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November 27, 2014 / 5 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad Lubavitch’

MK Yuli Edelstein Tells Chabad Rabbis Why He ‘Lost It’ Over Tefillin

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

Sometimes it takes an Israeli politician to tell a rabbi about how precious a pair of tefillin can be.

Thousands of Chassidic rabbis are still trickling out of the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn in the wake of the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch movement’s annual international convention for its emissaries.

At least 5,200 of the rabbis from more than 80 countries around the world gathered for the 31st annual International Conference of Shluchim which ran for five days. The closing banquet was held Sunday evening at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein featured as guest speaker.

A former Soviet refusenik, Edelstein was sentenced in 1984 to three years in a labor camp.

Edelstein told the those at the banquet that for him, the pivotal moment in his life came when a guard in a labor camp tried to break his tefillin boxes over his knee. That, he said, was when he “lost it” and fought back — earning himself 15 days in solitary confinement.

“You would do the same if something so dear to you was being taken away,” Edelstein explained. It is ironic, he added, that today when no one is taking away tefillin, many Jews no longer know what they are.

“This is a different world, a dangerous world,” the Knesset Speaker said. “Less dramatic than being in a prison corridor with five guards,” but the mission of Chabad Chassidim remains the same — teaching Jews to know what tefillin and Shabbat candles are for.

It was for this purpose a small group of Chassidim embraced the challenge of the Lubavitcher Rebbe about 70 years ago, to become agents of transformation.

Today, some 4500 couples are dedicated to continuing that mission in 87 countries. “The Rebbe was looking to make radical change,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, chairman of the conference committee and a leader at Chabad-Lubavitch world headquarters. This year alone, 400 new emissaries took up their posts and 200 applicants are pending.

Rabbi Dovid Dubov, Chabad emissary to South London, serves the Jewish community of Wimbledon and delivered “love” as the banquet’s keynote address.

“In tennis, love equals zero. But at Chabad of Wimbledon we say that if you want to raise a racquet, serve with love,” he said with a smile.

Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, one of the Rebbe’s former aides and chairman of Chabad’s educational and social services division, noted the importance of the movement’s adherence to truth in Torah values, even above political correctness.

Prayers from a Jewish Soul Soaring on a Skateboard

Monday, September 29th, 2014

A young man whose soul loves to fly in the sky even when his body is grounded found he can integrate both in a Torah-observant lifestyle.

Benad Even-Chen, 27, was not a “religious” Jew when he began to explore his roots in late adolescence. He was, however, a semi-pro skier, cello player and skateboard fiend.

By the age of 20 the restless young man was still searching, however, and began to head towards a Torah way of life.

Today Even-Chen is a student of Jewish learning at a Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshiva in Israel. And he can be seen flying around Jerusalem on his skateboard too, when he’s not jamming with other spiritual seekers on his cello.

Fave spots? The Old City of Jerusalem near the Tower of David, alongside the rampart walls, and in the “newer” part of the capital in the Mahane Yehuda open air market.

Skateboarding down the streets of Jerusalem's Mahane Yehuda open air market at holiday time.

Skateboarding down the streets of Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda open air market at holiday time.

Even-Chen was caught by a camera on a special trip zooming down the market streets just before the Rosh HaShanah holiday this year, where he was spotted blowing a shofar for Jews who might not otherwise have had the chance to hear it. From his skateboard, of course.

Chabad Emissary Spends Rosh HaShanah in a Nepal Prison

Sunday, September 28th, 2014

The Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement did deliberately sent some volunteers to spend time in jails this Rosh HaShana — but that was in the United States. Chabad-Lubavitcher emissaries are sent to many places on their missions to bring the light of Torah to Jews in all corners of the globe.

But Rabbi Chezki Lifshitz, the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s emissary to Nepal had not planned to spend his Jewish new year in the Kathmandu prison. However, a mistake made by a clerk stamping his visa when Lifshitz last entered the country led to his arrest just before the start of the Rosh HaShanah holiday.

Instead of directing the prayer services and managing the massive holiday meals served to the hundreds of backpackers and tourists who pass through the Chabad Center, the Kathmandu emissary spent the first day and a half of the holiday behind bars.

His wife Chani Lifshitz, meanwhile, instantly reached out to World Chabad-Lubavitch Headquarters, who contacted the Israeli and U.S. foreign ministries.

Both in turn contacted the government of Nepal and exerted pressure to ensure the mistake was rectified in time for the emissary to be freed before the Sabbath began.

A team of volunteers, meanwhile, did what they could to fill in and run the prayer services and manage the meals – and suddenly discovered just how much work had been getting done by the Chabad-Lubavitch emissary without anyone ever realizing it!

The Kathmandu Chabad Center is responsible for producing the famed annual largest Passover seder in the world.

Chabad of Tel Aviv Resumes Shabbat Para Glider Campaign

Monday, September 8th, 2014

If you’re on the beach this coming Friday in Tel Aviv, you may be able to spot a para glider, reminding you when to light your Sabbath candles.

In recent years, beach goers in Tel Aviv had been accustomed to an aerial campaign promoting the Sabbath. A para glider would soar up and down the Mediterranean coast on Friday afternoons announcing candle lighting time.

For a while this year, due to the recent war in Gaza, the IDF grounded the para glider temporarily — but last week Chabad of Tel Aviv was given permission to resume its campaign.

The campaign, coordinated by Rabbi Yechezkel Gvirtz and Chabad-Lubavitch of Tel Aviv director Rabbi Yosef Gerlitzky, began with a flyer distribution and parade.

Gvirtz acknowledges that for most people, Sabbath observance can be a long process, but he notes that he’s been seeing more and more tourists showing up for Friday night and Saturday morning services.

“All they have to do is look up and they will see that the Sabbath is coming,” he says. “It speaks directly to them.”

Chabad Rabbi Remains with Trapped Jews as Ukraine Troops, Rebels, and Russians Fight for Mariupol

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Jews in Mariupol, Ukraine are caught between the proverbial ‘rock and a hard place’ with nowhere to run as the winds of war whirl into their community. Chabad-Lubavitch emissary and rabbi of the city, Rabbi Mendel Cohen, has remained to serve his brethren in what has become one of the greatest challenges of his life.

Pro-Russian separatists, Russian tanks and Ukraine forces are all rapidly converging on the key southeastern port city to fight for control.

The nearby town of Novoazovsk reportedly has fallen to the rebels over the past 24 hours, according to a report by the BBC which quoted Russian TV. The Ukraine government told media that Russian forces have crossed the border in support of the rebel advance — a charge denied by Moscow.

The besieged cities of Donetsk and Luhansk, further north, have been embattled for months. The self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), where the city of the same name is located, has attempted to secede from Ukraine. DPR Prime Minister Alexander Zakharchenko told Russian TV there were up to 4,000 Russian citizens within the ranks of the separatist rebel army, “former high-ranking military officers who have volunteered to join us. They are fighting with us, considering that to be their duty.

“There are also many in the current Russian military that prefer to spend their leave among us, brothers who are fighting for their freedom, rather than on a beach.”

“People are very worried right now,” Rabbi Cohen told Chabad.org. “There are lines at all of the gas stations and ATMs and people are stocking up on food, so there is nothing left in the stores. We don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Mariupol, the second-largest city in Donetsk, is only 35 miles from the Russian border and Russian is the primary language. In February, pro-Russian separatists seized the city’s administrative buildings and maintained control over the city for months.

Kiev sent troops and battled for control over the city in a fierce fight that ended at the city’s police station. At least six were killed in the offensive and it took until June 13 before the Ukraine government forces managed to secure total control over the city.

Rabbi Cohen described “armed men with masks right next to the shul,” saying it was “dangerous to walk around in the street” until June. Since then, however, “thank God it has become more stable.”

The sense of unease has returned, however.

Over the past month, more than 330,000 people have been displaced by combat in Donetsk to the north, and Lugansk to the east. Some 2,000 people have been killed so far, according to some estimates.

Many refugees have ended up in Mariupol. This week the sounds of shelling are much closer. Mariupol’s Jews so far insist on staying, fearing the dangers on the road to freedom more than the uncertainties facing them in their own homes. The Chabad emissary says he will stay as long as he can to aid the community.

“We have a minyan three times a day and Torah classes. Our day camp just ended, and we are now preparing for the school year,” Cohen said. The Jewish community has also worked to supply food packages to a growing number of people who need them.

Out of four emissaries serving southeastern Ukraine, Rabbi Cohen is the only one left. Three others were forced to re-evaluate their situations, along with the Jews of Donetsk, Lugansk and Maakeevka.

‘I hope and pray they will be able to return to their work very soon,” Rabbi Cohen said.

NYC Lawmaker Laurie Cumbo Presses Miami to Find Rabbi Raksin’s Murderer

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

On the 23rd anniversary of a race riot that saw mobs calling for ‘Death to the Jews!’ a gentile Crown Heights NYC Council Member stepped up pressuring Florida authorities to hunt down the murderer of a Chassidic Jewish resident attacked Aug. 9 while visiting the state.

City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo sent a letter to Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos A. Gimenez on Aug. 19, urging him step up his efforts to find the murderer of Rabbi Joseph Raksin.

“This tragedy has left New Yorkers devastated and in disbelief that such a senseless crime could be committed on the Sabbath,” Cumbo wrote.

“While the circumstances surrounding his final hours remain unclear, elected officials and interfaith leaders throughout New York City have joined together to send a message that we will not stand nor tolerate the targeting of individuals because of their religious beliefs or faith. Individuals who engage in such acts must be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law…

“On behalf of the Crown Heights community, the Jewish Caucus, and the Raksin family, we urge you and the Miami-Dade Police Department to continue to prioritize this investigation and to utilize all available resources to resolve this case. We hope that you will look upon our offices and New York City as a partner in this effort.”

The rabbi was a well-known member of the Crown Heights Chabad-Lubavitch Jewish community, was murdered while walking to synagogue in North Miami Beach.

No arrests have been made in the case. Police have yet to label the determine the murder a ‘hate crime,’ though the area is heavily Jewish and locals know that Jews carry no money or valuables during the Sabbath.

Local members of the American Jewish Committee told the Miami Herald that just two weeks before the murder, on July 28, a swastika and ‘Hamas’ were scrawled on the synagogue towards which Raksin was walking.

A member of the North Miami Beach ‘Shmira Patrol’ – a local neighborhood watch group – said a woman returned home after Raksin’s funeral in Miami to find a swastika scratched into her car. Miami-Dade police confirmed the report.

Chabad of Mumbai Reopens Nariman House in India

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

In two days, a building that six years ago was soaked in blood and tears will instead be filled with light and joy, as Chabad of Mumbai’s Nariman House reopens its doors.

More than 25 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries will attend the reopening set for Tuesday, August 26 along with other honored guests led by current co-directors, Rabbi Yisroel Kozlovsky and his wife Chaya.

The couple are continuing the work started by Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, who together with four of their guests were murdered in cold blood by Pakistani jihadist terrorists in November 2008. Only their two year old son Moishe, saved by his Indian nanny Sandra, survived the bloodbath. Both were brought home to Israel by Rivky’s parents, Rabbi and Mrs. Shimon Rosenfeld.

Despite the devastation that followed the attack — Nariman House was only one of ten sites that were struck in a city-wide mass casualty attack by the 10-man terrorist cell — Chabad’s outreach to Jews in Mumbai continued.

“We remember what happened, but we are working for the future,” Kozlovsky told Chabad.org this week.

All of the activities that took place at Nariman House prior to the attack will continue, he said, and hopefully the program will expand further. Chabad of Mumbai was established by the Holtzbergs in 2003 to serve Israeli backpackers, international Jewish business people and the local Indian Jewish community, he pointed out.

With funding from the Rohr Family Foundation and strong mentoring from Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch — the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch — the Holtzbergs purchased Nariman House and set up their program.

Kotlarsky underlined the importance of never giving in to terror. “We didn’t pause after this great tragedy,” he said. “We regrouped immediately and continued working, never stopping. That was our response to what happened in Mumbai. We build communities… serving the Jews in Mumbai, locals and foreigners, was and continues to be our priority.”

The reopening of the Chabad center is timed to coincide with the regional conference of more than 25 Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Asia, organized by Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, regional director and head of Chabad of Thailand. Kantor has been deeply involved in the renewal of Nariman House, as he was involved in the development of the original Chabad center as well.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chabad-of-mumbai-reopens-nariman-house-in-india/2014/08/24/

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