We received the following letter in our inbox this week. It’s a long, but worthwhile read!
Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom!
Candle lighting time in NYC is before 8:12 PM
“Hi! Not sure where to send this to so I figured the number on the side of the bus would work! Please excuse my long message.
My name is Laurie and I live in Southern California. Our oldest son, Jacob, became Bar Mitzvah in the beginning of the pandemic - May 2020. My mother’s very generous Bar Mitzvah gift to him was a trip anywhere in the USA, and he chose New York. Because of the Covid restrictions of the past 2 years, we were only just now finally able to schedule this very special trip. He arrived in Brooklyn yesterday (6/14) to stay with my sister for a few days before his week-long trip with my mom begins. This is his first trip to NYC, and was very excited about the whole thing (of course!). Today was his first day and she took him on a walk in the city.
They stumbled upon “The Mitzvah Tank '' in Union Square, wandered inside and my son put on Tefilin for the very first time. I’m not sure if he fully grasps the significance of this, but I wanted to say thank you and let you know it made me so very happy to receive those pictures today. We are not particularly religious – we are a reform Jewish family. But for what it’s worth, I always talk to my kids about the importance of the Jewish community – that wherever they go, they can seek out the Jewish community and they will automatically belong just because they are Jewish. This thing that you do – accepting Jews and showing us we belong as part of the bigger Jewish community regardless of our “religiousness” is very special.
My kids attended Chabad summer camp for many years when they were younger (Silver Gan Israel in Huntington Beach) and Chabad has brought us so many gifts. The challah they brought home from camp each Friday led to us lighting candles and celebrating Shabbat weekly as a family for so many years now and has brought us closer as a family. Being Jewish is an important part of our identity and what happened today for my son just added one more solid block on his Jewish foundation.
Tomorrow we will receive a visit from a local Chabad Rabbi for Jacob’s brother to do Tefilin for the first time as well (his bar mitzvah was a month ago).
So just… Thank you for the work that Chabad does. It’s very meaningful and makes an impact.”