For Chabad representatives around the world, it’s often a question of “Are you Jewish?”
But in Israel, they usually cut to the chase. Nearly everyone is Jewish, and the question is only whether they had the chance to participate in the mitzvah, and whether Chabad can reach them all in good time.
So when the Chabad mobile Sukkah arrived at the IDF army base in Hebron earlier today to share the mitzvah of lulav and etrog with the soldiers stationed there, the Shluchim knew they wouldn’t need to search out the Jewish soldiers. They were geared up to repeat the mitzvah with every soldier on the base.
But they could not get in.
“We didn’t have the necessary permit,” explained Rabbi Victor Atiyah, Chabad representative to Hebron who was hoping to bring some of the spirit of Sukkot to the soldiers.
Not easily discouraged, he began thinking of a creative solution just as an army jeep drove up to the base. Upon hearing that Chabad Shluchim had arrived to celebrate with the soldiers, Col. Moshe Elmaliach recalled his own memorable experiences with Chabad 18 years earlier.
“It’s my turn to give back some of what Chabad gave me when I was a child.” Col. Elmaliach asked to bless the lulav and etrog in the presence of his soldiers. “I’d like to set an example for them,” he said, and promptly gave the mobile sukkah right of way into the base.