Roving Rabbis visit area as part of their 3 week tour through Idaho

Roving Rabbis visit area as part of their 3 week tour through Idaho »Play Video
Roving Rabbis Berel Kesselman and Chaim Cohen are on a three week tour through Idaho.
LEWISTON, ID - Two Rabbis from New York made their way through Lewiston Monday as part of the Idaho "Roving Rabbi" tour.

It's not everyday you see Rabbis strolling through Lewiston.

"We'll be walking in the street and Hey! You're the Rabbis, what's up," said Roving Rabbi Chaim Cohen. "They start a conversation, so you know we find Jewish people that way. But the most important thing is people don't get this everyday."

Roving Rabbis Berel Kesselman and Chaim Cohen are on a three week tour through Idaho as part of a program that started in the early 40's.

"In the beginning it started out as going out in little towns in upstate New York and visiting the Jewish people there," said Roving Rabbi Berel Kesselman. "Slowly it expanded and now there's over 600 of us, 300 pairs that travel all over the world."

For Cohen, his purpose over the three weeks is clear, to meet Jewish people in the area.

"I'm from Montreal," said Cohen. "Berel is from London. We have big Jewish communities where we come from and we're studying in Brooklyn, massive Jewish communities. Here in Idaho, there is not a lot of Jewish identity in these small cities."

He said it's the lack of Judaism in the region that sometimes doesn't allow people to be completely open with their faith. The Roving Rabbis carry resources and other religious tools to give to those interested in learning or re-learning about their religious faith.

"See who they are, come and visit them and try and re-awaken the Judaism in them, in their soul," said Cohen.

"Seeing the reactions of the people over here it's just beautiful," said Kesselman. "It's very rewarding seeing how happy people are to see us."

Cohen said unlike other places they've traveled, Idahoans have been exceptionally welcoming.

"You need help, need directions, need anything, people are very understanding," said Cohen. "And the welcome we got not only from the Jewish community but from all communities here was really, really beautiful and that is something that I appreciate a lot."

Kesselman said their Lewiston leg of their journey ends Monday after stopping at a few homes. They'll head to Boise to continue the last week of their trip tonight.

If you'd like to learn more about the Roving Rabbis and their journey visit www.rovingrabbis.com.