Rabbinical students from New York City spread encouragement, kindness in St. George

Rabbinical students Mendel Mintz (left) and Shmuly Butler speak to people at the Red Cliffs Mall, St. George, Utah, June 28, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — Rabbinical students Shmuly Butler and Mendel Mintz traveled from New York City to spend four weeks in 26 different cities in Utah to encourage the community and print hundreds of copies of the Jewish book, “The Tanya.”

Rabbinical students Mendel Mintz (left) and Shmuly Butler speak to people at the Red Cliffs Mall, St. George, Utah, June 28, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

Butler and Mintz are studying to become rabbis at the Central Lubavitch Yeshiva. Between semesters, students in the program visit places around the world to perform research and strengthen Jewish communities that do not have a full synagogue.

The purpose is to give students the hands-on experience they need to become a rabbi in the real world. Approximately 1,000 students were sent out this summer.

The two arrived in St. George June 20 and are leaving to explore more of Utah on Friday. They will be returning to St. George around July 10-20.

They have spent time going around town and talking to both Jewish and non-Jewish people. They have gone to places like the hospital, senior centers and the Red Cliffs Mall.

Their purpose is to strengthen the local Jewish community by encouraging them to act in goodness and kindness and to follow Jewish customs and traditions.

“Unfortunately there’s a lot of darkness in today’s day and age, and we’re taught that a little bit of light can chase away a room full of darkness. So we try being that little bit of light and encouraging goodness and kindness,” Mintz said.

As they travel, a large part of their work is to print copies “The Tanya.”

The book was written by Rabbi Schneur Zalman, the founder and first rabbi of the Chabad-Lubavitch, a branch of Jewish Hasidism whose philosophy is to study and understand God while spreading kindness to others.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, started a campaign to print a copy of “The Tanya” in every city where Jews live.

Rabbinical students Mendel Mintz (second from right) and Shmuly Butler speak to people at the Red Cliffs Mall, St. George, Utah, June 28, 2018 | Photo by Mikayla Shoup, St. George News

The purpose of printing the book in every city is to spark interest in the book in the local community. The idea is that if a person sees that the book is printed in their city, they might pick it up and read it. Today there are over 7,000 editions of the book in print.

“It gives it more of a personal feeling, a connection,” Butler said.

Butler and Mintz are contributing to this campaign by printing a minimum of 100 books in 26 different cities in Utah, including the first edition of “The Tanya” to be printed in St. George.

They chose to print in 26 cities in honor of Rabbi Benny Zippel, a full-time rabbi in Salt Lake City who is celebrating his 26th anniversary there.

Any time they print a book in a new city, they are supposed to spend some time teaching and discussing the philosophies of “The Tanya.” While they probably won’t have a large event to do so, they may gather some people from the Jewish community in town and spend time in discussion.

The only Jewish congregation in St. George is the Beit Chaverim. The congregation welcomes Jewish people from all backgrounds and meets at the Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church. 

While not all those who become ordained after going through rabbinical studies go on to become rabbis, both Butler and Mintz have the desire to do so.

“It’s not only leaving a mark on the world, it’s not about yourself, but rather you’re changing the lives of many people,” Butler said.

For more information contact Mendy Cohen at 862-812-6224 or rabbimendy@jewishutah.com

Updated July 2, 8:00 a.m. to include corrected information about the Beit Chaverim of Southern Utah. 

Email: mshoup@stgnews.com

Twitter:  @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2018, all rights reserved.

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