A rabbi and rabbinical student walk into a Walmart.
No, this isn’t a joke.
Rabbi Mendy Dalfin and student Mendy Singer are visiting the area through Wednesday to introduce unaffiliated Jews with Judaism, its heritage and its culture as part of the Chabad Rabbinical Visitation Program, alliteratively known as Roving Rabbis.
Most of their interactions are with people on a prepared list, but some are unplanned, like the time they popped into a Kenosha store with a Jewish name or were approached at a coffee shop or when they stopped by Kenosha Business Park companies or shopped at Walmart.
They’ve roved over Twin Lakes, Bristol, Racine and Caledonia, but mostly in the city of Kenosha.
They estimated interaction with a few hundred people so far here. There have been no unpleasant incidents, they said. Both men have taken part in the program before.
Approaching strangers isn’t so difficult, Singer said: “The courage and confidence to do so comes in because we know who we are and what we have to offer.”
They bring a variety of items associated with their faith: kosher food, shabbat candles, mezuzahs.
250 around the world
Dalfin and Singer are among 250 assigned to visit 1,000 cities across the globe this summer as part of the program, based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and which began more than 60 years ago. The arrangement is operated by Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the education arm of the traditional Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
Chabad-Lubavitch rabbis strictly adhere to the Torah’s 613 commandments, including sharing their faith. Dalfin and Singer emphasized, however, they are not here to convert but to educate.
“This goes to helping people, being friendly and helping with spirituality,” said the rabbi.
Dalfin said Kenosha is much more relaxing than Brooklyn, where “you have to fight just to get a parking place. Here, everyone is more relaxed.”
Singer said they have time to meet with other Jews or community members before they leave.
“Our message is that we want to inspire them to do another mitzvah, or a good deed, and that makes the world a better place,” said Singer. “Everyone has his role in making the world a better place.”