Home NEWS Local Scene “Roving Rabbis” Roam Lafayette In West Coast Drive To Reignite Spiritual Spark

“Roving Rabbis” Roam Lafayette In West Coast Drive To Reignite Spiritual Spark

The Roving Rabbis

Two men in broad-brimmed black hats and dark suits are roaming Lafayette these days, rabbinical students working to reconnect Jewish residents with their heritage and to “reinvigorate people’s spiritual connections.”

Rabbis Mendel Weinfeld and Mendel Erlenwein, two 19-year-old rabbinical students studying in Brooklyn and here for the next three weeks, have adopted a low-key approach to their task.

“We’re very relaxed. We’re not intimidating at all,” says Rabbi Erlenwein, noting that informal chats are a good way to reach those who many not be interested in worship services. “We want to ignite a spark.”

The Roving Rabbis program started more than 60 years ago and is run by Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

Their attire can draw attention, they admit, but the Lafayette residents they have met so far mostly want to talk about everyday Jewish life and ask spiritual questions.

“Sometimes the simplest questions are the most challenging,” Weinfeld says.

Word of the visiting rabbis has spread by word-of-mouth and Rabbi Israel Labkowski, regional director at Chabad of LaMorinda, says response has been “amazing.”

To reach Rabbis Weinfeld and Erlenwein e-mail: mendelwein@gmail.com or call 925-434-1745.


  1. Great Guys!! I met one of them last week they are smart fellows with a mission to bring Judaism in every place far and near! I respect that.

  2. great events at #chabadoflamorinda thank u rabbi for all you do for our community!

    tell me, how do i meet these guys???

    • Hey, Rebbeca, thanks for writing. Contact info for the Roving Rabbis at the end of our story.

  3. saw these folks at bart at 6am on the way to work nice guy asked me if i was jewish.. I was running a drop late to work but I asked him for a businesses card and he wished me with a smile to have a happy Friday! and of course shabbat shalom!

    we need more of these guys in town spreading love and kindness!

  4. These little rabbies are so big in their actions! Continue with your holy work and caring so much for others!!

  5. Im not a practicing jew but I do the basics and know a drop of what’s going on doesn’t look to me like it’s just for the summer.. I did read a different article that summers are good to reconnect to being Jewish but you know.. high holidays are coming up (for guys that don’t know it’s the Jewish new year..) is there something in plan big for rosh Hashana happening?
    I attended an event in the past by the rabbi and was a nice experience… If anybody got any idea of something happening for the holidays pls post here.. or even a link to their site. Thanks.

  6. @Nancy: Of course, at chabad all are welcome regardless of labels or level’s of observance!

  7. @Dave: Hey, I’m glad you enjoyed an event at Chabad! Your right, there are plans underway for the high holidays – details to follow on the site.
    Check out: Chabadoflamorinda.com

  8. I got to say one thing – these guys are real great people one day they’ll be big Rabbis of great community’s! I happened to meet one of them on the street today on my way home and he asked me ‘Hey good evening, are u Jewish?? Basically we got a 25 min conversation outside in the heat in 92 degrees weather but it was well worth it – I’m not jewish but my ex wife is and I have a boy that is jewish so we got into talking about him, he really encouraged me to do more for my child to grow in his Judaism, the story doesn’t end here.. I called my son zachary about an hour later and… hopefully he’ll start putting on the ‘jewish straps’ on head and arm (not sure how you call them) once a week! Which to me it’s just amazing to see how my children want to connect to who they really are. And now I see Mendel on the news I got to tell you just look how much one conversation can do! I’m amazed!

  9. Believe me they are the best
    I am the father of one of them and I can’t wait for him already To be back home ִ in Brooklyn.
    Mendale! We proud of you and your friend continue doing great things

  10. Not sure how I bumped into this article.
    My Jewishness doesn’t mean much to me, but this truthfully warms my heart. I’ve been leaving in orinda and never came across the Chabad place in the area, this might just lead me to stop by. Thanks for posting great read!

    • @C. Breitman – Glad you found us, the Chabad, and hope you stay with us! All best!

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