There are 7,410,963,352 people in this world. 13,546,762 Jews in the world. Mind blowing. By looking at a statistical standpoint, if the Jewish people make up only .2% of the full population it shouldn’t be so hard to impact everyone. So, we have have reached out to every Jew by now…right? Wrong. If we have been doing outreach—Kiruv, Mivtozim, etc, etc—for so long shouldn’t every Jew have known that Thursday was Purim? Unfortunately, no.
In the spirit of Purim on Thursday morning, a friend and I went on mitvzoim, a concept brought about by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to impact more Jews. We packed little bags filled with hamentashen, candy, and a brochure explaining Purim. Purim morning we rolled out of bed, heard megillah, packed our bags and went on our way to Borough Hall. As we stood on the streets asking people one by one “Excuse me, are you Jewish?” We were greeted with a variety of answers, “Yeah!” “Nope, sorry”, and the best of all: “Um, a little!”
But the most frequent response came after the fact we found out they were Jewish, “Wait? Today’s Purim?” After a few responses like this, I glanced at my friend who looked completely baffled, appalled, and confused. We had just given new light and reached out to twenty Jewish people, we should feel great—right? Wrong.
There we were standing in Borough Hall, a 15 minute train ride from Crown Heights, the headquarters of Chabad. And what do we find? At least 10 Jews who didn’t know how special this day was. Chabad sends shluchim, emissaries bringing Jews closer to Judaism, out to crazy places like India and Venezuela. But right in our backyard, right under our noses, there are fellow Jews that still not touched. Globally, there are outreach and Kiruv groups from every Jewish organization under the sun, yet we haven’t reached the Jews in our own neighborhoods.
And now, a little story: A proud businessman once went to the Lubavitcher Rebbe and shared with him his exciting news, “Rebbe, we have officially raised $500,000!” To this, the Rebbe smiled and said, “You should never be satisfied! Keep going until you double that.” The businessman shocked responded, “But Rebbe, $500,000 was the goal”. And from here, the Rebbe exclaimed “That is not possible for a Jew, because he has an endless mission and message from G-d. If you think you’re ever done, you’re doing something wrong.”
Think about it. We feel exhausted, over-worked, and drained. We’re doing all we can, and maybe that’s enough. But are we really? Have we done all we can to reach not just strangers that we come across on busy New York sidewalks, but our friends, neighbors, and families? Can you honestly say that you’ve walked down the halls of your school or through the corridors of your business and impacted every single Jewish classmate and peer? I can’t say I have.
It’s not to say that it’s an easy task. Shy or not, intimidation, doubts, and fear tend to set in at the idea of reaching out to someone you don’t know. Sometimes it can be scary to stick yourself out there when there’s a possibility of failing. The anxiety waiting for a response only to hear “Sorry I’m not Jewish”, or if you know them, “No thanks, it’s not for me”. But isn’t it worth the chance of rejection if you can reach at least one Jew? You could approach 100 people and 99 of them will be non-Jewish, but that one Jew could be impacted for a lifetime because of your determination.
Were my friend and I baffled and shocked at what we discovered? Yes. But that didn’t take anything away from the joy we felt after seeing each one of them smile when we handed them the bag and said “A happy Purim!” I walked away from that experience with a new set determination to reach every Jew I can, no matter how hard it may seem. It starts with us, and it starts now.
Will you join me in this mission?