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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

’770′ Stabber Kept Saying ‘Kill the Jews’

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The stabbing of 22-year-old Israeli rabbinical student Levi Yitzchok Rosenblat at 1:37 am Tuesday morning in the synagogue at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters was a hate crime, and not a random attack, according to Chabad officials, but nevertheless, leaders urged the community to remain “calm” and “keep the peace.”

The stabber, 50-year-old Calvin Peters attacked Rosenblat, a resident of Beitar Illit, in the downstairs sanctuary of the Chassidic movement’s world-famous building “770” Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Officers in a mobile police base directly across the street from “770” saw the attack unfold on the security screens in front of their eyes before racing to stop the bloodshed.

A spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters told JewishPress.com Tuesday night the young Israeli rabbinical student was studying in the synagogue when the attacker approached him and stabbed him.

“According to witnesses he was heard saying repeatedly “Kill the Jews,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters. “Several other individuals immediately intervened.”

By then, Rosenblat was in critical condition from multiple stab wounds. His condition has since stabilized and he is currently hospitalized at Bellevue Medical Center in Manhattan, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. During the day he underwent emergency surgery at the hospital.

A team of police converged on the perpetrator and ordered him to drop the weapon. Initially the attacker did, in fact, drop the knife, but within seconds he retrieved it and continued moving towards the officers with the weapon in his hand. When  after 12 requests to drop the weapon Peters tried to charge the officers, escalating the danger, an officer drew and fired one shot from his own weapon to neutralize that threat. Peters later died of his wounds at Kings County Hospital.

“While we are very pained by everything that has unfolded, we are very grateful to the police for their quick response and are working closely with the authorities in their ongoing investigation,” Seligson said. “We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action, if not for their intervention the outcome could have been, G-d forbid far worse. We continue to pray for the young man who is in stable condition,” he added.

New York City activists and politicians called for unity and calm at a joint news conference Tuesday afternoon, where they joined in commending the responding police officers for their restraint in handling the attack. Jewish Community Relations Council leader Michael Miller noted that a synagogue “should remain a safe place.” Another Jewish leader commented that the attack on a worshiper in a Jewish house of prayer echoed the recent terrorist massacre that took place at a well-known synagogue during morning prayers in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Other leaders expressed concerns the incident would trigger racial tensions and urged residents to “keep the peace.”

The news conference, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, was held just a few steps from where the attack took place. Politicians and activists of all races, including city public advocate Letitia James, Assemblywoman Laurie Cumbo and city council member Mark Levine underscored their approval of the police officers who had only opened fire when no other choice was left. Running footage from a 24-hour security camera monitored constantly clearly substantiated police accounts of the encounter.

A reader on the Crown Heights.info website commented on the officer who shot the stabber: “In this political climate, a lot was on this policeman’s shoulders – more than just the incident in front of him, but the very real worry about sparking a race riot, justified or not!… I phoned the non-emergency number of the 71st precinct and I thanked them for handling things the way they did. And I told them to keep up the good work. And I’m proud that I did! I think everyone should phone the police department and thank them when they do a good job.”

Dramatic Video of Police Killing Knife-Wielding Man at 770 [video]

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

The Crown Heights Info website has released a dramatic video showing the entire attempted murder of Jews at the Chabad 770 Torah study hall in the pre-dawn hours Tuesday and a policeman’s neutralizing the man with a single bullet.

Footage shows the man standing in the Beit Midrash study hall with a knife. A policeman pulled out a gun and said, “Hands up.”

The man raised his hands but as soon as the police officer returned the gun to his holster, the man moved menacingly towards the police officer and then started running through the Torah study hall, yelling, “I want to kill a Jew” while policemen tried to trap him until a gunshot ended the chase.

The victim suffered serious wounds but his condition is not life-threatening. The attacker died in the hospital from his bullet wound.

Update 9:52 AM: Chabad 770 Stabbing Attack Victim in Serious Condition [video]

Tuesday, December 9th, 2014

A man armed with a knife seriously wounded a yeshiva student at the Chabad “770” headquarters in Brooklyn around 2 a.m. Tuesday morning (EDT).

The attack occurred in the study hall, where security cameras transmitted the attack on line to police, who immediately arrived.

They ordered the attacker to drop his knife and then shot him in the stomach when he refused.
The knife-wielding man described as a black man, lost consciousness.

The victim was stabbed in the head, neck and abdomen. Prayers for his recovery should be made for Levi Yitzchak ben Raizel, reportedly an Israeli from Beitar Illit in western Gush Etzion.

Details to follow.

And the Only US State Without a Chabad Is…

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

by Gabrielle Birkner / JTA.org

Some 4,200 Chabad rabbis from more than 80 countries are gathering this weekend in New York for the annual conference of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.

In the year since they all last got together to attend workshops, listen to keynote lectures from the likes of former Sen. Joseph Lieberman and pose for their “class picture” — a “Where’s Waldo of rabbis,” according to a Chabad release — the Jewish outreach organization they represent has put down roots in five new countries and one new state, Mississippi.

That brings the number of American states with a permanent Chabad presence to 49.

Which had JTA staffers wondering: Which state is the holdout?

West Virginia? Chabad opened in Morgantown back in 2007

Idaho? They’ve been in Boise for more than a decade.

Montana? Wyoming? Alaska? None of the above.

North Dakota? Well, now you’re getting warmer (or, really, colder).

It’s South Dakota.

So why is the home of Mount Rushmore the sole Chabad-less state in America? Simply put: math. One of the least populous states in the nation — some 844,000 people live there — South Dakota has just 345 Jews, according to the 2013 edition of the American Jewish Yearbook.

Time was, there were more Jews in the state — somewhere in the neighborhood of 1,750 at the turn of the 20th century. Many of them had come to make their fortunes amid the Black Hills Gold Rush of the 1870s. And those who stayed on built the kinds of Jewish institutions that made the Great Plains feel like home.

South Dakota, to this day, is home to three historic Jewish congregations.

Synagogue of the Hills in Rapid City, near the “Old West” town of Deadwood, traces its roots back to the gold rush era, though it was established at its current location in 1957. Some 350 miles to the east, in Sioux Falls, is Mount Zion Congregation, founded as a cemetery society in 1903 and as a synagogue 16 years later. Both Synagogue of the Hills and Mount Zion are Reform, with services led by rabbinic students at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion.

B’nai Issac in Aberdeen, the state’s sole Conservative synagogue, is closing in on its centennial, said Bea Premack, 81, a longtime congregant. Premack’s husband, Herschel, an 87-year-old South Dakota native, leads Friday night services every week they are in town.

“We rarely have a minyan, but once in while we have a minyan — especially if there are guests in town” said Bea Premack.

B’nai Issac also hosts a weekly Torah study group, which draws several of the congregation’s 12 members as well as some non-Jews in the area. In addition, the Aberdeen Jewish community has also played host in recent years to a group of cyclists who participate in the cross-country bike ride organized by the Jewish environmental group Hazon.

It’s been decades since any of these three South Dakota congregations have been large enough to support a full-time rabbi. Already, by the early 1980s, the state’s lone rabbi made his living selling light bulbs, according to an Associated Press report.

There’s also a tiny Hillel at South Dakota State University in Brookings, S.D., and it draws a mix of Jews and Messianics, as reported earlier this year in New Voices and the Forward. Messianic Jews identify as Jewish and engage in Jewish ritual, but because they accept Jesus as the Messiah, they are not considered Jewish by mainstream denominations.

And just because South Dakota is the only American state without a permanent Chabad emissary doesn’t mean that the Brooklyn-based Hasidic movement doesn’t serve the state. Rabbi Yonah Grossman, Chabad’s Fargo, N.D.- based emissary, visits the state on occasion. So, too, does Chabad’s “Roving Rabbis” corps, which makes periodic trips to South Dakota.

When Rechavam Ze’evi Met the Rebbe

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Friday, the 30th of Tishrei is the Yartzheit of Rechavam “Gandhi” Ze’evi who was murdered by Arab terrorists in Jerusalem.

Ze’evi was an IDF general and a minister in the Israeli government, and who had tremendous love for the Land of Israel.

In this video, Ze’evi visited the Lubavitcher Rebbe and asked him for advice on what more and what else he could do to protect Eretz Yisrael.

The Rebbe advised him to help spread Torah in Israel, and to uncover the Torah that already exists in each one of us, especially to the children. He advised Ze’evi that not only the land of Eretz Yisrael, but also the Torah of Eretz Yisrael should be as natural for us as breathing air.

Simchat Torah and Creativity

Monday, October 13th, 2014

One of the factors that attracted me to the Hasidic movement was the feeling that my ideas and thoughts had merit no matter how many books and texts I mastered. The Ba’al Shem Tov, founder of the Hasidic movement, extolled the unadulterated service of the simple ones whose heartfelt pleas reached the loftiest heights. And so I was encouraged by this because while my breadth of knowledge was not like some, at least my contributions would be valued.

But as my time in yeshivah and then Hasidic Crown Heights passed by, I struggled to find my place. These difficulties persisted until I met a beggar outside a pizza restaurant after the fast of the 9th of Av 12 years ago.

Standing on the Outside

I had traveled to the upper west side of Manhattan in search of solace. During my pre-Hasidic years the upper west side was an area that I frequented regularly to watch a movie at the local AMC theaters or partake of a slice at Pizza Cave. But now times were different. I was living in Crown Heights and rarely visited Manhattan anymore.

My first stop that night was the familiar AMC theaters. I tried to convince myself that what I needed was a good movie to wash away the worries. But after perusing title after title, I left.

My next stop was the Barnes & Noble nearby. But after buying a few sci-fi books that I never read and threw out shortly thereafter, I left there as well.

By now the rain was pouring down as I entered my final destination, Pizza Cave, a kosher pizza restaurant that existed at the time. Soaked through-and-through I ordered a slice, ate, and left.

As was leaving, I ran into an elderly beggar. But instead of asking for his needs, likely noticing that I was a Chabad hasid, he began to recount the following…

He said that his tzedakeh collecting days were not always this trying. Over a numbers of years, he would wait outside 770 Eastern Parkway, the headquarters of Chabad, on Sundays to collect tzedakeh. From 1986-1992, thousands of people converged on 770 to receive a dollar and a blessing from the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In turn, as was the custom, these “dollar recipients” would then give another dollar in place of the original to tzedakeh. As the original dollar from the Rebbe was intended for tzedakeh, these “exchange dollars” allowed the recipients to keep the ones that were physically handed to them by the Rebbe. It was in order to collect these “exchanged” dollars that this man stood outside 770 every Sunday.

Feeling deeply at ease from his story, I thanked the man for sharing his experience, handed him a $5 bill, and headed to the subway back home.

I later realized why his story brought me such great relief, and why his story so deeply calmed me. Prior to meeting this man I felt that I was missing something. I felt bereft because I hadn’t met the Rebbe face-to-face, and this troubled me greatly. I began to question my place within Chabad and doubted whether my contributions–creative or otherwise–were really worthwhile.

I don’t know if this man ever waited in line to receive an “original” dollar, or if he even saw the Rebbe (since he was standing outside 770 and the Rebbe was inside), but what I do know is that it provided him food to eat and perhaps even new clothing to wear. So too I began to acknowledge that even though I may be standing on the outside, this does not mean that my contributions are worthless. Indeed, as confirmation to this importance of this night, I later found out that on that very same night, my future wife had been writing a long soul-searching letter listing all the things she was looking for in a match.

‘Rickshaw’ Sukkah Makes the Rounds in New York

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

The holiday of Sukkot commands Jews to live in “booths” — commemorating the temporary dwellings their ancestors inhabited while wandering the desert for 40 years. Though many Manhattan apartments measure only slightly larger than those original booths, unless the apartment roof is retrofitted with twigs from Central Park, it doesn’t quite qualify as a sukkah.

Thankfully, one Chabad Lubavitch yeshiva student in Brooklyn has taken it upon himself to ensure that all New Yorkers can experience the holiday.

Levi Duchman, 21, is the inventor of the pedi-sukkah, a rickshaw bicycle with a mobile sukkah attached to the back.

While small, each sukkah meets all the halachic requirements. During the days before Sukkot and during Chol HaMoed, Duchman says he spends 12 hours a day on the pedi-sukkah, pedaling around Brooklyn and Manhattan to let New Yorkers step inside to say a blessing.

“It’s the best thing to see people’s reactions, and to give people in New York the opportunity to get involved with the holiday,” Duchman said. “We get a lot of smiles and pictures, and lot of positivity, even from the police.”

Sometimes people ask to take a ride in the sukkah, and he obliges for short trips.

Duchman built his first pedi-sukkah five years ago. He rented a pedicab and worked overnight with his younger brother to create something that hopefully wouldn’t fall off and block Manhattan traffic. The sukkah stayed put, and today there are over 50 of his bikes spread across 15 states and over five countries.

The bikes have come a long way. Duchman now works with a manufacturer to create an easy-to-assemble pedi-sukkah. He even created a “menorah cycle” for Chanukah, and a “mitzvah cycle” affixed with a banner that encourages others to lay tefillin and light Shabbat candles (because it’s never a bad time to ride a bike and do good deeds).

Between the cost of the materials and the pedicab itself, one bike goes for nearly $2,000. But Duchman charges exactly what it costs him.

“It’s not a business,” he said. “It’s a way to spread awareness. Baruch HaShem.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/rickshaw-sukkah-makes-the-rounds-in-new-york/2014/10/12/

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