July 13, 2013

Mitzvah tanks take religion to the streets

Rabbis take to the streets where they say people are trying to avoid religion.

By JOHNNY DIAZ/Sun Sentinel

(Continued from page 1)

Mitzvah Tanks
click image to enlarge

Adam Ogen is a volunteer for the mitzvah tank, a mini synagogue on wheels seen in Aventura, Fla., last week.

Photos by Cristobal Herrera/Sun Sentinel/MCT

Mitzvah Tanks
click image to enlarge

Volunteer Abraham Rosen, center, reads next to Ronen Corcie, left, and volunteer Adan Ogen inside the mitzvah tank. The vehicles seek to engage people who might be avoiding religion.

Sometimes, there are bumps on the road to religion. Holzkenner's tank is currently in the shop for repairs. And the vehicles can be costly.

The rabbis run their operations using donations to their centers. Holzkenner spent $60,000 to buy his vehicle, using some of his own money as well as contributions. And Cheruty is looking for a sponsor to help offset some of the costs.

He's also enlisting volunteers so the tank can make daily appearances in Aventura and North Miami. "We want to bring people closer to God," Cheruty said.

One of those people was Philippe Goldenstein, who dropped by with his son and daughter on Friday.

Goldenstein, of Sunny Isles Beach, sees the RV every Friday and, though he's already an active Jew, he stops in to talk to the rabbi and his associates onboard and to donate money.

"It's very important (the tanks) go everywhere," said Goldenstein, who runs the Weber Cafe in Aventura. "Sometimes you just need to talk to someone."

Over in South Beach, Rabbi Zev Katz and his rabbinical associates park "Chabad on Wheels" just off Lincoln Road from 4 to 8 p.m. daily.

His operation has expanded to a physical building, but his vehicle remains a primary source of outreach to denizens.

"They have a little synagogue (onboard) and no distractions when they are talking to God," he said.


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