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May 22, 2015 / 4 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

Chabad Prepares for Nepal’s New Nightmare – Monsoon Season

Monday, May 11th, 2015

Volunteers at Chabad of Nepal are working nearly around the clock as the dark clouds of the approaching monsoon season gather in the skies above Nepal.

Co-directors Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz and his wife Chani are working together with the volunteers to supply thousands of Nepalese with sturdy tents to shelter them from the coming storm.

“Just thinking of what the impending rains will do to those living in makeshift tents makes your heart tremble,” Chani Lifshiftz told Chabad.org on Sunday.

To make their lives easier, she and the volunteers, including many Israelis, are distributing water, food, medicine, warm clothing and waterproof tents throughout the area around the Chabad House in Kathmandu.

Monsoon season, which begins in June and runs through September, is likely to make life even worse for victims of last month’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake.

As for those who did not survive the earthquake, Rabbi Chezky Lifshitz and British volunteer Yehuda Rose are still working with foreign embassies and families of the missing to identify and honorably transport home those who are Jews.

Last Wednesday German rescue teams and diplomats helped recover and return the remains of two Jewish German nationals to ensure a proper burial.

But as many as 170 Western citizens – among them a number of Jews – are still missing.

Meanwhile, Mayor Ilan Shohat traveled to Nepal from the Israeli city of Tzefat (Safed) on a fact-finding mission. Shohat spent time at the Kathmandu Chabad House and participated in a Lag B’Omer celebration. He also saw first-hand the growing need for humanitarian aid.

For those readers who wish to help with the earthquake relief effort, Chabad of Nepal has opened a special fund for the purchase of tents and other desperately needed supplies. Click here.

Power Blackouts, Supply Shortages Hampering Rescue Efforts in Nepal

Tuesday, April 28th, 2015

“It’s 2:30 am and we’ve had a busy day here,” writes Chabad-Lubavitch co-emissary Chani Lifshitz together with her husband, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz from the Kathmandu Chabad House. “After two aftershocks here in the past few hours people are trying to get some sleep in the hope the rest of the night will pass quietly.

“In the morning, God willing, we plan to go out to the villages where Israelis definitely are located, according to the information we have.

“An updated list of the Israelis with whom we have made contact will be posted here at the Chabad House during the morning hours Tuesday. We want to thank all of our dear supporters from near and far; we feel it and deeply appreciate it!!”

The number of Israeli missing has now dropped to 50 who have yet to be tracked down or check in with family and friends, Israel’s foreign ministry has told media.

Chabad has been serving hot meals to all arrivals every hour on the hour. Electricity, phone service and water has been cut off, according to Chani Lifshitz. “Little by little, our staples are [also] running out,” she told Chabad.org. There is an urgent need for donations and supplies.

“Every effort by each and every one of you to help in any way will be greatly appreciated, whether it be materially or spiritually.”

Five of the eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites crumbled to the ground in Nepal after the worst earthquake to hit the region in 80 years struck the country. The government has issued an urgent appeal for body bags, tents and water as the death toll tops 4,000 locally and nearly 100 in neighboring countries.

There is a desperate need for more helicopters for rescue operations in rural areas, a home ministry spokesperson told AFP.

One Israeli aircraft has already landed in Nepal with 200 IDF Home Front Command officers, medical and rescue personnel. Four more are expected to arrive within the coming hours.

At least 7,935 people more are known to be injured in the wake of two earthquakes that struck the region on Saturday and Sunday. The first registered 7.8 on the Richter scale, the second – an aftershock – was nearly as strong, a 6.7-magnitude temblor. There have been more than 100 aftershocks since.

Hospitals in Kathmandu are overflowing with patients, and rescue teams are bringing in more from the remote areas where they are reaching other inured.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pledged $10 million in relief to help the victims on behalf of the American government. Kerry said he was “shocked” by the “gut-wrenching” images of death and destruction. The United Nations has allocated $15 million in aid.

Chabad Co-Emissary in Nepal Hopes for ‘Only Good News’ in Video

Sunday, April 26th, 2015

Chani Lifshitz, co-emissary at the Kathmandu Chabad House, spoke (in Hebrew) Saturday night after the Sabbath in a video message from Nepal, providing details of the growing crisis following two massive earthquakes, the first a 7.9-magnitude temblor that struck during Sabbath morning prayers. The second came as an aftershock, a 6.7-magnitude earthquake that was nearly as bad.

Thus far, nearly 2,500 people have died in the two earthquakes and the avalanches that resulted in Nepal — and as far away as India and China.

“The buildings in Nepal shook, the wind was blowing buildings like paper in the air. Houses are unsafe and the electricity is out,” Chani’s husband, Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz told Lubavitch.com. The Chabad-Lubavitch emissary to the country and his wife have become coordinators of a massive refugee/crisis center. “The sight is horrific —- many are walking around with open wounds,” Lifshitz told the website.

Meanwhile, his wife has maintained updates with the “outside” world and tried to keep up the spirits of Israeli families whose loved ones are still missing.

Visit Jewish.TV for more Jewish videos.

Lifshitz said volunteers at the Chabad House are trying to coordinate “all the Israelis who are here – there are several hundred of them” – including “a few who are injured.”

She said, “We are trying very hard to calm them down, many of them are sitting down in places outside the Chabad House, and inside are those who are injured. But outside it’s pretty safe, and we are still pulling together the lists of who has been found so far and who is still missing. We are trying to work as fast as we can to get to everyone, but even as we speak, the situation is still not entirely stable, and things have yet to settle down.

With a smile she added, “We hope to be able to report to you only good things. Up to this point, we are talking about several people with injuries who are on couches here in the Chabad house

Again, the main work at this point is to coordinate all the names of people who are in Kathmandu and those who are in the mountains, and with God’s help we will get to everyone.”

Dozens of Israelis are camping out in the courtyards around the Chabad House, the emissaries said in a post on their Facebook page. “We are trying to provide everyone with sleeping bags and blankets so they can stay warm at night,” the wrote. “We are asking all Israelis currently in Nepal not to sleep indoors tonight because we are still experiencing aftershocks and the buildings are not safe at this time.”

A special “Israeli Situation Room” has been set up on Facebook for families and friends of Israelis who are in Nepal and may have been caught in the earthquake and are still missing.

Although the page is in Hebrew, one can translate it into English on the Google Chrome browser by using the Translate function under Tools on the pull-down menu on the browser.

Another Facebook page has been set up — also in Hebrew — to provide real-time updates on people looking for and finding those still missing. For those involved in search and rescue efforts or who want to be in touch with those who are, click here.

 

Chabad Safeguards Himalaya Hikers with Satellite Phones

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2015

A new project to keep backpackers safe as they search for serenity while trekking around Nepal has been launched by Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz and his co-emissary and wife Chani Lifshitz, after help from the Shoham family in Israel.

The new initiative provides hikers in the Himalayan mountains with satellite phones, which allow volunteers at the Chabad House to keep track of their movements and also stay in touch with them in case anything goes amiss.

Nadav Shoham was one of four Israelis killed last year in a blizzard while climbing the Himalayan mountain range. His family decided to team up with Chabad to prevent such a tragedy from happening again in the future.

Thousands of IDF soldiers typically head for Nepal as soon as their tour of duty has ended. Most of them pass through the Kathmandu Chabad House, also famous for having the biggest annual seder in the world, at the highest point on earth.

It is that unique perspective – and the breathtaking views from the surrounding mountain range – that draws hikers to the site, which is remote and dangerous, with little or not cell phone reception in many places on the mountainside.

Chabad is often called in on rescue missions when hikers go missiing.

Following last year’s tragedy and because the problem is so terribly common, the two came up with a solution: satellite phones for hikers to take with them on their treks up the mountains.

“The phones let us know exactly where trekkers are when a tragedy hits,” Chani Lifshitz told Lubavitch.com. In this way, rescue units can pinpoint the location of those in trouble and avoid losing time “guessing where they may be in this huge region.”

Satellite phones transmit the movements of the hikers to the computer in Kathmandu where Lifshitz and volunteers can track them to see whether they are still on their designated paths, or they have gotten lost. The devices also allow them to reach anyone they believe might need their help.

“We want the families of those who were so tragically killed last year (during the unusual October storm) to know that we will never forget their loved ones,” Lifshitz said. “This project will prevent more casualties.”

No one would have even known that trekkers were in trouble, had it not been for one hiker who wrote a note about the crisis on the mountainside and sent it via a local Nepali who knew the terrain back down the mountain. That person managed to find another Israeli who had access to a phone, who called the Israeli embassy. The embassy reached out to the Kathmandu Chabad House, which quickly swung into action recruiting its cadre of volunteers.

“We also want to assure parents of trekkers that if they are ever worried about their children, we will now have a better way of accessing them,” Lifshitz added.

Pakistan Frees Terrorist behind Murder of Mumbai Chabad Rabbi

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Israel, France and the United States have sharply criticized Pakistan’s surprise release of the alleged mastermind terrorist allegedly behind the 2008 attacks on a Mumbai hotel and Chabad Center, where Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg and his wife were among six Americans and 160 others killed, including six Americans.

Israel’s ambassador to India Daniel Carmon said:

Israel is surprised and disappointed by the release of Zakiur Rehman Lakhvi, the mastermind of the Mumbai attack in which, as part of the horrific attack, also Israeli nationals and a Jewish centre – the Nariman [Chabad] House – were targeted.

This release is a setback for the international efforts in the war against terror in which India and Israel are close partners.

The United States said it was “gravely concerned:” after Lakhvi walked out of jail on Friday. French President Francois Hollande, was hosting Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, said the reelease was “deeply shocking.”

Modi said: “There is a need for global action to deal with terrorism. All nations should commit that they will not provide shelter to terrorists but punish them.”

State Department spokesman Jeff Rathke said at the daily news briefing Friday, “Pakistan has pledged its cooperation in bringing the perpetrators, financiers, and sponsors of the Mumbai terrorist attacks to justice, and we urge Pakistan to follow through on that commitment to ensure justice for the 166 innocent people, including six Americans, who lost their lives.”

Lakhvi was released after a Pakistani court suspended his detention. He had been arrested one week after the attacks.

Israeli Murder Victim ‘Never Made It’ to Chabad Seder in Berlin

Wednesday, April 8th, 2015

The Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Berlin had already arranged for a place to sleep, and a place at the seder table.

But the 22-year-old Israeli man never arrived.

That Friday night, there was a lot of excitement and chaos as usual in managing a public seder. It wasn’t until early Sunday morning that Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, community rabbi of Berlin and the director of the Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish Education Center found out why the young man didn’t show up.

Teichtal told the Associated Press, “A man in his early 20s came to us during the day last Friday and didn’t have a place to sleep, and didn’t have anything to eat… We arranged everything for him,” Teichtal continued, “but then he didn’t show up again.”

A fellow rabbi had indeed arranged for the young man to sleep at a community center, located near the Alexanderplatz public square in the central Mitte district of Berlin.

The location is less than a mile from where the young man’s body was found by passersby early Sunday morning, in a ruined Franciscan monastery in the central Alexanderplatz area next to a well-used exit from a subway station.

Identification was difficult to establish due to “massive injuries to his head” and severe injuries to the body, police said. But when they found a passport in the back pocket of the victim’s sweatpants, police contacted the Israeli Embassy.

Berlin police have also told journalists that three people so far have come forward and provided information in the case.

The Israel Embassy said in a statement that its Consul, Eyal Siso, received confirmation of the victim’s identity, but declined to release the details at the request of the victim’s family.

Anti-Semitism — and Israeli Immigration — Rising in Germany Between 20,000 to 30,000 Israelis have moved to Berlin over the past few years, despite the rise in anti-Semitism in Europe in general and also in Germany.

Berlin is known for its vibrant Jewish community, which has grown with the influx of Jews from Israel and elsewhere around the world.

But in 2013, there were 1,275 anti-Semitic offenses recorded in Germany, including 1,218 perpetrated by members of the extreme Right. Thirty-one incidents were attributed to foreigners, and 26 were carried out by others, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Antisemitism.

The number and frequency of anti-Semitic incidents across Europe is rising, in Germany as well.

Anti-Semitic Incidents Grow in 2015 In March 2015 alone, there were seven reported anti-Semitic incidents in Germany, among the many others reported elsewhere as well. Following are brief descriptions of what happened just last month in Germany:

In Offenbach, Germany, a Turkish soccer club published an ad in Turkish that included the slogan, “Don’t give your money to Jewish insurance company Allianz.” The club has since renounced the ad.

Also in March, the gate to the Jewish cemetery in the German community of Osterburg was destroyed. Vandals broke the locks so the gate cannot be closed, with a swastika carved into the metal on a Star of David. The wall was also cracked. Vehicle marks are visible on the road as well.

The same day, German neo-Nazis in “The Right” political group sent one-way flight boarding passes to Jewish organizations as a means of joining the international discussion about the security of European Jewry.

Also that day: In Murnau am Staffelsee, a vandal sprayed a swastika and the words “Arbeit macht frei” (the famous death camp slogan ‘Work sets one free”) on the ceiling of the recess hall at the city high school.

In Stralsund, an obscene form of grafitti was found scrawled on the “Haus der Gewerkschaften” (Unions House) and aimed at a picture of a Star of David. Below, the symbol for Anarchist was scrawled as well, but in different handwriting.

Chabad Sends a Seder to Soldiers in ‘The Middle of Nowhere’

Sunday, April 5th, 2015

In the middle of nowhere, a group of Israeli soldiers guarding the nation’s border with Jordan prepared to meet the Sabbath Queen with a canned Passover Seder.

But facing the holiday with army-issue rations was not a pleasant prospect. So as the sun began to sink closer to the horizon, the men put their heads together.

Who could possibly provide a decent meal for these guardians of Israel on the eve of the Festival of Freedom – out in the middle of nowhere?

“Call Chabad,” advised one of the soldiers. Quickly someone Googled a number and came up with Rabbi Shimon Elharar, Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and head of Chabad of the Dead Sea.

A quick conversation ensued. Food he could provide; of course he had the contacts.

But who could get it to the soldiers in time for the holiday? They were, after all, literally in the middle of nowhere. Just about inaccessible. The sun was nearing the horizon. No Jew could make that trip and get back in time without desecrating the Sabbath.

And the soldiers could not leave to pick it up.

Enter a hero named Azmi, a righteous Arab Gentile who certainly will have his place in the World to Come. Azmi picked up the food from a restaurant where Passover preparations had been made.

At 6:30 pm, Azmi delivered the food to a position designated by the soldiers, just in time for them to set up before the start of the special Passover Sabbath seder.

“Today by chance I met an IDF soldier at one of the checkpoints at the Dead Sea,” Rabbi Elharar told JewishPress.com in an exclusive interview. Hearing his voice, I asked if he had been among those who were assigned to guard the border on Friday night and when he said “yes,” I asked how the seder had gone.

“What a huge smile lit his face!” the rabbi said. “He said ‘Yes indeed, the messenger made it on time. We were so amazed. We had a great holiday celebration.

“Wow – Chabad really is everywhere.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chabad-sends-a-seder-to-soldiers-in-the-middle-of-nowhere/2015/04/05/

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