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January 22, 2017 / 24 Tevet, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad Lubavitch’

PM and Wife Sara Visit Great Synagogue of Astana in Historic Visit

Wednesday, December 14th, 2016

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara visited the Great Synagogue of Astana, in the capital of Kazakhstan, attending an event together with members of the Jewish community and the local Chabad House.

“Israel receives a strong standing among the nations not with a bowed head, but by being steadfast and proud,” the prime minister told those gathered. “And I say this here, in Central Asia, in an Islamic country that respects Israel, that honors coexistence and tolerance, and constitutes a model of what needs to happen – and can happen – in our region as well.

“Perhaps the most dramatic change, which the Lubavitcher Rebbe could not have foreseen, is what is happening between us and the Arab world but I will tell you about that another time. Great changes have come in the spirit of that first meeting when he said ‘Light the candle of truth, do not be afraid, be strong and of good courage.’

“So here, in this synagogue, in the spirit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, on this historic visit, I tell you together with the people in my delegation and together with my wife: ‘The Glory of Israel will not lie [I Samuel 15:29]’.

“A Happy Hanukkah to you all.”

Hana Levi Julian

How 1970s Hassidic Hackers Created Worldwide Broadcast Network

Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

By Mordechai Lightstone

This article appeared originally on Chabad.org.

This is the story of how a handful of young Hassidim set out to build a global communications network in the era before Periscope, Skype, VoIP, or even satellite or Cable TV. Their actions would sow the seeds for dozens of future Chabad-led forays into digital communications.

As Shabbat ended and the Sabbath peace faded on Saturday, Jan. 17, 1970, there was a palpable sense of excitement on the ragged streets of Crown Heights, N.Y., the Brooklyn neighborhood that’s home to Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters. The previous decade had not been kind to residents. Crime rates had shot up. Blockbusting had led to so-called “white flight,” as rapidly shifting demographics and the general malaise that had begun to afflict New York City in the Lindsay administration took hold. Once home to Jews of all backgrounds, only Lubavitcher Chassidim—many of them survivors of the Holocaust and of Soviet oppression—remained en masse as a Jewish community, a harden bulwark against what locals perceived as a communal collapse.

That Shabbat, however—the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Shevat and the day preceding it—was decidedly different.

In January 1970, for the very first time, the Rebbe’s talk at the farbrengen after Shabbat was broadcast live through a phone-line hook-up to 1,000 Chassidim gathered in the village of Kfar Chabad, Israel. Inside the “World Lubavitch Communications Center” (WLCC), Meni Wolff can be seen working on the broadcast. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

In January 1970, for the very first time, the Rebbe’s talk at the farbrengen after Shabbat was broadcast live through a phone-line hook-up to 1,000 Chassidim gathered in the village of Kfar Chabad, Israel. Inside the “World Lubavitch Communications Center” (WLCC), Meni Wolff can be seen working on the broadcast. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

At 38 degrees, the weather was relatively balmy for mid-winter, and the streets thronged with thousands of Chassidim. More than 100 guests had arrived from Israel, with even more from Jewish communities in Montreal, Los Angeles, London and beyond. It was the 20th yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) of the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory—and the date that his successor, the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—assumed the mantle of leadership for the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.

When the Rebbe delivered his first discourse 20 years earlier, the Chabad community in the Western Hemisphere numbered in the dozens. Under his guidance, the movement had blossomed, with some 100 Chabad Houses (outposts of Jewish observance and life) opening in communities and on college campuses large and small to serve Jews around the world.

That Friday had seen the completion of the “Sefer Torah to Greet Moshiach,” a Torah scroll begun by the Previous Rebbe in 1942. Though the majority of the scroll had been written relatively quickly, its completion had languished; by 1970, the project was all but forgotten. The week before, however, the Rebbe had announced that the Torah would be completed on Friday afternoon, the ninth of Shevat, and that a grand dedication would be held.

Inside the Jerusalem regional hub for the WLCC

Inside the Jerusalem regional hub for the WLCC

Instead of the normal hustle-and-bustle of preparation before Shabbat, that Friday the challahs had all been baked, the chicken already roasted and the matzah-ball soup put up the night before. Everyone was to be found at 770 Eastern Parkway, Lubavitch World Headquarters. In a first for the Rebbe, a photographer was brought in to officially document the day’s proceedings. Also for the first time, after Shabbat the Rebbe’s talk at the farbrengen (Hassidic gathering) would be broadcast live through a phone-line hook-up to 1,000 Hassidim gathered in the village of Kfar Chabad, Israel.

This early work done by a handful of yeshivah students in Brooklyn would ultimately serve as a catalyst for the Chabad movement’s expansion across the world of popular and digital media. It sowed the seeds for dozens of future Chabad-led projects, including the earliest roots of what has become the largest Jewish-content website to date: Chabad.org.

‘Publicity Through the Radio’

The need to promulgate Jewish thought and teachings via modern technology has deep roots in Jewish history. The mention of Jews involved in the nascent art of printing in Europe pre-dates Gutenberg and the Hebrew texts of Rashi’s commentary on the Torah, as well as the halachic treatise the Arba’ah Turim, which dates to 1475, making them Incunabula—the earliest works of the printed word.

In the 1940s, enterprising Chabad Hassidim in America and Israel began discussing Judaism on the radio. Among those shows were lectures on the Tanya (the seminal work of Chabad philosophy), begun in January 1960 on WEVD, The Forward’s Yiddish radio station.

The Jerusalem hub: The hook-up from New York would be rebroadcast from here to cities throughout Israel.

The Jerusalem hub: The hook-up from New York would be rebroadcast from here to cities throughout Israel.

The Rebbe encouraged the endeavor shortly after it began, drawing parallels to the Zohar’s reflection on the wellsprings of Divine and secular knowledge as a precursor to the Messianic era: “There is publicity through writing and print . . . there is publicity through speech . . . but the possibility of publicity through the radio is doubly advantageous. . . . The voice does not weaken, but reaches the ends of the earth with the same vigor with which it left the mouth of the speaker.”

“The audio equipment kept picking up radio waves from a local French channel and the audio was rather tinny, but to us, it was amazing. We were on a high!”

As the Rebbe’s emissaries traveled around the world—founding Jewish communities from Los Angeles to London to Melbourne, Australia—the demand to hear the Rebbe’s talks increased. Though his talks were transcribed and printed in pamphlets, and unofficial reel-to-reel recordings were swapped among friends, Jewish communities around the world yearned to take part in the farbrengens in real time.

The idea of broadcasting the Rebbe’s weekday talks was broached as early as 1959 as an extension of the radio broadcasts on Tanya and other Hassidic works by Rabbi Yonah Eidelkopf in Israel. The Rebbe rejected then, saying “the time has not yet come.”

In the weeks leading up to the 20th anniversary of the Rebbe’s leadership, yeshivah students in Israel, unable to fly to New York, broached the idea of creating a phone hook-up with the yeshivah’s staff. The Rebbe was approached, and permission was granted. The talks would be heard around the world.

Hassidic Hackers

The original broadcast was arranged by three Israeli yeshivah students, all in their 20s, who were studying in Brooklyn. Mulik Rivkin, Chaim Boruch Halberstam and Meni Wolff showed an innate technical aptitude, as well as the dedication to set the project up in the evenings and early mornings before the talk.

Their first task was to find a place in 770 to serve as command central, their center for operations. One of the small rooms near the back of the long corridor that forms the spine of 770 had a small window that looked down on the large synagogue beneath it, and more critically, had a phone line.

After the successful broadcast to Israel, other communities clamored to take part in future phone “hook-ups.” Yonasan Hackner, for example, was an English student studying in the Chabad yeshivah in the Parisian suburb of Brunoy, France. “As soon as we heard about the hook-ups,” he recalls, “we immediately started thinking about how we could have them as well.”

Wolff, right, and Chaim Baruch Halberstam working on the January broadcast. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

Wolff, right, and Chaim Baruch Halberstam working on the January broadcast. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

The broadcast set the stage for future technology. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

The broadcast set the stage for future technology. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

Eliezer Kalman Tiefenbrun, a local artist, began experimenting with HAM Radio and other technologies to try and bring the “hook-up” in London. He reached out Hackner for technical advice.

Together, they cold-called Halberstam in New York and began making plans to broadcast the Rebbe’s talk a month later—on Purim—in London.

In the era before Periscope, Skype, VoIP, or even satellite or Cable TV, such actions were nothing short of revolutionary.

Back then, phones in the United States (not merely the line, but the hardware itself) were owned by the communications conglomerate Bell System. In England and Israel, as well as elsewhere abroad, the phone lines were run by the national post-office system. Many aspects of phone utilization were highly regimented and mired in bureaucracy. Long-distance calls, for instance, had to be arranged in advance with the phone company, booking time beforehand with an operator. And the fee was considered prohibitively expensive, with a direct call to Israel costing $3.50 a minute in 1970.

At the same time, the 1970s were considered the “Golden Age of Phreaking”—the exploratory phone “hacking” at the cutting edge of communications. Meeting at homebrew computer clubs, future tech luminaries such as Apple co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, and Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, all had their start at this rudimentary form of hacking.

The second hook-up, March 22, 1970, on Purim. Additional phone lines were run from other offices, as well as from neighboring buildings, to make the calls to Israel, Montreal, London and France possible. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

The second hook-up, March 22, 1970, on Purim. Additional phone lines were run from other offices, as well as from neighboring buildings, to make the calls to Israel, Montreal, London and France possible. (Photo: Mulik Rivkin Archive)

It was in this cultural milieu that a handful of Hassidic hackers sought to cobble together a working phone system to transmit the Rebbe’s talks live across the globe.

That said, Halberstam and Hackner had a number of technological hurdles to address. Even after securing the funds and booking long-distance time with an operator, they needed to ensure that the audio could be played clearly to the groups assembling in London. In addition, Hackner would be returning to France for yeshivah, so the decision was made to transmit London’s hook-up to there as well.

Hackner approached a telephone agent for advice, who said that while it technically possible to attach a phone line directly into a speaker, it wasn’t officially allowed.

Afraid to take apart the phone, Hackner and Halberstam experimented with various means of connecting microphones to the phone’s speakers. Talking long-distance, they bandied about ideas across the Atlantic for days on end and late into the night. “We had teams of yeshivah students in Montreal, South Africa—all over the world trying to build a better hook-up system,” says Hackner.

view-of-the-18-elul-farbrengen

View of the 18 Elul farbrengen from WLCC’s window to the main synagogue in 770, Sept. 13, 1976 (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

Initial attempts included using ACE bandages and even sink plungers to join the two.

“When I finally did take apart my phone,” recalls Hackner, “I was shaking.” In the end, they created a system that hardwired the signal from the phone into local sound systems.

In order to transmit the call further, a phone in one of the London Chabad House offices was left off the hook to pick up the audio playing on the building’s intercom.

For the actual Purim talk, Hackner was back in Brunoy. Sound equipment was sourced in Paris, and given the six-hour time difference between London and New York, late that night the students gathered in the yeshivah’s study hall.

“The audio equipment kept picking up radio waves from a local French channel, and the audio was rather tinny,” recalls Hackner, “but to us, it was amazing. We were on a high!”

Jewish communities in London, Israel, France and Montreal had been able to unite with the events taking place in Brooklyn, N.Y.

From left: Rabbis Chaim Boruch Halberstam, Yosef Yitzchak (Y.Y.) Kazen and Yonasan Hackner at work in WLCC, Nov. 27, 1980 (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

From left: Rabbis Chaim Boruch Halberstam, Yosef Yitzchak (Y.Y.) Kazen and Yonasan Hackner at work in WLCC, Nov. 27, 1980 (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

‘On the Phone All Night’

After that, additional communities expressed interest in joining. Regional hubs were quickly set up, so that the connection from London to New York could be routed to such cities as Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds and Glasgow, as well as to France and Israel, where it would be rebroadcast to Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Kiryat Malakhi in the south and beyond. In time, the office in London routed three-quarters of the hook-ups, including lines to South Africa and Australia.

Each community was responsible for raising funds to cover their hook-up, as well as towards general operating expenses. A six-hour farbrengen then could cost upwards of $1,250 (the equivalent of about $7,800 today) and would only begin at 1 o’clock in the morning in London.

On one occasion, Hackner recalls a bewildered English operator sitting until 6 a.m., trying to figure out why people in London were taking part in a seemingly one-way call to New York.

“Whenever the Rebbe would pause from speaking,” says Hackner, “the operator would ask us if the call was over. We told him to read a book or take a nap—that we’d be on the phone all night.”

Phone trees were even set up in larger communities in Israel, London and France to alert people to “surprise” talks by the Rebbe.

A phone tree to alert residents in Paris about live hook-ups from Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. Due to the time difference, Chassidim overseas wishing to take part would have to wake up late at night to listen in.

A phone tree to alert residents in Paris about live hook-ups from Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway. Due to the time difference, Chassidim overseas wishing to take part would have to wake up late at night to listen in.

On Oct. 6, 1970, a new level of innovation was attempted as well: A two-way line was established, allowing the Chassidim gathered in Kfar Chabad not only to hear the Rebbe speak, but respond to his toast of l’chaim as well.

Halberstam in New York continued to expand the infrastructure to operate the hook-ups. Dubbing the operation “World Lubavitch Communications Center”—with the acronym WLCC, and the tagline “spreading Judaism via all means of audio and visual communications”—additional phone lines were added to the room. By the end of 1970, eights lines were set up to broadcast the talks.

“The actual room still had only one physical line,” reports Halberstam. “In order to meet the sudden demand, wires were run from around the building and even from neighboring homes.”

Some 420 phone lines were ultimately run from the phone company directly into WLCC. In turn, these lines served as regional hubs to hundreds of other countries, cities, communities and private homes.

In 1972, an equalized phone line integrating radio-quality audio was installed, allowing a team of translators to give a simultaneous running translation during the Rebbe’s public weekday talks in as many as four languages over shortwave radio. The lines had the added benefit of potentially allowing the Rebbe’s talks to be broadcast over the radio.

“The Rebbe told us that he wasn’t yet ready for his public talks to be broadcast on the radio,” said Halberstam. A year later, however, the Rebbe consented.

Soon, the Rebbe’s weekday farbrengens, in addition to radio shows hosted by Rabbis J.J. Hecht and Yosef Wineberg, were broadcast over the radio on time purchased from WEVD. The radio broadcasts happened so frequently that ultimately, the mixing was done by the staff of WLCC and sent directly to WEVD’s offices at 770 Broadway. The room was also put to use during Jewish Educational Media’s live satellite broadcasts of farbrengens, and the “Chanukah Live” broadcasts in the 1980s and ’90s.

Spreading Light Around the World

Beginning in the 1980s, the “hook-up” room went through vast technological innovation.

In 1982, an automated system was built by Halberstam to directly connect people calling in to the live feed, without the need to manually connect the lines. Until that point, if a call was dropped or disconnected, the line would remain open in WLCC, effectively making it impossible to dial back in. Halberstam did the research, investigating various options used by telecommunications firms, and developed a method incorporating a password system. It also included 100 lines for on-demand call-in Torah lectures, as well as video and audio equipment to record and copy the events in the Rebbe’s court.

Rabbi JJ Hecht reads from his notes during a live running English translation of the Rebbe’s Yiddish talks at a farbrengen. The translation, later joined by others in Hebrew, French and Russian, was broadcast over shortwave radio. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

Rabbi JJ Hecht reads from his notes during a live running English translation of the Rebbe’s Yiddish talks at a farbrengen. The translation, later joined by others in Hebrew, French and Russian, was broadcast over shortwave radio. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

By 1992, requests for additional phone lines came into the phone company so frequently that when work was being done on a nearby street, some 500 potential lines, in addition to fiber-optic cables, were run directly to 770. In total, 420 lines were ultimately installed, reaching 600 locations around the world.

“It was a massive undertaking,” acknowledges Halberstam. To meet the demand, additional staff members were hired. Among them was Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak (Y.Y.) Kazen, who began collecting and cataloging private recordings of the Rebbe’s earlier talks.

Rabbi JJ Hecht talks on the radio in WLCC’s office, March 1989. The show was broadcast on “The Forward’s” WEVD station. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

Rabbi JJ Hecht talks on the radio in WLCC’s office, March 1989. The show was broadcast on “The Forward’s” WEVD station. (Photo: JEM/The Living Archive)

WLCC served as the de facto communications hub for the Chabad movement—not only broadcasting the Rebbe’s public talks to hundreds of communities around the world, but also documenting the day-to-day happenings of the Rebbe’s court. Remote-control cameras were installed to capture people meeting the Rebbe to receive “Sunday Dollars,” and a cadre of microphones was purchased to record the Rebbe’s various talks, no matter where they took place in the synagogue.

During farbrengens, each segment would be recorded immediately and copied to tapes, allowing people to purchase tapes of the talk as soon as it had ended.

WLCC also served as a virtual incubator for many of the Chabad movement’s future forays in media and communications. The work of Eli Wiensbacher—creating phone hotlines for on-demand Torah classes—continues at the Heichal Menachem center in New York; the audio and video recordings of the Rebbe’ talks have been incorporated into Jewish Educational Media’s central archive; and the pioneering work of Kazen on early message boards would evolve into the Chabad.org website in 1993.

In recent years, the room has been re-imagined as a visitor center for the thousands of people who tour 770 every year.

Halberstam still works in the room, welcoming guests and allowing them to explore artifacts from video and audio, past and present.

“We greet hundreds of people each week,” he says. “The room continues to serve as a way of uniting communities from around the world. It’s the Chabad House for 770.”

Though retrofitted with a glass display case and computer equipment, the original switchboards and phone systems still remain.

Reflecting on the room, Hackner recalls: “It was a wonderful sight to behold. All of the switches would be lit and flipped, so it glowed like it was Chanukah in July . . . and you just knew that from this little room, such a powerful message was going out to the entire world.”

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

(Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

Rabbi Halberstam shows some of the custom-built computer hardware installed in the early 1990s. (Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

Rabbi Halberstam shows some of the custom-built computer hardware installed in the early 1990s. (Photo: Eliyahu Yosef Parypa/Chabad.org)

Chabad.org

Chabad-Lubavitch Yeshiva Boys to Finish Rabbinic Studies Before Military Service

Friday, August 12th, 2016

After four years of discussion an agreement on IDF military service appears to be on the verge of being signed between the IDF and the Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement.

The agreement marks a new arrangement for the young men who turn 18 and typically go on to learn in “kvutza,” the movement’s rabbinic studies program at Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters in Brooklyn New York.

According to the new agreement, reported on the Voice of Heritage, after the boys travel abroad to attend a two-year rabbinic studies program, they are to be allowed to complete studies in Israel for two more years. After that time, usually at age 24, they will be required to determine whether they will study Torah full-time, or enlist in a modified military program. Those who decide to continue rabbinic studies will be asked again at age 26.

The agreement will also apply to 300 students who are currently under threat because their status has not yet been determined.

Chabad-Lubavitch leaders have been discussing the complex issue of military service for rabbinic yeshiva students with the IDF since 2012.

Only 15 percent of hareidi religious Israeli men are to receive a permanent exemption from military service, according to a report in the Hadarei Hahareidim website, and those young men are expected to devote their lives exclusively to Torah learning. The remainder are expected to respond to draft notices and serve in the IDF.

Since November 2015, at least 36 Chabad yeshiva students have joined the Intelligence Corps and are currently service in IDF special cyber units.

Up to now, Chabad yeshiva students travel abroad to attend rabbinic studies in the movement’s yeshiva at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York, regardless of what else is going on.

“When it is time to go to kvutza, they go,” one Israeli Chabad mother told JewishPress.com, asking not to be identified. “It’s not that they don’t want to serve. But they have to finish their studies first. That’s the most important thing.”

Until the agreement is signed, students who continue to travel abroad and those already in the yeshiva will be considered draft dodgers. Upon their return to Israel they will be required to enlist in the IDF for military service.

Hana Levi Julian

Chabad to Launch Center for Jews in East Africa

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Jews living in East African nations and doing business across that part of the vast, natural resource-rich continent will soon have a reliable “go-to” address for their high holy day, kashruth and other Jewish needs.

The worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidic movement has announced it is about to open the first Chabad center in East Africa, scheduled to launch just before the Jewish high holy days in Nairobi, Kenya.

Rabbi Avromy and Sternie Super are set to co-direct Chabad of Kenya and will lead the new Nairobi Hebrew Congregation throughout the holidays, according to Chabad.org.

In addition, the Chabad movement is expected to establish a permanent presence in Nigeria. Chabad is already in Angola and Ghana, the site reported.

Hana Levi Julian

Chabad Creates Jewish Welcome Centers for Brazil Summer Olympics in Rio

Friday, June 24th, 2016

Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries have spent months working on preparations for the upcoming Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

The Chassidic Jewish group is just about ready to greet the tens of thousands of Jews who are expected to be among the hundreds of thousands of people flocking to Brazil for the competition.

There will be three separate Jewish welcome centers to greet some of the 40,000 Jews expected to arrive for the games. At least 10,000 of those spectators and competitors are believed to be Israeli.

The centers will be staffed by four rabbinical students from New York, according to Chabad.org, among a total of 12 rabbinical students in Rio for the games.

The students speak numerous languages — English, Hebrew, Spanish, French and Russian — to make it easier to communicate with all the Jewish visitors expected to stream into Rio.

Anyone looking for kosher food, a minyan or help with the language can head to one of these three welcome centers to ask for assistance. The storefront on Av. Nossa Sra. de Copacabana.581.Ioja 3 will be manned by Chabad-Lubavitch of Rio, according to Rabbi Ilan Stiefelmann, right in the center of Copacabana. There will also be one at Chabad Rio’s main center in the Leblon neighborhood and a third at the Chabad center led by Rabbi Yosef Simonowits in Barra da Tijuca, in the Rio neighborhood to the newly constructed Olympic stadium, where most of the sporting events will take place.

All three centers will be stocked with kosher food, tefillin, and prayer materials. On Shabbat there will be special food, including wine and challah, as well.

Rabbi Yehoshua Goldman, co-director of Chabad of Rio told Chabad.org that representatives of Israel’s Paralympics team already called his office this past February. As a result, his synagogue — Beit Lubavitch Rio De Janeiro — will host an official Shabbat program for the team, including accommodations for the observant athletes and staff.

Goldman and colleague Rabbi Eliyahu Haber were also appointed by the Brazilian Olympic Committee as two of the three Jewish chaplains to the 2016 Summer Games. They have already ensured the Jewish room at the Olympic Village will be staffed by rabbinical students and stocked as well as the three Chabad welcome centers.

Although the Brazilian Olympics Committee has reportedly supported the rabbis in their application for a kosher food concession stand at the Olympic Stadium, however, permission has not yet been granted by the International Olympic Committee.

Hana Levi Julian

Jewish Program Launches Opioid Overdose Prevention Project

Wednesday, June 8th, 2016

A quiet inter-cultural substance abuse prevention program run by a Chassidic organization from the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, New York has just launched a new opioid overdose prevention training program.

It’s the first Jewish program in New York State to register for such an issue.

But Operation Survival – the sponsoring substance abuse program that was launched in the mid 1980s by the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education (NCFJE) – has been in the business of breaking Jewish taboos for years.

It was the first program to run a joint substance abuse prevention project with the neighborhood’s African American and Carribean American communities; the first Jewish organization to acknowledge that drug abuse cuts across all worlds.

The new Overdose Prevention Program features drug prevention education and overdose response training. By the end of the training, individuals will be able to identify risk factors for overdose, recognize signs of an overdose, perform techniques to stimulate someone who appears to have overdosed, and correctly administer Naloxone. Free Naloxone kits are available for those that complete the training.

Naloxone blocks or reverses the effects of opioid overdose. It is used to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency situation.

“Addiction doesn’t discriminate. It occur in every community. We are working with leaders in both the African American and Jewish communities and we stand united in the war against drugs. We share this common cause,” said Rabbi Shea Hecht, chairman of the board of the National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education.

Opioids encompass a wide range of legal painkillers as well as illegal narcotics such as heroin. Prescribed painkillers, often made with synthetic sources, include oxycodone (OxyContin, Fentora, Percocet and Percodan, which also contain acetaminophen) and hydrocodone (Vicodin, Lortab, Lorcet and Norco).

According to the CDC, in 2013, more than 16,000 deaths in the United States involved prescription opioids, and more than 8,000 others were related to heroin. Naloxone is a prescription drug that can reverse the effects of prescription opioid and heroin overdose, and can be life-saving if administered in time.

“Opioid overdose is no longer uncommon and we can’t offered to ignore the problem. Our goal is to provide prevention education, overdose training, and make Naloxone available to all who need it.” said Rabbi Yaacov Behrman, program director at Operation Survival.

“The troubling increase in overdose deaths involving fentanyl shows that there is more we can do to educate providers and the public about the risks of opioid misuse and abuse,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett. “These new initiatives show the City’s commitment to reducing opioid overdose deaths, which are preventable.

The National Committee for Furtherance of Jewish Education established Operation Survival in 1988 to provide Student Assistance Programs and workshops in drug prevention in local Yeshivas and Public Schools. The Crown Heights based program also networks with other agencies to disseminate information to educators, social service and medical professionals, clergy. Operation Survival has been credited with bringing the racially diverse community together in common cause.

Those who are interested in registering for overdose prevention training, and a free Naloxone kit are asked to contact Operation Survival at 718-735-0200, or email the project at overdose@operationsurvival.org.

Hana Levi Julian

Anti-Semitic Protesters Demand Kremlin Outlaw Chabad in Russia

Thursday, April 21st, 2016

In the city Perm, about 870 miles east of Moscow, a crowd of 100 people gathered last weekend to demand that Moscow outlaw the Chabad-Lubavitch movement in Russia. It’s not the first time anti-Semites in Perm have tried to rid the city of Chabad, and Jews.

The event that ignited this particular protest was the grant of a plot of land to the local Jewish community, headed by a Chabad emissary, by the government. No fees were charged for the transfer of land.

Last Saturday, the protesters appeared with picket signs that read, “Liberate Us Russians from Chabad” and “Chabad Out!” Another protester held a sign that showed just how deeply ingrained his anti-Semitism really is: “Chabad Settlement Is Over The Line: 1547.”

The reference is to the Grand Prince of Moscow, Ivan the Terrible, who rendered a decision in 1547 to ban all Jews from living and/or even entering his kingdom, because they “bring about great evil.”

In 2013, unidentified vandals hurled a firebomb at the synagogue in Perm in attempt to torch the Chabad-affiliated Jewish house of worship.

That attack came just a day after a popular Russian blogger had written a vicious post slamming a ceremony bringing a new Torah scroll to the local Perm synagogue. “Lubavitcher Chassidim will host a torch parade in Perm and demand to close the streets to traffic,” the blogger wrote, as translated and related by the Shturem website.

“Three hundred guests are expected to attend, including guests from the U.S., Israel and Russia. Economist Mikhail Doliagin stressed that these are Lubavitcher Chassidim who sued Russia in the United States, and managed that the verdict with a monetary fine for holding the Schneerson Library in Russia. Instead of giving Chabad privileges, all Lubavitch activities should be banned throughout Russia.”

The talkbacks on that article reflected the virulent anti-Semitism that is usually masked by politically-correct public diplomacy.

“All pro-Russians must band together. They all the intellectuals out, now they want the books as well.”

“Chassidim are a religio-political sect that worships the dollar, meaning the USA. Their agenda is to destroy Russia, through lies and deceit that they propagate in the media.”

During a meeting in Moscow with World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder this past Tuesday (April 19, 2016) President Vladimir Putin said,“Russian Jewish organizations are making a substantial contribution in the cause of domestic political stability in Russia, for which we are very grateful.”

Putin has been directly and indirectly responsible for the allocation of land grants – free of charge – to numerous Jewish, Christian and Muslim community and faith groups. Some of those grants came as restitution for property stolen during the Soviet era.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/anti-semitic-protesters-demand-kremlin-outlaw-chabad-in-russia/2016/04/21/

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