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Soul Meetings





‘Jewish Peace Corps’ Representatives
here in Alaska


Rabbis Shmuel Langsam (left) and Shmuel Spritzer

A first in Alaska - 1970


Two rabbinical students from the Lubavitch Yeshiva of Brooklyn, N.Y., are in Anchorage this week to reawaken in Alaska Jews a love and understanding of their religion.

The two bearded student rabbis, Shmuel Langsam and Shmuel Spritzer, both 22, are followers of Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson. They are the Alaska representatives this summer of the “lubavitch” or “Brotherly Love” movement, which has been called the “Jewish Peace Corps.”

Like 50 other pairs of rabbinical students, they are traveling in the United States to find Jews wherever they may be and bring them a special message — that traditional Judaism can and should be their way of life.

The “Peace Corps” is one of the many instruments for teaching better Judaism created by “Lubavitcher Rebbe” Schneerson.

Members of the Lubavitcher Peace Corps have crossed the Sahara on donkeys, visited lonely farmers and isolated settlements almost on every continent, and carried textbooks and religious instruction to children to whom being a Jew was only a name, according to the two men here.

It should not be surprising then, that the two have come to Alaska this summer. “This is the first time Lubavitch (literally, City of Brotherly Love) has come to Alaska,” Spritzer said. “There are some 300 Jews here in Anchorage, and we would like to bring all of them, and every Jew, closer to Judaism.”

The two, who will be ordained in six months, are not “missionaries.” They are, in a sense religious teachers trying to bring Jews a greater sense of what the religion and its obligations are all about.

“So far, we have been very successful,” Spritzer said. “Those who were born here in Alaska don’t know very much about Judaism and have said they regretted it and wanted to know more. They don’t have Jewish education here and they are very interested in learning,” the rabbinical student said.

From Anchorage, the pair will travel to Fairbanks, which has a smaller Jewish community. The two, both of them the sons and grandsons of Orthodox Jewish rabbis, have already visited Jewish families in the Pacific Northwest. Like “Lubavitcher” followers throughout America, they will travel for three to five weeks showing Jews how to fulfill the religious laws written in the Torah.

“If we find a family who observes some of the laws, we ask them to observe more of them, to do other ‘mitzvahs,” Spritzer explained.

In addition, they disseminate Jewish literature so that Jews spread throughout the United States and Canada can be closer to each other.

Their ultimate goal is love of each other through observance of the holy laws. If Jews follow their religious law, the Lubavitchers say, “City of love” will be more than a name.

“We wish to promote greater love between Jews by teaching them what they don’t know about Judaism,” Spritzer said.

He indicated that in this way, Jews will have more love for every man.
Spritzer and Langsam wish to contact as many Jews as possible in Alaska. “We ask for no donations, we only want to teach Judaism,” Spritzer said.

All of the “Peace Corps” expenses are covered by the Central Office for Jewish Education.

(Source: Anchorage Daily Times 1970)


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