Back Again // From challah to tefillin to yeshivah by Shterna Karp


ith a loud ring, the last Friday bell rang on the campus of Spanish River High, a public school in Central Boca Raton, Florida. Rabbi Yossi Denburg was across the street, waiting to greet the students who would soon walk by as they escaped for the weekend. 

Every Friday, rain or shine, sun or none, the rabbi set up his booth, the Challah Corner, outside the school. The small table, decorated with signs like “Do a Mitzvah” and “Light Up the World,” was always laden with Jewish basics—tefillin, Shabbos candles, and small loaves of Shainy Denburg’s fresh challah. 

Rabbi Denburg watched as the pedestrian signal on the corner of Jog Road and Regency Court turned from red to white, waiting for the street corner to swell with students rushing out of the brick building. 

As soon as they passed his booth, Rabbi Denburg would offer them the chance to do a mitzvah. The boys could stop to put on tefillin and say Shema. The girls could take some candles to light at home. And all were invited to enjoy the delicious challah. 

That particular week in 2019, Rabbi Denburg had guests at the Challah Corner. His father-in-law, brother-in-law and grandfather were in town, and they had joined him on his weekly jaunt. The three men were a sight in the hot Florida afternoon—a few black hats and jackets in the midst of a huge crowd of T-shirts and shorts.  

With the students spilling out all at once, the Challah Corner was usually hectic. On that Friday, Rabbi Denburg didn’t even have a chance to snap a single photo. 

Which is why he was surprised when he got a WhatsApp message two years later from a fellow Boca Raton Chabad shliach. It was a picture of Rabbi Denburg’s grandfather, who had been at the Challah Corner that day, putting tefillin on a teenager. 

“Huh?” Rabbi Denburg typed back. “I didn’t take any photos when my grandfather was in town. How do you have this picture?” 

“Josh sent it to me,” the shliach wrote back. 

“Who’s Josh?” 

“The kid in the photo. He came to the Chabad House today. It was his first time here.” 

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