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April 30, 2016 / 22 Nisan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Chabad Lubavitch’

‘770’ Stabber Kept Saying ‘Kill the Jews’

Wednesday, December 10th, 2014

The stabbing of 22-year-old Israeli rabbinical student Levi Yitzchok Rosenblat at 1:37 am Tuesday morning in the synagogue at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters was a hate crime, and not a random attack, according to Chabad officials, but nevertheless, leaders urged the community to remain “calm” and “keep the peace.”

The stabber, 50-year-old Calvin Peters attacked Rosenblat, a resident of Beitar Illit, in the downstairs sanctuary of the Chassidic movement’s world-famous building “770” Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Officers in a mobile police base directly across the street from “770” saw the attack unfold on the security screens in front of their eyes before racing to stop the bloodshed.

A spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters told JewishPress.com Tuesday night the young Israeli rabbinical student was studying in the synagogue when the attacker approached him and stabbed him.

“According to witnesses he was heard saying repeatedly “Kill the Jews,” said Rabbi Motti Seligson, a spokesperson for Chabad-Lubavitch headquarters. “Several other individuals immediately intervened.”

By then, Rosenblat was in critical condition from multiple stab wounds. His condition has since stabilized and he is currently hospitalized at Bellevue Medical Center in Manhattan, where he is listed in serious but stable condition. During the day he underwent emergency surgery at the hospital.

A team of police converged on the perpetrator and ordered him to drop the weapon. Initially the attacker did, in fact, drop the knife, but within seconds he retrieved it and continued moving towards the officers with the weapon in his hand. When  after 12 requests to drop the weapon Peters tried to charge the officers, escalating the danger, an officer drew and fired one shot from his own weapon to neutralize that threat. Peters later died of his wounds at Kings County Hospital.

“While we are very pained by everything that has unfolded, we are very grateful to the police for their quick response and are working closely with the authorities in their ongoing investigation,” Seligson said. “We commend the heroic efforts of the individuals who were present and took immediate action, if not for their intervention the outcome could have been, G-d forbid far worse. We continue to pray for the young man who is in stable condition,” he added.

New York City activists and politicians called for unity and calm at a joint news conference Tuesday afternoon, where they joined in commending the responding police officers for their restraint in handling the attack. Jewish Community Relations Council leader Michael Miller noted that a synagogue “should remain a safe place.” Another Jewish leader commented that the attack on a worshiper in a Jewish house of prayer echoed the recent terrorist massacre that took place at a well-known synagogue during morning prayers in the Har Nof neighborhood of Jerusalem. Other leaders expressed concerns the incident would trigger racial tensions and urged residents to “keep the peace.”

The news conference, organized by Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, was held just a few steps from where the attack took place. Politicians and activists of all races, including city public advocate Letitia James, Assemblywoman Laurie Cumbo and city council member Mark Levine underscored their approval of the police officers who had only opened fire when no other choice was left. Running footage from a 24-hour security camera monitored constantly clearly substantiated police accounts of the encounter.

A reader on the Crown Heights.info website commented on the officer who shot the stabber: “In this political climate, a lot was on this policeman’s shoulders – more than just the incident in front of him, but the very real worry about sparking a race riot, justified or not!… I phoned the non-emergency number of the 71st precinct and I thanked them for handling things the way they did. And I told them to keep up the good work. And I’m proud that I did! I think everyone should phone the police department and thank them when they do a good job.”

Hana Levi Julian

IDF to Stop Persecution of Observant Soldiers With Beards

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

The Israel Defense Forces has allegedly taken action to end its persecution of observant soldiers exempted from shaving facial hair for religious reasons.

The IDF announced Tuesday it would change its procedures following the imprisonment of Yaakov Biblau, a soldier from a Chabad-Lubavitch family who refused to shave his beard.

Biblau was serving as a computer and electronics engineer in the air force when he arrived at a new IAF base and was ordered by his commander to shave. Biblau explained that he had a permit to grow the beard, which he had worn since beginning his service and which the military rabbi knew of. His commander was unmoved and revoked the permit. He also prosecuted Biblau for refusing to obey a direct order.

The soldier argued in return that it was not reasonable to force him to remove the beard prior to clarification from higher authorities. He called the hotline of the IDF Chief Rabbinate, which informed him that he had a right not to shave. Regardless, the IAF commander placed Biblau on trial and convicted him of refusal to obey an order. He was sentenced to 10 days in prison.

That same commander has been known to harass other observant soldiers as well, according to Bayit Yehudi MK Moti Yogev, who contacted Chief IDF Rabbi Brig.-GEn. Rafi Peretz about the case. Yogev wrote in his letter that the relevant commander should be reprimanded for his “unwise conduct.” In response, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit replied that “the Air Force procedures have been changed following the incident.”

At present, any officer at lieutenant-general rank and above has the right to reject a soldier’s exemption from shaving, according to a report by the Hebrew-language Yediot Aharonot daily newspaper.

Up to this point, such officers also have had the right to place such soldiers on trial, without first checking to see whether the facial hair is legitimately worn.

From this point on, officers will be able to double-check the authorization of a shaving exemption and the legitimacy of a soldier’s contention he is keeping his beard for religious reasons.

However, no officer will have the right to force a soldier to shave; nor will the soldier be punished before a decision is made by authorized officials.

The government has authorized a change in the laws to expand the draft of hareidi religious Jews. But there are still many adjustments that must be made in order to enable both the secular and observant populations to work together seamlessly. Harassment of observant Jews by secular commanders is not a new phenomenon. The myriad problems involved have long been responsible for many hareidim choosing to avoid military service, rather than having to choose between proper observance of Torah law, or disobeying a frivolous order from an unfair commander.

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Hana Levi Julian

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.”

Hana Levi Julian

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.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chabad-rabbi-remains-with-trapped-jews-as-ukraine-troops-rebels-and-russians-fight-for-mariupol/2014/08/28/

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