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October 25, 2014 / 1 Heshvan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Lubavitch’

Chabad Gives New Tefillin to Wounded Soldiers Who Lost Them in Battle

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wounded IDF soldiers whose tefillin were destroyed in clashes with Hamas received a pleasant surprise in the hospital on Wednesday with a brand new set presented by Young Chabad, the Kikar Shabbat website reported.

Several troops told visitors in the hospital that they were without their tefillin, and the Lubavitch House in Paris responded quickly to help fulfill a request to replace them.

Members of Young Chabad visited the soldiers the same day with a visit and a gift of new tefillin.

One woman from Pisgat Ze’ev, in northern Jerusalem, said that her son, who suffered injuries that required the amputation of one leg, learned in Chabad while in Morocco.

“This is the most important gift for my son,” she said.

Torah Scrolls Saved in Utah Day Care Center Fire Alarm

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

A rabbi and his daughter at the Chabad Lubavitch day care center in Salt Lake City, Utah saved two Torah scrolls from possible destruction Monday after he smelled smoke in the building.

Twenty children, including five infants, were evacuated, according to the local Tribune newspaper.

A faulty furnace was cited as the source of the heavy smoke that promoted the two-alarm fire reported by Rabbi Benny Zippel, whose daughter Chaya saved one of the scrolls from smoke damage.

A faulty furnace was blamed for smoke that prompted the evacuation of a Salt Lake City day care on Monday afternoon.

Wealthy Argentine Chabadnik Set to Take over Israel’s Giant IDB

Monday, December 9th, 2013

Eduardo Elsztain, Argentina’s richest man and a follower of Lubavitch-Chabad, along with Israeli entrepreneur Motti Ben-Moshe, is set to take control of 75 percent of Israel’s giant and debt-ridden IDB Holding conglomerate that has its fingers in supermarkets, paper, mobile phone, insurance and cement companies.

Credit holders have overwhelming voted for Elsztain and Ben Moshe to enter and take control from Nochi Dankner, who says he will put up a fight against the buy-out.

Israel’s Big Business elite, approximately seven companies that control more than half of the manufacturing in the country, is dominated by Israel’s richest families, almost all of them left-leaning and secular, a term that does not necessarily mean anti-religious and often includes men like Dankner who observe traditions and are respectful of Judaism.

The entry of a Haredi could be a sign of something spiritual happening, or it could not.

The facts are that Elztain’s representative in Israel has been Shlomo Lapidus, a Haredi businessman and also from one of the wealthiest families in Buenos Aires. A textile company founded by his father is translated into English as “With G-d’s Help.”

Elsztain is president of Chabad, has served as treasurer of the World Jewish Congress, founded Hillel in Argentina and is a big investor in the Taglit-Birthright program.

Big Bucks execs like to jet around the world and visit expensive hotels, but Elsztain does not let that keep him from visiting the graves of righteous Jews when he visits Israel.

This may not be a new trend, but it bears watching.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see a chain of markets in Israel welcoming buyers with an image of the Rebbe?

For 5,200 Rabbis and Guests, a Night of Inspiration

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

Eleven-year-old Levi Leibowitz couldn’t wait to tell his friends and family back home in Tokyo about his experience Sunday night. He was a guest at the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries banquet at the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal in New York, thousands of miles from Japan, where he lives.

“I’m going to tell everyone about it, that it was really fun, and the food was very good,” he said. Seated in Chiavari chairs under grand chandeliers, he and thousands of others involved in the organization – 5,200 emissaries and lay leaders from around the world – gathered for an evening of camaraderie and inspiration.

It was the culmination of four days of learning, togetherness and inspiration that the Lubavitcher Rebbe first encouraged his shluchim to convene back in 1983.

“I like talking to all the different Jewish people in my family all over the world,” said Leibowitz. He was there with his father, David Leibowitz, also of Tokyo, and his grandfather, Alan Leibowitz, of Miami.

The theme, “Through Darkness a Shining Light,” prompted speakers to focus on the impact Chabad continues to build through its global outreach and varied programs.

Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries and vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, Chabad-Lubavitch’s educational arm, charged those gathered with connecting with more Jews and inspiring even more mitzvahs.

They heard from former U.S. senator Joseph Lieberman, who thanked the emissaries for their work and spoke of his personal connection to the organization, which often made sure he had Shabbat provisions and kosher food during his political travels.

Rabbi Dov Greenberg, co-director of Chabad on Campus at Stanford University in Palo Alto, Calif., took to the podium as a representative for the emissaries. He talked about the 86,000 Jewish students who visited 200 Chabad centers around the world.

Rabbi Greenberg defined a Chabad House as a place “where every Jew feels at home.”

Businessman David Leibowitz agreed. He connected with Chabad a quarter-century ago when he was walking down the street in Bondi Beach, Australia. Wearing a tank top and no kippah, he just so happened to run into a man with a black hat and a beard.

The rest, he said, is history.

“Chabad embodies everything about my heritage and what I want to pass on,” he said.

Leibowitz, who moved to Japan 20 years ago and wound up staying, said Chabad continues to be key to his Jewish life there.

“To have an organization like Chabad and a rabbi like Rabbi Mendi Sudakevich, who gives us all this Yiddishkeit in such a vacuum, is such a blessing.”

As for the Kinus, he said, “we already booked our tickets for next year.”

Josh Wonder, head of finance at the Yeshivah Centre of Melbourne, Australia, attended the Kinus for the first time this year. Coming to New York and taking part in the weekend, he said, represented a chance for him to envision how he fits in to the bigger puzzle.

In the past, like many living overseas who haven’t been able to fly in for the events, he watched the main proceedings online.

“It’s always like you want to be there,” he said. “That’s what brought me here this year.”
He enjoyed the chance to catch up with old friends and said he leaves wanting to do even more to bring people closer to Judaism: “I come away with my batteries recharged. I’m pumped up and ready to take it all on again.”

The Ultimate Revenge for Holocaust Survivor: New Torah Scroll

Monday, August 19th, 2013

An 88-year-old survivor of the Auschwitz death camp has donated a new Torah scroll to the Lubavitch Chabad of Skokie, near Chicago, the ultimate revenge against the Nazis who tried to eradicate Jews and Judaism.

Her other revenge was to dwell in the future and present, instead of the past, and marry and bring more Jews into the world.

Marge Fettmen, her children and grandchildren attended a recent Torah dedication ceremony, in memory of her late husband Daniel, also a Holocaust survivor.

Fettman, known by the Nazis as prisoner No. 21880, told the Chabad website, “God gave me a good idea – to have a Torah written. It is our guide. I want the Torah to be used to teach people about Judaism.”

Fettman was living with her family in Romania in 1944 when the Nazis stormed into their town of Szaszregen and herded her and her relatives into a cattle car for Auschwitz.

“When we arrived, Dr. [Josef] Mengele stood there flicking his whip, sending some of us to the right and others to the left. I was separated from my family,” she told Chabad. “Since I had the snacks we had packed for the children, I was concerned that they would be hungry. I wanted to bolt to the other side to be with them, but Mengele saw and shouted at me in German, ‘Are you a fool?’ I stayed where I was, and my life was spared.”

After surviving the death camp, she married her husband, and the couple moved to the United States in 1949, where they raised they raised their children in the Jewish tradition. Her husband, a grocery store owner, died in 2004 at the age of 83.

Her parents were very religious, and she decided that dedicating a new Torah scroll was the best way to remember them forever.

Chabad Emissaries: Torah Forbids Surrendering Land to Enemies

Tuesday, July 30th, 2013

Chabad-Lubavitch “shluchim” (emissaries) have issued a statement at their 34th national conference in Israel that “negotiating with Israel’s enemies of Israel concerning Israeli borders in itself constitutes an ominous danger to the lives of Israel’s residents, men, women and children.”

Following is the complete statement:

By the Grace of G-d

Statement By The Shluchim To Eretz Israel Issued At 34 National Shluchim Conference In Israel

Motzei Shabbos Parshas Ekev 5773uulcWe, the personal emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to the Holy Land – including Rabbis of cities and neighborhoods in Israel, heads of Yeshivot and Kollelim and social welfare institutions, who were sent to Israel by the Rebbe himself over 35 years ago in order “to arouse and encourage Jews to observe Torah and Mitzvot and help build the Jewish land physically and spiritually” – from the depths of a pained heart protest against the Israeli government’s decision to resume negotiations with Palestinian murderers on withdrawal from territories of the Holy Land, G-d forbid.

Negotiating with Israel’s enemies of Israel concerning Israeli borders in itself constitutes an ominous danger to the lives of Israel’s residents, men, women and children. This ruling is explicit in the Jewish Code of Law, section 329:6: “Even if they are only demanding hay or straw, we take up arms and violate the Shabbat.” Hundreds of prominent rabbis in Israel have ruled that withdrawal from territories is a matter of life or death for tens of thousands of people

Anyone who can put two and two together can see that every time Israel has agreed to concede and withdraw, this has made matters worse. It has only accelerated terror and bloodshed, G-d forbid.

We support the tireless efforts of the Rabbinical Congress for Peace (the Pikuach Nefesh Committee) which for the past 20 years has been vigorously combating the policies of withdrawal and concessions by Israeli governments. The Committee has repeatedly publicized worldwide the definitive ruling in the Shulchan Aruch that such concessions are a matter of life or death.

Many Jews, and not only Chassidim, reverently recall the numerous public addresses in which the Rebbe expressed his pained concern for the well-being of the Jewish nation in Eretz Israel.

We now call upon every individual, in Israel and the world over, to support and assist the above Committee in every way possible. Their vital mission is to save the lives of the Jewish people in Israel – to forestall any territorial negotiations with Israel’s enemies over its borders, by bringing the public and the decision-makers to the realization that the only way to achieve peace and security in the Holy Land is by standing firm by the integrity of the Holy Land. Only thus will we see the fulfillment of the Biblical promise that “I will grant peace in the land…and lead you upright.”

We pray that Almighty G-d have mercy and put an end to our suffering. May we merit the Final Redemption by the righteous Moshiach – now

Achdus with Chabad

Sunday, February 10th, 2013

I don’t know how they do it. But I am jealous of them. Chabad is perhaps the most successful group in Orthodoxy at raising money for their causes. Their sources are often not even the wealthy Jews of Orthodoxy. And their organizational skills are legendary. They are probably better than anyone at maximizing the “bang for the buck.”

This is the one thing that struck me about a recent article in the Forward:

Chabad operates 1,000 preschools worldwide, including 300 in Israel and 400 in the United States. In 2010, Chabad launched a special early childhood initiative called The Machne Israel David and Lara Slager Early Childhood Initiative. In the past two and half years, this fund helped in the creation of 45 new preschools (most in North America, and two each in Argentina, South Africa and Australia). There are plans to create another 100 over the next four years.

While it is true that their emphasis on reaching out to secular Jews of necessity requires them to disengage from areas of high Orthodox concentration and thereby have less contact with wealthy Orthodox philanthropists – that doesn’t mean they are going to be successful at raising funds from the secular and unaffiliated Jewish philanthropist.

But – necessity is the mother of invention I guess, and somehow they manage to appeal to those donors to fund their projects.

As I have said many times, no one can touch Chabad outreach in terms of sheer numbers. They have probably gotten more people to be observant, than all the other Kiruv groups put together. And it is projects like the above that enable them to do it.

This is why I am jealous of them. Not in any harmful ‘evil eye’ sense. I am jealous that the rest of Orthodoxy cannot match them. We have done rather well in recent years raising money among our own for various projects. But it is no secret that we are still very far from having the money we need just to support one institution – Jewish education.

I don’t have to convince any Orthodox parent – even the more affluent ones – about the pressures of tuition. That is a subject that has been well covered here before. Long story short, tuitions are so high that even families with incomes well into 6 figures are sometimes given scholarships. Especially if they have a big family. It is also no secret that tuition does not cover the typical school budgets. Nor do most of those budgets even pay their teachers what they deserve.

Not that Lubavitch doesn’t have similar problems. But that’s because the huge sums of money they raise for outreach purposes do not go towards their communities own educational needs. That money goes almost exclusively for outreach programs and schools.

Nonetheless, the fact that they are so successful at spreading out and spreading the word of God through His Torah is something to be admired.

I have not dealt with Chabad in quite some time. But those who been reading this blog for awhile know of my criticisms – not the least of which is their obsession to one degree or another with their Rebbe as Moshiach. Even though he died well over a decade ago. Although things have quieted down quite a bit on that front, I don’t think they have given up on that very troubling idea.

Among other criticisms I have of them is one that bears on the subject of this post. They are not really integrated with the rest of Orthodoxy. While there is definitely some cross fertilization between us, it is not because they actively seek it. To the extent that they do, they tend to do it only on their own terms. Or on an individual basis and not an organizational one.

The evidence for this is the fact that unlike the rest of Orthodoxy, their children – with rare exception – attend only their own Chabad schools. They have built an empire of separation. Which is an irony of sorts when you consider that their primary concern is outreach to fellow Jews. But the truth is that outreach is so important to them that consider integration with the rest of Orthodoxy to be of secondary or tertiary importance. At least that is what it seem like to me.

One reason they are so separated from the rest of Orthodoxy – is the way they do outreach. Every Jewish soul they reach is convinced to believe that Chabad equals Judaism. They never distinguish (at least not at first) between an exclusively Lubavitch Minhag and Halacha. They teach their own customs as though they were Halacha. So that in most cases, if someone becomes religious through them, they become a Lubavitcher. Their community grows through outreach while their members become just as separated from the rest of the Orthodox community as are Lubavitchers from birth.

And so it goes. Chabad continues to be wildly successful at outreach while having little to do with the rest of the Orthodox community unless they are in control. Like the annual Simchas Torah concert they host for Chicago on Chol HaMoed Sukkos. It is their event.

It wasn’t always like that. When I was in elementary school in Detroit at Yeshivath Beth Yehuda – a pioneer Torah U’Mesorah school – two of my very beloved teachers there were Lubavitcher Chasidim. And Lubavitchers sent their children to that school. We were integrated. I believe that the same thing was true all around the country through most of the sixties (with the possible exception of New York where separate schools may have already existed). Lubavitch was just one type of observant Jew among many types that attended the same schools.

As they grew in number here in Chicago – and feeling that mainstream day schools and high schools did not pay sufficient attention to Chabad in general and the Rebbe in particular they started setting up their own schools which focus heavily on Chabad and the Rebbe.

Fast forward to today and we have 2 girls high schools right across the street from each other. One Lubavitch and one Beis Ya’akov. And the girls have absolutely nothing to do with each other. I don’t see that as progress. I see it as contributing to the divide between us. Year after year; class after class.

And that bothers me. Chabad’s strengths would serve all of us well If we could become more integrated. It would take a lot of tolerance on both sides. And it would take a willful and purposeful approach to doing so. And a bit of compromise. Lubavitch would have to stop being so proprietary and the rest of Orthodoxy would have to become a little more tolerant. Their efficient fundraising and organizational skills would serve Judaism as a whole much better if we could integrate and use those skills for common purpose. And integration with the rest of Orthodoxy would expand Chabad’s outreach to even greater heights combining and sharing with other non Chabad outreach groups. Making them both more effective.

I’m not saying that this is all that doable. There are certainly many obstacles. Some of which may be insurmountable. But I wish it were. Wouldn’t it be great for example if those two girls’ schools would combine? I’d love to see it. But it will probably never happen.

Visit Emes Ve-Emunah.

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