Excuse me. Are you Jewish?
During Hanukah, young Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from Crown Heights, Brooklyn fan out across the city to ask passers-by if they’re Jewish and, if they are, if they’d like a free menorah.
For the students, who are members of an Hasidic sect called Chabad-Lubavitch, it’s a win-win. The less observant Jews they approach get free candleholders, and the students get that sweet satisfaction that comes from helping to hasten the coming of the Messiah.
The Chabad-Lubavitch believe – as their last great leader, or rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, told them – that every good deed, or mitzvah, prepares the world for the coming of the Messiah. Not content to wait for that day, the Chabad faithful have made it a habit to go out and convince other Jews to do mitzvahs – such as lighting menorah candles or reciting daily prayers – that will help redeem the world.
In the slideshow below, watch and listen as a yeshiva student named Yitzchok Schmukler, 20, and a few of his friends hit the mean streets of Williamsburg, Brooklyn to pass out Hanukah menorahs. (Please note the decked-out holiday RV, er, “Mitzvah Tank,” that the kids drove to Williamsburg from the Chabad headquarters in Crown Heights.)
Then follow Schmukler as he makes his weekly mitzvah rounds in the South Bronx. Like hundreds of other Chabad yeshiva students, every Friday Schmukler visits unaffiliated Jews around the city. During the short visits, he helps them put on teffilin, leather straps attached to small, scroll-bearing boxes that Orthodox Jews wrap around their arms and foreheads each day during prayer.
Hopefully now you won’t hesitate the next time someone asks for the name of a good mitzvah delivery service.