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Message from the Mayor

Today, as an exception, I'd like to share with you an important message from the mayor of Newark, NJ, Mr. Cory Booker.

 

Wisdom shared with the world

 

Dear Friends,

It was over three years ago that we had the great pleasure of hearing, for the first time in Victoria, the world renowned speaker Rabbi Manis Friedman. From the feedback we have received following that lecture, we know that the impact of this class was profound, one of the most powerful events since the establishment of Chabad of Vancouver Island.  From this month on the entire world can take pleasure in watching that remarkable class.

When I opened the main Chabad site this week I saw the title "Getting to like the people you love" and under a picture of Rabbi Friedman standing in a background I recognized.  It was our little Shul in Victoria!

It took me a few seconds to remember the story of that video.  We only knew a few days in advance that we’d have the privilege to hear Rabbi Friedman. I was excited, as I thought that it was such a unique opportunity for our community.

Mike, a videographer who was working on a film for us at the time, heard of the class’s title and told me, "You know I'm not Jewish, but it sounds so interesting, can I come and record it?"

“Life changing lecture;” “The most enjoyable class;” “It helped me with so many things of life;” “The most beautiful understanding of Jewish faith” are just some of the responses we got following that evening.

By request of many, we made a DVD of that lecture for sale and 100 of them were sold within days in Victoria alone. As our appreciation, I sent the original video tapes to Rabbi Friedman's office.

A few weeks ago a full length video of the class became available for viewing online through chabad.org. 

If you weren’t there, and even if you already heard it once, you can watch here a lesson that is guaranteed to give you a new perspective on living as a Jew, in a humorous and engaging manner.

Giving Incognito

Dear Friends,

I'd like to share with you a positive Facebook story, for a change...  Yesterday, I became a "Facebook friend" of a man whom I met once years ago in New York, but reconnecting with him was a long overdue debt. 

It was over seven years ago, a few months after we came to Victoria that a family from a town up the Island came to spend Friday night with us. At the meal, the mother expressed her sadness for never celebrating the Bar Mitzvah of her youngest son. I immediately told her that it's not too late, and I'd love to help make it happen. By the end of the meal we already had a plan for how this was going to work, and when and where the Bar Mitzvah would take place.

This would be the very first Shabbat Services we had, in the living room of our home. We didn't have a Torah, an ark, prayer books or any other basic necessities of a Shul.

A few weeks later I attended the international Chabad conferance in New York. I was talking to my brother on Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, when a young man, coming out of his car, asked in a heavy French accent if we would like to go to the Lubavitcher Rebbe's resting place in Queens. We were happy to join him for the ride. As we were driving, he asked me where was home for me.  When he heard that I just moved to Victoria with the mission of enriching Jewish life there, he wanted to know how he could help. I told him about the Bar Mitzvah coming up and the need for basic Shul items, to which he responded instantly "please buy everything you need, I'll pay for all your expenses".  I was amazed by his generosity, while he seemed very natural about it. He gave me his email address and he asked me to send the amount spent and my bank account information and we went on our way.

While in NY, I ordered all the books I needed, I got a book case to be used as an Ark in Victoria, and I immediately sent him a note thanking him for his kindness and then wrote the amount spent and our bank account information. There was no reply to this email, but shortly after the full amount was deposited into our account. I sent him an email again acknowledging the receipt of the donation, but again no reply. 

This Wednesday, I found his name on Facebook and we became “friends”... I was pleased to inform him of the developments of our Shul since he gave the funds to establish it, and he was thankful for the update.  Although he promised this time to keep in touch, he also seemed to be just as happy to contribute while not getting too much attention.  Our sages glorify this level of charity - Matan B'seter - giving incognito.

Dancing beyond time and space

Dear friends, 

As some of you may know, I've been a single father for a week, while Chani, Mussi and Rivky were at the Chabad women's convention in NY last weekend. After the conference they continued to Michigan, to attend the wedding of Chani's sister, Blumie.

Last weekend I decided to surprise the bride and go for 12 hours to participate in the wedding, I arranged care for the children and the rest of the things which needed to be set up prior to my departure. But as the saying goes "a man plans and G-d laughs."  I ended up having a wonderful wedding celebration in Victoria. 

A few hours before my scheduled departure, I checked the forecast of the next few days. When I learned that a wild blizzard was going to hit Michigan on the night of the wedding, I began to fear that I wouldn't be able to return home at the appointed time, and it didn't take me long to decide that I would stay home with Leibel, Mendel and Rochel.

About an hour before the Chuppah, I was very happy to hear that there would be a live webcast of the wedding. I picked up the children from Preschool early so they can watch the wedding with me.

When we started watching, Leibel was very excited, but a few minutes later his tone started changing. "How come I didn't go to the wedding?" he asked sadly, "why only Mussi and Rivky?" The video of his siblings and family attending the far away wedding didn't seem to bring him too much joy.

I started explaining to Leibel that Victoria is very far, and we were there just a few months ago, and the girls were close by so they went, but he didn't seem to reconcile...

Then an idea flashed into my mind. "Leibel," I said, "we can celebrate the wedding together, let's be part of it just like the guests in Michigan!"

Leibel's sad face turned into to the biggest smile, he was filled with a million ideas of how to set up the wedding in the nicest way. Within a few minutes we were all dressed with beautiful clothes, the table was set with nice dishes, candles and flowers, and Leibel and Mendel were watching carefully to see that we were following the wedding order...

The moment the bride and groom walked into the dance hall, Leibel, Mendel and Rochel started dancing to the music, just as if they were at the wedding. It was clear that the children were beyond time and space, they were at the wedding.

Not only did they have a full wedding experience just as the other guests in Michigan, but they managed to surpass them. How so? I was asked by my in-laws to deliver the family message at the wedding dinner; I prepared the talk - which only the Victoria guest got to hear...

Here you can watch a snap shot of a wedding celebrated 2,000 miles away from the Chuppah:  

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