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November 21, 2014 / 28 Heshvan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

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.”

Israeli Girl Molested at Chabad 770, Arrest Made

Friday, October 10th, 2014

New York police have arrested and charged a non-Jewish janitor at the Chabad 770 headquarters with molesting a young Israeli girl who was sleeping in a stairwell.

The incident provoked complaints of the lack of sleeping facilities for Jewish tourists who are essentially homeless.

The girl who fended off her attacker with screams is visiting from Israel for the month. She was sleeping in a stairwell leading to the women’s section of “770” when the attacker, of Hispanic descent, began to molest her.

Shomrim security officials tracked down the suspect, and the young woman was able to identify him in lineup.

Crown Heights Info reported that many women pay an organization that is supposed to provide housing and eating facilities for visitors, but young Jewish women have been seen roaming the streets with their luggage but without a place to stay for the night. Some of them sleep on benches in synagogues.

Crown Heights Father, 5 Yr Old Son Attacked in ‘Knock-Out’ Game

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

A Jewish father and his five year old son were attacked Tuesday in another round of the ‘knockout game’ as they walked to the little boy’s first day at school in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is that an alert bystander saw the attack and chased the assailant. He raced after him down President Street, according to the Crown Heights.info website, flagging down a police patrol cruiser along the way. Police officers joined the chase.

The perpetrator was cornered in an apartment building – but that didn’t mean he was ready to give up when police tried to place him under arrest. Instead he resisted violently and police were forced to add a spritz of mace to their efforts to subdue the suspect.

First responders treated the perpetrator on the scene, and the father and son also arrived to identify their attacker and formally press charges.

The neighborhood, home to “770″ – World Headquarters of the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement, is a racially mixed area which also hosts the city’s West Indian Day Parade each year.

California Earthquake Wreaks Havoc at Chabad House

Monday, August 25th, 2014

The 6.1 earthquake that jolted northern California in the middle of the night Sunday upended furniture and scattered broken glass at the Napa Valley Chabad Jewish Center.

“It was very violent—not a gentle rolling quake, but more of a jolting traumatic experience that shocked us out of sleep at 3:20 a.m. and lasted for about half a minute, Rabbi Elchonon Tenenbaum told the Chabad website.

The rabbi, his wife and five children were not injured.

Tenenbaum said he waited outside with his neighbors until daybreak before going back into his home and Chabad center, where power had been lost, to survey the damage. Upended furniture and broken glass prevented him from accessing some rooms, including his office. A disaster recovery fund was quickly established for those wanting to help out.

“I went to check up on people in the area and found that they were in a similar situation,” he added. “Their houses are standing, but everything inside has been ruined. Thank God, this happened in the middle of the night when we were in our beds and not in other parts of our homes, where heavy bookcases fell over.”

The Chabad website reported, “Tenenbaum says that waking up in the middle of the night with his children screaming amid violent banging and shaking helped him picture what life must be like on a regular basis for people living in Israel, where Hamas has been firing rockets from Gaza for much of the summer.”

“It is really surreal,” he said. “There are some stores that are functioning as usual, and others have been completely destroyed for now. Some streets are buckled, and others are just fine. Some people have broken water mains or leaking gas pipes, and others do not.”

Many residents in the area, famous for its wineries, are crying over wine spilled from barrels that were broken from the earthquake.

The largest quake to hit the San Francisco area in 25 years, it caused several injuries, including three who are in critical condition, set off fires and knocked out power.

Napa’s downtown historical areas sustained irreparable damage.

TEFILLIN, TEHILIM AND TILIM (Phylacteries, Psalms, and Rockets)

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

In 1980, Russia was still under a tyrannical Soviet rule. In spite of all the persecution, a religious awakening began among the Jews of the Soviet Union. A special envoy of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson arrived in the Soviet Union. He was surprised by the extreme devotion of the younger generation, which, despite the persecutions, had ignited the ember of Judaism, and at the end of his visit he told Dr. Yitzhak Kogan, one of the Chabad underground activists, that he would report back to the Rebbe what he had witnessed and ask him to especially bless Rabbi Yitzhak Kogan.

He was surprised to hear Rabbi Yitzhak ask that, instead of this, Rabbi Menachem Mendel should bless Yosef Mendelevich, a Prisoner of Zion who had been in prison already for ten years. Yosef had been arrested in the Leningrad Airport together with his friends for attempting to hijack a Soviet plan and flee to Israel.

“He has currently been on a hunger strike for 55 days, demanding to give him back the Humash and Siddur they confiscated from him,” said Yitzhak Kogan – “his physical condition is very bad. The Rebbe must pray for his immediate release from the prison.”

And in fact the Rebbe’s prayer was answered, and within a few months Yosef was flown straight from the prison to Israel. On a stopover in Vienna they brought the redeemed prisoner to the Israel Embassy in Austria.

“What is your first request,” the ambassador asked him.

“I need a set of Tefillin to lay before sunset.”

The Ambassador looked at his embassy staff members – Which of them would still have Tefillin?

Suddenly there stepped forward Rabbi Israel Singer, the then Director of the World Jewish Congress.

“Very interesting,” said Singer. “After hearing about the release of Mendelevich I was supposed to fly out to welcome him.”

Before that, I contacted Rabbi Menacehm Mendel and asked him, what I should take for the freed Yosef?”

“Take him Tefillin,” said the Rebbe.

“And here are the Tefillin I have brought you on the orders of the Rebbe.” And so, for the first time in his life, Yosef put on the Tefillin.

After he arrived in Israel, the Tefillin disappeared. Yosef was heartbroken.

Avraham Yitzchak Rahamim Mendelevich – one of Yosef’s sons, a student at the Carmiel Hesder Yeshiva, had been called up to serve in the IDF a year and eight months previously in an Armored Corps battalion.. The commanders thought that he was ideal officer material, and pressed him to continue to serve. But Avraham Yitzchak – (named after Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak HaCohen Kook) refused.

“I am going back to the yeshiva.”

On the day he was due to be released from the IDF, Operation Protective Edge began, and he was sent from the Golan Heights to fight in Gaza. His battalion was stationed on the outskirts of the Zaitoun neighborhood, not far from the settlement of Netzarim.

Avraham Yitzhak very much regretted that he would not be able this year to go to the grave of his grandfather, Moshe Mendelevich, an Aliya activist in Riga in the 1970′s, on his Yahrzeit, 16 Tammuz, the eve of the Three Weeks.

He did not know that, precisely on that day, the Tefillin which Rabbi Menachem Mendel ha ordered to be given to his father Yosef, were found.

It turned out that the Tefillin were with a nephew, Ronen Lisitzin.

The moment Yosef Mendelevich received the Tefillin back, he began to think how to get them to Avraham Yitzhak and give him special protection. However, it turned out that it was not possible to send the Tefillin to the battle area. But, as it is known, Hashem turns good intentions into deeds, and Yosef hoped that, thanks to all these things, the Tefillin would begin to perform their mission.

 Contact with Avrhaam Yitzchak was very difficult. With the entry into the battle zone the phones were taken from the combatants. In brief sallies to the rear for equipping the tank with ammunition and for repairs, Avraham Yitzchak would contact his parents on the unit commander’s phone. Every such conversation was a gift from Heaven and caused great excitement in the family. His mother asked her son to observe all the safety regulations and his father asked him to read Psalms from the Book of Tehilim every day.

In the neighborhood where Battalion No. 7 was located, fierce battles were taking place. The terrorists were using anti-tank missiles as well as snipers and attacks from the tunnels. All of Am Israel prayed for the success of the soldiers and their safe return.

It happened on Rosh Hodesh Av…

There was a powerful flash of light in the tank, followed by the sound of a huge explosion. The tank filled with smoke. Over the intercom they announced “Tank No. 3 has been destroyed.” Avraham Yitzhak relates that his ears were deafened by the explosion. He didn’t know whether he had been wounded and what had happened to his companions. A minute later he heard the commander shouting: “Are you all alive?” They were all alive. At that moment they received the order to return fire and they scored a direct hit on the one who had fired the missile.

And this is how Avraham described the miracle that had occurred. “There was a ceasefire, and we retreated to a safe position to rest. The commander gave us permission to leave the tank. We had spent 48 hours inside it, it was very hot, we were exhausted. But I decided to remain in the tank. I had promised Father that I would read Tehilim every day and I had to read the Tehilim of Monday, Psalm 30… ” 1. A Psalm; a Song at the Dedication of the House; of David. 2. I will extol Thee, O Lord, for Thou hast raised me up, And hast not suffered mine enemies to rejoice over me.” And because I didn’t go out, my fellow crew members also remained with me inside the tank,

Even though we were hidden inside an olive grove, the Hamas lookouts spotted us. They shot at us apparently with a Sagger guided anti-tank missile. In fact, there was no chance of escaping from this missile. But the Hamasnik and the missile struck exactly the rear of the tank. So, at first, they thought that we had been hit.”

When the tank crew emerged from the tank, Avraham looked at the place in the tank turret where he was supposed to have stood during the rest period. All the equipment was burnt. The missile has passed one meter from the place.

At the thanksgiving meal which took place in his parents’ home in Jerusalem, Avraham Yitzhak told about the miracle that had happened to him thanks to the Guardian of Israel, and thanks to the Tehilim of King David. Then his father, Rabbi Yosef Mendelevich, stood up and told everyone about the Tefillin which the Rebbe had sent him 33 years previously, and which had turned up exactly during the current fighting.

The Injured Soldiers Prayer List

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Chabad has provided a list of all the soldiers injured so far in Operation Protective Edge, so you can add them to your prayers.

Chabad's list of injured soldiers for your prayers.

Chabad’s list of injured soldiers for your prayers.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/the-injured-soldiers-prayer-list/2014/07/25/

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