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July 26, 2014 / 28 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

Florida Chabad Vandalized after Expansion Plan Announcement

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The Chabad Jewish Center in Boca Raton, Fla., was vandalized a day after an article in a local newspaper announced the center’s expansion plans.

A cement marker with a sign indicating the rabbi’s parking space was torn from its place and thrown through a glass door of the Jewish center sometime Monday night, the Sun-Sentinel reported.

Boca Raton police are investigating the incident, which was discovered Tuesday morning, as an act of vandalism and not a hate crime even though surrounding buildings were not subject to such vandalism, however, according to the local CBS affiliate.

“To come to a synagogue and find it having been vandalized, and littered with shattered glass, broken concrete and debris, sends painful shudders down the spine of any Jew,” Chabad Rabbi Ruvi New told the Sun Sentinel. “One can only speculate who the perpetrators were and what their motives may have been.”

Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Clarification and Update:

Wording in the title of this article has been changed from “Rabbi in Crimea Escapes with Torah Scroll” to “Rabbi in Crimea Makes it Out on the Last Train”, to avoid any potential misunderstanding that Rabbi Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc may have stolen the Torah from the Crimea war zone, or abandoned his community in its time of need.

The Torah was moved to a safer location in Simferopol, and Rabbi Lipszyc was advised by his superiors at Chabad headquarters to temporarily move his center of operations out of Crimea. The Rabbi is still working with his community via Skype, phone and email.

JewishPress.com apologizes for any misunderstanding the title may have caused if read out of context from the text of the article.

Crimea’s Chabad Rabbi Yitzchak Meyer Lipszyc escaped Simferopol with his wife on the last train that left the area before the Russian sealed it off.

“The main action in Crimea was taking place right across the street from our synagogue,” said Rabbi Lipszyc, who has been a Chabad-Lubavitch emissary in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea, for more than two decades. “There were demonstrations with over 30,000 people. The protestors were pro-Ukrainian. But eventually the ones who took over were in the unidentified uniforms—they were obviously Russian military. There was Cossacks there too; for Jews that was a bit scary because of their history in the pogroms.”

Lipszyc spoke told JNS.org, “For the last 22 years under the Ukrainian government, everything has been going very well. When this situation began, it turned things upside down. We were told by Chabad headquarters to get out and we barely made it out. My wife in fact got the last two tickets on a train out of Simferopol on the night before everything got sealed off by the Russians.

He said that despite the referendum that was almost unanimous for annexation by Russia, the thinks “most of the people wanted to stay with Ukraine, because that was what they were familiar with, but then when the Russians took over the media and propaganda switched the other way, within days we saw it swing towards being overwhelmingly pro-Russian.’

The situation is even worse for Americans like the rabbi, he added. “Americans were persona-non-gratis for both Ukrainians and Russians at this time. For Russians it is because of the stance the American government has taken against Russia. While on the Ukraine side they are deeply disappointed that America is not doing enough to help them.

“Oddly enough we had to leave there more because we were Americans and not because we were Jewish.”

Nevertheless, the atmosphere was anything but comfortable for Jews. Rabbi Lipszyc said that the Russian troops cordoned off the synagogue and that he and his wife moved to their house.

At his wife’s suggestion, they decided to move away as far as possible and wrote a note to the Lubavitcher Rebbe to ask his help to get them out.

“Believe it or not, when our friend reached the military checkpoint, he explained to them that we needed to retrieve the Torah out of the synagogue, [the Russian soldier] suddenly moved out of the way and removed the barriers to let him,” according to the rabbi. “On his way out, the solider actually even apologized to him for the inconvenience, which was unheard of there! It was a miracle. We were able to move our Torahs to a safer location in Simferopol, where services were held for several weeks.””

Despite anti-Semitism, Jews are able to practice without interference. However, he noted, “We have to prepare for Passover and need to raise a lot of money to help with the extra costs. We not only need extra security, but we have taken loses during the process.

“We were getting our kosher meat from Ukraine; we had ordered and paid for it, but they [Russian forces] didn’t let it through. We also paid for the Matzos, but that didn’t get through either. We need to figure out how to all our supplies through now. We are appealing to everyone to help out the Jewish community there.”

Sam Kliger, the American Jewish Committee’s director of Russian Jewish community affairs, told JNS.org that according to international law and most Western observers, the referendum was illegitimate.

“In 1991, Crimea went to independent Ukraine because, since 1954, it was part of Ukrainian Soviet Socialistic Republic which in turn was an integral part of the Soviet Union,” said Kliger. “That is why nobody really cared. As long as it was a part of the USSR, it did not really matter whether it is formally a part of Russia or Ukraine. Now Russia, using as pretext the instability created by Ukrainian revolution and imaginary ‘discrimination’ against ethnic Russians, just grabbed the opportunity to return Crimea to where, according to Russia, it historically belongs.”

Shabbat Saved a Jew from the Malaysia Airlines Death Flight

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

(JTA) The popular travel discount blog Dan’s Deals is circulating a story that a Jewish passenger who was supposed to be on the missing Malaysia Airlines plane was switched to an alternative flight because his Orthodox Jewish travel agent in Israel refused to book him on an itinerary that would have him traveling on Shabbat.

Under Orthodox Jewish law, facilitating someone else’s Sabbath desecration — boarding an airplane — is as forbidden as desecrating the Sabbath oneself.

Here’s the email exchange on January 13 and 14 between the passenger, identified as Andy, and the travel agent. The emails were posted online by Dan’s Deals with the identifying details removed.

Andy: One amendment, I need the KUL-PEK flight a day later. I need the extra day in Kuala. once that is set you can lock in.
Travel Agent: I wish I can give you a day later, but you know I just don’t like flying Jews on Shabbat. I can take that leg out if you want and you book yourself.

Andy decides to book the flight himself but later changes his mind:

Andy: I reconsidered, you are right I should be more observant, I’ll manage without that day in Kuala. Since I’ll have an extra night in PEK Any recommendations for a good Friday night dinner in Beijing?
Agent: Ok, glad to hear. Try this: http://www.chabadbeijing.com/

Then, on March 8, Andy writes:

Holy God,
You sure heard what happened to MH370
I cannot stop thinking about this.
This is a true miracle for the books. You are a true life saver…
I cannot think anymore! We’ll talk later this week. Don’t know how to thank you enough
(See the full email exchange here.)

When I tried to verify the authenticity of the story with Daniel Eleff of Dan’s Deals, he sent me this message:

At this time the travel agent and the passenger are opting to remain anonymous. There has been a fair amount of negative feedback and they are choosing to wait until the fate of the flight in known to determine if they’ll go public.
I have personally verified the story and can vouch for its authenticity. The emails I posted with time stamps are unaltered except to remove identifiable information.

Haredim Being Drafted – to Ukrainian Army

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

If not in Israel, then in the Ukraine.

Ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students in Kiev and other Ukrainian cities received draft notices to report to the Ukrainian army draft center, according to a report in Maariv.

Yeshiva students from multiple yeshivas in Kiev, including Chabad students, were told to report to the draft center, in response to the increasing tensions with Russia.

Unlike in the IDF, Jewish soldiers in the Ukrainian army cannot get kosher food (much less, Glatt Kosher food), cannot have beards, and must work on Shabbat – which is they day they clean the base. They certainly won’t be guaranteed time for daily prayers like they would be in the IDF.

Some of the students are considering running away to Israel.

The only question is, this time, will the Jews in the Ukraine decide to run away before it’s too late, or only after it’s too late.

NJ Chabad Rabbinical Student Killed in Garbage Truck Accident

Monday, February 24th, 2014

A New Jersey rabbinical student on his way to morning prayers was struck by a garbage truck and killed in Brooklyn.

Gedalia Gruntzweig, 25, a student at Tiferes Bachurim, a Chabad-Lubavitch yeshiva in Morristown, was visiting friends in Crown Heights on Sunday for a pre-wedding party.

Gruntzweig, a Ukraine native, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Cars driving near the scene indicated that Gruntzweig had the right of way, but witnesses said the truck driver, who was attempting to make a right turn, did not see him, according to the New York Daily News. The driver remained at the scene and no summonses were issued.

The Department of Sanitation released a statement sending its “deepest condolences to the family … and the entire Crown Heights community.”

Jewish Fashion Magazine Targets Orthodox Women

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

The one-year-old, glossy, high-end Hadar Orthodox women’s fashion magazine is capitalizing on Orthodox Jewish lifestyle becoming more upscale and will publish its third edition just after Purim.

The magazine is the brainchild of a Yeshiva University Stern College for Women graduate and the product of hers and a good friend’s creativity and entrepreneurship.

“I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur,” says Bari Weizman, owner and content director of Hadar, who explains that her magazine embodies the essence of the modest Jewish woman while exploring her desire to remain current and fashionable.

The idea came to Weizman one Shabbat when she was schmoozing with her sister about how all the little girls in their hometown of Monsey were wearing the same headbands with big, poufy bows, and the women were dressed in the same black boots on their walk to shul.

“I started thinking about all of these different fashion bloggers and how there is such a big interest in the Jewish community to add more fashion into one’s wardrobe, instead of just putting a Kiki Riki [shell] under everything,” Weizman tells JNS.org.

As she grew more excited about the idea she reached out to a former colleague, Shevi Genuth, and invited her to be a partner. Genuth now serves as editor and publisher of Hadar. The team also recruited Jessica Gugenheim, one of Weizman’s family friends, as fashion editor.

Gugenheim, who lives in Manhattan, describes the magazine as individualistic. “I don’t think our style is trying to follow any certain drum,” she says. Gugenheim looks for a combination of elegance and high-fashion at price points that are affordable for the average Orthodox Jew, who likely has to pay for day school and feed numerous children.

“I love working with pieces from H&M or Target and making them [the models] look like they just walked off the runway,” she tells JNS.org.

The magazine uses the developers’ religious friends instead of professional models, although flipping through its pages of spiked heels, creative layering, and trendy colors, one would never know.

Gugenheim worked previously at Anthropologie, a popular national retailer. There, she says, she “dressed the customers.” While each client had her own concern – a petite figure, recent weight loss – she says finding fashion for Hadar is a more sophisticated challenge. Hadar only features skirts, long sleeves, and high necklines. Gugenheim, who has a degree in art history, works with national brands to get samples that fit the frum bill.

“I just see fashion as a different expression of art,” she says. “As opposed to painting on a canvas, the designers are painting with fabric.”

Her first fashion tip: confidence.

“Anything you wear with confidence will look better,” she says.

But can Hadar Magazine survive the huge transformations occurring in all media sectors, from media owners to modeling agencies, from marketers to advertisers? Media channels are becoming more fragmented and the consumer is more empowered than ever before. Individuals become media in their own right, through blogging and social media. Is there a place for a new print magazine?

In the Orthodox community, says Weizman, the answer is yes. Using an iPad or a Kindle on Shabbat is still—and will likely always be—forbidden. Hence, the Orthodox community turns to print. Hadar reader Yonina Leibowitz of Monsey, NY, is one example.

“During the week, I don’t have time to sit and read a magazine,” Leibowitz tells JNS.org.

“I work full time. On Shabbat, I read all my magazines, the books I want to read. I don’t think print will really go out of style in my community,” she says, noting that she looks to Hadar for clothing trends she can easily put into practice.

Video Memories of Jewish Comedian Sid Caeser

Thursday, February 13th, 2014

Mel Brooks, who was a longtime collaborator with the late Sid Caeser, said, “From my vantage point, which was sometimes no further than an inch from his face, and one time nose on nose, he was inarguably the greatest pantomimist, monologist and single sketch comedian who ever worked in television. His ability to mimic foreign languages in double talk was extraordinary.”

Caesar even brought his multilingual shtick to the Chabad telethon, the Jewish “Show of Shows,” as seen here:

Born in Yonkers to immigrant parents from Poland and Russia, Caeser began his career playing the saxophone and doing some comedy work in the Catskills. His break out gig was the weekly live comedy program “Your Show of Shows.” Writers for the 1950s sketch show included Brooks, Woody Allen, Neil Simon, and Carl Reiner.

“Inarguably he was the greatest single monologist and skit comedian we ever had,” Reiner told The Hollywood Reporter. “Television owes him a debt of gratitude for his pioneering work and the great shows he gave us all. Render onto Caesar what is his due. He deserves real applause from the American people.”

From Brooks: “Sid Caesar was a giant — maybe the best comedian who ever practiced the trade. And I was privileged to be one of his writers and one of his friends.”

Below is Caeser’s skit with Reiner and Imogene Coca as a bull fighter.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/video-memories-of-jewish-comedian-sid-caeser/2014/02/13/

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