Saturday, February 28, 2009

Hashem's Team!

This entertaining, well made and acted video was produced for the Celluloid Soup Film Festival last year by Jeremy Weinstein & Mark Weinstein. It stars Dov Werdiger who has a great acting career ahead of him if he wants to go in that direction.

Other videos from the festival can be seen here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


This video of conditions in Sderot was produced a few months ago but unfortunately is just as relevant today. As the producer says what Western country would put up with these type of constant bombardments.

Also check out the Sderot Media website.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Australian bushfires ease - Israel's continue

The burned-out suburb of Kinglake West looking south towards Melbourne
Picture: David Geraghty (The Australian)

Thank G-d the threat of new bushfires in Victoria seems to be easing after 5 horrendous days. Thanks to rain overnight and cooler temperatures it is reported that no towns are under threat although people are warned to stay vigilant. Now comes the even bigger job of continuing to find those that perished and of the victims and families who live in the ravaged areas rebuilding their property and their lives.

Australians are shocked at the loss of life which is predicted to end up at close to 300 people. We are used to hearing about tragedies in far away places but not on our doorstep. There will need to be a huge change in the way people think about bushfires and the way the relevant authorities react to them. Hopefully politics will not get in the way of good decisions being made.

What is really upsetting about the bushfire situation is that some of the fires were caused by arson. I hope that when the authorities catch these criminals they are treated as murderers by the law.

Another sign of our times is that people are trying to profit from this tragedy. Bogus collectors have already been caught, thieves have been stealing from some of the devastated areas and the Sydney Yeshivah's publicity machine has declared how much they are doing to help the victims.

On a more positive note we can make a difference by donating money to the Victorian Bushfire Appeal. I would suggest doing this through Jewish Aid Australia.

I would also urge you to attend Caulfield Shul tonight for an evening of tefillah and solidarity with the bushfire victims.

(Click on picture for a bigger view)

Due to the bushfires the election in Israel has not been given the prominence it would usually have especially with regards to the outcome of that election. The right-wing parties have won the majority of votes although Kadima beat Likud by one seat. It will be interesting to see who becomes Prime Minister and if anything will change in the way Israel deals with the Palestinians. I am not optimistic.

From the Jerusalem Post

Sunday, February 08, 2009

More Photos

The Rebbe walking into 770

The Rebbe and the Previous Rebbe has again posted galleries of photos of the Previous Rebbe and the Rebbe. Some of these I hadn't seen before and it would be nice if they could put captions to the photos and maybe say where they were obtained. In any case it is nice to see these photos especially of the Rebbe when he was young and of the Frierdiger Rebbe.

Gallery 3
is mainly of the naturalisation of the Previous Rebbe with photos of his wife Rebbitzen Nechama Dina as well. Gallery 4 features photos of the Rebbe mainly from the 1950s and 60s.

Friday, February 06, 2009

Video of the Funeral of the Frierdiger Rebbe

JEM has just publicised this amazing footage of the funeral of the Previous Rebbe from 11 Shevat 1950.

In the 59 years since then there have been a lot of superficial changes. Notice that most of the men do not have beards and the men and women are together in the crowd. Maybe in those days they worried less about outward appearances?

Despite these superficial changes I think that everyone realises that the Friediger Rebbe brought a real pride and strength of commitment to Yiddishkeit to the Jews of America. As the video says this was continued by the Rebbe in an even bigger way. Let us hope that we and our "leaders" can continue this trend.

Thursday, February 05, 2009

Spiritually Gigantic

Rabbi Samuel Adelman in Moscow, June, 1956, standing on left,
visiting Rabbi Shlomo Schlieffer, Rav of Moscow.
(Life Magazine / Hirshel Tzig)

Circus Tent pointed me in the direction of this article on It was published on 20 September 1960 by Rabbi Samuel Adelman in his shul bulletin. It appears that Rabbi Adelman was part of a rabbinic delegation which visited Russia in 1956. After this visit he visited the Rebbe and the article is a digest of his observations and thoughts regarding this visit.

In the summer of 1956, after our return from the Soviet Union, I made a visit to Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneirson, better known as the Lubavitcher Rabbi.

The purpose of my visit was more than idle curiosity. Somehow, as a result of what we had seen in Russia, I felt that I could find the answer to a most perplexing problem—how to captivate the hearts and hands of our people for God and His Torah—how to cause commitment to His Truth.

But why the Lubavitcher Rabbi? For this I will have to go back to our visit in the Soviet Union.

It would be trite to repeat the oft-heard story of spiritual decay in this hell-on-earth—where Satan rules and the god of materialism holds sway.

Yet it was in the midst of this modern Egypt and its forty-nine degrees of spiritual uncleanliness that my colleagues and I discovered the only meaningful resistance among our people. For, to our amazement, we found scattered groups of Lubavitcher Chassidim that had somehow managed, not only to survive, but to continue to find strength and to transmit it to their children.

Upon my return to America, I hastened to 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, expecting to find an imposing building as would befit this gigantic challenge to Russian Communism and the god of Moloch. I looked for severe security measures—secret chambers—and a hard dynamic leader of international movement.

I suppose that I was a little disappointed to find, instead, a ramshackle old building, badly in need of paint and repair, the lusty voices of young men hard at a folio of Talmud—and a soft spoken and gentle middle aged rabbi, who seemed hardly to be a match for the Kruschev I had met in Moscow.

But that was until I started to speak to Rabbi Schneirson and looked into his eyes.

Slowly, it began to dawn on me why we had met Lubavitcher Chassidim in Russia, even after they had been cut off from their source of strength for over thirty years. The former Lubavitcher Rabbi had been expelled in the mid-twenties—but more importantly, I began to see the answer to many questions that had been giving me no peace. For here I saw strength of a different kind—the strength of spirit.

The answer was obvious. To overcome material giganticism, one does not have to meet it on its own level. Synagogues need not be turned into a kind of religious night club or replica of Las Vegas to draw on the hearts of its people.

The simple answer to material giganticism is in being spiritually gigantic. No more—no less.

The power of truth is overwhelming—and its obvious asset is that it is Truth.

This is the great discovery that is beginning to turn American Jews back to the synagogue. We are beginning to realize, in the words of the Lubavitcher Rabbi:

“Far dem emes muzen alle fahlen!”

“Before the truth, all must prostrate themselves.”

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Interview with Rabbi Groner zt'l

A Rebbe and his Chassid - Rabbi Groner goes to Australia from Joseph Katzman on Vimeo.

This interview with Rabbi Groner has just been posted on the web by Rabbi Yosef Katzman. I have not seen this interview previously which appears to have been made in the early 1990s. It has been nicely edited with some interesting photos and videos interspersed.

Rabbi Groner discusses his shlichus and the Rebbe's strength and insight with regards to Australia and in general. He also tells some stories about the Previous Rebbe.

Overall a fitting tribute for Yud Shevat.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Yud Shevat





early to mid 1980s
Reb Zalman Serebryansky is in the foreground saying l'chaim to the Rebbe has produced a gallery of dozens of photos of the Rebbe. They are not in chronological order and don't have any captions but I think I can work out some of the dates and have added them to the photos I reproduced here. As usual I welcome any corrections.

Click on any photo for a larger view

Monday, February 02, 2009

Beautiful Jewish Women

I am sure that most people reading Chabad sites have been made aware of the racist and sexist comments made on a US TV show called The View. These remarks - made by a Jewish actor, Susie Essman - insulted Orthodox (and specifically Lubavitch) Jewish women and was only refuted by one person on the panel.

Rebbitzen Dini Freundlich of Chabad of Beijing has written a lovely piece expressing her thoughts on the subject of Jewish women in general and Chabad women in particular. I saw it on Shmais and feel that it is worth publishing in full.

Thank you Susie Essman!
By Dini Freundlich, Beijing China
11:10:PM Sunday, Feb 01, 2009

Although living in Beijing, China, which would seem far from the US and its TV programs, being the Chabad Lubavitch Shlucha here makes me the one that people turn to when they have a Jewish, Chassidic or “Torah perspective Women’s” question. Last week was no different and the big buzz was about the comments made on “The View” by Susie Essman, who plays the role of a Lubavitcher woman in a movie titled “Loving Leah”.

The comments and questions were the talk of my Friday kitchen as I prepared for Shabbat with some University students and the young Shluchot who help us in the Chabad House. I silently listed to them discuss this with a mix of anger, shock, outrage and confusion and a disbelief that in today’s modern and “open” world comments such as hers could be publicly heard and not refuted! They were further more infuriated that no one on the show stopped her or challenged her comments. They turned to me for my thoughts on boycotts, websites and angry emails in response to this outrage.

With Shabbat soon upon and so much to do I did not have the chance to respond to them and hoped to catch up at the Shabbat table. As the day progressed my thoughts progressed as well. At first my thoughts were ones of anger, how could someone believe and say that a group of tens of 1000’s of woman were all ugly and dressed funny! How rude and insulting! However as the day continued and shabbat came into our home, a completely different thought process and feeling came over me. As I stood by my Shabbat candles with my 4 beautiful and unique daughters, and welcomed Shabbat into our home and Chabad House, I prayed as I do each week, for each of my children. I always spend a few minutes reflecting on the week gone by and praying for the week ahead.

As I davened for each of my unique and different children yet all raised in a Lubavitch home, it struck me.

Susie Essman’s comment was not an insult at all, but a compliment to me and all my Chassidic sisters worldwide. Yes, at first glace it does seem like an insult but if you look at what she said it was in essence a complement.

Being a Jewish Woman herself, this role obviously hit a raw nerve and an insecure spot in her, and her observances and affiliations with Judaism. Playing a Chassidic woman made her soul feel uncomfortable and disconnected, and the only way she could cover up this discomfort was to try and insult the woman she plays. She did not say we are unintelligent, uneducated, bad mothers, not entrepreneurs or world leaders, bad educators and not co-directors in one of the world’s largest organizations, not dedicated wives or un-artistic, uncreative or lack talent. Instead she spoke of our faces and clothing.

It’s naive to say all Chassidic women are ugly or they ALL dress funny! How is it possible to insult such a large group of people on two things that are clearly in the eyes of the beholder? That’s right she could not.

In her shallow reaction to her role all she saw was external and all she valued was the external. I on the other hand stand proud to have been raised to look beyond the outside and see what lies within.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe ZTL, my Rebbe, always made a point of helping and reaching out to those less fortunate, he pushed and inspired his followers to do the same. It did not matter what a person looked like on the outside or how they spoke or dressed. He always looked straight inside to the core of the person and saw the value that they had internally. This is the lesson he taught us all and the lesson that leads us daily in our lives. In our Chabad Houses and Lubavitch homes around the world, we welcome people that may be different from us in their dress, looks and language, but as soon as we do as we have been taught, and look beyond the exterior, we see another person just like us!

So I’d like to thank you Susie Essman for making me appreciate the wonderful and truly beautiful woman around me, and the amazing accomplishments and talents they each uniquely have. But most of all, I want to personally thank you for reminding me how lucky I am to be a Lubavitcher Woman.

Susie, I’d like to personally invite you and the hosts of “The View” to join me and over 2000 of my fellow Lubavitcher women on Sunday night, February 15th at the Hilton Hotel in NYC, at our annual Lubavitcher conference of Women from across the globe, to see for yourself a room filled with the most beautiful woman inside and out, and get a small glimpse into their rich, fulfilled and meaningful lives.

Dini Freundlich

The Frierdiger Rebbe has posted some wonderful photos of the Rebbe Rayatz in honour of Yud Shevat. I have not previously seen many of these photos and enjoyed them a lot.

Click on each photo for a larger view.