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‘Global shortage of tefillin, mezuzahs,’ amid ‘Jewish awakening of the soul,’ Chabad says

"We’re seeing an immense amount of people wanting to connect, wanting to double down and leaning into their Jewish identity and practice," Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad, told JNS.

Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky (right) wraps tefillin on a man as he awaits  a group picture in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Brooklyn on Nov. 4, 2018. Credit: Mendel Grossbaum/Chabad.org.
Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky (right) wraps tefillin on a man as he awaits a group picture in front of Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters in Brooklyn on Nov. 4, 2018. Credit: Mendel Grossbaum/Chabad.org.

Despite reports of Jews being fearful to display their faith outwardly amid rising antisemitism globally, so many Jews are reconnecting with their faith that supplies are short, according to the largest Jewish network, Chabad-Lubavitch.

“There’s a global shortage of tefillin and mezuzahs,” Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesman for Chabad, told JNS.

“We’re seeing an immense amount of people wanting to connect, wanting to double down and leaning into their Jewish identity and practice,” Seligson said. “People wanting to start putting on tefillin daily, putting a mezuzah on their door, lighting Shabbos candles, coming to synagogue or Shabbos programming to be with other Jews.”

Many are also wearing yarmulkes and necklaces with Stars of David. “They’re saying we’re part of the Jewish people,” Seligson said.

He allowed that some of the renewed or new connections are “in response to being rejected by circles, where some Jews felt at home in the past,” but Seligson said much of the movement is affirmative, or what he called a “Jewish awakening of the soul.”

A new survey that Chabad conducted of 211 of its emissaries (shluchim), representing each U.S. state, bears that out. More than 86% of the emissaries have seen increases in attendance at programs, services or both since Hamas brutally attacked Israel on Oct. 7, and some 98.6% reported seeing an increase “in personal practice related to Jewish traditions and observances among community members.”

Also since the Oct. 7 attacks, 77.3% have observed a stronger sense of “Jewish pride and confidence,” 93.4% have witnessed a stronger “connection to the Jewish people or desire to connect to other Jews,” 88.2% said their communities have “a stronger connection to Israel and her people” and 85.8% reported that their community members have a “deeper connection to their own Jewish identity,” per the survey.

Chabad emissaries also report that their communities are scared, which 81.5% said.

In addition to tefillin, mezuzah and Jewish jewelry, emissaries reported that community members were wearing more shirts with Israel Defense Forces emblems and are increasingly reciting the foundational Shemah prayer.

Also since the Oct. 7 attacks, 77.3% have observed a stronger sense of “Jewish pride and confidence,” 93.4% have witnessed a stronger “connection to the Jewish people or desire to connect to other Jews,” 88.2% said their communities have “a stronger connection to Israel and her people” and 85.8% reported that their community members have a “deeper connection to their own Jewish identity,” per the survey.

“The survey reveals a significant surge in Jewish engagement worldwide, showing a staggering rise in personal Jewish practices,” according to Chabad.

Chabad candles
Students at the University of Florence in Tuscany, Italy, light candles to welcome in Shabbat. Credit: Chabad on Campus/Chabad.org.

“The vast majority of Chabad rabbis reported that they are seeing a heightened sense of Jewish pride, connection to Israel and stronger Jewish identity among community members,” it added, “with their personal anecdotes underscoring a widespread emotional response and drive for Jewish pride and confidence in the face of antisemitism.”

The International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, which brings 6,500 rabbis and Jewish leaders to New York City, runs this year from Nov. 9 to Nov. 12. It is the largest gathering of rabbis worldwide and the largest U.S. annual gathering, Chabad says.

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