Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Positive - and Brave - Actions

It was great to see the photos and report about the Chabadniks who visited soldiers on the border of Gaza. All the Chabad sites had reports which were taken from IsraelHomeFront.org.

The report, by Yossi Swerdlov, was well written and quite moving. It must be an amazing feeling for the soldiers - who don't know what tomorrow will bring - to see the Chabadniks and know that the people of Israel have not forgotten them.

An excerpt from the article:

As we drove down, we chatted among ourselves, cognizant of the importance of the mission we were carrying out and only tangentially acknowledging the potential danger we might be in. That didn’t matter to us. What mattered was the soldiers. We were carrying tefillin, pocket-size tehillim (books of Psalms), sandwiches, hot potato burekas, sweet rugelach, and our enthusiasm, encouragement and deep respect for their courage and bravery -- everything we could think of to make the day a little better for the young people we were going to see.

As we approached the area designated a military zone, we requested permission to enter. When the officials saw who we were and why we were there, they let us in.

It is hard for me to describe to you the looks on the soldiers faces as they saw us coming (we went to several areas along the front lines and each time the reaction was the same). Over and over they grinned at us, repeating with complete astonishment in their voices, “We can’t believe you’re here! We can’t believe you’re here!!”

The atmosphere along the front lines is tense, but excited. Right now they are in a holding pattern as they await orders and that in and of itself is nerve-wracking, but you can also see that they are relieved, happy to finally be moving ahead and doing something.

Everyone was happy to lay tefillin, confident of the spiritual boost this would give them. Every soldier also received his own pocket-size tehillim to take into battle with him. You could see on their faces how moving this was to them and how deeply they appreciated the extra bit of spiritual protection this would provide for them.




One way that we can support these brave men and women is to go to PizzaIDF where you can donate pizza or burgers to soldiers. I have mentioned this organisation previously which is run by an ex-Aussie Menachem Kuchar.
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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

A Reasoned Approach



Binyamin Netanyahu talks to a reporter from Fox News about the current war in Gaza. It is great to hear a reasoned discussion rather than the disinformation we get from many "experts" who obvious have no love for Israel and no desire to tell the truth about the situation there.

We should all be saying tehillim for the safety of the chayalim and civilians. Let us also hope that Israel finishes the job and doesn't bow to international pressure as they have done in so many previous wars.


For a complete rundown on the reasons for the current situation go to Honest Reporting.
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Monday, December 29, 2008

Happy Zos Chanukah



In honour of the last day of Chanukah I have posted this video of a medly of Chanukah songs by the YU Acapella. These guys are really good especially considering that it was an impromptu performance.

Enjoy and a freilichen Chanukah!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Merry Chanukah


I understand that the reindeer on the right is Shlomo - Rudolph's first cousin on his mother's side.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Swinging Dreidel



Kenny Ellis sings his hit single from his Hanukkah Swings! Album

Brokeback Dreidel



The group is a Seattle men's chorus who sung this at last year's holiday celebrations.
I found it here.
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Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Freilichen Chanukah



'TWAS THE FIRST NIGHT OF CHANUKAH... OY! WHAT A SHOCK!
SOMEBODY OUTSIDE WAS PICKING OUR LOCK!
AND THERE AT THE DOOR STOOD A 'ZAYDA' IN BLUE-
AND HE WORE ON HIS KUPP A BLUE YARMULKA, TOO!

HIS PUNIM WAS SHAIN-EVERYBODY WOULD LOVE IT!
'ROUND HIS NECK HUNG A CHAIN WITH A GOLD MAGEN DOVID!
HE WORE SILKEN TSITZES BENEATH HIS WOOL VEST,
AND A SMALL FLAG OF ISRAEL WAS DRAPED ON HIS CHEST!

HE SAID: "I'M NO BURGLAR, SO PLEASE DON'T BE NERVOUS.
I'M THE SPIRIT OF CHANUKAH, HERE AT YOUR SERVICE!"
"MENCHEN ALL CALL ME 'REB' SHALOM SHAPIRO!
WITHOUT ME, THIS YOM-TOV MIGHT NEED A NEW 'HERO!'"

"I VISIT ALL YIDLACH, AND BRING - KINNAHORRA-
GOOD FORTUNE AS BRIGHT AS A GLOWING MENORAH!
ICH SHLEPP LOTS OF BLESSINGS AND CHANUKAH GELT,
AND JOYS THAT ARE TAKKA THE BEST IN DER VELT!"

"IF YOU KNOW NICE MENCHEN, I'LL VISIT THEM QUICK,
AND I'LL BRING THEM GEZUNT AND A HOUSEFUL OF GLICK!"
SO WE SENT HIM TO YOUR HOUSE, AND SHOOK HANDS AND PARTED.
HE SHOUTED, "SHALOM!" AS OUT THE DOORWAY HE DARTED!

HE RAN TO A WAGON WITH HORSES AHEAD.
HE FED THEM SOME BAGELS,AND HERE'S WHAT HE SAID:
"LET'S GO, MOISH AND MENDEL! MAKE QUICK, MOE AND YUSSLE!
PLEASE GIVE A RUSH, MALKA! HEY, HYMIE, PLEASE HUSTLE!"

THEN THEY RACED LIKE THE WIND! AND THEY GALLOPED SO SHNELL,
ALL HIS CLOTHING BLEW OFF, AND HIS GATKES AS WELL!
SOON HE WAS SO KALT THAT HIS TUSHIE TURNED BLUISH!
HE MOANED AND HE HOLLERED IN ENGLISH AND YIDDISH!

SO, DON'T ACT EMBARRASSED, AND PLEASE DON'T BE RUDE
WHEN THAT FROSTBITTEN ZAYDA ARRIVES IN THE NUDE!
QUICK! WRAP HIM IN BLANKETS! DON'T BEAT 'ROUND THE BUSH'!
AND TIE A HOT WATER BAG ONTO HIS COLD TUSH!

QUICK! FEED HIM SOME CHICKEN SOUP HEISS AS CAN BE!
AND GIVE HIM SOME SHNAPPS AND A GLEZ'L HOT TEA!
'CAUSE HE BRINGS YOU A HOUSEFUL OF CHANUKAH WISHES
AS WARM AND G'SHMACK AS A PLATE OF HOT KNISHES!

AND HE BRINGS THEM FROM OUR HOUSE SO FRIENDLY AND BRIGHT,
SO YOUR HOUSE WILL KEEP GLOWING WITH CHANUKAH LIGHT.

PLUS JOY SWEET AS TSUKKER, AND PEACE AND GOOD-CHEER
AND EVERYTHING FRAYLICH EACH DAY OF THE YEAR!
AND NONE IN YOUR FAMILY WILL BE A SHLEMAZEL,
FOR LIFE WILL BRING EACH OF YOU SIMCHAS AND MAZEL!

AND ALL THROUGH THE FUTURE YOUR HOPES WILL COME TRUE,
AND HIMMEL WILL BLESS YOUR MISHPOCHA AND YOU!!!



Despite the levity above I wish everyone

a Freilichen and meaningful Chanukah

Friday, December 19, 2008

Giving Credit Where it is Due


Many of you would probably have received the Yeshivah Centre's first "annual report" - called Overview 5768.

I have just received it in the mail and have only skimmed through it so cannot comment in detail. In particular what I liked seeing was the financial information in the form of graphs. It is a good start to becoming more transparent and I look forward to seeing more detail in future reports.

So it looks like the executive is reacting to the community. I, for one, think it is a positive start and look forward to more of the same in the future.

Good Shabbos.
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Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gut Yom Tov

Painting of the Alter Rebbe by Miriam Teleshevsky - ArtbyMiriam


From Hayom Yom - 19 Kislev (copied from Chabad.org)

From a letter by my father:*

The 19th of Kislev...the festival on which "He redeemed our soul in peace,"1 and our soul's illumination and vitality were given to us, this day is Rosh Hashana for Chassidus bequeathed us by our sacred forebears,2 identical with the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov.3

"This day is the beginning of Your works,"4 the fulfillment of the true intention behind the creation of man on earth, which is to call forth revelation of the light of the inward part5 of our holy Torah.

On this day, that light is called forth, in a general way, for the entire year. It is our duty, on this day, to awaken our hearts with an innermost, elemental desire and will, in the very core of our heart, that G-d illuminate our souls with the light of His Inner Torah.

"From the depths I called to You, O G-d,"6 to elicit the depth and inwardness of G-d's Torah and G-d's mitzvot from the inwardness and essence of the Infinite (May He be blessed), to illuminate the inwardness of our souls. That all our being (meaning our total existence, the essence and the extensions)7 be devoted to Him alone, to banish from within us any of the natural traits that are evil and unworthy. Instead, all our works and affairs (our Avoda, meaning - davening and Torah and mitzvot, and our worldly undertakings necessary for the maintenance of the body), be with sincere intention for the sake of Heaven, as G-d wishes.

May G-d the Merciful Father have compassion upon us and lead us along the good and righteous path and may we "see His face in uprightness.Tehillim 11:7.

* Dated, Wednesday, Kislev 16, 5662.

The chazan does not wear a tallit for Mincha or Maariv - neither on weekdays, Shabbat and festivals, or Rosh Hashana.

Yahrzeit of the Mezritcher Maggid,8 Tuesday, Parshat Vayeishev 5533 (1772). He is interred in Anipoli.

The Alter Rebbe9 was released from his first imprisonment, Kislev 19, Tuesday, Parshat Vayeishev 5559 (1798) towards evening.

From the Alter Rebbe's letter: This indeed must be made known, that on the day G-d made for us, the 19th of Kislev, Tuesday (the day on which "it was good" was said twice in Torah10) yahrzeit of our holy teacher whose soul is in eden, while I was reading in the book of Tehillim the verse "He redeemed my soul in peace,"11 before beginning the following verse, I emerged in peace by (the act of) the G-d of peace.

* * *

A day of farbrengen and good resolutions towards establishing times to study the revealed Torah12 and Chassidus publicly, and in bolstering the ways of chassidim in true friendship.

It is customary to apportion volumes for the study of the Talmud, according to the procedure set out in Igeret Hakodesh "Hochei'ach Tochi'ach"13. In Lubavitch, since the year 5663 (1902-03) this allocation was made on Tevet 24, yahrzeit of the Alter Rebbe, there not being time on Kislev 19.

Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943) from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.

FOOTNOTES
1. Tehillim 55:19.
2. I.e. the Rebbe'im of Chabad. In the Hebrew there appears after "forebears," this phrase: "May the memory of those saintly and holy ones be a blessing for life in olam haba - the spiritual Hereafter; their souls rest in eden; may their merit protect us."
3. In the Hebrew: "...of the Baal Shem Tov - may his memory be a blessing."
4. Siddur p. 288.
5. See "On the Teachings on Chassidus, Kehot.
6. Tehillim 130:1.
7. See translator's notes, p. 122.
8. Rabbi Dov Ber, successor to the Baal Shem Tov.
9. Rabbi Schneur Zalman, founder of Chabad Chassidus. For a full biography, see Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, by Nissan Mindel, Kehot, New York, 1969.
10. See Rashi, Bereishit 1:7.
11. Tehillim 55:19.
12. Talmud, halacha etc.
13. Tanya p. 633.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

The Heroine



We have all heard and read about the heroine of Mumbai, Sandra Samuels, the nanny who heroically saved 2 year old Moshe Holtzberg. This interview on CNN has appeared on most of the Chabad sites but I thought that it was worth reproducing here. Her devotion to Moshe, as seen in this video, is quite touching.

It is wonderful and only fitting that she has been accepted into Israel.
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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Tributes, Gatherings and Practical Stuff

There have been numerous tributes to those who were murdered in India last week. A casual perusal of Chabad and other Jewish sites will reveal a large number of articles and tributes to the kedoshim. Isaac Balbin, who was in India only a few weeks ago and spent time with the Holtzbergs, wrote an article which Emmanuel sent out. There is also a copy here on Circus Tent.

Last night in Melbourne a "Kinnus" was held at Yeshivah Shul. A large crowd heard a number of speeches and watched the obligatory video of the Rebbe. I understand that the event was organised by the Shluchim of Yeshivah Gedolah and one of the shluchim gave, in my opinion, the most practical address of the evening. He asked that, in honour and memory of the Kedoshim, we take on practical mitzvos. The Shluchim distributed cards and tzedokah boxes. A copy of the card is reproduced below.


Photos of the crowd were taken by Zelig Shaul.



-=-=-=-

I have also received links to websites in support of the families of some of those murdered.

The Holtzberg Family Fund

The Kruman Foundation

The Teitelbaum Orphan Fund

-=-=-=-

The Chabad Houses in Melbourne are holding a memorial this evening:

It is with profound sadness and broken hearts

that we invite you to join us for a

Memorial Service

to honour the memory of

Rabbi Gavriel & Rivkah Holtzberg

Selfless Shluchim of Chabad Mumbai

and all those who were brutally murdered

in the Mumbai Massacre

Tuesday 2 December

7.15 - 8.00pm

at Bnei Brith Hall, 99 Hotham St, E St Kilda


The memorial will be followed by a live broadcast

of the funeral of Gabi & Rivkah in Israel

May Hashem comfort all broken hearts and may we all merit to

see only joy and gladness with the complete redemption of Israel now!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

What is a "Chabad House"



Now that the tragic events in India appear to have ended non-Jews (and possibly many Jews) the world over are wondering about this Jewish group in Mumbai called Chabad. I liked this interview on CNN with Professor Mel Konner and I think he explained things quite well.


Also, for those in Melbourne, there will be a gathering at Yeshivah Shul tomorrow night (Monday, 1 December) at 8:00pm. The notice says:

In light of the recent tragic events,
the community is urged and
encouraged, to take part in a Kinnus
(הקהל) gathering, to hear words of
inspiration and guidance.

לזכר ולעילוי נשמת:
OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS, ALEIHEM HASHALOM
WHO DIED AL KIDDUSH HASHEM - MURDERED IN THE
MUMBAI CHABAD HOUSE


Siyum Sefer Torah - Carnegie




Photos by Zelig Shaul of the Siyum Sefer Torah today for the new Carnegie Chabad House - formerly the Carnegie Minyan.
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Saturday, November 29, 2008

A WarmTribute

Piece on the JTA website by Benjamin Holtzman:

Remembering Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg

FIRST PERSON

By Benjamin Holtzman

Just minutes ago I heard the terrible news that five Israeli hostages were found dead inside the Chabad center at Nariman house in Mumbai. Although the media hasn’t officially confirmed their identities yet, it seems quite certain that they are Chabad Rabbi Gavriel Holtzberg, his wife Rivka, an Israeli couple and another Israeli.

After having been glued to the news for two days straight, relentlessly combing through twitter updates, news reports, and blogs, I am totally exhausted, yet feel compelled to write something about these great people I knew.

I lived in Mumbai for six months last year, and would go to the Beit Chabad with friends for a Shabbat meal about every second week. Over the course of six months, we got to know the rabbi and his wife quite well.

They were wonderful people: warm, inviting and engaging. Gabi would get visibly excited to have so many guests for Shabbat; you could tell it really made his week. He would have a grin on his face almost the entire meal, including during his dvar Torah. He was always so eager to create a communal feeling that he insisted everyone go around the table and say a few words to the group, giving guests four options: either delivering a dvar Torah, relating an inspirational story, declaring to take on a mitzvah or leading a song.

As most of the guests were Israeli backpackers and other passers-through, they might have found this quite novel. For us regulars, it was just Gabi’s shtick. I can still hear him reciting those four options to the group now, as if he had discovered some miraculous way to make everyone involved in the Shabbat with no escape, impressed by his own genius week in and out. He had a devilish smile; you could really see the child still in him, just beneath the surface.

Gabi was also exceptionally thoughtful. Though most of the guests were Israeli, Gabi would give his dvar Torah in English for the sake of the few of us English speakers there with sketchy Hebrew, so we’d understand. Sometimes he spoke line by line first in English, then Hebrew. Gabi would start discussions and made it his personal mission to get everyone talking, to make a group of disconnected Jews feel like a family. It worked. That was Gabi.

Rivki was a certified sweetheart. She’d generally sit apart from Gabi, to spread herself out, and usually sat with the girls. She too relished Friday night dinners -- I think she needed her weekly female bonding time. She’d talk to the girls about the challenges of keeping kosher in India and share exciting new finds at the market together.

You could tell she was far from home, in this dense Mumbai jungle, but she was tough and really made the best of it. She would balance Gabi’s presence, occasionally making comments to people at her table while Gabi was speaking -- not as a sign of disrespect, but to keep the people around her having a good time. That was Rivki: brave, fun-loving and super sweet.

Perhaps the greatest testament to their character was simply the fact that they lived in downtown Mumbai for years on end. Having lived there for just six months, I understand how incredibly taxing just existing in the city is. Even when trying to relax, the city still seems to suck the life out of you. Living as Westerners in modest conditions in the thick of Mumbai, with the restrictions of kashrut and Shabbat, is certainly no small feat.

I’m not sure if they were thrilled with their placement in Mumbai, but they certainly made a good go of it. They were only a few years older than me, in their late 20s, and despite being far from friends and family and perhaps not in the most exciting Chabad placement (compared to Bangkok, Bogota or Bondi), they kept positive and built a beautiful bastion of Jewey goodness.

They chose a life that demonstrated such altruism and care, in the truest sense. The Mumbai Chabad really made a difference to my time in India, and made me feel that much more at home in such a foreign country.

It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I met Joseph Telushkin, the famous Jewish author. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where I randomly bumped into friends of friends from back home. It was to Gabi and Rivki’s where we brought our non-Jewish Indian friends who became curious in Judaism. It was at Gabi and Rivki’s where a girl I would later fall for first developed feelings for me, when I brought her some water while she lay sick on the sofa from Indian food poisoning. She was being nursed by Rivki.

We often hear about tragedies in distant, disconnected places and feel frustratingly estranged from them. We want to connect, but can't; we feel as though in a different world. And mere numbers, names and images don’t amount to much. I hope I’ve been able to paint a small picture of two of the victims of the Mumbai terror attacks, which claimed more tha 140 lives and left hundreds injured.

I know they would have been brave throughout the whole ordeal. Though unconfirmed, it is likely they would have been murdered right as Shabbat was coming in. I feel that this would have provided them with comfort, knowing that they departed this world in a time of peace. I also know the knowledge that their 2-year old son Moishe managed to escape in the arms of his nanny would have provided them with great comfort in their final hours. When I would look at the young Moishe I would see Gabi’s face and Rivki’s carefree spirit.

Chabad lost two soldiers today, emissaries and keepers of the Jewish people. Let us honor their work and their lives in our prayers, in our thoughts and in our deeds, and let us pray for the families of the dozens of other victims of these attacks. May all their souls rest in peace, and may we see an end to violence in our time.


The Worst News



We come out of Shabbos here in Australia with the sad news that Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg have not survived the siege at the Chabad House. While we are just hearing this those in the United States were aware of this before Shabbos in their time zone.

The feelings are still raw. This news article on JTA states the facts and talks about the Holtzbergs and their impact on India. The article below - by Rabbi Shimon Posner of Chabad of Rancho Mirage - begins to express the anguish that most of us are feeling.

GRIM. EREV SHABBOS.

It's happened. We held out against what we didn't want to hear but now we've heard it... and what do we do? Do we rant? Do we shut up?

We mourn. In silence. But if we stay home and mourn in silence, how is anyone to think anything other than we are just taking a nice long bath? So we mourn silently in public. Without speaking of hope, without speaking of pain; we speak only of the matter at hand – the burial which is now incumbent upon us.

I am sure that there on the other side of the globe competent people are going about that grim task. We sit here and we watch them without seeing. We watch them with our hearts. Not the gruesome scene: whom would that honor, the martyrs or the cowards? No, we watch the sanctity, the pure and sacred bodies who served You with joy in life, and in death did not part from You – and by extension not from us either. And we hear echoes of times past and other places which move forward with glaring clarity -- remarkably en courante?

Rabbi Chananya ben Tradyon is being publically murdered by the Romans. They wrap his body in a Torah and light it on fire. And the saintly one proclaims –in his anguish – "the parchment I see burning but the letters they soar into the air! "

The archive footage comes back to us again of a young exuberant couple: "Hi my name is Rivkie!" And he, with a smile that is open and somehow knowing beyond his years. Beyond his innocence. Baking challah for hundreds, shechting chickens for hundreds, dancing, davening. And then footage of Nariman House surrounded on November 28, 2008.

And we cannot yet mourn because the grim service must still be done. And oh! I nearly forgot! Shabbos is coming! Work must be done! Giving out challahs, verifying the minyan, cleaning, shopping...

And somewhere deep in our psyche we remember; Shabbos we cannot mourn. Shabbos we must rejoice...we are commanded thus. So it is written in no less an authority than children's stories we read decades ago. So Eli Wiesel confirmed in his story of Jews under Communist rule The Jews of Silence. The elderly chossid who cries bitterly at a farbrengen and then "remembers" it is Simchat Torah and he demands everyone rejoice because they will not dictate when we mourn and when we rejoice; only the Torah dictates.

Our medium is virtual and we virtually gather together waiting for a grim and awful funeral procession to commence. We watch the letters floating in the air and we hear the cries of two mothers, two fathers, brothers and sisters and one two-year baby looking for Mommy.
Shabbos is coming towards us and we must go out and greet her. We will go into Shabbos knowing that Sunday looks grim. We will wish that Shabbos will just last all week. A Shabbos that would not end. A Shabbos that would permeate every corner of the globe and every cranny of the human psyche and envelope it in its warmth and glow and melt all evil from hearts which were not born evil or corrupt, until they too – they especially—will sing Shabbos!

I've digressed, and it is this digression which the Jew considers the straightest of lines, obscured though it might be by glaring headlines and the painful present. Good Shabbos... Shabbat Shalom. And as my children have taught me to say: TTYL.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Good News?

Zelig Shaul sent me news from IBN News that the hostages, including the Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, have been released from the Chabad House. I could not find confirmation of this from any other news source and hope and pray that it is correct. Hopefully when Shabbos is over the drama will also be over with a good outcome.



The news item below - relating to the situation and how Chabad is responding to it - is from Israeli English news.

Mumbai Update

Commandos abseiling into the Jewish Centre

Reports in the Age and on ABC have stated that commandos stormed the Jewish Centre but as yet it is not known if the hostages have been released.

We should keep saying tehillim for all people - Jewish and non-Jewish - who are caught up in this tragedy.
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No Definitive News

The nanny escaping with Moshe Holtzberg, the son of the shluchim

As I woke this morning there is still no definitive news about the situation in the Chabad House, Nariman House, where the shluchim and others have been held. Reports are that all the hostages have been released but the Chabad sites and others are still unclear about the fate and condition of the hostages.

Israel National News
Chabad.org
Lubavitch.com
ABC News
The Age

Please continue saying tehillim for all the hostages and injured. Hopefully this situation will end soon with no more killed or injured.
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Thursday, November 27, 2008

India Update

From COL:

12:21 AM: After 12 hours in captivity, 3 hostages escaped the Chabad House building. Footage shows a woman and her 2 year-old daughter of "foreign nationality" rushing into an ambulance. They reported of 5-6 terrorists in the building.

12:42 AM: A woman who is the maid, and Moshe Holtzberg - child of Chabad Shliach where rescued, also rescued is the cook lady for Chabad.

1:44 AM: Lubavitch spokesman Zalman Shmotkin said that "the terrorists commandeered a police vehicle which allowed them easy access to the area of the Chabad house and threw a grenade at a gas pump nearby, blowing it up."

1:59 AM: Holtzberg's mother-in-law Yehudis Rosenberg: "The nanny said they were alive but unconscious."

I am assuming these are New York times which would make the latest report 90 minutes ago.
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Dire Situation


I didn't post this previously as most other Jewish websites have been reporting on this but I have had requests from a few people to publicise the situation.


As most of you know there has been a series of terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India with the terrorists apparently targeting Americans and the English. Some of these attacks occured in the vicinity of the Chabad House and apparently three Israelis have been killed r"l and the Shluchim, Rabbi Gavriel & Rivka Holtzberg and their child haven't been heard from for a number of hours.

Please say tehillim and give tzedokah for:
Gavriel Noach ben Freida Bluma
Rivka bas Yehudis Holtzberg
Moshe Tzvi ben Rivka

and for all the missing and injured.

COL has some breaking news
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Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Last Photo (I hope)

Thanks to Moshe D for sending me this.   I comes from here and shows most of the Aussies at the Kinnus.  It is not such good quality and it is difficult to see everyone but appears to include lots of bochrim who are in Crown Heights.


I intend this to be the last photo of the Kinnus this year.
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Spotted at the Kinnus - 2

Reb Arel Serebryanski

Chaim Tzvi Groner (towards the left)

Ya'akov Barber

Yoram Ulman (L)

Michael Goldhirsh & sons and Morry Wolko (towards the top in the middle)
 

Morry Wolko, Sholom Mendel Kluwgant, Yisroel Sufrin, 
Yitzchok Reisenberg & Reuvi Cooper at the Banquet

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Spotted at the Kinnus

Chaim Tzvi Groner (R)

Benyomin Serebryanski (L)

Yossi (ben R' Arel) Serebryanski 


Sholom Mendel Kluwgant (centre),  Yisroel Sufrin (far right)


Elozor Gorelik (L)


Mendel Groner (guest speaker at a Thursday night session)


Moshe New (centre)

Yitzchok Reisenberg (left side of table)

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Boruch Dayan Hoemes


We were all saddened to hear the passing of Rabbi Velvel Krinsky ob"m who was niftar on Friday just an hour before Shabbos.   He was the eldest sibling in his family and was well known in Australia as a Shochet and Mohel and for his distinctive chazzanus.  He was 93 years of age and the oldest chossid in Australia. For the last few years he had lived with his wife at the Montefiore Homes in Melbourne where she still resides.

The levaya will be at Springvale on Sunday at 2:00pm according to the Chevra Kadisha website.


 COL has a nice article about him which I am reproducing below.

Rabbi Velvel Krinsky, an elder Chossid of the Lubavitch community in Australia, has passed away today, Friday, in Melbourne some 10 minutes before Shabbos candle lighting.

He was 93.

American born and bred, Krinsky was an army veteran who served in the U.S. army on aircraft carriers in World War II.

Born Ze'ev Arye Krinsky in Plymouth, MA, his father R' Shmaya Krinsky OBM raised him and his siblings in a Chassidic environment, in great contrast to the spirit of the liberal state.

He lived in Worcester, MA, before moving to Australia where he was active in religious affairs as a Schochet, Mohel and Chazzan.

He is survived by his siblings: Mrs. Rivka Hecht, New Haven, CT; Mrs. Chava Shusterman, Chicago, IL; Mrs. Sofie Goodman, Ashdod, Israel; R' Yosef Krinsky, Crown Heights; Rabbi Pinchas Krinsky, Boston, MA; Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Crown Heights; Mrs.Yochi Goldberg, Boston, MA.

And his children: Mrs. Chaya Raisel Glick, Melbourne; R' Hershel Krinsky, Crown Heights; R' Avraham Shmaryahu Krinsky, Melbourne; R' Dovid Reuven Krinsky, Sydney; Mrs. Fraida Teitelbaum, Montreal, Canada.

The Levaya will take place on Sunday (Motzoei Shabbos in the U.S.) 

The family in the U.S. will be sitting Shivah at 1450 President Street, Brooklyn, NY. Shachris - 9:40am, Mincha - 4:15pm, Maariv - Bizman

Mrs. Shusterman and Mrs. Goodman are sitting shiva at 6211 North Whipple St in Chicago.

Hamokom Yenachem eschem Besoch Shaar Avaylay Tzion VeYerushalayim. Vehukeetzu Veranenu Shochnay Ufur vehu besochom

Friday, November 21, 2008

Historic Photo

Rav EE HaCohen Yolles, Rav Mordechai Mentlik, 
Rabbeinu, Rav Shmuel HaLevi Levitin, 
Rav MDB Rivkin, Rav Shlomo Aron Kazarnovsky, Zichronom LiVrochoh

I was just about to post this wonderful photo from 5724 (1964) when I saw that Circus Tent had beat me to it.  The advantage that Circus Tent has over me is that he knows all the people pictured - I only recognised the Rebbe and Rabbi Mentlik.

Thanks again to Menachem Kirschenbaum for publicising this photo and for the stories of the Rebbe and pictures each week on his Portrait of a Leader blog.
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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Kinnus HaShluchim 5769

Well the International Kinnus HaShluchim has started in Crown Heights and I have started my perusal of the dozens of photographs to seek out the Aussies there.  So far photos have appeared on Shturem, Shmais and COL which also has this fairly professional video.


2008 Shluchim Conference Opens from COLlive.com on Vimeo.


Yosef Chaim Kantor (R)


Yossel New (L)

Dovid Sebban (R)


Please let me know if you see someone I have missed.
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Monday, November 17, 2008

On a more positive note...


I just read this post on Circus Tent and was quite moved by the story.  It is more "real" than many other stories of tzaddikim and quite easy to imagine it actually happening.

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Assorted Mixed Nuts


This recent article on Chabad.info - one of the main meshichist websites - struck me as funny and sad.   These nutty "shluchim" shlepped their little kids 4 or 5 hours from Montreal to New York for their Opshiren - which was held downstairs in 770 at 2:00am.  The reason for the weird time and short trip was so that they would be able to get back to Montreal before Shabbos.


I know that this is not such earth shattering news but to me it is just another example of how far away these people are straying from normal society.
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Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Shul Antics


Emmanuel has written an interesting editorial about the state of Yeshivah Shul. The issues he brings up are just part of the problem of the entire Yeshivah Centre which has been discussed at length here.

While there are a few dedicated people who try to keep things running without expecting pats on the back etc. And while the gabboim are doing a better job than the majority of gabboim in the past, there is still a great lack in a number of areas. The most obvious are lack of leadership and accountability.

I will let Emmanuel say it in his own unique way:

LIKE FIDDLERS ON OUR COLLECTIVE ROOF

While recently contemplating the myriad of empty seats in the Shul one Shabbos, it occurred to me that the current Shul situation (vis a vis it’s diminishing relevance to people in the general Lubavitch community) has a striking resemblance to a recurring image that I have of the anecdotal Nero who fiddled on the hills overlooking Rome while the city burned!

As more and more people seem to be contemplating what may have been (5 years ago or more) the previously unthinkable idea of davening elsewhere, it befuddles me (I know, that isn’t very difficult to do) that those with the power to make change…resist it so strongly! I suppose this can be considered a “cheftza/gavra” issue…is the moisod the ikar at all costs or is the moisod a reflection of the community that daven there, in that it represents/serves the community (within the confines, of course, of Lubavitch philosophy and minhag)…and never the twain shall meet!

Seemingly, the former has been the direction taken by those that are responsible for the Shul given that the Shul has been neglected for decades to the needs of the Centre in general, and the school in particular!

Is it mind boggling therefore, that those responsible for the Yeshivah Centre (and by extension the Shul) seem to be finally responding to this gradual (and not so gradual) exodus of people from the Shul in a most unique and innovative way…they are again going on a drive to enlist new members for the same old Shul committee!?

Is the brief of these new saviours to represent the Shul and demand the autonomy and respect that the Shul needs as an independent, community moisod or will they continue the current committee traditions to make sure that there is enough herring and gefilte fish for farbrengens, listen patronizingly to mispallel issues that arise from time to time and, maybe be there at 9:30 on Shabbos morning so that the minyan can start on time!

Is this a bold new vision to build on for the future or just fiddling around the edges, trying to placate an ever restless community whose apathy seems to be fast changing to…anger?!

In a time where, dare I say, our Shul seems to feel no more than a venue - 4 walls and a roof where people get together on Shabbos to daven a little in between conversations – those with the wherewithal to make bold and far reaching decisions upon which the future of our congregation can be built, are sitting on the sidelines trying to maintain an increasingly shaky status quo that is spiraling ever downward…like fiddlers on our Shul roof!

Emmanuel

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Obama Causes Hysteria - among Yidden!


I was in two minds about writing anything regarding the election in America. What does it matter what I - or anyone outside of the US - says as we have no input into their elections. The bottom line is that America is the strongest and richest country in the world. The only country with a global foreign policy and this therefore affects almost every country on this planet. Therefore, despite having no say in president-elect Obama's selection, his victory touches us all to a greater or lesser degree.

From thousands of miles away - and thousands of miles away from the hysteria of the pro and anti Obama factions - his victory seems like a great and historic occasion for America and Americans. Once Obama actually takes charge the realities of running the country things will be quite different from the rhetoric of the election campaign. The president is the leader of that country but I don't believe that he makes decisions in a vaccum. There are many advisors and elected officials who also have a major say in America's policies. Obama will not be able - or probably even want to - change established procedures and policies without much thought and planning.

In any case it will be at least 12 months until we see what type of president he makes and whether the electorate made a good decision or a catastrophic one.


CrownHeights.info has dozens of comments on their piece about Obabma's win. They also published an interesting article by Shmueli Boteach. Even after many years of viewing these websites the rudeness (and ignorance) of some of the commenters still surprises me.
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Sunday, October 26, 2008

Spot the Aussie


Shturem has photos from a number of Lechaims held for recent engagements. Two Sydney engagements were included - Lieder & Greenblat (Argentina) and Friedman-Leuchter. The photos are here and include a number of Australians.