Rabbi Yisroel Shemtov, who is visiting Jewish individuals this summer in Wyoming, wraps tefillin with 97-year-old Edmond Gerald Meyer.
Edmond Gerald Meyer turned 13 in 1933 in Albuquerque, N.M., where his mother’s German-Jewish family had settled during the Civil War and founded a successful business that spanned the territory (as it was then known). Although the family occasionally attended synagogue services, “E.G.,” as he was called, never went to Hebrew school and cannot remember celebrating his bar mitzvah. That is, until this week, when he met Rabbis Yisroel and Mendel Shemtov in Laramie, Wyo., where he still maintains an office.
The cousins (24, and 23, respectively) are traversing the state this summer as part of the Merkos Shlichus (“Roving Rabbi”) program, visiting Jewish people in villages and towns scattered throughout the least populous state in the country, which has an estimated 544,270 residents spread out over more than 97,000 square miles. Fewer than 2,000 #Wyoming residents are believed to be Jewish.
When the rabbis produced a pair of #tefillin and explained how Jewish males wear them in prayer when they become a bar mitzvah (and every weekday thereafter), he was happy to put them on.
For their part, the young men say they were inspired by seeing how appreciative he was to perform the ritual so late in life. In fact, when they met with Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, they told him about their meeting and how much it meant to be able to be part of Meyer’s life journey.
The governor was visibly impressed by their presentation, delaying his appearance at Cheyenne Frontier Days (the world’s largest outdoor rodeo and Western celebration) to hear about Meyer’s #barmitzvah and their other encounters. “It was a fine experience,” Meyer tells #Chabad.org. “You know, as one progresses in life—and I have progressed—you have different priorities and sensibilities. And at this point, reconnecting with #Jewish life is an important thing to me.”