Two rabbinical students from the Chabad Community Center for Jewish Life and Learning in Oklahoma City are traveling to small Jewish communities in Oklahoma and North Texas, hoping to spread goodness and kindness.
“There’s something beautiful that we were taught by the Lubavitcher, who actually gave us inspiration to go out and do this,” said Shneur Wolf. “He said we should look at the world as a scale that’s equal good and equal bad on the scale, and every good deed that you do could tip the scale.”
Wolf, 21, and Sholom Kesselman, 22, who arrived in Amarillo on Tuesday afternoon, are recent graduates of the Rabbinical College of America in New Jersey. They like to spend their summers helping others through the Chabad program, Kesselman said.
“We like to use our summers doing something productive, and helping out different Jewish communities,” Kesselman said. “It’s something that we do many summers and for Jewish holidays.”
According to the organization, the Chabad-Lubavitch has translated deeply rooted Jewish concepts into a practical foundation of life for more than two centuries. Under the leadership of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad grew into the world’s largest Jewish educational outreach program.
“He started this with just a few students going to small towns in America,” Wolf said. “As the years went on, the program grew and now we have close to 2,000 students visiting small towns from across the country.”
Kesselman and Wolf said they are newly ordained rabbis and are seeking out small Jewish communities in Oklahoma and North Texas because there are not a lot of Jewish centers in small towns.
“We have Jewish books for those who want to learn, because you can’t buy them,” Kesselman said. “We also carry Jewish religious articles like tefillin and the mezuzah.”
Tefillin, which is a ritual sign of remembrance within the Jewish faith, are a set of two black boxes made of hardened leather, worn only by Jewish men. The straps are wrapped around the arm and hand, and the box is placed on the head during the daily morning prayer service, Kesselman said.
The mezuzah is placed on the door posts for protection and contains a Jewish prayer inside, said Kesselman.
The two rabbis, now a week into their three-week tour, said visiting Oklahoma and Amarillo for the first time really made them appreciate the opportunities a bigger city affords Jewish communities.
“That’s another beautiful thing we get to see when we travel to these small communities from a big city,” Wolf said. “In these small towns, we get to understand how Jewish people live, and go through the hardships of living as a Jew in a small town where Jewish articles and Kosher food isn’t so accessible.”
Although Kesselman and Wolf were in town for only a day, a new group from the same center traveled to Amarillo on Wednesday.