Newly ordained rabbis share faith

The local Jewish congregation does not have a local rabbi — and that's where they come in.

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Rabbis Zalmon Popack (left) and Shimon Sabol visited with members of the city's Jewish community last week.

WALLA WALLA - The city welcomed two unique, but far from unorthodox visitors - two newly ordained rabbis with the Chubad-Lubavitch organization.

During their stay the past few days, Rabbis Zalmon Popack and Shimon Sabol visited with members of the city's Jewish community, which the rabbis said includes somewhere between 30 to 40 families.

According to the rabbis, the local congregation does not have a local rabbi - and that's where they come in.

"(Jewish) people have asked us many questions, the Jewish idea of growing up, about childhood and eventually later on; a lot of philosophical discussion, a lot of purpose and life questions, what's the Jewish perspective on marriage and divorce and the hardship that people go through," Zopack said.

Filling a spiritual and philosophical void for Jewish members of the community, however, is not the only task of the pair, who say their organization has been referred to as "the Jewish Peace Corps." According to the rabbis, part of their work as ambassadors of the faith is to dispel common stereotypes and misunderstanding about the Jewish religion, practice and heritage.

Additionally, the pair hope to spread the ideology of Judaism to those of Jewish descent who have not been brought up with knowledge of their heritage.

"Every Jew should experience this warmth (Judaism) and this better quality of life," Popack said.

"We don't try to push anyone to do something they're not comfortable with. We speak to them, we try to give over to them some of the things we have learned in our lives and some of the hope some of the inspirations rubs off on them," Sabol added.

Although the pair departed Friday, they hope one piece of their message remains in Walla Walla for Jews and gentiles alike.

"Every single person is meant to look at the world as if it's on a scale ... whether you're going to do a good act or a bad act is going to tip the scale one way or another and if a person keeps that in mind, that will bring a good aura and salvation to the entire world." Sabol said.

For more information about the roving rabbis visit www.chabad.org/blogs/rovingrabbis.htm.

Omar Ihmoda can be reached at omarihmoda@wwub.com.

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