By COLlive reporter
Printed in Doha, Qatar.
It is almost inconceivable that a Jewish book would be printed in the Arab state of the Persian Gulf which is accused of funding Islamist militants such as Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood.
And yet, Shmuel Butler, a 22-year-old Chabad yeshiva student, used his single day visit in the capital city of Doha, on Monday to make history.
Butler, who has been traveling around the world assisting Chabad centers, was able to print an edition of Tanya, the foundational work of Chabad teaching, authored by the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi.
Printing copies of Tanya in cities around the world is a tradition that began in 1978 at the instruction of the Rebbe. The Rebbe specified that at least 100 copies should be printed wherever Jews may find themselves, and that those local Jews actually learn from the freshly imprinted pages.
But it was more than just a learning campaign, the Rebbe explained. It was the fact that the Tanya was printed in their own hometown would encourage them to explore the text on a much deeper level and perhaps bring the light of Chassidus to that part of the world.
Since then, more than 7,000 editions have been printed, with thousands of people touched by the wide-reaching and never-ending publishing endeavor. Butler himself is credited with printing Tanyas in some 80 locations including in Alaska, Jamaica and Vietnam.
“This was definitely one of the most unique printings,” Butler told COLlive.com. “This is the first Tanya to be printed in the country of Qatar, and the Rebbe was expressed special dearness when a Tanya was printed for the first time in a country.”
Butler, who was traveling back to the US, says there are a few Jews living in Doha and that, “I saw open miracles throughout the printing.”
He said that he found a print shop in Doha in which the owners were happy to assist him. At one point, “other customers began looking at me. I got nervous when one person asked if I was printing Hebrew. But nothing went wrong.”
Chabad is active in Arab and Muslim countries, even those that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. Most of the activities are held quietly and without publicity for security reasons.