Friday, December 29, 2006

Slow News Week

The Real 770 - photo by Robbins/Becher
click on photo to enlarge

At this time of year, especially in Australia where it is summer, everything slows down especially the news. Despite what is occuring in other parts of the world most of the Australian media outlets concentrate on reporting about sport...actually they do that all year around...

Anyway, Shmais pointed me to the photographs of Andrea Robbins and Max Becher who, in 2005, took photos of many different "770" buildings around the world. Personally, I have never been too excited about this desire to copy the architecture of 770 Eastern Parkway. It seems very shallow to use this building to represent Chabad to the outside world. I would think that we have more to offer than the external view of a "neo-gothic" New York building.

Hanging out in Postville - photo by Robbins/Becher
click on photo to enlarge

What was more interesting to me were the photos of Postville, Iowa taken by Robbins and Becher. Postville is the home of the Rubashkin family's business AgriProcessors Inc. This is one of the largest (maybe the largest) kosher meat producing business in the States.

The description of Postville on the website says, amongst other things:
The plant employs 350 workers, many of whom are ultra orthodox Jews and mostly Lubavitch, making Postville the home of the largest number of Rabbis per capita in the United States.
The Hasidim that came to work in the slaughterhouse brought their lives from Brooklyn and established a modern shtetl in a small corner of Iowa. They set up a synagogue, two schools including a Yeshiva, two ritual baths (one for men and one for women) as well as the first and only kosher market and restaurant in the state of Iowa.
Robbins/Becher's photos have a snapshot quality and, to me, are not particularly artistic but I suppose their point is to show reality rather than a stylised version of what they see thru the lens.

If you scroll down the bar on the left side of the page there are also some photos that they took at Dachau.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Tragic Car Accident in Israel

Levi Hendel, A"H..........Moshe Golan, A"H.........Yonoson Biton, A"H

COL and Shturem are reporting on a tragic car accident in Israel where three bochrim lost their lives. Two other bochrim suffered light injuries and are recovering at home, one is in hospital in critical condition and two others are in hospital in moderate condition.

Please say Tehilim for the complete recovery of the injured: Avraham ben Feige and Alexander Zusman ben Chasya.

The three boys who were killed are Moshe Golan, 17, Yonoson Biton, 17 and Levi Hendel, 14.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all the families. It is difficult to imagine how the families and friends, indeed all of Anash, are feeling at this time.

To read more about the tragedy see COL and Shturem.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Merry Chanukah

THe site had loads of information and activities for Chanukah. In particular I like the Itchie Kadoozy video: "A rabbi, a college student, and a gefilte fish share their feelings about chanukah." See it here.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Is This Good for the Jews?

I think not...

It looks as though Bogomilsky and his supporter's efforts to get a menorah placed Seattle Airport backfired. If we go by this article in The Seattle Times the Rabbi and friends expected the airport to cave in to their (heavy handed) demands. When are we going to learn? Why throw our weight around when a gentler approach would probably yield positive results? Another chillul Hashem that could have been avoided.

Rabbi gets hate mail over airport Christmas trees
Mon Dec 11, 2006 8:18 PM ET

SEATTLE (Reuters) - A local rabbi is receiving hate mail and angry phone calls after Seattle airport officials took down its Christmas trees in response to his request to include a giant Menorah in the airport's holiday decorations, his lawyer said on Monday.

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport removed its Christmas trees on Saturday after Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky threatened to sue the Port of Seattle, which operates the airport, if it did not include a menorah into its holiday decorations.

The rabbi works on behalf of Chabad-Lubavitch, a branch of Hasidic Judaism and an Orthodox Jewish movement.

The removal of the trees sparked a public outcry over what some say was political correctness run amok and part of a trend to adopt a secular tone toward Christmas.

Harvey Grad, the rabbi's attorney, said it was never Bogomilsky's intention to have the trees removed and the rabbi was "saddened" by the port's decision to remove all holiday decorations instead of including the Menorah for Hanukkah.

"We are not part of the war on Christmas," said Grad. "All we asked for was inclusion and now we're getting hate mail and angry messages."

The Chabad of Greater Seattle asked the airport to put the trees back and will not pursue any legal action even if the airport does not include the menorah into this year's holiday decorations.

In a statement, the Port of Seattle said it removed the trees to avoid litigation with a religious group, which wanted to install the menorah and hold a lighting ceremony.

"The airport is not a traditional public forum and it would not be appropriate for such a ceremony, so we made the decision to remove the trees to allow the airport staff to focus on the busy travel season," the Port said on its Web site.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Art by Miriam


"A set of two plaques made entirely from wood, bark and stone
collected from the small Russian town of Lubavitch"

I saw on COL that Melbourne artist, Miriam Teleshevsky, has a new web site Art by Miriam and that it won an design award. I had never heard of this award (not that that means much) and did some research. It seems that this is an advertising gimic by a website designer to drum up business...But that doesn't mean that Miriam's website is not worth a visit.

Although much of her artwork is not to my taste there are some nice pieces. In particular I like the ones reproduced above. These two pieces above are very different but appeal to me. Check out her website to view of many other examples of her artwork.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Chaim Tzvi Tours the World

COL does it again with photos of Chaim Tzvi Groner in Moscow.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Photos of Melbourne

COL has some nice photos taken in Yeshivah Gedolah and at Kimberley including the extremely nice one of Rabbi Groner above. See them here.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Malki's Song

I was looking at the (new improved) Keren Malki website and noticed Malki's Song. This song was written by Malki Roth a few months before she was murdered by a terrorist at Sbarros in Jerusalem five years ago. Read about the song and hear it sung here. I find the words quite inspirational especially noting that Malki was 15 at the time she wrote it.

The Malki Foundation was established as a living memorial to Malki Roth by her parents Arnold and Frimmet Roth. From the website:

Keren Malki’s work is channeled into two active programs: one focused on providing specialized equipment in the home, and the other on home-based therapies. In both tracks, the goal is to empower families who want to give their seriously disabled child the best possible care at home.
I have previously written about Keren Malki here and again suggest that you check out the Keren Malki site and consider supporting their wonderful work.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Farbrengs

A nice photo of Chaim Tzvi Groner leading a farbrengen in Yeshivah Toras Emes in Yerushalayim - pictured with some Aussie bochrim.

Thanks to COL.

The Menorah Wars Continue

Menorah by Iris Gill

In two posts of July this year (here and here) I drew attention to Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik's mission to have a menorah displayed pubicly in Fort Collins, Colorado. The story hasn't ended and, according to The Coloradoan, a new Inter Faith Dialogue Group will be asking the City Council to reconsider this request. Although Rabbi Gorelik doesn't appear too hopeful the newspaper seems to be supporting this cause.

Hatzlocho Rabbo!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Sad But True

Another apt cartoon from Dry Bones. While bombs are still falling on Israel Olmert is bending over backward to appease the tragic.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Chassidishe Yidden

COL has posted these two great photos of Reb Chaim and Reb Arel Serebryanski in their "Picture of the Day" segment.

Dr Weiss on Rosh Chodesh Kislev

Portrait by Stephen Bennett

Although I am posting this a little late, I was impressed with the letter -publicised by Shmais - from Dr Ira Weiss, the Rebbe's cardiologist. According to Shmais this letter was written for the Rosh Chodesh Seudas Hoadaah held in Chicago. Dr Weiss, who lives in Chicago, was one of the specialists called in after the Rebbe had his heart attack on Shmini Atzeres in 5748 (1977). Over the years he was regularly seen in Crown Heights when he would come to see the Rebbe - and the Rebbetzin - for medical check-ups.

I have reproduced the letter below as I believe it gives an insight into the seriousness of the situation which the chassidim were not aware of at the time. Also, I have highlighted a section in which, to my mind, the Rebbe indicates an important way relate to our spouse.

Happy Rosh Chodesh Kislev!

Although the stories of our joy on being able to "release" the Rebbe from his "medical confinement" on Rosh Chodesh Kislev 29 years ago have often been retold, they still are able to freshly rekindle the spark and spirit of that miraculous moment. At the time this miracle occurred, we, the doctors, could not possibly have divulged the magnitude of the miracle. In doing so, we would have revealed to the public how very extensive was the Rebbe's heart attack and how many doctors on the team felt that the victim of such a heart attack could not realistically be expected to have much of a future, both in terms of longevity and functionality. In making such pronouncements at that time, as "realistic" as they seemed to many of us, we would have stymied the Rebbe's leadership and contact with his followers. Not one of his Chassidim would have thought to burden the Rebbe with personal problems or community matters if we had announced how limited was the Rebbe's cardiac reserve or how precarious was the stability of his heart rhythm. (Indeed, this was clearly demonstrated on his first post-recovery Farbrengen, Yud-Tes Kislev, when Dr. Larry Resnick and I watched in private horror as a hidden heart rhythm monitor demonstrated some very threatening cardiac arrhythmia's during each of the Sichos but not during the Ma'amar.) Fortunately, the doctors kept their "pronouncements" and "predictions" to themselves on Yud-Tes Kislev, and HaShem granted the Rebbe a most miraculous and unanticipated 15 years of Full-Throttle worldwide leadership, teaching, and inspiration - and with complete contact with all his following.

A under emphasized perspective of Rosh Chodesh Kislev is the perspective of Rebbetzin Schneerson, who joyously saw the "return home" of her dear husband. To the Rebbe and Rebbetzin, their limited but very precious moments together constituted the high point of their day. As the Rebbe explained to me, setting aside time for a daily tea with his wife was as important to him as setting aside time to observe the Mitzvah of T'fillin.

I hope you might be able to relate these comments to your students. In these words are lessons that pessimism, even "realisitic" pessimism, should not always hold sway. Also included is the idea that human relationships, especially the relationship of a husband and wife, should be on a level of elevation and holiness as high as that of any of the other Mitzvot.

A Lichtige Chodesh Kislev!

Ira Weiss

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Aussies at the Kinnus Banquet

Mottel Gutnick (R)

Mendel Lipskar (in middle of photo)

Chaim Tzvi Groner (R)

Benyomin Serebryanski (L)

Yerachmiel Gorelik

Yossi Waks (R)

Some Sydney Rabbis

Levi Wolf & Moshe Gutnick

Yosef Chaim Kantor - Guest Speaker

Mendel Raskin (R)

Pinchos Woolstone (R)

Shlomo Gestetner (L)

These are photos from Shmais and COL of Australians in New York for the Kinnus HaShluchim. These photos were taken at the Banquet where, reportedly, 3,000 shluchim and 500 of their supporters were in attendance.

Unfortunately the occassion was marred by the behaviour of a group of "youth" at the farbrengen downstairs in 770 after the banquet. This farbrengen has been held for a number of years and it seems that certain Tzfatim, who are known for their hate of the shluchim in general, threw bottles and seforim at those participating in the farbrengen. A report of the incident appears in Shturem.

I believe that Aguch has shown enough tolerance for these sick, destructive bochrim and their supporters. The time has come for them to be ejected from 770 and deported back to Israel. Yidden, and especially Chassidim, are not supposed to be violent people and, it seems to me, that judging by their behaviour the Jewishness of these bochrim is certainly in doubt.


Monday, November 20, 2006

Aussies at the Kinnus (3)

More photos from Shmais.

Shmuel Gurewicz, Mottel Gutnick and Moshe Gutnick (I think)

Shmuel Gurewicz and Mottel Gutnick

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Aussies at the Kinnus (2)

More Aussies spotted on COL and Shturem and Shmais.

Mendel Raskin and son

Meir Gutnick (and his famous Chumash)

Rabbi Mottel Gutnick

Yossi Serebryanski

Chaim Tzvi Groner resting his eyes on Motzoei Shabbos

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Aussies at the Kinnus

Some photos of Australians at the International Kinnus HaShluchim in Crown Heights, New York.

The photos are from COL here, here and at the Ohel, and Shmais. There are also photos on Shturem here.

Eli Wolf, Yossi Engel (Adelaide), A Kievman

Moshe Lowenthal (in middle of photo)

Mendel Shusterman

Mendel Kaminetzky

Shaul Engel

Yosef Chaim Kantor (R)

Shlomo Gestetner (in background on phone)

Arye Kaltman

Click on the photos for a larger view

Please let me know if I have missed anyone.

Monday, November 13, 2006

"Never Tolerate the Intolerant"

Yesterday Mr Alexander Downer, Australia's Minister for Foreign Affairs, opened the newly renovated Ohel Devorah shul on Meadow Street.

The Ohel Devorah publicity machine is working well and there are reports of the opening on COL, Shturem and While I was not so interested in the report of the event, I was impressed with Mr Downer's speech. It is heartening to read how Mr Downer feels about Israel and the Jewish people. We are truly lucky to be living in a country where we are treated so well and have to opportunity to practice our religion without fear of discrimination.

The text of Downer's speech appears on here.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some Yiddishe Humour

This video is from here and was filmed at a farbrengen at Oholei Torah in honour of R. Gerlitzky’s birthday. The badchan is R' Yankel Miller.


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Interview with Father O'Leary

I love this comedy clip of an interview with "Father O'Leary". The best part is towards the end when he explains the significance of sufganiot (donuts) on Chanukah.

If someone knows where this clip is from I would be interested to know.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Our Own Worst Enemy

One of the news channels in Melbourne just aired an "exclusive" story about a Lebanese tradesman who has been threatened by a Jewish customer. The Jewish (Israeli?) man owns a convenience store in Frankston and employed the tradesman to do work in his shop. He now refuses to pay him stating that the tradesman stole computers from the store.

The news report played messages left by the Jewish store owner threatening the Lebanese tradesman and stating that he shouldn't &^$% with Jews. The shop owner also said that in a court case the Lebanese man would lose since all judges are Jewish.

Obviously the hot headed store owner didn't expect his phone messages to be used against him. It is very unfortunate (and stupid) to take a business dispute and create a racial incident. The Jewish/Israeli man explicitly mentioned that the tradesman is of Arab descent and his threats were based around that.

Hopefully this idiotic man's threats will be ignored by the press and this story will fade away to oblivion where it belongs.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Great Debate

This video is from "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and is very funny -- and maybe even somewhat true.


Sunday, October 29, 2006

Cartoon Comment

Two cartoons from Nicholson in The Australian relating to the Al-Hilali debacle.

Get Thee Behind Me Woman

With regard to our friend (not!) Sheik Taj Aldin Al-Hilali which I spoke about here, The Australian has a number of articles on this topic.

The complete text of Sheik Al-Hilali's Ramadan speech is reproduced in Revealed: the Mufti uncut. Despite Hilali's protests that he was misquoted etc etc it is obvious that the original reporting was accurate. He clearly says that women are the cause of "adultery" and need to be punished more severely than men.

I also like Caroline Overington's essay, Metaphor hides mufti's real message, which is an interesting look at the veil worn by Moslem women. The concept of modesty is foreign to most of western society these days, but I feel that there is something wrong with a creed that says that women must cover up completely but men can wear what they want.

Oh, and if you like polls, The Age has one which lets you vote on Should Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali be sacked after his comments on rape? Go here to register your opinion.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Support the Shluchim

I have just discovered new fund that has been formed to raise money for the Shluchim. Named in memory of Harav Yaakov Moshe Hakohen Friedman, father of (amongst others) Avremel Fried, Mannis Friedman and Yossi Friedman (who was a shliach in YG a number of years ago).

The purpose of this fund is to support Shluchim in a tangible way. Money is collected and distributed once a month to Shluchim who register on the site. The site is located here.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Sheik Alhilali Condones Rape

Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali has opened his big mouth again and demonstrated his true colours. In a much publicised speech he has defended Moslems who were sentenced for gang raping 4 women in 2000. In the much publicised Ramadan sermon to 500 of the faithful last month The Age reports:

He said there were women who "sway suggestively" and wore make-up and inappropriate clothes, "and then you get a judge without mercy (rahma) and gives you 65 years".
"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it ... whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat," the sheik asked.
"The uncovered meat is the problem."
"If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijib (head scarf), no problem would have occurred."

According to the report in The Age here, a statement was issued today by the Lebanese Muslim Association who said "The board is satisfied with the notion that certain statements made by the mufti was misinterpreted."

The Australian has a less simplistic and more detailed coverage of this incident here. Whereas The Age would lead us to believe that Hilali has the support of the majority of Australian Muslims, The Australian reports that many in that community are incensed at Hilali's extreme opinions in general and these statements in particular. As in any community politics interferes with common sense and there is no simple way for them to get rid of the Imam. Let us hope that this changes soon and Hilali disappears from here very soon.

As a postscript, The Age has an interesting list of Hilali's more ridiculous statements here - many of them to do with Israel and Jews.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

The Tax Man Cometh

I love this piece from COL (here) on a positive way to deal with the tax department:

"When income tax supervisors arrived for a "friendly visit" to "Gittele's", in Kfar Chabad, they were astounded at the joyous reception of Reb Meir Freedman, who greeted them with singing and the extent that they almost forgot the purpose of their arrival."