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“Self-Serve” Tefillin Stands Coming to A Shop Near You

It’s not what you expect to find at Stop&Shop or a Winn-Dixie. But sooner or later you’re bound to come upon one of these self-service Tefillin stands at retail outlets, shopping malls, stadiums, restaurants and JCCs. The stand offers instructional literature, yarmulkas and a set of tefillin to be used on site and replaced for the next user. 

“It’s another way of raising awareness of this Jewish practice,” explains Shloime Nelken, the Florida businessman behind this outreach venture. He had the idea to bring the stand along with him on his weekly visits to local businesses offering storeowners and shoppers the opportunity to do a mitzvah, but he soon found that the solid metal stand was too unwieldy to lug around. 

“Then I thought: why don’t I ask the businesses if they’d like to have a tefillin stand placed permanently at the store,” Nelken told Lubavitch.com. Pioneered by the Lubavitch Youth Organization in Israel, more than 700 self-serve tefillin stands dot the Holy Land. But they were new to the United States—imported by the Shluchim Office—where Chabad reps were beginning to use them. The Tefillin Stands are stocked with all the accouterments needed for a mitzvah moment, and their public locations open a slew of possibilities for expanding the reach of the Rebbe’s Tefillin Campaign.   

When war broke out in Israel, Nelken decided to expand the Tefillin Stands campaign. “In the leadup to the Six Day War, the Rebbe launched the tefillin campaign as a spiritual way to protect the Jewish people in times of conflict,” Nelkin explained. 

To date, there are more than 400 Tefillin Stands at shops, restaurants, universities and stadiums across North and Central America, with many more being deployed in the coming weeks in Australia, Europe, and South America. 

Berel Cohen, the manager and kosher supervisor at Beverly Hills Kosher Meat Market in Los Angeles, California, says the stand is unique. “It’s not an eyesore. It’s self-service; people can come and help themselves, put on tefillin,” he said. “Having this Tefillin Stand here brings blessing to my personal life and to the business, and trust me, it makes the customers feel good, and they’ll want to come back and shop again.”

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