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January 17, 2017 / 19 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Bostoner Rebbe’

Alternative Group Replaces Orthodox Society at Boston Funeral Home

Thursday, December 26th, 2013

A new non-denominational Jewish burial society has replaced an Orthodox one at a Boston-area Jewish funeral home.

Community Hevra Kadisha of Greater Boston, which launched this fall and is part of a growing movement of Jewish burial societies that include non-Orthodox volunteers, began performing tahara – the ritual preparation of bodies for burial – at Brezniak-Rodman Chapel in West Newton, Mass., last week.

Until this month, the Orthodox-run Chevrah Kadisha of Greater Boston, whose membership is by invitation only, had been the sole provider of tahara at Brezniak-Rodman and other area funeral homes.

After Brezniak-Rodman announced that it would provide space for the new group, which has more than 100 volunteers, Rabbi Naftali Horowitz, who is known as the Bostoner Rebbe, sent a letter stating that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston would continue operating there only “if we are the only one using the facilities.” Allowing a nondenominational group to use the funeral home’s facilities would “add great confusion regarding the standards which will be administered,” the letter said.

Last week, Brezniak-Rodman confirmed that the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston had stopped working with the funeral home.

David Brezniak, owner of Brezniak-Rodman, said of Horowitz, “I respect his decision, and he needs to respect mine. I thank him for whatever he’s done over the years, and that’s it.”

Officials from the Chevra Kadisha of Greater Boston, including Horowitz, did not respond to inquiries from JTA.

Brezniak said the new group employs the same standards in conducting tahara as the Orthodox one, and that he has been pleased so far with their work.

“The people doing this are very dedicated,” he said. “They’re not cutting any corners.”


Yishai and Perkal on Rofeh and its Role in Treatment in Boston

Friday, April 26th, 2013


Naftali Perkal is the COO of Rofeh International (a project of the Bostoner Rebbe).Yishai speaks with Naftali about Rofeh and its mission to help Israelis, Jews and non-Jews when they need specialized medical care in the complex advanced treatment programs at Harvard’s hospitals. They provide information, hospitality, and generally sheperd patients through the process as they battle serious medical challenges.

Yishai Fleisher on Twitter: @YishaiFleisher
Yishai on Facebook

Moshe Herman

ROFEH International – Chesed With A Heart

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

When Dr. David Shashar of Ramat Gan was called out to serve in the Paratrooper reserves during the Second Lebanon War of 2006, his goal was to help heal wounded soldiers. He never thought that he would become one himself. When two Hizbullah anti-tank missiles hit the house he was staying in, killing nine soldiers, he was among the 30 to be seriously injured. Dr. Shashar was hospitalized for the next three months in an attempt to save his arm from amputation. He underwent numerous reconstruction operations over the next three years, a number of which were in Boston’s Beth Israel Hospital. The Ministry of Defense referred him to ROFEH International – a comprehensive medical referral and bikur cholim service founded by the Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Horowitz, zt”l.


             In addition to helping people find the best doctors in Boston, ROFEH offers over a dozen fully-equipped apartments for patients and families, daily home-cooked kosher meals, translation services, transportation, appointment assistance and more to over 600 Jews visiting Boston for medical treatments each year. Perhaps more impressive than the technical services they offer, however, is the warmth and personal support everyone receives at ROFEH.



ROFEH building at 1730 Beacon Street, Brookline, Mass



“Everyone at ROFEH was extremely helpful,” Dr. Shashar recalled. “The apartments were exactly what we needed – homey, warm, and big enough for the entire family. When you come from abroad during a difficult time, you want to feel like you have a home. It’s a huge mitzvah.” Today Dr. Shashar has regained much use of his arm and he is able to continue to practice medicine – thanks in part to the warmth and support he received at ROFEH. 


Built from the Bostoner Rebbe’s love of every Jew and his sincere desire to help them, the ROFEH organization was a trailblazer in the field of medical referral organizations in America. The Rebbe, zt”l, once remarked: “It’s the only place in the world where you have a dozen apartments available for visitors. They’re not only given a bedroom, but a community support system, including the shul, the davening, the Shabbos and the singing. It gives them a new life!”



Bostoner Rebbe, HaRav Naftali Yehuda Horowitz, shlita



Today, HaRav Naftali Y. Horowitz, shlita, has taken over the Bostoner kehillah in Boston directly in his father’s footsteps. “Bostoner Chassidus’ philosophy is intimately connected to chesed,” Rav Naftali explains. “What could be more spiritual than helping your fellow Jew – refuas ha’nefesh u’refuas ha’guf?  The Rebbe, zt”l, always felt that he was a shliach of HaKadosh Baruch Hu, who placed him here in Boston for a very good reason in order to help his fellow Jews. He viewed his work at ROFEH as one of his main missions in life.”


             Under the capable direction of the Rebbe, shlita, ROFEH has recruited a talented new executive director, Rabbi Nachum Leib Sacks, to help expand their operations in order to continue the Rebbe zt”l’s life’s work. ROFEH is currently designing a comprehensive program to provide regular transportation to and from hospitals, as well as entertainment and outlets for families and children who are often forced to spend long amounts of time away from home.



Rabbi Sacks, Executive Director of ROFEH International

with Dr. Fred Mandell of Children’s Hospital



             “Our mission is to create the most dignified and respectful manner to provide our patients with a home away from home while they are in Boston,” Rabbi Sacks said. “They don’t feel like they are in a foreign place, and that gives them the strength to go on during these trying times. The physical needs of the patients are benefited when they have their family’s support. At ROFEH, we are supplying the families with physical and emotional support to, in turn, help the patients.”


In commemoration of the upcoming first yahrzeit of the Rebbe, ROFEH’s annual dinner in November is devoted to the legacy that the Rebbe left behind. His legacy remains in the hearts of the countless baalei teshuvah he inspired throughout the years, in the two kehillos that he founded based on his philosophy of love for every Jew, and in ROFEH, an organization that redefines what chesed is all about. 


“The staff was so helpful, reliable, efficient, and organized in every way,” one mother from Israel recalled. “They work on such a personal level with so much care and concern.


Accommodations were perfect to a T – from the beautiful apartments down to the home-cooked meals and Havdalah kits . . . They really do it with a heart – it’s not just business as usual. I can’t begin to tell you how nourished and well cared for we feel. You should never need it but if you do, ROFEH is there for you.”


Bostoner Rebbe, Rabbi Levi Y. Horowitz, zt”l



ROFEH International is carrying on the vital work of the Bostoner Rebbe, zt”l, to ensure that every Jew in need of medical assistance has a home away from home in Boston.


To reserve a seat at the upcoming ROFEH Legacy Dinner or to purchase an ad in their journal, please contact Rabbi Sacks at: ROFEH International: 1710 Beacon Street, Brookline, MA 02445-2124, phone: 617-566-1900, or e-mail: rofeh@rofehint.org.

Gavriel Horan

Would the Real (And Kosher) Sukkah Installation Please Stand Up?

Tuesday, September 28th, 2010

About half a year ago, my friend Miriam asked if I knew of any artists or architects whose repertoires included sukkahs. My thoughts immediately turned to the gorgeous sukkah my grandfather designed and built every year and to the retractable roof in the dining room at the Bostoner Rebbe’s synagogue, Congregation Beth Pinchas. But for the life of me, I couldn’t think of any artist who had developed an interesting aesthetic approach to the sukkah, which is the only Jewish experience (save mikvah perhaps) that completely surrounds us.


Although I remembered potentially playful fodder for aesthetic sukkahs from the Mishnah and the Talmud – with the pillars from a bed holding up the sch’ach, on the deck of a boat, on a wagon or on the back of a camel – I couldn’t think of a single artist, Jewish or otherwise, who had taken the legal questions of the Mishnah as a design challenge.




I asked myself if artists had decided the sukkah, which commemorates the clouds of glory that protected the Israelites in the wilderness and thus symbolizes impermanence and vulnerability, was an object that one couldn’t beautify without making it too permanent – even though noi sukkah, decorating the sukkah, is one of the rabbinic commandments of the day.


Then I read about Sukkah City. The international contest, sponsored by the non-profit Reboot and author Joshua Foer, called upon contestants to “re-imagine” the “ancient phenomenon” of the sukkah and to “develop new methods of material practice and parametric design, and propose radical possibilities for traditional design constraints in a contemporary urban site.” The 12 finalists exhibited their designs Sept. 19 and 20 in Union Square Park.


The Sukkah City website has a rotating header that reveals that the sukkah: must admit more shade than sunshine, must have a roof that doesn’t obscure views of the stars, needs at least an incomplete third wall, must be 10 handbreadths tall, must not be made of utensils or “anything conventionally functional” when it’s not part of the sukkah and must have a roof made of something that grew in the ground but is currently detached from the earth.


In Tension



But however halachic the Sukkah City website’s conditions are, many of the finalists opted to take artistic liberties, to say the least.


“Repetition Meets Difference,” by German artist Matthias Karch, is not the sort of sukkah one could ever actually use, and it is not immediately clear that it would satisfy the Mishnaic requirements for walls. Karch modeled the structure on an invention by German-Jewish architect Konrad Wachsmann and the structure is made of a mixture of wood from American walnut and maple trees and olive trees from Israel.


Henry Grosman and Babak Bryan’s “Fractured Bubble” looks a bit like a cross between a haystack and Carrot Top’s hairdo. Though the marsh grass is affixed to plywood and bound in twine in a manner that evokes the lulav, the structure itself, which contains sch’ach which comes from marsh grass harvested from Corona Park in Queens, might require a creative interpretation of the notion of the diagonal wall – dofen akumah­ – to actually validate it as a kosher sukkah.


Fractured Bubble



SO-IL’s design, “In Tension,” could double as a sukkah and a screened-in tent to repel mosquitoes. The structure gets extra points for its portability – one person can carry it – which would certainly be useful for a desert wanderer, but the minimal foliage on the roof precludes the requirement to have more shade than sun.


“LOG,” by Kyle May and Scott Abrahams, takes the exact opposite approach. Lugging this sukkah through the desert would be like traveling with a suitcase full of rocks. As the name suggests, the sch’ach covering “LOG” is a large log from a cedar tree. The walls of the structure are glass – no stone throwing from this sukkah.


Repetition Meets Difference


Other finalists interpreted the sukkah in even more theoretical ways. Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello’s “Sukkah of the Signs” responds to the artists’ interpretation of the commandment to eat and sleep in the sukkah for a week as a political statement. Rael and Fratello built their submission out of cardboard signs they purchased from homeless people and they see it as a project that relates to homelessness. (Interestingly, there is no specific requirement on Sukkot, as there is on Passover, to invite the needy to a holiday meal.)


“P.YGROS.C” (Passive Hygroscopic Curls), by THEVERYMANY, is sort of the Shabbat-clock of sukkahs. As it gets more humid outside, parts of the wooden structure move and create curly shapes. It’s hard to imagine that such a natural process would be a violation of the spirit of the holiday, but a sukkah that is perpetually in motion could either be an ingenious response to the nomadic experience in the Sinai desert or dangerously close to a violation of the laws of the holiday.


It will always be an uncomfortable aspect of Jewish art criticism to require functionality – that is adherence to halakhic requirements – of ritual objects, particularly because many artistic projects are intentionally resistant to being practically usable. But many of the Sukkah City submissions try to align themselves with halacha.


Sukkah of the Signs


Volkan Alkanoglu’s egg-shaped “Star Cocoon” purports to exhibit the Talmudic minimal requirement of two-and-a-half walls. But the requirement – which can be seen in the typography of the Hebrew word sukkah – is classically formulated with respect to a rectangular sukkah. If the structure is rounded, as “Star Cocoon,” who is to say that it actually has two-and-a-half walls?


Looking through the submissions that didn’t make it to the final round one is struck that most of the artists focused their attention on architecture and only considered halacha as an afterthought – “Adam’s House on Union Square” by Alexander Gorlin and Daniel Schuetz is one of several exceptions. That artists are so publically engaging a holiday like Sukkot is undoubtedly great for Jewish art and for Judaism.


But one wonders if artists who also take the halachic side of their projects seriously couldn’t be impressed upon to tackle this Jewish aesthetic design challenge.


Menachem Wecker, who blogs on faith and art for the Houston Chronicle at http://blogs.chron.com/iconia, welcomes comments at mwecker@gmail.com.

Menachem Wecker

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/would-the-real-and-kosher-sukkah-installation-please-stand-up-2/2010/09/28/

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