The Human Side of the Story

For the week ending 16 June 2012 / 25 Sivan 5772

A Search for Tefillin in Katmandu

by Rabbi Mendel Weinbach zt'l
The Color of HeavenArtscroll

How do you get a hold of a pair of tefillin in Katmandu?

This was the dilemma facing a young American Jew who sent an e-mail to Rabbi Yaakov Lubow, an outreach director at Yeshivat Ohr Somayach in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Lubow met Jonathan at a Jewish Learning Exchange program in Connecticut last summer. When he called him a few months later he learned that the young college student who had so recently been introduced to his Jewish roots was planning "to visit Nepal and the Far east to study the Tibetan exile in view of our own." The response of the rabbi was "they say that the further you remove yourself from Judaism the closer it brings itself to you."

Jonathans communication confirmed the wisdom of Rabbi Lubows words. The only trouble was that he thought it was a simple matter to borrow tefillin wherever he would be so he left his own pair at home "thinking that they were too expensive and delicate to attempt to travel with". With nothing but a kippa and a siddur for his spiritual nourishment, he appealed to Rabbi Lubow for any idea of how he could find a pair of kosher tefillin in that part of the world.

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