarei Tikva, and we saw two boys in the yard playing ball. We decided to stop there and put t’fillin on with them. When we visited a seforim store the next day, the owner of the store told us that the day before he was passing by Shaarei Tikva and happened to see us putting t’fillin on with the two boys, and he ‘understood that Lubavitch came to town.’ As far as our putting on t’fillin with the boys, he said, ‘It is a gevaldike zach (wonderful thing).’
“We also visited the day camp that is run by the Arie Crown School. In the camp, there are 120 boys and girls. The administrator of the camp is R’ Levinson, who is a teacher in this school and also in the school of R’ Shusterman. R’ Levinson makes a very good impression, as someone involved in bringing the hearts of Jews close to their Father in Heaven, influencing many parents to send their children to the day school. During our meeting with him, he gave us a list of the parents who have children in the camp and we visited some of them. Afterward, we told him that we would like to address the children in the camp, and he happily agreed.
“A few days later, we came there in the morning, and Sholom Dovber Levitin spoke in English in front of all the boys and girls and their counselors. He told a story, and encouraged them to attend Jewish schools. At the end, he asked them if they would in fact go to Jewish schools, and they all shouted, ‘Yes!’ He did this three times, each time in a louder voice, and they answered in the same fashion. Their excitement was intense. After that, he taught them the song ‘Hashem Echad, U’Shemo Echad, Ein Od Milvado,’ to the tune of ‘Nyet Nyet, Nikavo.’ The administrator of the camp was very satisfied.
“Later, we visited the Bernstein family (from the list that we received from the camp). After speaking with them for a while, we succeeded in convincing the father and his twenty-two year old son to put on t’fillin. Their daughter goes in the afternoon to the Conservative Hebrew School, and we tried to convince them to switch her to the Orthodox school. Living in their home is the mother of Mr. Bernstein, a very religious woman from the old generation. Our visit touched them deeply. We also sold them some books in English for the little girl, and for the father and son (who keep kosher).”
“We also visited with the son of R’ Rich (his father is the rabbi of an Orthodox synagogue in Chicago, and we visited him as well; see later in the report). R’ Rich is a young man of about 28, a university professor, who learned (I think) in Beth Medrash L’Torah in Skokie. He has set times for Torah study with a friend. We spoke in learning with him in Meseches Sanhedrin, which he is currently learning, and also in Meseches K’subos, which he learned just before.
“He told us about a friend of his who was completely irreligious, and then became involved through the ‘Pegisha with Chabad’ program. As a result, he went to learn in Hadar HaTorah, and today is a ‘yungerman with a long beard’ etc. We told him that he has to use his job at the university to be mekarev students to Judaism. He argued that ‘for that you have to be a Lubavitcher.’ We explained to him that this is something that is in the power of each individual, and it is possible that this is the reason that Divine Providence arranged events so that he should become a university professor. Afterward, he repeated a vort of the Rebbe on Pirkei Avos that he saw somewhere and enjoyed. He purchased some Torah works.
“Afterward, we traveled to the downtown section of the city. We went to a building where there are many offices of Jewish lawyers, and we visited a lot of them. One of them was a Mr. Jacobson, who prays in a Conservative synagogue. His mother was from the famous Margolis family. He spoke out against the mixed seating in the synagogue where he prays. He also told us about how the rabbi gets up on the stage on Rosh Ha’Shana and speaks about Vietnam etc, and says the ‘Keil Molei Rachamim’ prayer for President Kennedy, and spoke strongly against it. He only puts on t’fillin on his father’s yahrtzait, and did not agree to put t’fillin on with us.
“R’ Eichenstein, a learned young man with a long beard, built a shul not far from the shul of R’ Shusterman. He speaks very highly of Mivtza T’fillin and he was at the farbrengen of Shabbos B’Reishis, four or five years ago. He learns Tanya, and in his words, ‘I went through the Tanya in depth until chapter 17.’ We reviewed a Rashi sicha of the Rebbe, said on Parshas Pinchas of this year, and he was very impressed by it.
“During the day, we visited the Institute for Jewish Learning of Chicago. There, we met a young man who was traveling to Eretz Yisroel in a few days, and it turned out that he had never put on t’fillin in his life. In response to our request that he put t’fillin on now, he agreed enthusiastically. Afterward, he bought t’fillin from us (we gave them to him on the spot), and promised to put them on every day. We gave him the pamphlet entitled ‘T’fillin’ in English. We told him how to get to Kfar Chabad, and he promised to go there and visit the yeshiva in order to get more material about Judaism and Torah and Mitzvos.
“We also put t’fillin on two other young men. On our way back, we met a teenager waiting for a hitch and we took him in our car. On the way, we stopped off near the shul of R’ Shusterman and put t’fillin on with the teen.
“R’ Eichenstein (a nephew of the previous R’ Eichenstein), a rabbi in the Mesorati synagogue [somewhere between Orthodox and Conservative] spoke to us about the state of affairs in their Hebrew School, how almost none of the students go on to Orthodox schools. He says that he needs a young man to do activities with the children and be in contact with the parents, and through this there will be a continuation to their studies in a religious Jewish school. According to him, this would not be very time consuming, and therefore it would be possible to join three Hebrew Schools together in the work. He himself is prepared to pay two thousand dollars a year or more. He also promised to see to it that the other Hebrew Schools would pay. He literally pleaded to help find a young married man who is willing to work on this. A few days later, we visited his school and we sold some publications to the director of education.
“We went to a shiur in Chassidus given by R’ Shlomo Zalman Hecht on Seifer HaMaamarim 5639 (an amazing and interesting shiur). It had a quorum of participants. The shiur is held in the home of R’ Steinmetz. The son-in-law of R’ Steinmetz learns Likkutei Sichos with a number of his friends, and also with his children, and in general is mekushar to the Rebbe and buys many of our seforim.”
T’FILLIN HERE AND T’FILLIN THERE
“We met a young fellow on the street and we began talking to him about t’fillin, but he did not agree to put them on. We spoke to him for about 45 minutes on the topic of Jewish faith. We realized that he had a brilliant mind and a lot of energy, and we wanted to visit him at home on one of the coming days, but the visit did not work out.
“We wanted to visit with R’ Goldstein in the Shaarei Tikva shul, but we did not find him there. However, we did see an electrician working in the building and we began talking to him, and he put on t’fillin. He told us that he was in Europe during the Holocaust, and that he sometimes works on Shabbos, and is a member of the Conservative synagogue. We explained to him the severity of working on Shabbos Kodesh, and we also talked about praying in an Orthodox synagogue. We could see that he was very inspired by our talk.
“When we left there, we saw two elderly men sitting in their yard. We approached them and it turned out that one puts on t’fillin every day, and the other does not and did not agree to do so. The first one went into his house and brought out an old pair of t’fillin and gave them to us in order to provide them to a Jew that does not have a pair (obviously he himself has another pair).
“We went to a gas station to fill up on gas, and in the meanwhile we spoke to the Jewish owner to put on t’fillin, but he didn’t want to. As we were talking, in walked his son-in-law and daughter, with their newborn son who had his bris mila that week. The son-in-law was born in Egypt, then made aliya to Eretz Yisroel, fought in the Sinai Campaign and was a prisoner of war in Egyptian hands. Today he is a manager at American Airlines. We put t’fillin on with him (to the joy of his wife) and he promised to put them on every day, and he appeared sincere.
“Later, we passed by a park and saw an elderly gentleman sitting on a bench. We spoke about t’fillin, but he did not want to put them on. Still, we continued to talk to him for a long while about keeping Torah and mitzvos.”
YEARNING FOR THOSE DAYS
Shabbos Kodesh Parshas Matos Massei
“At the Third Meal, Sholom Dovber Levitin spoke in the shul of R’ Rein, in front of about 50 people. He mentioned an idea from Likkutei Sichos about exile and the analogy of the teacher and student. Sholom Dovber Wolpo spoke in the Nusach Ari shul for thirty people. He reviewed the Rashi and Pirkei Avos sichos from Parshas Pinchas of this year, and also an idea from the sicha of 19 Kislev 5726 explaining the Midrash on the verse, ‘Hashem is the builder of Yerushalayim, He gathers in the dispersed of Yisroel.’
“We visited Rabbi Aharon Soloveitchik, Rosh Yeshiva in Beis Medrash L’Torah in Skokie. We spoke with him in learning, and discussed the state of Judaism in the city and the yeshiva that he leads.
“We also visited R’ Rosenthal, a great gaon, author of the works Binas Tziyon and Tenuvas Tziyon. We spoke with him in Nigleh for a long time, and we saw that he is amazingly well-versed in the sichos of the Rebbe and is very impressed by them. He also said in front of about ten people who were there, ‘You should know that the Lubavitcher Rebbe is one of the greats of the generation in Nigleh.’ Not long ago, he wrote a letter to the Rebbe in connection with a sicha in Likkutei Sichos, but he decided not to send it. He explained to us that if the sicha only dealt with Nigleh he would have sent it, but since the Rebbe concludes the sicha with an idea in Chassidus, he doesn’t want to mix into that because he is afraid. We explained to him that on the contrary, it would cause a nachas ruach if he would send the letter, and he agreed and gave it to us to deliver (enclosed here). He also recounted for us in great detail that he was in Warsaw and saw the Rebbe Rayatz.
“We visited the JCC (Jewish Center), and we put t’fillin on nine youngsters and two seniors. We also visited the Telshe yeshiva and spoke in Nigleh to a few of the bachurim, and also with a bachur by the name of Menachem Zupnik about Chassidus, Tomchei T’mimim, etc., and our words had an effect.
“We visited with R’ Kogan, who gives a Gemara class in the shul of R’ S. Hecht. We spoke with him for about three hours, and reviewed a few Rashi sichos for him (Pinchas 5728, B’Chukosai 5728, and Shmini 5726) and spoke a lot in learning. He enjoyed the sichos of the Rebbe very much and he bought many seforim.
“When we passed a park, we saw about fifteen boys playing baseball. We made a stop there and offered them to put on t’fillin. All the Jews that were present, twelve in number, acceded to the request and put on t’fillin, in a manner of ‘a man and his friend will help each other, and to his brother he will say be strong.’
“R’ Lehrfeld told us that he had ordered $180.00 worth of seforim two years ago. He had paid up front but the seforim never arrived (he added that he is not pained over the loss of the money because Lubavitch does good things with it), and he still bought more seforim.
“We met a Jew on the street who had just come eight months prior from Poland. Before the war, he was religious with ‘curled peios and a long jacket,’ and he pines for those days. Afterward, he married a woman in Leningrad, and she is totally distant from religion and has no conception of it. He has two sons; one is married and his profession is architecture, and the second is fifteen and is now studying in a public high school. He told us that when he sees people walking to shul right before Shabbos, he is jealous of them. And he has thought many times about going to shul himself, but since his wife doesn’t understand these things, and he has no one ‘to prepare wine for kiddush for him etc.,’ he does not go to shul. We spoke with about how it is possible every moment to return to the life that he lived in his youth, and it is possible to talk to his wife and slowly but surely bring her closer to Yiddishkait. We made up to come visit him at home.
“A few days later, we visited him, and as soon as we came we put t’fillin on with him. We spoke to him and his wife. The recounted the tribulations that they lived through in the war years, and about the persecution of Jews in Poland. They told about how at the time of the Six Day War, even the most avowed communists had their Jewish spark awakened and all of those who had rooted for the downfall of Eretz Yisroel ended up rejoicing in her victory. He said that 99% of Polish Jewry is intermarried, and that is why he wanted to leave, so that his children should not assimilate.
“We spoke to him about sending his son to Hebrew School. He called his son over but he said he does not want to go. A few days after that, we met the two sons on the street near their home and began to speak to them about t’fillin, but they absolutely refused to put them on. The younger one said that ‘nyet is nyet,’ and all of our talk did not help. Afterward, they went inside and we followed them in and began talking with the father, and we put t’fillin on with him in front of them. When they saw their father putting them on, the older one also agreed to have them put on him, and after that the younger one did as well. Following that, we brought a mezuza and wanted to install it in the entrance to the apartment, and the younger one seemed to turn from one extreme to the other, and very happily ran to his brother’s apartment to bring a hammer and nails. We put up the mezuza with a bracha to everyone’s tremendous joy.
“That night we visited their house again and we brought the father a pair of t’fillin (we did not charge because he is very tight in parnasa), and we gave them to him in front of the entire family and some guests that were there. He was very moved, and he promised to put them on every day and to try to gradually influence his sons. He also took upon himself to go daven in shul on Shabbos. We connected him to R’ Shusterman and he said that he would try to influence his son to attend Hebrew School.”
THE WORK OF THE LUBAVITCHERS
“R’ Meisels, author of the work Mekadshei Hashem and others, told us that Kehos had promised him a set of the Alter Rebbe’s Shulchan Aruch in exchange for his seforim that he sent, but meanwhile he has only received the first two volumes and is waiting for the last two volumes. Among other things we discussed, he told us that there was a bachur who learned in Telshe and in Yeshiva Torah Vodaas and was an exceptional student, and afterward he became a hippie.
“Since he knew the family, the mother of the boy asked R’ Meisels to speak to her son. He called him, but all of his words of persuasion were in vain. Later, he discovered that he had completely distanced himself from Yiddishkait and he did not succeed in influencing him. So he said to him that since he is going to school in New York and has an apartment on Eastern Parkway, his advice to him is that when he returns to New York he should try to go to see the Rebbe. The bachur answered him that he is not interested at all, and that is why he would not do as he said. R’ Meisels began to speak to him about t’fillin, but he did not agree to put them on. He told the boy that he would not let him leave his house until he promises to begin putting on t’fillin again. In the end the bachur agreed to put on t’fillin every day. Up till this point is what R’ Meisels told us.
“From the Satmar boys that were by him we heard that when he told them the above story he concluded, ‘Now I see what the Lubavitcher Rebbe accomplished with the T’fillin Campaign.’
“In the Hillel Torah School, which is a preparatory school to Skokie Yeshiva, they purchased one hundred sets of all the pamphlets: T’fillin, Shabbos, Tzitzis etc., in order to teach them to the children in class.
“We drove to a large Reform temple on the South Side of the city, and when we entered we put t’fillin on with one of the office workers. Exactly at that moment, the youth director of the temple passed by, and the sight appealed to him and he began to talk to us. He told how he had seen in the newspaper how they were putting on t’fillin with the hippies, and it appealed to him, because in his opinion they are searching for something and this would help them find satisfaction. He also said that his grandfather was a Lubavitcher who lived in Ponovezh, and his father learned in yeshiva in Ponovezh, and afterward came to America and became a Reform rabbi.
“He also shared that his sixteen year old son had run away from home and become a hippie. He and his wife had traveled to search for him and only after eight weeks of searching did they manage to find him. As a result, he did a lot of research into the cause that drives young people to run away from home and become hippies. He concluded that since everybody has certain problems that they encounter in life, those who were raised with a religious education have a view and perspective on every issue, regarding how to deal with that situation. However, for those who are not given a religious education, from where should they derive the lessons to deal with their challenges? From television, newspapers, movies? Therefore, as a result of that they throw off everything… Due to a lack of time, we had to cut the conversation short.
“We visited R’ Yisroel Dissen (son of R’ Peretz Dissen), a Chassidic young man. He and his wife both claimed that there is a lack of youthful energy of Lubavitch in the city. We visited a Jewish barber shop and put on t’fillin with the two barbers. Afterward, we were driving down the street and a few children passed by, and when they saw us they took their yarmulkes out of their pockets and waved towards us.
“We also visited R’ Rich, who is the rabbi of an Orthodox shul (we reported about his son earlier). We were there with him for a few hours and spoke about the subject of a Rebbe who is the Leader of the Generation, and also about the difference between the Rebbe and other Jewish greats, the idea that Rebbe is completely above nature etc. At the beginning, it did not resonate with him but in the end it seemed as if our words had entered his heart.”
THE REFORM RABBI WAS INSPIRED
“We visited Temple Beth Torah (Reform), and we spoke with Rabbi Devine and he was very inspired and put on t’fillin. He even promised to bring his t’fillin to the temple and put them on there every day. In general, he was very emotional and said that he wants to become a baal t’shuva. He also said that he wanted to stay in touch with us, and we gave him our names and addresses along with the address of the Rebbe. We also spoke to him about proper chinuch for children, how through a proper chinuch one prevents the possibility of intermarriage down the road. He told us that indeed members of the shul come to him to bemoan their children marrying gentiles.
“Rabbi Rabinowitz, rabbi of the HaBonim Synagogue (Conservative), claims to be a descendant of the Alter Rebbe on his father’s side and a descendant of Reb Pinchas of Koritz on his mother’s side. His father was a ‘Gutter Yid’ (an Admur) who passed away a few months ago. We spoke with him a long time on topics of emuna/faith. He has many strange views, but he still puts on t’fillin every day, keeps kosher, Shabbos, etc. He sends his son to the Skokie yeshiva, and plans to send him to a yeshiva high school in Eretz Yisroel.”
DON’T BE SURPRISED TO SEE ME IN 770
“We visited the JCC again, and we met two boys from Eretz Yisroel. We heard from them that they learn in public school. We took their address and went to speak to their parents. The father of one of them was very broken; apparently he went through a lot in Eretz Yisroel and according to him he was forced to immigrate to Chicago, where he arrived approximately eight months prior. He said that he wanted to register his sons in a religious school, but they asked for a lot of money and he can’t pay so he sent them to public school.
“We put t’fillin on his son in the house (the younger son is still before bar mitzva and the older is fifteen years old). The father promised to put them on with him every day (they own t’fillin), but the father himself did not agree to put on. Undoubtedly he will keep his promise as regards his son. They observe kashrus, and the mother says that when she goes shopping in the store, her son asks her even about food items like rice, ‘Ima, ask them if it is kosher.’ We promised them that we would speak to a Hebrew School in the area about them.
“A few days later, we visited the shul and Hebrew School K.I.N.S. The principal is an older bachur by the name of Silverman. When we told him about that family, he said that they have a fund to provide tuition grants. He also said that there is a bus that goes to pick up children that live further out. That very evening, he went to the home of that family and spoke to the parents, and he already arranged with the two sons to come learn in the Hebrew School. (We gave the father the address of the Rebbe).
“The principal Silverman told us about his activities in connection with promoting Yiddishkait, and he told how he influenced a Jew that came a few months before from Eretz Yisroel, by the name of Shmuel Gur, to make a proper bris mila for his son, and the next morning it was set to take place (on the eighth day). He asked us to come to the bris, and obviously we accepted the invitation.
“The next morning, we went to the man’s house and were warmly welcomed. We put t’fillin on with the father of the baby and another one of the guests (he said that the last time he put on t’fillin was with R’ Moshe Feller). We also spoke with the second person about putting on t’fillin every day, and he seemed to accept it. Afterward, the father told us that he was studying philosophy and psychology in university, and now he has been interesting himself in the subject of Chassidism. He was interested in meeting with us to clarify some questions he had on the subject.
“And so, a few days later, we visited them and we were there from 9 p.m. until 1:30 in the morning. We told them about the Rebbe, and the mofsim (miracles) really grabbed them. He said a few times that I should not be surprised if one day I find him in 770… We also spoke a lot about emuna. At the beginning, he said that he does not believe etc. but we demonstrated to him from many of the things that he himself said that he does believe in Hashem and in Torah, but it is in a concealed state by him, although many times he sees it himself. Despite everything, he did not agree to begin putting on t’fillin; he purchased a number of English works on Chassidus, and his wife does light Shabbos candles. Our visit definitely made a big impact on them.
“We went to visit R’ Mendelow in K.I.N.S. On the way there, we saw tree Jewish teens standing on the street waiting for a hitch. We took them with us, and on the way we spoke to them about t’fillin. We stopped at the aforementioned shul and put t’fillin on with them in the rabbi’s office (which made a big impression on the rabbi).
“We also put t’fillin on with a young man in middle of a central street. Exactly at that time, an elderly Jewish woman walked past on the other side of the street and she made hand motions toward us of amazement and happiness.”
LUBAVITCH HAS A WONDERFUL NAME
Shabbos Parshas VaEschanan:
“Sholom Dovber Wolpo spoke in the HaPoel HaMizrachi shul (R’ Soloveitchik) in front of eighty people. (A point from Likkutei Sichos VaEschanan on ‘A great voice and it does not cease,’ that the quality of Torah is that it permeates even the inanimate world; so too a Jew has to permeate others who were not educated to Torah and mitzvos. Nowadays it is much easier to influence the youth, as they are seeking the truth. Examples were cited from our activities here in the city to demonstrate that every individual can have an influence on all those with whom he comes into contact.)
“At the time of the third Shabbos meal, Sholom Dovber Levitin spoke in the Adas Shul of R’ Newman for thirty people (review of the sicha of 19 Kislev 5726). In the meantime, Sholom Dovber Wolpo spoke in the ‘Mishna and Gemara’ Shul of the late R’ Shachnowitz (Likkutei Sichos VaEschanan, sicha of Naso 5726, citing the Mechilta about Eretz Yisroel) for between twenty and thirty people.
“R’ Chaim Goldzweig, a kashrus supervisor for the OU, told us about his visits to the Rebbe, thanks to his work in kashrus. He told about how he influenced a number of families to keep a kosher kitchen and how he sent R’ Hecht to their homes to kosher their vessels. He also gave us the names of two young fellows in Chicago who are very active in spreading Judaism. (We did not get a chance to meet with them, but we will send them the names and addresses of all the families that we spoke to about Torah and mitzvos; it is necessary for someone to keep up the connection, and he promised that they would do that.)
“R’ Lehrfeld of the Mesorati synagogue Beth Yaakov speaks a lot in praise of Lubavitch and said that although he does not need so many of the sefarim, he is buying them from us because he loves the Lubavitch movement. He says that he always proclaims, ‘Everybody else talks, but Lubavitch does.’
“Rabbi Simon of the Conservative synagogue Rodfei Tzedek told us about his visit to Russia two years earlier, and how he gave a tallis and a siddur to a Jew etc. We told him about our families in Russia who live with mesirus nefesh to observe every detail of Jewish law, and how the bachurim who came out recently even know how to learn a page of Gemara and know Mishnayos and Tanya by heart. We mentioned what the Rebbe spoke about at the farbrengen of Shmini Atzeres, regarding the bachur from Russia who sent him a letter complaining about the foreign thoughts that intrude on his davening, and he was very amazed by all of it. He bought a lot of sefarim.
“In conclusion, it is worthy to note that Lubavitch has a wonderful name among all of the groups that we encountered during the three weeks we were there.”