Chabad Outreach Program Honors 250-Year Yahrzeit of Baal Shem Tov

Rabbinical Students Embark on Summer Tour of Duty


Chabad Outreach Program Honors 250-Year Yahrzeit of Baal Shem Tov

Photo Credit: B Lifshitz

Merkos Shlichus Group Picture (June 2010)

by Chabad Lubavitch Headquarters - New York

June 21, 2010

(lubavitch.com) Four hundred rabbinical students will begin a summer tour of duty that will take them to 2500 cities and over ten thousand communities, where they will reach out to Jewish communities worldwide.

The students will visit small, isolated communities in places as remote as Vietnam, Ireland, Peru, and many others where only a handful of Jews make up the existing Jewish population. 

Now in its 65th year, Merkos Shlichus, as the Jewish community enrichment program is officially known, challenges Chabad-Lubavitch rabbinical students to apply their training out in the field while providing a vital service in locations where there is often no Jewish community infrastructure. 

"This is a program that has seen incredible results over the years," says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Lubavitch World Headquarters. “Scores of Chabad-Lubavitch centers have opened as a result of these initial visits by our rabbinical students. And we cannot begin to estimate the numbers of Jewish people whose lives have been affected in a positive way, as a result of this program." 

This summer, he says, the program is intensified in honor of the 250th passing of the Baal Shem Tov, who began the tradition as in itinerant teacher.  

“Our students literally travel the world, in the spirit of the Baal Shem Tov, and in a tradition established by the Lubavitcher Rebbe established in 1946, to search Jewish people out, and connect with them no matter where they are.” 

In an intensive 3-6 week stint, the students will become acquainted with their assigned communities, meet with its members and leaders, and evaluate their immediate needs.

The students will come prepared to teach intensive courses in Jewish tradition, talmud, kabbalah and the Jewish life cycle, adapting the program to the specific needs and interests of each respective community. 

Paired in groups of two with individualized itineraries, the students travel with a library of Jewish books, tapes, videos and even torah scrolls wherever necessary. In some communities, they will teach the basics of kosher, and arrange for the availability of kosher products. In others, they will teach community members how to establish a summer day camp for Jewish children. "It depends on the needs of each individual community,” said coordinator Rabbi Schneor Nejar

Throughout the ensuing year, students will maintain close contact with communities and individuals, often visiting during the holiday seasons, sending shipments of Jewish literature and other Judaica, or answering questions long-distance, all in an effort to make traditional Judaism a viable reality for all Jews, everywhere.

Meetings may be arranged with visiting rabbis this summer by contacting Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters.

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