Saturday, December 31, 2005

Mall Celebrates Hanukkah

Event includes latkes and jelly doughuts, singing, juggling and the lighting of the candles.

Bette Keva [Signal Staff Writer]

The message was freedom and the medium was entertainment when a few hundred people came to celebrate the fourth night of Hanukkah Wednesday at the Westfield Valencia Town Center.
Everything had meaning — the latkes (potato pancakes) and the jelly doughnuts, the joyous dancing, the Israeli signing, the juggler who wowed the children, and the lighting of the giant menorah sponsored by Chabad of Santa Clarita Valley.
Chabad Rabbi Chone Marozov introduced Councilman Cameron Smyth, who served as mayor this past year. Marozov joked that Smyth would always be mayor to the people of this valley.
“Even when the world calls him president, he will always be mayor to us,” Marozov said.
Smyth lit the shamash, the “servant” candle in the middle of the menorah that is used to light all the rest. The other four candles were then lit by Chabad member Dennis Young.
Smyth and Marozov said the community is fortunate to be so diverse.
The crowd was entertained by a musician and by David Cousin, who juggled such things as an egg, boccie balls, a frying pan, a bowling ball and a lit torch.
Hanukkah — which means dedication — is the eight-day commemoration of what Jewish people call the miracle of the oil. In 165 B.C., the Greek Syrians tried to obliterate Jewish customs and rituals. During the ensuing war, the Greeks seized the Jews’ holy temple, converting it to the worship of Zeus.
After the Jews defeated the larger Greek army, they entered the temple, cleaned and repaired all that was damaged, and wanted to burn candles in a menorah in order to celebrate, but there was only enough oil for one day. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days.
The eight-day miracle of the oil is symbolized by eating latkes and doughnuts that are fried in oil. And because the holiday signals the Jews’ freedom to worship as they wish, people are encouraged to demonstrate their joy by singing and dancing.

A Hanukkah hope: Defeat the darkness

By Diane Wright
Times Snohomish County bureau


The USS Ford, a guided-missile frigate, may be a high-tech "total warfare system," but for the past few days, it has been host to a symbol more than 2,000 years old: a menorah.

The 9-foot electric menorah stands on the deck of the ship at Naval Station Everett, being lit each night during the Hanukkah holiday, from Dec. 25 through Jan. 1.

Large, public menorah lightings are nothing new to Chabad Lubavitch of the Pacific Northwest. The Jewish outreach organization sponsors humanitarian, educational and social activities and is part of Chabad centers worldwide.

When operations Spc. 2nd Class Eric Sanders, the Jewish lay leader of the Ford, asked for a menorah display, the group produced "a beautiful, giant, 9-foot electric menorah that's standing on the deck," said Rabbi Elazar Bogomilsky. The rabbi is director of the Northwest Friends of Chabad, a support group to Chabad Lubavitch, and host of a radio talk show. Sanders trucked the menorah up from Seattle and set it up with help from friends on the ship.

The menorah sits on the deck, on what used to be a missile launcher.

Bogomilsky and Rabbi Elie Estrin, director of Chabad at the University of Washington, gave a blessing on board Thursday night that Sanders, Lt. Cmdr. Kristin E. Jacobsen, chaplain Gregory McCrimmon and Aaron Arky, the ship's public-affairs officer, attended.

"There's a concept that was expressed by Isaiah to turn your swords into plowshares," Estrin said. "We believe that this is what it's all about."

The rabbis believe this is the first Navy ship in the region to have a menorah lighting.

"It's good that we can recognize all the different faiths that we have on the ship," Jacobsen said.

Another part of the ship had Christmas decorations, and each year, the Navy ships have a competition for creating the most interesting displays.

The menorah, a candelabra, represents a miracle that dates back more than 2,200 years, when Israel was under Syrian rule. Judaism was under attack, with prohibition of dietary laws and the burning of sacred scrolls of the Torah.

Thousands were martyred for practicing their religion.

"The miracle was a small group of Jews stood up against an army and gained control over the temples that were desecrated," Bogomilsky said. "They found one jug of oil they could light, and the miracle is it lasted eight days, until they were able to produce more oil."

The enduring message is that "one little light can remove much darkness," he said. "The message of Hanukkah is that each day we add another candle, to increase the light and brightness and freedom in the world."

During the Holocaust, Jews would make menorahs out of potatoes in the concentration camps; in Russia, where religion was repressed, people would risk their lives to gather friends together for Hanukkah. The Hebrew words persoma nisa mean to proclaim and broaden the miracle, and, "it's really a holiday for the entire world," Bogomilsky said. "Hence, these giant outdoor lighting displays to illuminate the universe."

The lighting ceremony, which took place at 5 p.m., also featured a treat for those participating.

Michael Morgan, the culinary specialist on duty, cooked up latkes — potato pancakes, a traditional Hanukkah food — his first ever.

In the clear night waters, a blessing followed the lighting, "to bring light and gratitude for what they do for us, keeping our waters safe," Bogomilsky said.

The Ford heads back to sea Jan. 6 for six months in South America.

Diane Wright: 425-745-7815 or

Copyright © 2005 The Seattle Times Company

Hanukkah light ceremony is Sunday

SHREWSBURY — The first public menorah lighting in Shrewsbury last Sunday generated so much interest that the Westboro Jewish organization that sponsors it planned another one for this Sunday, to mark the last night of Hanukkah.

About 75 people observed Shrewsbury’s first-ever public menorah lighting Sunday, said Dvora Green of Chabad of Westboro.

“Even though it was raining, we were encouraged to see 75 people standing out there with their umbrellas,” Mrs. Green said.

The Chabad center’s phone was busy all week with people inquiring about it, she said, so the center decided to hold another observance, dubbing this one “Last Night.” Hanukkah ends Sunday night.

The public menorah lighting is scheduled for 4 p.m. at the Shrewsbury Town Common. Latkes and hot cocoa will be served. Anyone with questions should contact Dvora Green at (508) 366-0499.

The message of Hanukkah

By: Joseph Harvie , Staff Writer

Local rabbis spread the light.
Family, community, reaffirming one's Jewish identity and the miracle of life — these are some of the messages local rabbis associate with Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights.
The holiday celebrates the Jews' military victories in 168-165 B.C. against King Antiochus. The king had tried to force the Jews to worship Greco-Syrian gods, persecuted the Jews and made them sacrifice pigs, a nonkosher animal, on the temple altar. His soldiers also had attempted to stop Jewish worship by opening and defiling olive oil kept pure for use in lighting the temple menorah, which is supposed to burn all night every night.
The Jews were victorious militarily, but when they went to rededicate their temple there was only enough oil left to burn the menorah for one day. However, the oil lasted for eight days — enough time to cleanse and dedicate the temple and prepare a fresh supply of oil for the menorah.
Hanukkah is a time for Jewish people to thank God for their lives and to rededicate themselves to their faith, according to local rabbis.
Over the years Hanukkah, like Christmas, has become more commercial. Some argue it has been commercialized because of its proximity to Christmas and the exchange of gifts during the holiday.
Rabbi David Eligberg of Congregation B'nai Tikvah on Finnegans Lane said that the commercialization may make people more aware of the holiday, but does not necessarily get them involved in their faith.
"It is a real challenge for anybody who's suffused with the religious message of any holiday celebrated now," Rabbi Eligberg said. "Whether it is Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanzaa — I don't know enough about this one to know if it is severely impacted by the commercialization, but if it hasn't, it will be in the future. It is a real challenge to preserve the true message of the religious significance of the holiday."
Reaffirming one's Jewish identity is an important part of Hanukkah, Rabbi Eligberg said. He said reaffirming one's identity cannot be done as a community alone, but each of its members has to reaffirm his or her identity in order for the community to do the same.
"You don't have Jewish identity in a vacuum," Rabbi Eligberg said. "It is created initially in the home, by the myriad of activities that go on throughout the year that help shape Jewish identity. That is then brought to the community and that helps shape identity of the community, and at the same time helps reinforce the identity of each member of the community."
Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of Chabad House of North and South Brunswick said the commercialization of the holiday has increased its popularity and has helped to get more Jews involved in their faith.
"People are more interested in Hanukkah, sadly because it has become more commercialized," Rabbi Carlebach said. "That doesn't take away from the positive characteristics or good actions associated with the holiday. The more people know about the holiday, the better. Because that is the idea, to spread the word and spread the light."
Rabbi Carlebach said that as more people celebrate the holiday, more people will become involved in their faith and hear the word of God, one of the spiritual messages of Hanukkah.
"What we are celebrating is that we are bringing light into the world in a time of darkness," Rabbi Carlebach said. "These days are the shortest days and by bringing more light into the world each night we make it a brighter life.
"The first evening one candle is lit, and as the days go on you light an additional one every day. The lesson is that we are always increasing in goodness and light and spirituality."
Family gatherings and community events surrounding Hanukkah are also ways to strengthen the holiday's message, Rabbi Carlebach said.
"We always recount the story of Hanukkah and what we are celebrating," Rabbi Carlebach said. "Not only is it the significance of its history but also the significance of daily life. What each one of us has is a light or a spark of godliness. We all have the same spark of spirituality and godliness and together we make it into a flame."
Rabbi Levi Azimov of the Chabad Jewish Center of South Brunswick said Hanukkah is a time for Jews to thank God not only for the past but for the present and future.
"We always have to thank God for miracles he has done in past and connecting it to every day," Rabbi Azimov said. "He gives us life and a roof over our heads, he gives us happiness. One of our main customs is to be thankful and say thanks to God in morning prayers."
Rabbi Azimov said Hanukkah events provide a chance for the Jewish community to come together and share in the message of Hanukkah message and to thank God together.
For the past four years Chabad Jewish Center of South Brunswick's Hanukkah on Ice event, which was held Monday at Princeton Sports Center on Cornwall Road in Monmouth Junction. At the event people ice skated to Jewish music and sang songs as an ice sculptor carved out a menorah.
"Whatever we do, we are celebrating the holiday and thanking God and eating special foods and getting together," Rabbi Azimov said. "That is one of the wonderful things. At Hanukkah on Ice there were over a few hundred people there celebrating together and thanking God."

©PACKETONLINE News Classifieds Entertainment Business - Princeton and Central New Jersey 2006

Festival of Lights Center Ithaca hosts Hanukkah celebration

Article published Dec 30, 2005

Journal Staff

ITHACA - Carol Rubenstein came to Center Ithaca on Thursday to hear the music.

She wanted to hear the sounds of Klezmer music, the traditional instrumental music of Eastern European Jews commonly performed at religious ceremonies.

On Hanukkah's fifth day, Rubenstein was joined by more than 50 people who came for a celebration and special menorah lighting ceremony that featured traditional Jewish foods and music.

“It is very moving to me to be among a group of Jews as if we are all at home,” Rubenstein said. “I like to see the candles lit and be among a group of Jews for a change. I want to hear the music. I seldom hear the sounds of Jewish culture. To me, it has a special joy.”

The ceremony began with Rabbi Eli Silberstein and Jeremy Pletter, 14, lighting the special menorah in Center Ithaca's upper atrium. Silberstein has lit the candles for each day of Hanukkah, which began last Sunday and ends this Sunday.

Afterward, Joel Rubin and Cornell's Klezmer Ensemble performed music and people snacked on traditional Hanukkah foods like jelly doughnuts and potato latkes.

“I am quite surprised with the turnout,” said Silberstein, who runs the Chabad House, a Jewish educational organization at Cornell. He added that he was impressed people took time out of busy schedules and vacations to attend Thursday's celebration.

Hanukkah, also known as the Festival of Lights, celebrates a miracle that occurred in Jerusalem thousands of years ago when Jews conquered Greek oppressors and reclaimed their temple in 165 B.C.E. They found a flask that contained only enough oil to light the menorah for one day as they rededicated their temple. Miraculously, the oil lasted for eight days and this gave them enough time to obtain new oil to keep the menorah lit.

Jon Raimon said he brought his daughter, Rohannah, 5, to Thursday's event to share in the religious celebration.

“It is nice to share our traditions with the community,” Raimon said. “We came to hear good music and see the celebration of lights.”

Pletter said he enjoyed the ceremony.

“It is nice to come down and celebrate the holidays with your friends,” he said. “Plus everyone likes doughnuts.”

Plaza menorah repaired, relighted

By BRANDON GARCIA | The New Mexican
December 30, 2005

Three religious leaders say recent vandalism to the Plaza menorah was an act of anti-Semitism, but Santa Fe is still safe for Jews.

About 100 people watched as the repaired Hanukkah display was relighted Thursday evening. The menorah's branches were bent and twisted, and the glass tops on its candelabrums were smashed Tuesday night.

"I don't think Jews need to be afraid in Santa Fe," said Rabbi Malka Drucker of HaMakom, a Jewish community. "We don't have people painting swastikas on lawns."

Drucker and the Rev. Richard Murphy of St. Bede's Episcopal Church agreed with Rabbi Berel Levertov of the Chabad Jewish Center of Santa Fe, who said the vandalism was anti-Semitic because no other religious displays in the same area were damaged.

Murphy said the incident proves there's a "presence of religious bigotry in the city," but he believes it's a small number of "hateful" people.

"I don't think Santa Fe is an anti-Semitic place," Levertov said. "The community has been very welcoming to us."

Anna Dolores, who attended the ceremony and stated she's nonreligious, said the vandal must be ashamed of his or her actions. "If he'd known he was right, he'd do it when people could see it," she said.

The eight-day holiday commemorates the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem in 165 B.C. After a military victory over Hellenist Syrian soldiers who had destroyed the Temple three years earlier, Jews were preparing a sacrifice to praise God for the victory. While they had only a tiny amount of oil for their menorah, it miraculously stayed lit for eight days. Hanukkah ends Monday.

A group of local businesspeople have funded a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of whoever damaged the display, Police Chief Beverly Lennen said.

It's possible the incident could lead to a criminal sentence enhancement if someone is convicted in Municipal Court and the vandalism is deemed a hate crime, Lennen said.

While Drucker, Levertov and Murphy said they don't think the vandalism is an indication Santa Fe residents hate Jews, all said they're worried anti-Semitism is rising worldwide.

Drucker said she believes that after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, people became frightened and some blamed Jews. "It's an existential fear that in my 60 years I never worried about until 9/11," she said.

Murphy agreed, but Levertov said while he believes anti-Semitism is increasing in Europe and the Middle East, he is unsure whether it's related to the Sept. 11 attacks. But, he said, "we've had anti-Semitism for thousands of years, and it's not going to sidetrack who we are."

Levertov promised the crowd an even bigger menorah next year, but Drucker said she would prefer no public religious memorials. "I'd rather get the Christmas tree down than put a menorah up next to it," she said.

Contact Brandon Garcia at 995-3826 or at

By Donado "Cove" Coviello (Submitted: 12/31/2005 9:34 am)

The 4 big signs around the menorah say "Happy Chanukah (from) The City of Santa Fe Parks and Recreation Department." The object of the vandalism was probably the local government not the Jewish community or the Christian community if it had been a "creche."

By atma wiseman (Submitted: 12/31/2005 8:22 am)

Where would fingers point if this had been a vandalized creche ?

By Charles Streeper (Submitted: 12/30/2005 3:04 pm)

Trisha isn't perfect but at least she doesn't draw conclusions and looks at religions objectively rather than taking an isolated incident and make assumptions about its intentions. Although, I don't think her assumption is correct that Boulder is more accepting of other religions than Santa Fe.

Vandalism is wrong period and yes, I'm glad they fixed the menorah so quickly as well.

By Kate Stone (Submitted: 12/30/2005 12:35 pm)

Trisha is perfect. A regular Sister Teresa. Om.

By Charles Streeper (Submitted: 12/30/2005 12:28 pm)

I think Trisha is right, as much as one might want to make this look like a anti-semitic act we don't know if it was just a young kid who saw some flimsy metal and glass on the plaza and decided to destroy it. The vandal may not even know what the symbolism of the object was and just did it for fun. That does not make the action right, but as long as we don't know who did it and why make assumptions? Had the vandal sprayed swatztikas, like is often seen on Jewish gravestones in Europe, it would be an easy call.

By Judy Yelsky (Submitted: 12/30/2005 12:03 pm)

WOW! so now because you visited a freakin museum you think you are able to "get it" By your comments it is apparent that that admission price you paid would have been better spent at pinks Hotdogs. hahahaha

By Andy Hopkins (Submitted: 12/30/2005 10:51 am)

I gotta say Kate, I like that idea better than mine about putting the guy in Netazrim. One question though: what if the perp was female???

And kudos to those who made this restoration happen so quickly. Happy Hanukkah!

By Trisha Matthews (Submitted: 12/30/2005 10:30 am)

Judy, having visited the Museum of Tolerance in L.A., it seems to me that I "get it" quite well, and far beyond to what the average American can attest. People go on the defensive very quickly when their faith is questioned or challenged. I strongly adhere to separation of Church and State, but I also think that there needs to be reasonable latitude. I hardly think a Christmas tree, crescent moon, or Chanukah menorah is reason for me to become defensive.

Cove, the State religion of ROB is acceptance.

Trisha in Boulder pahahahaha! :-)

...put THAT in your hat and smoke it!

By Kate Stone (Submitted: 12/30/2005 10:26 am)

Find the loser and bring him to a pissed off old moyel with a real bad tremor.

By Judy Yelsky (Submitted: 12/30/2005 9:43 am)

trisha: you dont get it do you?

By Judy Yelsky (Submitted: 12/30/2005 9:42 am)

oh yeah 5 large goes a long way when it comes to turning in a loser

By Donado "Cove" Coviello (Submitted: 12/30/2005 9:37 am)

I agree with Rabbi Drucker about the separation of Church and State.

Trisha, I don't know what the State religion of the white "Republic of Boulder" is but I can guarantee it isn't Islam. I bet there are no "cresent moons" put up on their holy days.

By Trisha Matthews (Submitted: 12/30/2005 8:46 am)

>>get the Christmas tree down<< ?? hahahahaha!!! I think you just need to get over yourself! Symbols of belief, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, pagan, or otherwise are personal expressions. We all just need to be more accepting of each other. ....and as far as vandalism on a menorah...what makes you think that it has anything to do with anti-Semitism? It could've just been an act of straight up vandalism. How quick we are to point a finger and say "I've been victimized" when it could equally be assumed that the act of vandalism would've have occurred regardless of the property. Yup. That's it....get over yourself.

trisha* in The Republic of Boulder :-)

By Ed Campbell (Submitted: 12/30/2005 8:21 am)

Let's hope someone who's acquainted with the thug who committed this hate crime -- will avail themselves of a nice New Year's present -- and turn their bigoted butt in for the reward.

By Karl Martell (Submitted: 12/30/2005 8:01 am)

Well-done, repairing it so quickly!

St. Augustine lights public menorah in Plaza

About 200 people turn out to observe candle lighting

Publication Date: 12/30/05

About 200 people came to the Plaza de la Constitucion on Thursday night to observe the fifth night of Hanukkah by watching the lighting of menorah candles.

Rabbi Nochum Kurinski, a leader of the Chabad @ the Beaches in Ponte Vedra Beach, said, "This is the newest menorah for the oldest city in America."

The large aluminum menorah was made by Raymond Zrihen of Jacksonville.

"I commissioned it, but he wouldn't take any money," Kurinski said.

Kalman Rothman, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is Rabbi Kurinski's father-in-law, said a menorah candle is being lit every night in different Florida cities.

The first night was Sunday, which began the Hanukkah miracle. A candle was lit at Disney World in Orlando.

On Monday, the second candle was lit in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The third was at Jacksonville Landing on Tuesday and the fourth Wednesday in Atlantic Beach.

"Many store owners in this city asked for the fifth one to be lit here," Rothman said.

On the fifth night, children get gifts of coins or money.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of the Dedication or Festival of Lights, begun by Judas MaccabÊus in 165 B.C. to commemorate the dedication of a new altar in the temple of Jerusalem. That altar replaced an altar which had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria.

Kurinski said Hanukkah is "always celebrated in the heart of winter, a time when the world is full of darkness, and there isn't much light."

As St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner lit the middle, or lead, candle, the crowd grew quiet. The other candles are traditionally lit from that one.

Little Julian Davis, 4, said only one word, "Fire!"

Gardner said the ceremony symbolized "a representation of universal faith" and crossed all cultural boundaries, since the menorah stood only a few feet from a Christmas tree.

"This is an excellent example of community," he said.

He said the Plaza was established in 1598 as a public space in the original St. Augustine settlement.

"It has remained so throughout the past 400 years," he said.

Rick Levy of St. Augustine, a guitarist for the local band Falling Bones, and formerly with Herman's Hermits, said he had drifted away from his Jewish faith over the years.

"It's nice to come back to your roots a little bit," Levy said. "It's good to see people here of all faiths. That's what's cool about this town."

Levy returned to his faith with a vengeance and is now studying Kabbala, or Jewish mysticism. He also wrote and performed a song on the St. Augustine Christmas album last year called, "My Baby Bought Me a Dreidel for Christmas."

The audience sang the traditional "Moaz Tzur" and "I Had a Little Dreidel."

The only thing missing was mention of the First Congregation Sons of Israel in St. Augustine and Temple Bet Yam in St. Augustine Beach. Jerry Kass, of the Sons of Israel, said nobody had passed the word about this celebration to either of those local congregations. "I read about it in the paper," Kass said.

Kurinski said Hanukkah teaches people to light their souls and bring them out into the world.

"To be good people and effect change, we have to include obvious acts of goodness and kindness," he said. "But yesterday's act is no longer good enough. We have to increase that and make the world a better place."

TEXT:About 200 people came to the Plaza de la Constitucion on Thursday night to observe the fifth night of Hanukkah by watching the lighting of menorah candles.

Rabbi Nochum Kurinski, a member of an ultra-orthodox chabad in Ponte Vedra Beach, said, "This is the newest menorah for the oldest city in America."

The large aluminum menorah was made by Raymond Zrihen of Jacksonville.

"I commissioned it, but he wouldn't take any money," Kurinski said.

Kalman Rothman, of Brooklyn, N.Y., who is Rabbi Kurinski's father-in-law, said a menorah candle is being lit every night in different Florida cities.

The first night was Sunday, which began the Hanukkah miracle. A candle was lit at Disney World in Orlando.

On Monday, the second candle was lit in Ponte Vedra Beach.

The third was at Jacksonville Landing on Tuesday and the fourth Wednesday in Atlantic Beach.

"Many store owners in this city asked for the fifth one to be lit here," Rothman said.

On the fifth night, children get gifts of coins or money.

Hanukkah is the Jewish Feast of the Dedication or Festival of Lights, begun by Judas MaccabÊus in 165 B.C. to commemorate the dedication of a new altar in the temple of Jerusalem. That altar replaced an altar which had been polluted by Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria.

Kurinski said Hanukkah is "always celebrated in the heart of winter, a time when the world is full of darkness, and there isn't much light."

As St. Augustine Mayor George Gardner lit the middle, or lead, candle, the crowd grew quiet. The other candles are traditionally lit from that one.

Little Julian Davis, 4, said only one word, "Fire!"

Gardner said the ceremony symbolized "a representation of universal faith" and crossed all cultural boundaries, since the menorah stood only a few feet from a Christmas tree.

"This is an excellent example of community," he said.

He said the Plaza was established in 1598 as a public space in the original St. Augustine settlement.

"It has remained so throughout the past 400 years," he said.

Rick Levy of St. Augustine, a guitarist for the local band Falling Bones, and formerly with Herman's Hermits, said he had drifted away from his Jewish faith over the years.

"It's nice to come back to your roots a little bit," Levy said. "It's good to see people here of all faiths. That's what's cool about this town."

Levy returned to his faith with a vengeance and is now studying Kabbala, or Jewish mysticism. He also wrote and performed a song on the St. Augustine Christmas album last year called, "My Baby Bought Me a Dreidel for Christmas."

The audience sang the traditional "Moaz Tzur" and "I Had a Little Dreidel."

The only thing missing was mention of the First Congregation Sons of Israel in St. Augustine and Temple Bet Yam in St. Augustine Beach. Jerry Kass, of the Sons of Israel, said nobody had passed the word about this celebration to either of those local congregations. "I read about it in the paper," Kass said.

Kurinski said Hanukkah teaches people to light their souls and bring them out into the world.

"To be good people and effect change, we have to include obvious acts of goodness and kindness," he said. "But yesterday's act is no longer good enough. We have to increase that and make the world a better place."

© The St. Augustine Record

Hanukkah gifts and gelt for young Nyack Hospital patients

(Original Publication: December 30, 2005)

NYACK — When 2-year-old Jovani Romero leaves Nyack Hospital's pediatric ward for his home in Garnerville within the next few days, he'll take along a Hanukkah gift and the grins and good wishes of a dozen Jewish children and parents.

Members of the Youth Zone, a Chabad of Rockland children's club, brought gifts, Hanukkah gelt and small plastic dreidels to children spending the holidays in the hospital as a way to brighten their day and do a mitzvah, or good deed, said Chaya Ehrenreich, who along with her husband, Rabbi Chaim Z. Ehrenreich, run the two-year-old organization for Jewish children ages 5 to 10.

Four years ago, the Ehrenreichs spent Hanukkah in the hospital with their daughter, Chaya Ehrenreich said. "There was nothing for the holiday there, nothing Jewish. I felt there should be something Jewish," she said.

Last year, the Chestnut Ridge-based group purchased and wrapped gifts for children in the hospital and Chaya Ehrenreich delivered them. This year, the children presented them.

"Since they prepared the gifts, we thought it would be more meaningful for the kids to participate in the mitzvah," Chaya Ehrenreich said.

Jennifer Roth, 13, and her sister, Hannah Roth, 10, of Suffern enjoyed the shopping but felt that presenting the gifts was a high point of the project, they said.

"I think that they really need something to cheer them up and to bring joy to them. It's something good to do in this life," Jennifer said.

Club member Matthew Josephs, 10, of Palisades, said he appreciated the opportunity to do something for other people.

"Charity makes you feel better. It's the right thing to do," he said.

Susie Roth Beerman of South Nyack, who accompanied her son, Joey Beerman, 10, said the group had spent the past two weeks on the project.

"For children in the hospital during holidays, they'll feel cared for and they're not missing out on the fun and the friends," she said.

Maureen Kroning, pediatric nurse manager, said she was happy to invite the Chabad group into the ward to give out presents to the four children under care there.

"It's an absolutely great morale-booster," she said. "It shows the spirit of the holidays."

Celebration continues with the lighting of ‘Menorah of Freedom’

By Mary Louise Speer

A small group gathered together for the lighting of the Menorah of Freedom at dusk Thursday, the fifth day of Chanukah.

The kindling ceremony was held in a grassy field close to 53rd Street and Utica Ridge Road in Davenport. The bright light of the electrical candles glowed a greeting to vehicles traveling past.

Rabbi Shneur Cadaner of Chabad Lubavitch of the Quad-Cities led the service. The rabbi and his wife, Chana Cadaner, moved to Davenport six months ago. The intent of the Chabad Lubavitch movement or philosophy is to introduce people to Judaism, he said. The movement was born in Russia about 250 years ago and is observed in many corners of the world.

“The mission we’re here for is we don’t try and look at people’s backgrounds. We try to bring Judaism to everyone,” Rabbi Cadaner said. “People should know Judaism can be fun.”

The children helped light the candles of a smaller menorah using a shamash, or helper candle. Chanukah started at sunset Dec. 25 and ends Monday.

“I’d like to share a few words about Chanukah. We actually celebrate Chanukah by the lighting of the candles,” he said.

The story of the holiday goes back to a small group of Jews who fought and won a battle with their Greek oppressors. The group was preparing to celebrate their victory in the temple in Jerusalem when they discovered there only was enough oil to keep the menorah burning for a single night.

A miracle happened when the oil lasted for eight days, he said.

He urged the families to show acts of kindness and goodness to others even though the past year has held many dark events. “By adding good deeds, we can change the world. We can transform the darkness into light,” he said.

After the service, people enjoyed traditional treats of latkes (potato pancakes), doughnuts, chocolate gelt and Chanukah songs of “I Have a Little Dreidel,” and “Oy Chanukah,” played by keyboardist Ron Madow of Bettendorf.

“It’s really nice to share this openly with the community at large,” said Helen Weindruch of Bettendorf who attended with her husband and children. “The whole atmosphere is wonderful.”

Her son, Archie Weindruch, 9, loves nibbling on chocolate gelt coins. He has a deep appreciation for the celebration. “You get to light the menorah, play dreidel, be with family and have guests over at your house,” he said.

Rabbi Cadaner and his wife are slowly lighting candles of relationship with others in the community. They do not hold formal services yet, but they like sharing Friday night meals with friends.

For more information about Chabad, go to or call (563) 355-1065.

The city desk can be contacted at

(563) 383-2245 or

Chanukah at City Hall

London Mayor Ken Livingstone has pledged to make celebrating Chanukah an annual event at City Hall.

The announcement comes following the lighting of the menorah in a ceremony overseen by Chabad of Hendon.

"I am pleased to be able to host the lighting of the Menorah at City Hall. Chanukah is an important period in the Jewish calendar commemorating the Jewish struggle for religious freedom," said Mr Livingstone.

"In recognition of this, I intend this to be an annual event at City Hall. I would like to wish London’s Jewish communities a very happy Chanukah," he added.

Rabbi Gershon Overlander of Chabad said:

"It is very gratifying and highly appropriate that the capital of this great country which vigorously protects the religious freedom of all its citizens has chosen to erect a Menorah here in London City Hall."

Jewish deputy mayor Nicky Gavron added: "In lighting the Menorah at City Hall, we recognise the value of this freedom and we also acknowledge and celebrate the remarkable contribution that the Jewish community has made to London's culture, economy and history. I hope that the City Hall Menorah will become part of the London landscape every Chanukah for years to come.

Come on baby, light my menorah

By Auditi Guha/ Staff Writer
Friday, December 30, 2005

Residents enjoyed traditional latkes and jelly doughnuts at a menorah-lighting event in the Reilly Memorial Rink last Wednesday, as Brighton celebrated Hanukkah; the event was sponsored by local Chabad groups.
Families skated around a giant menorah, the nine-branched candelabrum used in celebration of Hanukkah, which was officially lit amid much celebration by residents in Cleveland Circle.

"The menorah lighting was organized for the first time in Cleveland Circle for the whole community," said Tatyana Krivolukskaya from the Shaloh House Jewish Day School on Chestnut Hill Avenue.

Chabads from Brookline and Newton helped organize the event with "Hanukkah on Ice" for area families, as well as sand art and painting for those who did not want to skate.

"It symbolizes the sharing of light with friends, neighbors and family," said Rabbi Mayshe Schwartz from the Chabad Chai Center of Brookline. "What greater way of sharing it with the community than to have a menorah lighting at Cleveland Circle?"

The event ran 3 to 5 p.m. with food, fun and games; District City Councilor Jerry McDermott of Brighton was given the honor of opening the event.

"With school out for Christmas, there is really no place for kids to hang out and identify as Jews," Schwartz said. "This was a fun event for kids and family. It gave them an opportunity to come out and enjoy Hanukkah."

Hanukkah is a time to commemorate soldiers fighting for freedom in Iraq.

Menorah lighting honors soldiers

A bonfire burned brightly as people stood on the lawn in their overcoats and gloves, shivering in the cold afternoon air, Monday.
A man stood in front of the menorah, speaking of Hanukkah, as well as those who gave their lives serving in Iraq.
In this, the fourth year the menorah has been lit during a public ceremony at the Chabad Jewish Center of Monroe, several community members took the opportunity to read the names of soldiers from New Jersey who were killed in battle in Iraq.
According to Rabbi Eliezer Zaklikovsky, who led the ceremony, those fighting in Iraq share something with the message of Hanukkah.
Hanukkah commemorates the Jewish people freeing themselves from Syrian persecution and earning their religious freedoms from those who tried to convert them.
"(The soldiers and the holiday) are very similar in terms of freedom," Rabbi Zaklikovsky said. "The message of Hanukkah is freedom."
After a moment of silence for the fallen soldiers and the playing of taps, several members of the community, including Monroe Councilman Irwin Nalitt, lit the candles of the menorah to mark the second night of the holiday.
"We remember our fallen heroes who died for our freedom," said Harold Rosenblatt, a Monroe resident. "(Hanukkah) commemorates freedom for the Jews."
Martin Tyberg, a Monroe resident attending the ceremony for the first time, agreed that it was important to honor the soldiers in their fight for the nation's freedoms.
"The holiday is about freedom and victory over oppression," he said. "The United States soldiers are fighting for Iraqi freedoms."
According to Rabbi Zaklikovsky, the event is usually well attended, bringing in about 150 people to celebrate Hanukkah.
Following the lighting, guests were treated to festive holiday songs and a feast of jelly donuts and potato pancakes.
"It is an ongoing tradition in the Chabad movement that the menorah is a universal symbol," he said. "We should not hide freedom of religion."

USC Students Going To N.O. To Help Katrina Victims

Jewish Group Joins Rebuilding Efforts

LOS ANGELES A group of USC students will spend the first week of the new year in New Orleans helping victims of Hurricane Katrina, a campus rabbi said.

The group, organized by Chabad on Campus, will join about 100 other students from Harvard, Columbia and other colleges to rebuild some of the areas hardest hit by Katrina four months ago, said Rabbi Dov Wagner, the director of the campus' Chabad Jewish Student Center.

Another group went on a similar rebuilding mission Dec. 18 through Dec. 24.

The students will help local residents make their homes livable again by removing mold infested debris and ruined carpets and walls and assist the national charitable organization Habitat for Humanity in their rebuilding efforts.

They will also help repair damaged public school buildings, work with the Jewish Federation to help other charitable organizations get their facilities back in order, and help the burial society remove and bury thousands of Jewish holy books scattered throughout the city and destroyed by the hurricane.

Chabad-Lubavitch will provide the students with room and board and help with other expenses, but the volunteers will pay for their own transportation to New Orleans, said Wagner.

(© 2005 CBS Worldwide Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Prayers for peace


Jim Baron , Times staff reporter

PROVIDENCE - Standing behind a silver menorah, and in front of King Charles II’s charter for the colony of Rhode Island that represents "the first opportunity for religious freedom in the New World," Rabbi Yehoshua Laufer and Gov. Donald Carcieri lit candles to celebrate the third night of Chanukah at the Statehouse on Tuesday.
"The purpose of this evening is to pray for peace," Laufer, director of the Lubavitch movement in Rhode Island told a group of about three dozen children and adults gathered around the candles.

"All good people pray for the return of our brave troops back to their families and their homes" and the success of their mission.

"The United States of America is the kindest nation in the world," he said. "We have a generous place to live."

Referring to suicide bombers who continue to kill innocent people in the Middle East and elsewhere, Laufer said, "their true battle is against the creator of the universe."

Such tactics, he said, "are the last gasp of evil to stay in power."

That kind of desperation on the part of evildoers, Laufer said, is evidence that "the world is becoming a better place."

Part of the symbolism of Chanukah, the rabbi said, is the victory of "light over darkness, of goodness over evil."

Taking part in the lighting of the candles, Carcieri said, "I can’t help but feel the wonderful tradition" that the ceremony represents and continues.

Thinking about the "trials and tribulations" that Jews have survived, Carcieri said they "know better than anyone" the horrors of terrorism "because they have been living with that in the homeland for some time now."

After lighting the shamash candle, the one used to light the others, Carcieri said "government is meaningless if it doesn’t have a heart and doesn’t come from the principles of what our faith bases are."

Having many children participate in the ceremony, the governor said, is a way of "extending tradition and extending faith" to new generations.

Also participating in the candle lighting ceremony were Eliezer Gromet, a geology professor at Brown University and Schmuel Dill, a leader in the Providence Jewish community. Once the candles were lit, everyone joined in singing traditional songs.

"By coming together and lighting the menorah," Laufer said, "we want to emphasize the fundamental unity and goodness which is inherent in the world and in every human being. Every good deed we do is like another candle lighting up the world."

The candle-lighting ceremony at the RI Statehouse was initiated at the request of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, who taught that the lesson of the candles applies to all mankind: "by increasing in light and acts of goodness, one can illuminate one’s life, warm the soul, heal the spirit and bring true peace and light to all people of the world.

New Chabad center is finally completed

The Waxman Chabad Center in Beachwood finally opened last Wednesday, Dec. 21, completing construction project four years in the making.

Workers demolished the old Chabad House fronting Green Road on Thursday, revealing the gabled façade of the new $3.4 million structure that is the final piece of the Green Road Jewish campus.

The front entry of the concrete block building is meant to resemble 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, worldwide headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch. Inside, the 18,000- square-foot center has a sanctuary for worship as well as programming and office space.

Congregants and members of the Chabad community are delighted to finally have a suitable, permanent place of worship after years of meeting in a private house.

In “the old house, it was pretty dilapidated,” says Cary Senders, a Chabad board member. “It would leak when it rained, and it was always crowded. Now we have an opportunity to have one of the most unique, beautiful shuls in the city.”

Worshippers held their first services in the new sanctuary on Dec. 21 during Mincha / Ma’ariv (evening services). The city of Beachwood granted a certificate of occupancy for the building the same day, allowing for the demolition of the old building. The last services in the old Chabad house were on Dec. 20.

Although the building is now functioning, the official grand opening of the center will take place sometime after Chanukah, says Mel Waxman, whose family donated most of the funds for the center. “We’re still working on getting things organized.”

About 125 people attended Shabbat services on Saturday, Dec. 24, but had to sit on folding chairs and benches while they waited for the furniture n ordered from Kibbutz Lavi in Israel n to arrive.

The bookcases and pulpit were custom-designed and are already installed. The ark from the old building was moved to the new location, and an additional new ark constructed of three different types of mahogany wood stands in the front of the sanctuary.

The sanctuary has a capacity of 150 men, while the women’s gallery above seats 100. The women’s gallery seats are placed on risers for a better view. “It’s the best seat in the house,” says Rabbi Leibel Alevsky, Chabad of Cleveland director.

The center also includes offices for clergy, an office dedicated to the late Lubavitcher Rebbe, a board room, and a social hall with dairy and meat kitchens. There is also programming space that will be used for Chabad programs such as Friendship Circle and the Jewish Learning Institute.

The new building has been a long time coming. Chabad acquired the property in 1982, using a private home as a meeting place. In 1999, zoning issues, including a fight by some Beachwood residents to keep the area zoned residential only, halted building plans.

In April 2001, Chabad broke ground on the mikvah (ritual bath) that stands behind the new synagogue. The city approved an April 2003 deadline for completed construction of the main building, a deadline that was later pushed back to February 2005 and finally to December 31, 2005.

The reasons for the delay were based on the construction and design of the building, says architect Jack Bialosky Sr. of Bialosky + Partners. “It was not an ordinary project by any means,” he says. “It was very difficult to design and even more difficult to construct.”

The congregation wanted a duplicate of the Brooklyn headquarters, which was impossible to do, says Bialosky. The Brooklyn building has three stories, while Beachwood only allows two. In the end, a compromise was reached that accommodated all the functions of the building in a compact design.

“The architect was exceptional,” says Rabbi Alevsky. “He maxed out every corner.”

Congregants are excited to make use of their new facility. “We’re looking forward to having the community join us in the building,” adds Waxman.

Cary Senders is grateful for the gift of the new synagogue.”We’re no longer envious of anyone else’s synagogue in the city,” he says.

SERMON OF THE WEEK Only the beginning ...

The Lowell Sun
Lowell Sun



A wedding day is often remembered more than any other milestone in a person's life. The atmosphere is packed with unbridled joy and extreme festivity. Dance and celebration occupy every fiber of being for everyone and everything in the room. Toward the end, as the festivities come to a close and the crowd begins to disperse, both bride and groom come to the sudden realization: This is not the end, it's only the beginning!

In that single instant, they are transported from the apex of elation to the earnestness and gravity of responsibility.

The power of a single moment! Every day we experience rapid transformations. Sometimes these are psychological, sometimes emotional, and at times spiritual in nature. Perhaps they occur on a lesser or greater scale than in the above example, but we are transformed nonetheless.

Every moment in life is charged with endless energy. The potential that is stored in a single instant is capable of propelling a rocket deep into space. The question we must always ask ourselves is how to harness this immense energy? How can we channel this force in a way that will make us and the world around us better?

We sometimes need to remind ourselves that as long as we are alive, we must make every effort to focus on making the most of life itself! A moment of life is not mere happenstance resulting from a series of "coincidences." Rather, every moment is charged with mission and meaningfulness. No person lives on earth for even one "extra" moment. Every breath that is given to us has goals and responsibilities written all over it. Instead of losing our focus to distractions, we should constantly seek to utilize this miraculous energy at our disposal -- to point ourselves in the direction of personal betterment, and to make this entire world a better place. A great "today" must always be succeeded by a "better" tomorrow.

Maimonides (1135-1204), one of the greatest thinkers in Jewish history, offered what is perhaps the most valuable piece of guidance ever given: "One must always see oneself and the world around you as situated on a perfectly level balance scale. Your very next action, speech, or even thought, is capable of tipping the scale -- bringing virtue and salvation to the entire universe."

The Great Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson (1902-1994) -- one of the most dynamic and influential spiritual leaders of our time -- once had an audience with a group of disabled veterans of the Israeli army, known as the "Handicapped of Israel." He said to them that notwithstanding their physical handicaps, every human being is awarded the capacity to overcome every obstacle and to have their own positive impact upon society. "Considering your personal challenges", he told them, "you should always be aware that you contain deep strengths far beyond those of an ordinary healthy person." Thus, he suggested that their group be renamed -- as the "Exceptional of Israel" -- in recognition of the explosive potential that they possess.

As we approach the end of 2005 and are poised to get swept away in its final paean of celebration, let us not forget the enormity of the future looming ahead. The end of a period of time is certainly an occasion to celebrate the past -- but it is more importantly a golden opportunity to resolve to help create an even better future. The past year may have been fraught with its share of tragedy -- perhaps enough to last a lifetime, but the potential that stands before us is yet capable of making the upcoming year the greatest year ever, if we but seize all the precious moments!

Remember: this is not the end -- it's only the beginning...

Rabbi Asher Bronstein and Rabbi Zalman Gurkow are directors, respectively, of Chabad of the Merrimack and Nashoba Valleys.

Avraham Fried unites crowd with Yiddishkeit

Roughly 400 concertgoers filled the Lewis and Shirley White Theatre at the Jewish Community Campus to hear Avraham Fried perform on Tuesday, Dec. 20.

Some dancing, most clapping, the crowd enjoyed a two-hour cross-section of hits from Fried's 23 albums, plus a number of surprises tailored to the Kansas City audience.
Fried's legendary, 25-year career has taken him from Crown Heights to Australia, and from the Kremlin to Carnegie Hall. The Kansas appearance of a man whose concerts have drawn over 100,000 at a time in Jerusalem may have been facilitated by his local ties - Rabbis Ben Zion and Chonie Friedman are his brother and nephew, respectively. But then, there is hardly a place in the Jewish world where this peripatetic songbird has not flown.
Fried's popularity was built on the quality of his voice - a high, clear, ringing tenor. But his longevity as a top performer reflects his ability to entertain multi-age audiences with dancing and stories, with prayer and shtick, and with a warm awareness of his audience as fellow Jews.
The entirety of Jewish experience is his playground. From shtetl to suburb, Fried understands the aspirations of ordinary Jews, and the historic tensions against which they have played out. In "Hupp Cossack!" he describes the dangers our grandparents endured under czarist oppression. In "Boruch HaBoh," he expresses our faith in ultimate liberation.
"People tell me I give them chizuk (encouragement)," Fried said. "But the truth is, I get it from them."
From New York, Fried brought his trusted guitarist and drummer. They were supplemented by a skilled group of pick-up musicians on saxophone, flute, clarinet, trumpet and trombone, enabling the ensemble to weave deftly between the klezmer texture of old tunes, and the full-band sound of contemporary Jewish pop. The performance included such popular songs as "Chazak," "Yerushalyim," "Shalom Aleichem," and (by request) "Tanya." Being in close proximity to Chanukah, he also sang a medley of traditional Chanukah songs.
Fried entered the stage against a background of full-screen audio-visual clips. They showed him as a Jewish boy in old Crown Heights - the child who used to serenade the Lubavitcher Rebbe from his father's balcony. Later, the same screen was illuminated by touching portraits of mothers and daughters at their Shabbat tables, as he beautifully sang "My Mother's Shabbos Candles." Indeed, the rapid alternation between sentiment and exhilaration is this performer's stock-and-trade.
Fried, the musician, regards himself as a shaliach - an emissary of Yiddishkeit, to bring hope, joy and spiritual healing to Jews the world over. Kansas City was fortunate to receive a taste of his magic.
Reuben-Lev ben Herschel is the Hebrew name of a freelance writer who lives in Overland Park, Kan.

Sunday, December 25, 2005

Volunteers clear out New Orleans synagogue

Associated Press Writer

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Standing on moldy and debris-covered floors, college students cleaning up a Jewish temple paused Monday for a prayer service - the first at Beth Israel Synagogue since Hurricane Katrina flooded it with more than 10 feet of water three months ago.

The dozen or so students were among roughly 50 from colleges across the country who have come to New Orleans to spend their winter break helping with recovery efforts at the century-old synagogue, as well as at area homes and schools left damaged by the storm.

The students, wearing face masks and gloves, hauled out to the synagogue's front lawn books, furniture and holy items such as a shofar - a ram's horn used in holiday rituals.

The items were sorted by what would be buried on Tuesday in Jewish burial grounds in another part of the city and what would be thrown out.

Beth Israel was the only New Orleans synagogue completely destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, said Jackie Gothard, the congregation's president. Roughly 150 families attended services there before the storm.

"We have to clean up, regroup our membership and plan for the future," she said.

With only about a third of the area's pre-Katrina Jewish community of 13,000 back in the city, Gothard said consolidation and downsizing is possible.

"We just don't know what's going to happen," Gothard said. "We don't know for sure that we'll be able to keep this property."

The student volunteers came from more than two dozen states. In the synagogue's library, Jeff Kamen, a recent graduate of the University of Illinois, separated the thousands of books to be buried from those that will be thrown away. The room was covered with mold.

Talking through his face mask, he said coming to New Orleans "sounded like a worthwhile way to spend my time."

Monday's recovery effort was a joint project organized by Chabad Lubavitch Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin, director of Tulane University's Jewish student center, and the "Chabad on Campus" volunteer mission.

Gothard said the New Orleans Jewish community will be relying on nationwide support, especially during the celebration of Hannukah, which begins at sundown on Sunday.

A dozen Jewish communities are donating more than 500 menorahs and dreidels on Tuesday to families who have lost theirs in the storm. Also, the American Jewish Committee planned Wednesday to present four institutions a total of $575,000 from its Hurricane Katrina Relief Fund.

The recipients are Dillard University, St. Clement of Rome Catholic Church, Congregation Gates of Prayer and Beth Israel.


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Chanukah candles (day 1) (2004)

I drive through a Jewish area on my way home from work. I spotted several windows with Chanukah candles and thought how pretty they looked. When I called in at the local supermarket they had a table set out with leaflets all about Chanukah. It contained a "how to ..." guide so I thought I would create my own homemade menorah.

chanukah day 1

Last year I made an improvised menorah after picking up a "how to" guide to Chanukah in my local supermarket. Yesterday I spotted a big poster as I drove home from town wishing everyone a Happy Chanukah and giving a phone number to call so that you could get your own menorah. So, of course, I rang. I spoke to Rabbi Dovid Jaffe who said he would arrange for one to be delivered. Today, just around lunchtime I got a phone call to arrange delivery and within half an hour a young Jewish man delivered my Chanukah kit. It contains 44 Chanukah candles, geld (chocolate money) and a dreidel. Oh, and the menorah. I thought it was such a nice idea. He also told me about the menorah lighting and fireworks around town over the next few days.

When it went dark I lit the shamash (that's the white candle) and then used it to light the first candle, which today happens to be red. I chose red because it was Christmas Day too. The candles burned for about 45 minutes.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Students head to New Orleans to help with rebuilding efforts

By Jondi Gumz
Sentinel staff writer

Three college students from Santa Cruz County will spend their winter break in New Orleans helping rebuild areas hardest hit by Hurricane Katrina.

They are Aaron Buchbinder and Nicole Falk, who attend UC Santa Cruz, and Michel Deleage, a Cabrillo College student, all active in the Chabad Student Center at UCSC. About 100 student volunteers from more than 30 colleges, including Columbia, Harvard and Northwestern, will participate in relief missions.

The Santa Cruz group left Sunday and will return in a week. Organizers will provide room and board for volunteers, who must find their own transportation to and from New Orleans.

Rabbi Shlomie Chein of the center said the effort targets five sectors of the New Orleans community:

* Local residents: Helping to make homes livable again by removing mold-infested debris and ruined carpets and walls.
* Public schools: Preparing buildings so students can return to their studies and routines.
* Habitat for Humanity: Assisting the national organization in their building and rebuilding efforts.
* Jewish organizations and synagogues: Working in conjunction with the Jewish Federation to identify institutions that require help in getting their facilities back in order so they can serve the community.
* Burial society: Helping coordinate proper removal and burial of thousands of Jewish holy books scattered throughout the city that were destroyed during the hurricane.

The relief mission is a joint project between the Chabad on Campus National Foundation and Lubavitch Rabbi Yochanan Rivkin, director of the Chabad Jewish Student Center at Tulane, whose efforts have been praised by President Bush.

No room at the inn for public menorah - Display can't stand on city-owned land


Hanukkah lasts eight nights, but just how long a menorah will light up Fort Collins' Old Town next week is uncertain.

A public menorah lighting will take place Wednesday in Old Town Square as part of a Hanukkah celebration hosted by the Chabad Jewish Center of Northern Colorado. As of now, the menorah must be packed up and taken away after the ceremony is over.

Issues surrounding a prolonged presence of a menorah and its placement in Old Town was outlined in a letter from Fort Collins City Attorney Steve Roy dated Dec. 16 and sent to Chabad Center's director, Rabbi Yerachmiel Gorelik.

Gorelik had asked that a menorah be included in the city's holiday display in the Oak Street plaza or that the city permit the private placement of a menorah in another location on city-owned property.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in 1989 that menorahs and Christmas trees are secular symbols.

A lighted Christmas tree is part of the city's Oak Street plaza holiday display.

The Downtown Development Authority, which operates Old Town Square on behalf of the business owners adjacent to the square, denied Gorelik's request to keep the menorah in place following the conclusion of Wednesday's ceremony.

Mayor Doug Hutchinson, who will join the lighting ceremony Wednesday, said allowing the addition of a menorah to the city's holiday display would open the door to including other interests in the display, which would not be a proper use of public space.

"The main reason is to avoid a proliferation," Hutchinson said, noting the city's desire to maintain a "plain, simple display."

"If you open it up to one other addition, you open it up to everything," Hutchinson said.

The sitting City Council has not reviewed policies that cover holiday displays, but Hutchinson said he would be open to a council discussion about the topic.

Gorelik said he doesn't think the city is biased toward other holiday symbols but that it has erred by not including the menorah in its holiday display or allowing it to be placed elsewhere on city property for more than just a lighting ceremony.

"They've made a decision that I don't agree with, because I don't believe the policy represents diversity and tolerance," Gorelik said.

He said he is committed to resolving the matter with the city in a cordial, nonconfrontational manner.

There are more than 11,000 menorahs on public display throughout the United States, Gorelik said, including one he was allowed to place inside the Foothills Mall.

City Manager Darin Atteberry denied Gorelik's request to include a menorah display based on a court ruling and an existing city policy.

A 10th Circuit Court of Appeals decision made in 2001 gives city governments control over the components of its holiday displays.

Allowing any private organization to place a menorah elsewhere on public property was denied because of a city policy that prevents "unattended signs or displays" on public property, except for newspaper stands. The policy addresses aesthetic and safety issues.

Chip Steiner, executive director of the DDA, said the decision to have the menorah removed after the ceremony was based on advice from the organization's attorney, Lucia Liley. She could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the public lighting of the menorah will take place at 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Jewish celebration of Hanukkah begins on Sunday.

Chabad Center plans menorah lighting ceremonies

Wednesday, December 21, 2005 - Updated: 01:40 AM EST

MILFORD -- The Chabad Center in Milford has several area events planned for the coming week.
Sunday, Dec. 25, is Hanukkah dinner and a movie, from the miracle of Hanukkah to the miracle of Entebbe.

A viewing of the movie "Victory Entebbe" is followed by a full catered Chinese dinner, menorah lighting ceremony, Hanukkah songs, latkes and more.

Program begins 3 p.m. at the Amphitheater in Milford. Popcorn and drinks will be served during the movie. Space is limited and reservations are required. Admission is $12 for adults and $8 for children. This will be an evening of food, fun and festivities. No affiliation or membership is required.

Call the Chabad Center, 508-473-1299, or e-mail

Monday, Dec. 26, 4 p.m., is a Community Hanukkah public menorah lighting at the Holliston Town Hall, 703 Washington St., Holliston. Experience the festival of lights; share in the spirit and joy of Hanukkah at the menorah lighting and festivities.

Join State Sen. Karen Spilka, community leaders, dignitaries and neighbors for a the lighting of the largest menorah in Holliston. Feel the Hanukkah joy with lively music; satisfy the taste-buds with latkes, warm the heart with hot cocoa, have chocolate Hanukkah "gelt" and dreidels for the kids. Watch a multimedia video presentation and feel lucky with a chance to win a great prize at a free raffle. The fun-filled Hanukkah experience is for singles, couples and families.

Open to the entire community. Bring your family and friends. Admission is free. For more information, call the Chabad Center or e-mail

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 6 p.m., a Community Hanukkah public menorah lighting will take place at the Franklin Town Common, (Main Street and High Street in Franklin). Experience the festival of lights, share in the spirit and joy of Hanukkah.

Join State Sen. Scott Brown, State Rep. Jim Vallee, Town Council Chairman Chris Feeley, dignitaries, community leaders and neighbors for a grand Menorah lighting of the largest menorah in Franklin. Feel the Hanukkah joy with lively music, enjoy latkes, hot cocoa, chocolate Hanukkah "gelt" and dreidels for the kids. Watch a multimedia video presentation and feel lucky with a chance at a free raffle. This is sure to be a fun-filled Hanukkah experience for singles, couples and families.

Open to the entire community. Bring your family and friends. Admission is free. For more information, call the Chabad Center or e-mail

Chabad gives up religious plans

By CLAIRE KNAPP Staff Writer

Too Costly
RANDOLPH TWP. – Chabad of Randolph will no longer use a house on West Hanover Avenue for religious functions because of the high cost of complying with state and local laws, officials said.

The township received complaints in the early fall from neighbors of the Chabad house regarding parking, traffic and the lack of pedestrian safety.

Authorities subsequently issued notices of building, fire and health and zoning violations on the home of Rabbi Avraham Bechor at 48 West Hanover Ave. Authorities said the residence was not approved as a place of assembly and a religious school for children.

Chabad is the outreach for the orthodox Lubavitch sect of Judiasm. The Chabad center offers various programs for all levels of the Jewish community. The center was at a home in Ironia before it transferred to the single-family home on West Hanover Avenue this summer.

Officials had originally delayed issuing citations to avoid disrupting the congregation’s celebration of the High Holy days in November.

An agreement between Bechor and officials was reached allowing the rabbi to continue holding small Saturday gatherings of 10 to 13 people. Two children’s religious classes were moved to the Mount Freedom Center. Small prayer groups of five or six people were also allowed, as well as private counseling sessions between the rabbi and a congregant.

The agreement stipulated that further action would be deferred if Bechor applied for variances to the Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Howard Speer, a land use attorney for Bechor, said on Dec. 5 that his client had decided not to pursue the matter.

“Because of expenses that might be involved, he will be using the property only as a single family residence,” said Speer.

Township Manager John Lovell said Bechor has notified Municipal Court Judge Ira Cohen that the group does not intend to seek the required variances, citing “economic hardship.”

“There are significant costs involved if they want to use the property as a place of assembly,” said Lovell. “To apply to the Board of Adjustment they would need an engineering design for the site plan and incur legal fees. An environmental impact study would be needed because of wetlands on the property. Once they got over that hurdle, the building itself remains a problem.”

Lovell said structural changes would be required to provide handicap access, and state fire safety codes are more stringent requirements for places of assembly than for private residences. Probably the most expensive requirement would be installation of “fire walls” to separate the residence from the assembly hall.

Lovell said the Chabad center also would have to receive approval from the state Department of Environmental Protection because the only available parking area would have infringed on a wetlands buffer area.

The house had originally been built as a single-family home and does not have adequate parking for congregants. Additionally, the septic system was not designed to accommodate places of assembly, officials said.

Even as a single-family residence, Lovell said Bechor could still hold private counseling sessions with one or two congregants, but even the holding of a “minyan” is now in question. A minyan is the Jewish term for the minimum of 10 males required to hold a religious service.

“We’ve been told by the state Department of Community Affairs (DCA) that minyanswould not be allowed because they are regularly scheduled gatherings,” said Lovell. “But that advice has only been given to us verbally. I would like to see it in writing before it is enforced. I’m waiting a letter from them.”

Lovell sought DCA comment because the agency oversees enforcement of the state’s building codes.

“It is a gray area,” said Lovell. “Verbally, the DCA said a minyan constitutes an assembly use because it is a regularly scheduled gathering. Being regularly scheduled is one of the criteria to determine whether something is an assembly use.”

Lovell said he was concerned that the side yard of the West Hanover property had been plowed following the Dec. 9 snowfall and that some sort of event had been held over that weekend.

“We want to exercise this situation with care and understanding,” said Lovell. “Both sides have to be considered.”

Neither Bechor nor his regular attorney, Jack Dashos, returned several phone calls for comment.

Court Administrator Patricia Lobur also said summonses issued against the Chabad center are scheduled to be heard in municipal court on Wednesday, Jan. 4.

©Recorder Newspapers 2005

Chabad-Lubavitch to Light Up Chanukah Skies

13:05 Dec 23, '05 / 22 Kislev 5766

( Chabad will light up the sky with fireworks to attract people to the lighting of public menorahs large and at city centers, army bases, shopping malls, senior centers and hospitals throughout the country next week by thousands of Chabad Chasidim, who make it an annual project to bring the festival’s light into the House of Israel.

Each year Chabad emmissaries around the world hold public menorah lightings, complete with Chanukah parties featuring food and drink, sufganiot (jelly doughnuts), latkes (potato pancakes), music and brochures to educate Jews about the Festival of Light.

Community leaders and political dignitaries are given the honor of lighting the menorah each night of the holiday.

Chabad's man makes mark in D.C.

Thursday, December 22, 2005

by Ron Kampeas

JTA News and Features

Rabbi Levi Shemtov, Chabad's representative in Washington, bears certain similarities to the menorah whose lighting he engineers each year on the White House lawn: big, warm and impossible to ignore.

What makes Shemtov remarkable is that in his 12 years of dealing with the world's most powerful power brokers, few seem to consider him overbearing.

"We have nothing in common except love of Judaism and love of politics ‹ and it's not the same Judaism and not the same politics ‹ but we're still very good friends," said Steve Rabinowitz, a former Clinton administration official and a longtime consultant to the Reform and Conservative movements.

Shemtov's Washington profile is a clear mark of Chabad's transformation in the past three decades from an insular Chasidic sect to a player working the Jewish spectrum.

Shemtov has parlayed goodwill into a powerful voice for Chabad's interests ‹ not all of which meet universal Jewish approval ‹ especially in lobbying for Chabad's entry in force into vulnerable Jewish communities in Europe and Asia.

Shemtov has assiduously cultivated Washington-based diplomats from those regions. A Washington ambassadorship often is a stepping stone to a top job at the Foreign Ministry in the diplomats' home countries, so the ties Shemtov cultivates translate into greater influence for Chabad abroad.

At one recent event Shemtov hosted, a U.S. diplomat whispered to a German newcomer in Washington's diplomatic corps, "Do you know Rabbi Shemtov?"

"No," said the German, "but I intend to."

The American nodded. "Rabbi Shemtov knows everyone."

It's not an advantage that Shemtov's competitors enjoy, but at least in Washington, they cede the territory to him.

In the former Soviet Union, Chabad has "a presence on the ground in a way that no one else does," said one lobbyist who works the same officials as Shemtov.

Not long ago, Shemtov pressed hard for a meeting between Chabad emissaries and State Department officers to discuss religious freedom in the FSU. The diplomats realized they were hearing new information and, one by one, pulled out their notebooks.

Mark Levin, the executive director for NCSJ, a group that works on behalf of all the Jewish streams in the FSU, says Shemtov's advocacy has never rubbed him the wrong way.

"I don't know anyone who doesn't like him," Levin said.

A measure of Shemtov's popularity is the on-the-record praise from the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the huge pro-Israel lobby.

"Rabbi Levi Shemtov is a Washington institution," said AIPAC executive director Howard Kohr. "At the White House, on Capitol Hill and throughout the Jewish and political communities, Rabbi Shemtov is a constant and valuable presence."

Calling a 37-year-old an institution may seem surprising. Shemtov's influence derives not from promises of votes or cash, but from an unerring instinct about whom to cultivate.

Much of his work is done at dinners he hosts at his residence with his Australian-born wife, Nechama. The couple has six children.

Shemtov inherited the job from his father, Abraham, the movement's Philadelphia-based envoy to Washington during the Reagan administration. Levi Shemtov established the Washington office, called the American Friends of Lubavitch.

Domestically, Shemtov's influence means Chabad assumes a higher profile than its tiny fraction of the American Jewish population would warrant: Chabad rabbis are fixtures at meetings with President George W. Bush, and though many Jews did charitable work in New Orleans during the past hurricane season, Chabad was one of the few to earn a presidential mention for it.

"One of those rescued from New Orleans put it this way: In the days after Katrina hit, 'Chabad saved lives.'" Bush told the Republican Jewish Coalition at its 20th anniversary event.

Bearded and in Chabad's black uniform, Shemtov is the most visible Jewish presence at non-Jewish events, from the presidential inauguration to the crowded little meet-and-greets that are a staple of Washington life.

"He is an extremely able and effective advocate who knows how to get things done on Capitol Hill and throughout Washington," said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the Democratic whip.

The exigencies of Washington have forced Shemtov to embrace even those with differing worldviews. One week he appears at a get-together for Jewish Democrats; the next he's helping to prep an event for the RJC.

"I hang out at the intersection of Jewish life and the public square," Shemtov said. "Most of the Jewish community doesn't affiliate with anybody."

That's inevitable in a town where many folks have come from some place else and are planning to stay only a few years.

"Most Chabad emissaries have their territory defined geographically," said Nathan Diament, who heads the Orthodox Union office in Washington. "Levi exists more on a virtual geography."

Chabad's office ‹ Shemtov calls it Chabad's embassy, and the building even has its own flag ‹ is on Leroy Place, just north of busy Dupont Circle. Shemtov realizes some worshippers drive or take the subway for holiday and Shabbat services, but he doesn't ask questions.

"While I wouldn't compromise on what Yiddishkeit is, I believe there needs to be an opening to wherever people are in their lives," he said.

Other attempts to organize Washington's transient political Jewish community have fallen by the wayside, Rabinowitz said.

"While they should be getting it from others more in the mainstream, the fact is they're not ‹ and at least they're getting it from him," he said.

Shemtov is close to Ari Fleischer, the former White House spokesperson, though Shemtov was disturbed when Fleischer married a non-Jewish woman in 2002. That didn't stop Fleischer from including Chabad as a part of an "Axis of Good" in subsequent speeches.

Bipartisan goodwill for Shemtov earned the last Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, a rare congressional gold medal in 1994, the year he died.

Earlier this month, the Bush administration turned to Shemtov and the Orthodox Union when the White House kashered its kitchen for the first time for a Chanukah party.

Shemtov insists his primary concern is outreach to local Jews, but it's clear he plays an important role in raising Chabad's profile internationally. He and the German ambassador co-hosted a commemoration this month of 60 years of Germany's post-Holocaust Jewish community.

Shemtov's highest profile event is still the menorah lighting on the White House lawn. This year's lighting will be held Sunday at 4 p.m., with a musical peformance by the National Menorah Electric Dreidel Orchestra and The Three Cantors. Honors will go to Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who is Jewish.

It's a brazen mark of influence, especially as the menorah lighting claims to speak for an American Jewish community that traditionally has been uncomfortable with displays of belief on public land.

Shemtov acknowledges that influence goes both ways, and suggests Chabad is becoming more open to other perspectives.

"My dream is that Jews from various influences and affiliations might find a more common language," he said. "The biblical menorah, with all its branches, was hewn from one piece."

Content © 2005 Washington Jewish Week

The van fire

Finally, there's good news from the police station. No, it's obviously not a good thing that a few dunces decided, for whatever reason, to set fire to the Chabad Lubavitch van back in October, but it's a really good thing that suspects have been apprehended.
We are never sure what the appropriate punishment for such brainless acts might be but we do have one suggestion: suppose when it's all done, the courts order that those responsible must wash the outside of the Chabad Lubavitch van, with soapy water and sponges, once a week at a specified time until they turn 18 years old?
You could call it educational, we would think.

Three juveniles charged in Chabad arson

By George Derringer/
Thursday, December 22, 2005

Three juveniles, all Lynn residents, have been arrested and charged with setting a van owned by Chabad Lubavitch of the North Shore behind its home on Burrill Street in October.
Police were notified of the fire inside the van at about 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 22, but the fire had already burned itself out by the time firefighters, located just a block away, arrived at the scene. Because the fire was outside a house of worship, police said then, the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives was notified and joined the investigation by the Swampscott Fire Department and Police Department, the state Fire Marshal's office and the state police.

The Essex County District Attorney's office and the Massachusetts Attorney General's office also became involved in the investigation.

Officials stayed largely quiet about the investigation, saying only that several people had been questioned in connection with the case.

At 7:53 p.m. Sunday, a 14-year-old male was arrested at Swampscott police headquarters and charged with causing property damage to intimidate, malicious destruction of property worth more than $250, wanton destruction of property worth more than $250, injury worth more than $5,000 to a church or synagogue, breaking and entering in the night time to commit a felony, breaking and entering into a motor vehicle to commit a felony and burning a motor vehicle.

Another juvenile was taken into custody at 5:11 p.m. Monday to answer similar charges on a warrant for his arrest and a third juvenile was arrested in Lynn at 7:22 p.m. Monday, also to answer charges on an outstanding warrant which shows charges of property damage to intimidate, burning a motor vehicle and causing property damage to a church or synagogue.

The incident followed one discovered on Saturday, Oct. 1, in which somebody entered the synagogue through an unlocked and made several anti-Semitic markings inside. That incident came only three days before Rosh Hashana, marking the beginning of the Jewish New Year and the start of the High Holy Days.

Police would not comment further on the case Tuesday.

The Alter Rebbe: Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi

Review: The Alter Rebbe: Rabbi Schneur Zalman Of Liadi
Posted 12/21/2005
By R.C. Schilder
Title: The Alter Rebbe: Rabbi Schneur Zalman Of Liadi
Author: Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon
Hardcover, 2005
Reviewed by R.C. Schilder

Jews all over the world celebrated Yud Tes Kislev this past Tuesday. On a historical level, it marks the date in 1798 that the Baal HaTanya and Shulchan Aruch, the Alter Rebbe, was released from a harsh prison sentence and the clutches of the czar. It also celebrated the deeper meaning of his liberation: the heavenly decree to allow every Jew from all walks of life, to have access to these "wellsprings" of Torah.

Once the exclusive domain of Torah giants, the deepest mystical secrets of Torah known as Chassidus — have spread to further reaches of the Jewish world. This began in earnest when the Alter Rebbe, the father of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement published the Tanya over 200 years ago.

Successor to the title of Rebbe from the Baal Shem Tov and the Maggid of Mezritch, much of his life remained a mystery to the majority of the Jewish world. This includes his miraculous birth to his otherworldly knowledge of Torah, his mesiras nefesh for the well-being of every Jew, his legendary ruach hakodesh and ahavas Yisroel.

Our best attempts to understand his role as Rebbe and grasp his effect on the course of Jewish history, are through retelling the story of his life, his accomplishment, and his teachings.

The Alter Rebbe: Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi
tells the fascinating story of the Alter Rebbe for the first time in simple-to-read English.

This book will inevitably inspire young and mature readers alike to emulate the ways of the Rebbe. It is in his love of a fellow Jew, meticulousness in the performance of every mitzvah, avodas Hashem, steadfastness in the face of challenge and desire to bring other Jews closer to Yiddishkeit.

This book is a must for anyone who desires an in-depth view of Jewish life in the 18th century, the roots of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement and misconceptions and opposition that accompanied it.

Rabbi Sholom DovBer Avtzon is a prolific writer and noted Lubavitch historian.

The Alter Rebbe: Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi is available at your local bookstore or from Sichos in English at or 718-778-5436.