In the Shadow of Hate, Freedom Ambassadors Stepped Up

Inspired by the Rebbe’s call for every Jew to be a Shliach, Chabad Young Professionals’ ‘Ambassadors of Freedom,’ connected to more people than ever before this Pesach.

Inspired by the Rebbe’s call for every Jew to be a Shliach and underscored by the increased need for connection in recent times, Chabad Young Professionals’ “Ambassadors of Freedom,” have helped distribute Shmurah Matzah to more people than ever before.

In the weeks leading up to Pesach this year, Eric Stevelman, a systems engineer from Houston, Texas, could be seen distributing boxes of authentic Shmurah Matzah. Eric may not be a Rabbi but that didn’t stop him from stepping up and reaching out to his fellow Jews, “My motivation for joining as an ambassador was to bring Jews closer to their identity and heritage. ⁠This kind of outreach is super important in these times because so many Jews don’t feel comfortable and have a safe place to be Jewish,” he said.

An active member of the CYP Houston community led by Rabbi Chaim and Chanie Lazaroff, Eric continued “Our outreach engaged with Jewish people that have no connection yet to Chabad or a local Jewish group, we see more Jewish people feeling empowered and prouder than ever to be Jewish.”

Following the success of similar programs for other festivals, CYP International led by Rabbi Beryl Frankel, the Ambassadors of Freedom program saw 55 young professionals like Eric step up as leaders in the campaign to ensure every Jew receives Shmurah Matzah. Starting with a virtual launch event educating participants on the spiritual importance of handmade Shmurah Matzah, the ambassadors were empowered to distribute the Bread of Faith to as many people as possible. By the time seder night came by, over 800 matzahs had been delivered.

Coordinated by Rabbi Yisroel Baumgarten of CYP International at Merkos 302, each Ambassador received 15 boxes of handmade Shmurah Matzah, cheerfully branded “Matzah: It’s a freedom thing.” It was up to them to reach out to their network and find people who needed Matzah. Friends, family, work colleagues, and that random person who followed you on Instagram are all potential recipients. A simple message of “I’ve got a Shmurah Matzah for you, just DM me” was proven to have a large reach.

“In a post-October 7th world, every Jew is being looked at as a representative of the Jewish people in their online and in the workplace. The CYP Ambassadors have shown that one needn’t be a card-carrying Shliach to share a mitzvah with another Jew,” says Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of CYP’s umbrella organization Merkos 302. ”Seeing young Jews show interest in furthering religious practice among their peers is heartening for the future of our people.”

Shluchim like Rabbi Shloimy Levertov from Scottsdale, AZ, welcomed their ambassador’s efforts with open arms. “It’s not every day that a Chabad House attendee reaches out to us looking to independently further The Rebbe’s work. Our Ambassador Danah stepped up to the plate, reaching local people we hadn’t met before and distributing much more Matzah than we expected,” he said. “ The Rebbe’s Mivzah really takes on a life of its own, when even not traditionally observant people are reaching out to help others on their own accord.”

With upcoming plans for a CYP Ambassadors Mezuzah distribution, ambassadors like Eric and Danah are looking for a long-term effort towards helping other Jews reconnect with their heritage and putting them in touch with their local Chabad Rabbi for more. Mezuzahs will be offered at a discounted rate, with a visit from the local Shliach arranged to ensure the Mezuzah is installed correctly, according to Halacha.

Ambassadors of Freedom Participating Communities
CYP Aliso Viejo, CA
CYP Atlanta, GA
CYP Austin, TX
CYP Beavercreek, OH
CYP Bellevue, WA
CYP Beverly Hills, CA
CYP Tech Tribe
CYP Chicago, CA
CYP Coral Gables, FL
CYP Crestview, FL
CYP Davie, FL
CYP Encino, CA
CYP Great Neck, NY
CYP Hoboken, NJ
CYP Honolulu, HI
CYP Houston, CA
CYP Island Park, NY
CYP Jacksonville, FL
CYP Jersey City, NJ
CYP La Jolla, CA
CYP Little Rock, AR
CYP Long Beach, CA
CYP Los Angeles, CA
CYP Madison, WI
CYP Miami Beach, FL
CYP Miami Lakes, FL
CYP Mountain View, CA
CYP New Orleans, LA
CYP Newton, MA
CYP Brighton Beach, NY
CYP Oceanside, NY
CYP Pittsburgh, PA
CYP Rancho Cucamonga, CA
CYP Richmond, British Columbia
CYP Rochester, NY
CYP S. Diego, CA
CYP San Antonio, TX
CYP San Francisco, CA
CYP Scottsdale, AZ
CYP Tampa, FL
CYP Thornhill, ON
CYP Toronto, ON
CYP Upper East Side, NY
CYP Vista, CA
CYP Washington, DC
CYP Woodland Hills, CA

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