Monday, June 30, 2008

Crown Heights

Another video...This one of Crown Heights is interesting in general. I assume that the company that made it isn't Jewish or at least not frum. It tends to concentrate a bit too much on Kapporos for my liking but I suppose it was filmed at Tishrei time and schechting chickens in the street does tend to draw a crowd...

Thanks to SS.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

The Rebbe Doesn't Mince Words

This video has been around for a while and shows the Rebbe saying it as it is! Anyone watching this would have no doubt about the truth and the "sickness" that this poor man is suffering from.
When I first watched this video a while ago I didn't notice the last few seconds where there Rebbe throws the book on the floor - but only after the man has left, presumably so as not to embarrass him.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Too Much Time...

This guy seems to have way to much time on his hands! For those of us who like Rube Goldberg machines this is a great watch.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Historic Movie of the Rebbe

Shmais released this movie of the Rebbe taken in 5720 (1960). Being 48 years old it is not as clear as one would like but shows a much younger Rebbe.

Apparently it was given out at the Laufer-Nemanov wedding on 14 Sivan 5768 in Crown Heights.

Much of it shows Kos Shel Brocho from Motzoei Shavuos 5720 but there are also scenes of the Rebbe receiving an aliya and davening in the upstairs shul at 770. One of the last segments shows the Rebbe distributing Lekach. What I find interesting is that, despite the fact that there were much less people in Crown Heights then, there appears to be much more pushing than in the 1980s.

There are also more videos here, here and here.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Enterprising Businessman

The translation from German is a bit dodgy but you get the idea.

Thanks to Jake

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Political Statement

My initial amusement when I first saw this bumper sticker was replaced by some wariness after I had some time to think about it. I am not sure if this is a comment about the American political system, a racist remark or scaremongering by the armchair zionists.

In my experience once a political party is elected to power in Western democracies they basically follow a similar agenda. It is all very well to make strong statements when one is in opposition or in the running for President, but when you actually have the power to make changes reality takes precedence over wishful thinking. All the American Presidents have been supporters of Israel and its right to exist. Maybe I am naive, but it seems that most government politicians agree that it is in the West's best interest to have a strong Israel in the Middle East.

In any case I don't think that we have to start packing our bags yet. The fact that Obama does not fit the established mould for an American President will weigh strongly against him in the elections in November. His colour and perceived leanings will more than likely mean that he will not be leader of the United States in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mazal Tov Jewish Museum!

L-R: Rabbis J.L. Gurewicz, J. Danglow, I.J. Super, I. Brodie
Inspection of Melbourne abbatoirs 1930's
(from Chaim Freedman's blog)

According to a report in the Australian Jewish News the Jewish Museum of Australia in Melbourne just purchased the remaining documents in the "Gurewicz Archive". Thanks to the help of the Pratt Foundation the archive remains in Australia where it belongs.

Unfortunately it took the sale of these historical documents to an American purchaser for the Australian Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Museum to wake up to the fact that they were losing a valuable piece of history. The auction catalogue (click here and search on "Gurewicz") describes who Rabbi Gurewicz was and the importance of these papers.
Born in Vilna in 1885, Rabbi Gurewicz arrived in Australia in 1932, becoming the spiritual head of the United Congregations of Carlton. Rabbi Gurewicz was an authority in Halachic matters; in addition, he possessed dynamic leadership skills, was a good Yiddish orator - which was the language of the time in Carlton - and he quickly became fluent in English. He also had phenominal organizational skills, which partly explains why we now have the opportunity to view his files of documents, literally covering all matters related to Judaism and reflecting the variety of issues confronting Melbourne Jewry in the 1930s to 1950s. He kept everything. Of particular importance are the documents illustrating his involvement during the War years in obtaining immigration permits and helping refugees and newcomers settle in Australia.
Hopefully the documents will be placed on display to the public before they are transferred to the State Library where they will eventually be housed.

Not your typical Crown Heights family

Yosef Abrahamson, 16, right, with his mother, Dinah, and his sister, Sarah,
near their home in Crown Heights, Brooklyn (Bess Greenberg/The New York Times)

An interesting and unusual story in the New York Times - especially for us Down Under where most Jews are white and even the Sefardim look relatively pale.

This is certainly not the type of story one expects to come out of Crown Heights. This young man looks quite well rounded thanks to his mother. Hopefully he will spend some quality time in Yeshivah before he goes off to college.

One paragraph I liked:
Yosef was obviously sheltered from too much scrutiny from the outside world, but the surprising combination of his race and his particular form of religious observance fazed no one in Omaha — for all the average person knew in Omaha, all Hasidic Jews were of African descent, his mother said. When friends from Nebraska first visited New York, they were fascinated to meet some white Hasids for the first time.


Saturday, June 14, 2008

Report from Adelaide

Adelaide Hebrew Congregation

I was pleased to receive this report from our South Australian correspondent with regard to how the community is trying to pull itself together after the (continuing) saga with the previous Rabbi. The comment came in late on Friday in response to a previous post.

Insider reports:
Adelaide Hebrew Congregation’s communal seder on the second night of Pesach had a record attendance of eighty people who enjoyed the evening of song and participation led by Rabbi Gutnick. For a large group of elderly congregants, it was their first communal seder in many years. Visiting Israeli backpackers who came to the seder and services were also welcomed by Rabbi Gutnick and hosted with home hospitality during their stay. His whole family were here with us and are role models embodying the Rebbe's concern for others.
During the week, the youth of the synagogue went on a ten-pin bowling outing with Rabbi Gutnick and two bochurim (one each from Melbourne and Sydney yeshivot) with twenty participating in activities.
The Moshiach's seder was also fun with Rabbi telling Chassidic stories.
Last Friday night twenty five people came to Shabbat maariv services. On Shavuot there was a crowd of about sixty when Rabbi Gutnick led services and gave drashot. He gave us all the blessing of the Cohenim. He is a warm, caring individual and brings honour to his father's memory.
We look forward to learning and renewal under his guidance.
Hopefully Rabbi Gutnick will continue in this vital role and the community as a whole will get past their challenges unscathed.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

One Professor's Mission

This interview with Dr Yaacov Hanoka gives an extremely interesting insight into the view and approach of the Rebbe towards "outreach". I have heard of Dr Hanoka previously but am impressed by his humility and by the kiruv the Rebbe showed him. The experiences he speaks of take place in the 1960s when, as I understand it, Lubavitch was much smaller in numbers than 20 years later and the Rebbe was able to spend more "quality" time with individuals.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Adelaide Report

Yossi Engel with Massada College students in happier times

According to a report in the Australian Jews News website here, Rabbi Yossi Engel has "has been reported on nine counts of false pretences and eight counts of deception in relation to funding applications made by a South Australian Jewish school to the state's Ethnic Schools Board." It seems that the police are turning this over to the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) office which, from what I understand, will assess the evidence and summons him to appear in court for sentencing.

However you look at it this is an extremely sad state of affairs. This is not a positive thing for frumkeit in Adelaide. The fact that Rabbi Engel has opened up his own shul/centre is causing rifts in this small community of less than 1,000 Jewish people. If it is proven that he broke the law I would suggest that he pay the fine (hopefully he will not have to do any jailtime) and leave Adelaide. He is not doing the cause any favours.

I haven't heard how Avremki Gutnick is going as the new Rabbi but I think he would be a suitable candidate to get things moving again.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Isi, Rabbi Groner and the Rebbe

JEM just released this video clip of "Dollars" from 24 Teves 5750 (21 January 1990) where our Rabbi Yitzchok Groner brings Isi Leibler to visit the Rebbe.

To me the best thing about this clip is seeing Rabbi Groner (he should have a Refuah Shleima) in good health.
What also strikes me is how the Rebbe, in his usual manner of getting to the point, does not let a person's self importance influence the advice he gives him. While Mr Leibler wants to address the (admittedly important) issue of non-Jewish Russian immigration to Israel, the Rebbe tells him that he should concentrate on Australia where he has some influence.

For those who don't know of him, Isi Leibler is an accomplished communual personality who has been influential on the world Jewish scene over the past number of years. He now lives in Israel but at the time of this video was still resident in Australia. He has his own website which, amongst other things, features his many published articles.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Happy Yom Yerushalayim

This newest of Jewish holidays falls out today (28 Iyar) and marks the reunification of Jerusalem after the Six Day War in 1967. By all accounts it was an exciting time especially for frum Yidden as we were finally able to daven at the Kotel and walk in the old city of Jerusalem in relative safety. has some interesting articles and has some pictorial features about Yerushalayim.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Achdus in Sydney

It looks like people in Sydney are making a concerted effort to mend fences and bring that city back into the Jewish fold. According to stories on major Chabad websites, this past Shabbos saw a combined farbrengan at Sydney's Yeshiva Centre which brought together 200 Anash from various shuls in Sydney. According to the story on the guest speakers were Rabbi Yaakov Lieder and Rabbi Aron Leizer Ceitlin from Sefas. Rabbi Ceitlin is well known in Australia where he was originally a shaliach in Yeshivah Gedolah. Over the last number of years he has been coming here regularly to collect for the many kindergartens he runs in Sefas.

Let us hope, for the sake of the Sydney Jewish community, that this farbrengan is the start of a unified Anash in Sydney. From the sound of the article and the photos it looks like this has been a very positive beginning.