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Appreciation Event

Dear friends,

I'm writing to you today from the Brooklyn Marriott, where some 3,000 Chabad Rabbis came together for the International conference of Shluchim. Please allow me to share with you a personal story. 

As you know many of the Chabad Rabbis live in remote places where there are no Jewish schools to provide the education they desire for their children and they need to send them far from home at tender ages to attend school.

Fifteen years ago at this conference, fathers of these children shared their wish that a Yeshivah High School with a dormitory should open to accommodate these children.

My father, who was at the time directing educational institutions with many hundreds of children, offered immediately to start this school in the city of Tzfat in Israel. The following September the school opened, and children came from every continent to take part in this new school.

Great staff have been hired to run the school, including my older brother Chaim who was just 22 when he became the teacher of advanced Talmudic studies. The year went by very well in every aspect, until one spring day in May of 1998, my father, Rabbi Aryeh Leib Kaplan, was tragically killed in a car accident in Russia on his way to participate in the opening of a new Jewish Centre which he was instrumental in its' establishment.

The family and the community were in great shock. My father who was 50 years old was the pillar of the community and the future of his work became unknown.

Still while in Shivah, my brother accepted the family request to be the successor of my father in leading the community and directing over a dozen educational institutions and outreach organizations.

Since then, every visit to Tzfat, I’ve been amazed to see how Chaim managed not only to maintain the work and direct the different projects, but to bring them to new heights with new initiatives attracting new crowds from all dimensions from the entire country.

It is my privilege and honour that my brother will be speaking this Tuesday for the Appreciation Event for the volunteers of the Light of Shabbat project. I urge you to come to pay tribute to the volunteers in our community and to hear words of inspiration from my older brother who had the courage to answer the call to continue our father's legacy in the holy city of Tzfat.

Religion is not my thing....

Last Friday afternoon, while rushing down the grocery aisles doing last-minute shopping before Shabbat, a man came towards me. "That's you, Rabbi,” he said.

It was Edward, a retired Jewish man who I met over five years ago when he wanted to donate his used car. We then got to spend some time together and created a friendship.

Though I was in a real rush, I was very happy to see him." How have you been?" I asked. "We haven’t heard from you in a while..."

"Oh," Edward said, "you probably won’t meet me anywhere other than in grocery stores. I’m really not interested in religion…it's not my thing."

"That's fine. I'm happy to see you. How is the family?" I asked.

"They are all fine, thank you. And by the way, do you remember my son who I was so concern about?" he continued. "I was so happy when he told me that he put mezuzahs in his house. It was a real nachas! I couldn't believe it!"

"I guess I'm just like you," I told Edward. "I'm not interested in religion; it’s a waste of time. But 'Yidishkeit,' that's something else... there is no nachas to a Jew without that."

I excused myself to run to the cashier.

"Gut Shabbos", he said.

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