web analytics
April 23, 2014 / 23 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad’

Fire Ravages Belarus’ Oldest Functioning Shul

Sunday, December 1st, 2013

One of Europe’s oldest functioning synagogues sustained heavy damage in a fire that broke out in the city of Grodno in Belarus.

The flames erupted Tuesday night as a result of malfunctioning heating system and consumed the dining room and part of the second floor of Grodno’s Great Choral Synagogue, according to a report Wednesday by the Ministry of Emergency Situations. No one was injured.

According to Chabad.info, an official website of the Hasidic movement, Great Choral was built in the 16th century and is believed to be the oldest synagogue still in use in the former Soviet Union.

Thanks to the quick intervention of the local fire brigade, the damage from the fire was limited to 30 square yards and did not spread to the first and third floors.

The synagogue burned down completely in 1899, according to the website of the local Jewish community, but was renovated and fully restored. Last year, the Jewish community of Grodno announced it was preparing for more renovations due to neglect during the Soviet era.

During World War II, Nazi forces rounded up the Jewish population of Grodno in and around the building before sending them to the death camps.

London Rabbi Suing Billionaire Philanthropist over Property Deal

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

A Ukrainian billionaire living in London is being sued by his rabbi over a joint property venture.

Rabbi Yonah Pruss claims that he and Gennadiy Bogolyubov, a philanthropist who is involved in the Chabad movement, entered into a deal to find, purchase and manage investment properties in Britain along with a surveyor, Colin Gershinson, according to the Times of London.

Bogolyubov put up the money for the properties identified by Pruss, a Chabad rabbi, and Gershinson, the newspaper reported. Pruss and Gershinson were to share in the profits.

But the rabbi, who reportedly eased Bogolyubov’s way into London Jewish society, discovered that two of the most valuable properties were placed into trust for Bogolyubov and his family. Pruss and Gershinson are now demanding millions of dollars for their share of the deals.

A lawsuit has been filed in a lower court, according to The Independent, and Pruss has threatened to take the case to Britain’s High Court.

Livni, Bennett Back Bill to Pretend Jews Need Only One Chief Rabbi

Monday, November 11th, 2013

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Jewish Home chairman and Minister for Religious Affairs Naftali Bennett unveiled the outline Monday morning of their new bill to eliminate the system of a two-headed Chief Rabbinate and replace it with “one rabbi for one people.”

Modern Israel always has had two chief rabbis, one for the Ashkenazi community and one for the Sephardi community. Each community has vastly different traditions and different rulings on Jewish laws. Within each community there are several sub-cultures. There are “Yechi” Ashkenazi Jews. There are many different Chassidic sects, and there are “Litvak,” Misnagim,” Lubavitch-Chabad, Ger, Neturei Karta, Vishnitz and a host of others.

In Israel, there is no lack of different synagogues representing the origin of their worshippers’ families. There are Iraqi, Iranian (Parsi), Egyptian and Yemenite synagogues, to mention a few.

Livni, who is secular, and Bennett, who is modern Orthodox, each believe that one chief rabbi is enough for everyone,

Their bill would clear the way for a single chief rabbi in 10 years, when the next election will take place. Three months ago, Haredi Rabbi David Lau defeated national religious Rabbi David Stav to head the Ashkenazi rabbinate. Rabbi Yitzchak Yosef was elected Chief Sephardi Rabbi.

Both of the new chief rabbis are sons of two of the most popular men ever to serve as chief rabbi – Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau and the late Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, who was highly controversial among those outside of Sephardi circles. Each man is a legend, and the thought of a single chief rabbi would have been unthinkable under their charismatic leadership.

Livni and Bennett insist they are not retrying to blur the lines of tradition. A single rabbi undoubtedly would save money, but finance is not part of their agenda.

“There is one prime minister, one president, one supreme court and one IDF Chief of Staff,” Livni said. The time has come that there should be one rabbi for one people, The time has some that Israel has one chief rabbi to unite all segments of Israeli society, [The time has come for] a rabbinate that will serve all religious sectors instead of a county that retains the separation of communities. It is possible to respect tradition in the house without separating religious authority,” she said.

Bennett chimed in, “This [bill] is an important step that symbolizes unity. The appointment of one rabbi is one of those subjects that raises the question, ‘Why wasn’t it done sooner?’ Today, when an Ashkenazi and Sephardi marry, there not two rabbis. Today, there is one army, and there are no separate positions for Ashkenazim or Sephardim.”

The idea sound so nice. All of the People of Israel will unite together, holding hands, dancing the hora and embracing each other with whole-hearted acceptance as a person and not as a “Sephardi” or “Ashkenazi.” Peace and love all wrapped up in a stewing pot of melted Jews.

Judaism has survived and blossomed since the 12 Tribes of Yaakov (Jacob) because of their unity as Jews and differences of character, personality and customs.

“One rabbi for one people” would discourage diversity. Obviously, a single chief rabbi would be an expert in different customs and would not issue a ruling that would violate a community’s customs. Sephardim would not be told to give up “kitniyot” for Passover and Ashkenazim would not start rising before dawn to recite Selichot prayers during the entire Hebrew month of Elul before Rosh HaShanah.

Regardless of whatever merits there may be to the bill, and despite probable enthusiasm from Israel’s leading secular media, the bill will have tough going.

Overcoming centuries of tradition in one Knesset session is a bit too much for Livni, the darling of dwindling leftist-center secular Israelis who did not vote for Yair Lapid and a villain to national religious Jews, including Bennett except for the one-rabbi bill. Bennett is riding a wave of secular support for his Jewish Home party, the inheritor of the old Mafdal crowd.

If the bill gets to the Knesset floor, it will provide lots of colorful copy for journalists. Shas will go berserk, and the United Torah Judaism party of Haredi Ashkenazi Jews will be able to sue Bennett for Livni for causing them a collective heart attack, God forbid.

New Berlin Jewish Student Center Fights Anti-Israel Trend

Monday, October 28th, 2013

Berlin’s first Jewish student house opened its doors on Sunday for pro-Israel lectures and activities in response to anti-Israel tendencies commonly found on Berlin’s campuses and for cultural and leisure activities for Jewish students in the German capital.

Rabbi Yehuda Teichtal, who is behind the effort and serves as a Jewish community rabbi in Berlin, stated during the ceremony, “As Berlin has become a magnet for Jewish students from throughout the world in recent years, it’s time to have a regular home for Jewish students in the city.”

Approximately 150 members of the local Jewish community attended the ceremony, along with senior German government officials. Among them were Jewish philosopher Professor Micha Brumlik, the vice president of the German Bundestag, Petra Pa, and other members of the Bundestag.

The three-story Jewish Student House will also be used as a meeting place for 5,000 male and female Jewish students at Berlin’s three universities and other academic institutions in the city. it is intended to serve as a deterrent to the current 50 percent rate of intermarriage among German Jews.

Rebbitzen Chaya Greenberg, who will be managing the student house alongside the students, said during the ceremony, “We don’t consider you, the students, as guests but as family, and this is not just simply a building, but a family home for all Jewish students.”

The new house will be run by Chabad on Campus and  the KSpace organization, operated by students.

Wild Bushfires Drive Some Australian Jews from Their Homes

Thursday, October 24th, 2013

Wild bushfires ravaging Australia forced members of the Jewish community to evacuate their homes, some of which already have been destroyed by flames since the fires broke out Wednesday a week ago due to explosives used in army exercises.

David Lake, a traditional Sephardi Jew lost his home in the blaze at the Blue Mountains west of Sydney and was able to flee with almost no possession except a Kiddush cup and a mezuzah.

“All my possessions were incinerated,” Lake said. “It’s difficult and emotionally traumatizing.

“The Kiddush cup was completely blackened but I managed to restore it – it’s still useable,” he added. He said the mezuzah on the archway in front of his door was “still intact,” but others lying in the ashes were totally destroyed.

Lake has been living since Tuesday at a Chabad house in Sydney, which has 40 rooms available, along with a handful of other Jewish evacuees.

Other Jewish groups rallied to help the victims this week.

Our Big Kitchen, a Chabad-run community kitchen in Bondi, staged a cook-a-thon on Tuesday, preparing more than 1,000 meals for distribution to victims and firefighters.

“We pray that God Almighty has mercy and brings a swift end to this terrible catastrophe, comforts the bereaved and heals the wounded,” said Pinchus Feldman, the chief rabbi of Chabad in Sydney.

The Jewish House, a crisis center, is offering psychological help, as well as shelter for those with pets.

“We’re in touch with 25 families,” said the center’s CEO, Rabbi Mendel Kastel. “Most are all packed up and ready to run if they need to.”

Jewish Aid Australia launched an appeal this week. “Like all Australians, the Jewish community is deeply concerned by the devastation left in the fires’ wake,” said Jewish Aid Australia CEO Gary Samowitz.

Bush fires are akin to Australia’s frontline war. In 2009, bushfires killed more than 170 people and destroyed 150 homes in Victoria, the worst blaze in Australian history.

Two people have been killed, the latest being a pilot whose water bomber plane crashed in rugged country on the southern coast of Australia. The crash sparked another fire, one of more than 50 are burning across the state of New South Wales.

More than 200 homes have been destroyed, and one man died from a heart attack while trying to save his home.

Sefer Torah Represents a First for Canadian City

Friday, October 4th, 2013

At first glance, it looked like any other community day in the park. Kids dabbled on arts-and-crafts projects while the adults mingled, enjoying refreshments on a nearby table as a band played in the background.

But a few details hinted that this Sept. 10 festival was unlike any other the city of Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada had ever seen—namely, the tent just off to the side, where a bearded gentleman sat with a quill in hand and a large Torah scroll open on a table before him.

The pomp and circumstance went hand in hand to mark the completion and dedication of a brand-new Torah scroll for the two-year-old Chabad-Lubavitch of the Okanagan, co-directed by Rabbi Shmuly and Fraidy Hecht.

“People were just flabbergasted, and so excited to have a Sefer Torah,” said Rabbi Hecht. “People in the community came over to me in tears telling me how happy they are living in this small town, and who would have ever thought we’d get to write our own Sefer Torah?”

Hecht noted that the date was chosen to recognize the yahrtzeit, the anniversary of the passing of Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson, mother of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.

Community member Stephen Cipes acknowledged the “great deal of support, merriment and gaiety” at the celebration. “It was very meaningful.”

Of some 117,000 residents in Kelowna, Hecht estimates that maybe 1,000 are Jewish. And while Kelowna is the largest city in British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley, how did this relatively quiet area—a full 4½-hour drive northeast of Vancouver—end up with its own Torah?

‘A Nice Coincidence’

According to Hecht, the story goes back several months ago to the Jewish festival of Shavuot.

For that holiday—held this year in mid-May and which commemorates G‑d’s giving of the Torah at Sinai—Hecht needed to borrow a Torah scroll from a synagogue in Vancouver, since Chabad Kelowna didn’t have one of its own. Having secured one, he then sent out invitations to the community to attend a lively holiday service.

Cipes, originally from New York, and his adult sons were among those who took the rabbi up on the invite. “It was a wonderful time we had,” recalled Cipes, adding that two of his sons were even honored with an aliyah, being called up to the Torah as it was read aloud.

After services, Cipes and his son Ezra went to talk to the rabbi. That’s when Stephen Cipes announced that he wanted to buy a Torah.

“I was just inspired, and I stood up and made the gesture spontaneously,” said Cipes. “I really didn’t even know we didn’t have a Torah,” he said, because one was present during the service. As for the timing—making a pledge to buy a scroll on the day Jews celebrate G‑d’s giving of the Torah—Cipes noted that it was a “nice coincidence.”

Hecht recalled telling Cipes after his announcement “how amazing it was that on the day of Shavuot when the Jewish people received the first Torah, how honored we are that on that day we received our first Torah.”

Given that it can cost between $20,000 and $60,000 to purchase a new Torah scroll, it is often not something most Chabad houses can do when they are first getting off the ground. (The cost is due to the meticulous work and significant time it takes for the sofer, the scribe, to compose the scroll.)

During the next few months, Hecht located a Torah scroll being written in Israel and arranged for Cipes to purchase it with a planned completion marked for the High Holidays.

The Torah they got, said Cipes, “is a piece of art. It is one of the most beautiful Torahs anyone’s ever seen … .”

And in that beautiful scroll, Cipes and other community members had a hand in physically helping to complete the final letters on that early September day in the park.

“Everyone got to do a letter from their Hebrew name, which was exciting,” said Hecht, noting that this Torah is believed to be the first ever written for Jews living in the Okanagan Valley.

Among those who wrote in the scroll was Chabad supporter Lesley Spiegel, who stood in for her husband, Timothy, who was on a plane at the time. Reflecting on that moment, Spiegel said, “Honestly, it happened so quickly that I had difficulty collecting my thoughts and trying to understand the scribe at the same time. When I thought about the whole experience later, I was very emotional. I have never seen a Torah up close!”

Colorado Floods Close Boulder Synagogue on Yom Kippur

Sunday, September 15th, 2013

A killer flood in Colorado submerged a synagogue and a rabbi’s home in Boulder County, and the Chabad synagogue rabbi is thankful that Torah scrolls were saved with the help of students from the nearby University of Colorado.

“Thank G‑d, the students have been immensely helpful moving the Torahs and other sacred items to higher ground” before Yom Kippur,” Rabbi Yisrael Wilhelm told a Chabad website.

Several deaths have been reported, and 500 people are unaccounted for, with more rain expected Sunday from Denver to the Wyoming border.

Thousands of people have been evacuated or have fled their homes during the flood that has drenched some areas with up to 14 inches of rain, seven times the average amount for the entire month of September.

JTA contributed to this report.

 

 

 

French Soldiers Face Disciplinary Action for Anti-Semitic Photo

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Two French soldiers who posed in front of a Paris synagogue a few weeks ago while making an anti-Semitic gesture will be sanctioned by the French army.

The soldiers of the Alpine Hunters elite unit currently are the subject of an investigation, the French military’s spokesperson, Bruno Louisfert, told radio station RTL France Tuesday. He said they will be punished for the act.

Louisfert said that they posed for the photograph in front of the entrance door to the Beth David synagogue with their left hand placed on their right shoulder and their right hand extended over their right thigh.

Dubbed the “quenelle,” the gesture is the brainchild of the anti-Semitic comedian Dieudonne, who invented several anti-Semitic words and gestures seen to be too vague to violate France’s law forbidding hate speech and Holocaust denial. The quenelle is thought to echo the Nazi salute.

In an unrelated incident, unidentified vandals caused serious damage to a Jewish school in Marseille in southern France on Tuesday. The same Chabad-affiliated elementary school, Haya Moushka, was targeted in a similar incident three years ago.

Tuesday’s attack left many shattered windows. The school’s toilets also were smashed, along with heating radiators.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/french-soldiers-face-disciplinary-action-for-anti-semitic-photo/2013/09/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: