Monday, March 30, 2009

Loshon Hora

This latest cartoon from Dry Bones summarises what we all must be feeling about the latest anti-Israel smear campaign.

In the blurb that accompanies the cartoon we are pointed to CAMERA which is a website that exposes many of the media lies about Israel. CAMERA in turn points us to an article the New York Times which has a more concilitary and even-handed report about the Gaza campaign. While the article doesn't retract the accusations of Israeli atrocities it gives voice to the Israeli side. It is certainly worth reading.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Sweet Home Jerusalem

I just came across this video of a well known (to some of us non-chassidish types) pop song. The words have been changed to more meaningful ones and the playing is really quite professional. It sort of reminds me of how Chassidim over the ages have taken goyishe Russian, Polish, Hungarian etc tunes, added Jewish words, and made them into Kosher songs.

The blurb on the website says:

Sweet Home Jerusalem an amazing takeoff of the legendary rock-n-roll song ("Sweet Home Alabama") - Updated Holy Lyrics by Rabbi Lazer Brody and Steven Gasner:
Eagles' wings keep on flying
Carry me home to see The King
Singing songs about my City
Jerusalem you're in my dreams And I'm gonna sing, yes
Well I heard the UN talk about her
But a Jewish boy won't drink this brew
Uncle Sam please remember, that "Jerusalem won't be split in two!"
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem L-rd I'm coming home to you
We're all waiting for Mashiach You can bet he's coming soon
We'll all be dancing in Jerusalem
And we'll all be singing the same tune Now that's the truth
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem L-rd I'm coming home to you
The wise men of the Holy City
They've been known to pick a song or two
They help my soul when I'm hurting
They give me joy when I'm feeling blue Now how about you?
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem L-rd I'm coming home to you
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem Where the skies are so blue
Sweet Home, Sweet Jerusalem L-rd I'm coming home to you

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Islamberg !!!!

Fox News has reported on a new town 150 miles north-west of New York called Islamberg. A very unexciting name for a place where Moslem "baalei teshuva" have made home.

While the report in the above video looks like a reporter trying to make a non-event interesting, when reading the article it appears that this place may be more sinister than the video shows. The head of this village is a radical Moslem who is - surprise, surprise - anti-Zionist. He has also been linked to various terrorist organisations. Let us hope that the Obama administration or at least the local authorities will wake up and do something about these people.

My first thought when I started reading this was of New Square - the town setup by the Squarer Rebbe in upstate New York. Both towns were established so that the pios would not have to interact with the grob, secular world. While New Square has its own problems they are obviously a benign group and living a sheltered life in the environs of their Rebbe. Lehavdil, this Islamic town doesn't sound so holy.

Monday, March 16, 2009

The Rebbe's Visit in 1960

This video is composed of still photos taken by Rabbi Yosef Goldstein of the Rebbe's visit to Camp Gan Yisroel almost 49 years ago. Many of them are what you would expect of photos at that time but there are some gems that stand out.

It must have been really exciting for the campers and especially the counsellors to have the Rebbe visit and that is reflected in a number of the shots.

The YouTube caption says:

Lubavitcher Rebbe visits Camp Gan Yisroel, Swan Lake, NY in 1960. Compiled from individual shots taken from a recently scanned 16MM film that was photographed by Rabbi Yosef Goldstein. Our thanks to the family for letting us enjoy these treasures.

The Rebbe visited Gan Yisroel in Ellenvile, NY in 1956 right before the camp opened, then in 1957 he visited Gan Israel at Swan Lake, NY at the beginning of camp, and then he visited in Swan Lake for the third time 1960 (this video).

From Shmais

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Chabad in LA

This video is from the 1960s and shows a very young and relatively calm (compared to today) Rabbi Shlomo Cunin. For the first few minutes I thought that it was a documentary taken at the time but it soon becomes apparent that it is one of the first fundraising attempts for Chabad of California. By today's standards it is quite amateurish and many of the references to the students are pretty condescending. But despite that it must be acknowledged that Shlomo Cunin was the originator of the Chabad House and a dynamic and driven person. The Rebbe gave him a lot of chizuk in the early days and it was certainly well deserved.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Shushan Purim Video

The inimitable Mendy Pellin has joined with COLLive to produce a Purim video which can be seen in it's entirety here. The video above is one of the funnier segments which will resonate with many who have been to a New York kosher restaurant.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Purim Videos

Racial Harmony

The Lelover Rebbe distributes a new type of shirayim!!

Thanks to Gruntig

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Purim and Drinking

This year, more than other years, it seems that our schools and community leadership have got it together and are trying to educate our youth and parents about the dangers of excessive drinking. I notice that all the Jewish Schools have been getting professionals to talk about this subject to the kids. Whether or not this helps is up for debate.

What seems to be the better message is the one in the video above from Aleinu in Los Angeles. It encourages parents to be aware of what their children are doing this Purim. This would seems to be common sense but it seems to me that some (many?) parents would rather party themselves than have to worry about their kids on Purim.

Rabbi Yossi Braun in Sydney has sent out a message about drinking on Purim which I believe puts this in perspective for everyone and especially for those who call themselves Lubavitch Chassidim. Although what he says is not new it bears repeating. Some of the pertinent paragraphs:

A significant improvement can be achieved if we adopt the takono (decree) of the Rebbe in relation to consumption of alcohol. The Rebbe has issued an edict that any person less than forty years of age should not drink more than four l’chaims, the total amount not exceeding a revi’is.

If the above takono is observed, it is highly unlikely that alcohol consumption will be a problem.

School age children up to and including secondary school students should not be given any vodka or whisky. Parents should join together and carefully monitor their children over Purim. Please talk to your children about the dangers of drinking. The key to all of the above is responsibility.

While some are of the erroneous opinion that this ruling of the Rebbe has no relevance to Purim, the Rebbe has made it clear on countless occasions that one ought to be equally cautious not to deviate from this instruction on Purim as on any other day. Even if there would be a doubt in this matter (which is not the case!), it is clear that safek lechumra – any doubt in this matter should result in acting stringently and abstaining from excessive drinking.

Let's hope that this message will get through and that Hatzolah will have a very quiet day this Tuesday.

Monday, March 02, 2009

New Shluchim in a New City

Since I don't have a photo of the Avitals
this one of Parliment House will have to do

Canberra's first permanent shluchim set up home last week. Rabbi Dan & Naomi Avital moved to Canberra under Reb Arel Serebryanski who is the official Merkos shaliach in Australia. With the support of Reb Arel and also Eliezer Kornhauser I am sure that the Avitals will be a breath of fresh air to that city. I wish them hatzlocho rabbo in their new mission. has a nice article about this shlichus.

I think it is great that Reb Arel - with the practical support of Eliezer Kornhauser - is opening up new horizons. While the majority of the Jewish population live in the capital cities there is still much work than can be done in Australia outside the "borsht belts" of Melbourne and Sydney. Chabad of RARA started this shlichus and does a wonderful job. I am sure that Reb Arel and Eliezer will find other areas with a sufficient Jewish population to warrant shluchim.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

Purim Video

Mendy Pellin has produced this video which can be customised for Chabad Houses (and presumably others who want to publicise their Purim functions).

Maybe this will be more acceptable to those who sent nasty comments about the last video - which you will notice that I didn't allow to be published.