Friday, June 30, 2006

Gimmel Tammuz at the Ohel

Amazing photos from the Ohel are featured on some of the Chabad sites on the web:

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Twelve Years!!!

It is difficult to believe that it is already 12 years since we last saw the Rebbe. has a great site about Gimmel Tammuz here.

Growing up with the Rebbe

Mrs Bassie (Posner) Garelik, wife of Rabbi Gershon Mendel Garelik of Milan, Italy, is interviewed by Dafna Chaim and talks about her relationship with the Previous Rebbe and, in particular, the Rebbe. The full interview appears here and contains some interesting reminiscences.

Some snippets:

Talking about her wedding:

The wedding meal was an extremely modest one. In those days, there was no catering, and my mother and aunts cooked the meal. At the yechidus before the wedding, my mother told the Rebbe that it would be a modest wedding so as not to go into debt. The Rebbe was very pleased by this and said, “If only others learned from you and did the same.”

On going on shlichus (in 1959):
A few weeks later, on Sunday the 11th of Kislev, after we finished all the arrangements, we left on shlichus. The day before we left – on Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei – the Rebbe farbrenged, and spoke about the inyan of shlichus.

The idea of shlichus was new at that time, and our going created a great excitement among Anash. You could feel the excitement in the air. Whoever was present that Shabbos, felt that special atmosphere.

The next day, shortly before we took off, we had a yechidus and received instructions regarding the shlichus. Among other things, the Rebbe said that the purpose of shlichus is to be mekarev the coming of Moshiach. At the end of the yechidus, the Rebbe gave us volumes of Tanya to give to friends of Chabad in Milan, and another Tanya “because you never know who you will meet on the flight ...”

When they opened the first Gan Yisroel Camp in Europe the Rebbe said at a farbrengen:
What all the chassidim of Europe could not accomplish – along with the shpitz Chabad – they accomplished. A girl born in America and a boy born in Russia... Hashem makes matches and He had them meet in the U.S., and then sent them “wandering” to Italy. There they accomplished all the inyanim of the world, and they have yet more to do, in a way of “you shall break forth west and east and north and south.”

He didn’t have a penny with which to buy the camp, but it was bought with loans. There were no children [registered] for the camp, but with strength, with a strong hand, with a great hand, and with an uplifted hand, he gathered children, and now they are full of joy, along with their parents.

Thus, in the environs of Rome – “from the destruction of Yerushalayim was Tzor filled,” which refers to the Kingdom of Rome – a Gan Yisroel was opened on 13 Tammuz 5719, a Shmita Year, in order to spread the wellsprings, in such a way that through the children, the parents will be affected.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Australian Friends of Lubavitch

Rabbi Laibl Groner spoke last night for "Australian Friends of Lubavitch" run by Rabbi Chaim Herzog.
See the report and photos in the COL article here or the Shturem article here.

The Nine Lives of Chabad

This article, published in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, was written two years ago by former Melbournite Gabby Wenig. For most readers here the article doesn't say anything new but I like her take on where Lubavitch is today.

Talking about Shlomo Cunin of California:

Cunin’s full-steam-ahead attitude is indicative of the way that Chabad has bloomed since Gimmel Tammuz. While Cunin and others admit that Gimmel Tammuz was the most difficult challenge the movement ever faced — far more difficult than say, surviving the czarist and communist prisons that incarcerated its previous leaders in the 19th and early 20th centuries in Russia- after Gimmel Tammuz Chabad did not disintegrate, as many predicted it would. Instead, it flourished.
In the 10 years since the Rebbe’s passing, the number of shluchim (emissaries) sent around the world to help Jews find Judaism has almost doubled, from 2200 to over 4000; there is now a Chabad campus initiative funded by philanthropist George Rohr that has put Chabad houses on more than 70 different college campuses in America; there are websites-,, that receive hundreds of thousands of clicks a day. In California, in terms of numbers of new buildings (42), institutions (84), shluchim (112), and dollars raised ($125 million), Chabad has grown more in the past ten years than it has in any other decade of its history. And though he is not physically present, the Rebbe remains a vital and iconic figure in Chabad.

With regards to the Rebbe's philosophy regarding Lubavitcher chassidim:
Instead of keeping themselves holy, he taught, they should elevate the world around them and make that holy. He also taught that every Jew, religious or not, had infinite potential and a divine mission in this world. He encouraged traditional, Orthodox observance and sent emissaries out all over the world on lifelong missions to teach Jews Torah and thus hasten the coming of the Messiah.

And Shimon Raichik (who was a YG shaliach about 30 years ago) has the last word:
"The connection between a Hasid and a Rebbe is not a physical bond, but a spiritual bond," said Rabbi Shimon Raichik of Chabad of Hancock Park. "And that is why there are people who are now connecting with to the Rebbe even more than when the Rebbe was with us physically."
Let's hope that this continues to be the case.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

End of a (Business) Era

Smorgon Steel has just been bought out in a friendly takeover by OneSteel (see the report in The Age here). This will mean that the last Smorgon named business will disappear from the stock market.
In reality this news doesn't interest me to any great extent but listening to David Smorgon talking about the family on ABC radio this afternoon made me think. However many billions the 4 generations of the Smorgon family are worth they still remain a major philanthropic force in Australia. Click here to hear Victor Smorgon talking about giving back to the community.

But what has always impressed me about the Smorgons is the fact that in the 1940s and 1950s they gave many holocaust survivors jobs in the family business. Many very successful Jewish families in Melbourne got their initial start in the Smorgons meat plants. To my mind this explains their being blessed with phenomenal business success. I am sure that the present and future generations of this family will continue in their good works.

Mazal Tov Rabbi Rapp

Click on photo to enlarge

I just saw this post on Shmais here. Mazal Tov Yitzchok (son of Yaakov and Toni Rapp) on your smicha.

Mazal tov to all other Aussies getting their smicha at this time of year.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

He Who Could Command Legions of the Faithful

Rabbi Joseph Telushkin just published this article in the Forward about the Rebbe. The story he tells about the Rebbe's relationship with his father is quite poignant.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Just in Time for Gimmel Tammuz

The final verdict was just issued in the court case between Agudas Chassidei Chabad and Congregation Lubavitch Inc. The Order and Judgement of Federal Judge Ira B Harkavy can been seen on here.

From my limited understanding of legal documents it appears that Aguch has been granted control over the 770 shul and the plaque outside. Whether this actually stands up and the divisive elements that have effectively taken over "downstairs" can be tamed is still to be seen. I would like to think that this is the end of the problems in 770 and that all can live and daven together in harmony - but,unfortunately, I cannot see this happening any time soon.

I originally this report on COL here.

In a related matter, I have recently seen this letter of Rabbi Yosef Avraham Heller of the Crown Heights Beis Din on a few blogs. The letter is supposed to be a translation of a letter that Rav Heller wrote to someone in 1995 to explain his take on the "Moshiach issue". I find the opinions interesting but am not sure that I agree with all of what he says. As Rav Heller says at the end of the letter, these are his personal opinions and he does not expect everyone to agree with them - "A Dayan can only judge a case in accordance with his understanding."

The judgement and the letter from Rav Heller are pdf files. If you can't read them you can download Adobe Acrobat Reader from here.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Red Cross Finally Admits Israel

After 57 years the International Red Cross has finally accepted Israel as a member according to Reuters - see here.

From what I understand one of the main sticking points was that the Red Cross would not accept the Magen David as an emblem. It has now allowed Israel the symbol pictured here.

The American Friends of Magen David Adom says here:

On June 21st, Magen David Adom (MDA), Israel’s first aid and disaster relief organization, is expecting to finally become a full member of the International Red Cross after 57 years of rejection. The irony of this long overdue decision is that the Palestinian Red Crescent Society (PRCS) will only be allowed membership if Israel is allowed membership.

A lack of official recognition has not prevented MDA from fulfilling the Jewish and humanitarian mandate of pikuach nefesh, saving lives both in Israel and around the world. On a yearly basis MDA serves the needs of nearly 600,000 Israelis with its fleet of ambulances while providing 98% of all blood needs for the society.

Thanks to Ralph Zwier of ICJS (well worth a visit)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

What to do about a fly...

What happens if a fly falls in a cup of coffee:

1) Englishman:

  • Throws his cup away and walks away.
2) American:
  • Takes the insect out and drinks the coffee.
3) Chinese:
  • Eats the insect and throws the coffee away.
4) Japanese:
  • Drinks the coffee with the insect since it is a free bonus.
5) Israeli:
  • Sells the coffee to the American and the insect to the Chinese and gets himself a new cup of coffee.
6) Palestinian:
  • Accuses the Israeli of throwing the insect into his coffee.
  • Relates the issue to violence.
  • Asks the Americans for Military aid.
  • Takes a loan from America to buy another cup of coffee.
  • Throws the coffee at the Israeli.

Thanks to Jake for this.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Stop and Think

From Chabad Library - Shulchan Aruch 1814 has printed a synopsis of a shiur given by Horav Heller of the Crown Heights Beis Din. The shiur was "adapted by Yaakov Ginsburg and Yaakov Paley" and appears here.

Many of the points in this article appear basic and obvious but how many of us are guilty of some of the "sins" that he talks about. My favourite bits are:

One's household must be aware that a large property, honor, wealth, fame, and the like, are by no means more worthwhile than the study of Torah. That notion is dependent upon the choice of people that one's household hears being admired; if they generally hear the praise of wealthy businessmen, tough sportsmen, accredited professors, etc., they will understand that materialism and physicality are the ultimate. Conversely, when they hear admiration for a worthy Chossid, or someone known for his learning, Yiras Shomayim, Tzedakah, and the like, they will take these matters to be the ultimate.


People must realize that they cannot be "Chassidish", i.e. act in the manner of Chassidim in certain aspects, whilst simultaneously disregarding the laws of the Shulchan Aruch; one does not justify, compensate, or excuse the lack in the other.


Being Chassidish is not a replacement for Yiddishkeit. The necessary stages of development are: Being a Mentch, being a Yid, being a frum Yid, and finally being a Chassidishe Yid. The third level (being a frum Yid, a religious Jew,) can only be attained via keeping the laws of the Shulchan Aruch; and the final level (a Chassidishe Yid) requires the backing of the third level (a frum Yid).

From what I read in the comments here many of us believe that we are already extremely Chassidish and have little to learn from others. If your first reaction on reading this article is that it doesn't apply to you maybe you should stop and think again.

Whatever your point of view or derech in Yiddishkeit - many, if not all, his points apply to Yidden no matter what their derech - at the very least I believe that all of us should take what he has to say seriously and try to apply some of these points to our own life.

Video of the Rebbe at the Ohel

I came across this video from JEM on Google Videos which shows the Rebbe at the Ohel on Yud Shevat 5752 (1992).

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Photos of Six Day War

The Kotel at last

Putting tefillin on soldiers

Some great photos of the "Six Day War" of 1967 are on here. I like the ones of the Kotel in particular.

It is hard to believe that it is already 39 years since this war. At that time almost the entire world was on Israel's side - Israel was seen as the "David" fighting for it's life against the "Goliath" of the Arab nations. Even though Israel is still the same size - even if the population is now double what it was in 1967 - it is now seen as the aggressor. What a weird world we live in.

Thanks to YMR for the link.

Would this make Shlomo Carlebach proud?

A Gospel Choir singing Carlbach's Pischu Li....what will we see next?!

Thanks to Jake for sending me this.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Happy Birthday Yoram

He's got the whole world in his hands

Rabbi Yoram Ulman has reached the ripe old age of 42 according to the piece in COL here. Rabbi Ulman is the Rabbi of FREE in Sydney and a Dayan on the Sydney Beis Din.

Happy Birthday!

Monday, June 12, 2006

Mazal Tov to our OAMs

Mazal Tov to three people in the Melbourne frum community - one of them a member of Anash - who received the Medal of the Order of Australia today in the Queen's Birthday honours. According to the government website: "In the Australian honours system appointments to the Order of Australia confer the highest recognition for outstanding achievement and service." and the Medal of the Order of Australia is awarded for "service worthy of particular recognition".

Mrs Zipporah Oliver, well known in the Melbourne Lubavitch community, receives her honour for "service to people with disabilities, and to the Jewish community of Melbourne". Mazal tov to you Zippy and to your family.

Mr Reuven Herzog of Adass Yisroel receives his well deserved award for "service to the Jewish community of Melbourne, particularly through Chevra Hatzolah".

The third recipient, Mr Roy Tashi, is a member of Malvern Chabad and supports many Jewish institutions throughout Melbourne. His award is for "service to the Jewish community, particularly through a range of aged care, educational and cultural organisations".

Mazal Tov to you all.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Aussie Spotted

Spotted on this photo of Yossi (ben Reb Arel) Serebryanski . Yossi, who is on the right of the photo, is the shaliach in South Denver, Colorado.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Inclusive Kinnus Torah

Yesterday a Kinnus Torah took place at Yeshivah Gedolah which included many of the Torah institutions in Melbourne. As well as Kollel Menachem and Yeshivah Gedolah there were speakers from Kollel Beis HaTalmud and Mizrachi's Kollel Torah Mitzion. Bochrum from the Smicha program and Yeshivah College Mesifta also spoke. According to reports on the YG blog over 125 people attended.

Yasher Koach to whoever organised this. This trend of trying to be inclusive of all can only be a positive thing for the entire Melbourne Jewish community.

Rabbi BG Cohen and Rabbi Y Greenwald

Thursday, June 01, 2006


Limoges Coffee Set

I read this article with interest and amusement. The article appears on the Jewish Gates website and appears to be written by the site owner. Called The Influence of Coffee on Kabbalistic All-Night and Midnight Vigils it posits that a reason that we stay up all night on Shavuos is due to the invention of coffee. It appears that most of the article is taken from a paper by Elliott Horowitz, a researcher at Bar Ilan University who specialises in European History. I find the conclusions overly simplistic but it is still an interesting read.
(Hat tip to this post on The Last Trumpet blog)

Enjoy your cheesecake - and coffee!