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A Rabbi sent from heaven...

Dear friends,

This week, Chani, the children and I will, G-d willing, be traveling to the east for a visit.  First, we will be marking, together with many thousands, the 18th Yahrtzeit of the Rebbe, by his resting place in Queens, New York.  Then, we will head south to participate in Chani's brother’s wedding, which will take place next week in Miami, Florida.

There was one concern I had, which disturbed my excitement about our travel. At this time, I’m still the one who reads the Torah every week in Shul, and when I’m away I try to make an effort that the Torah will still be read.  But this time, the many enquiries I did to potential candidates in the northwest were to no avail; I couldn’t find anyone who was available to come to Victoria next Shabbat.

rebbe.jpgAs a Shul which was created by the inspiration of the Rebbe, I was saddened that on his Yahrtzeit, services will not take place as usual.  As someone who saw the Rebbe and was touched by his teachings, the guilt feelings started to creep in.  How can I fail to share my personal encounter with a Jewish leader in our time, which devoted every moment of his life not only to the Jewish people as a whole, but more importantly in his view, for every Jew as an individual, on his special day?

On Wednesday, I got an email from a friend, Rabbi Teitelbaum, a rabbi from the COR Kashrut agency, informing me that he will be the Mashgiach (Kosher supervisor) in a cruise which will be leaving Victoria next Saturday night.  It was then that he inquired whether we will be having a Minyan next Shabbat in Victoria.  To this I replied, “not only are we having a Minyan, you are going to be the Rabbi and Ba’al Koreh (the Torah Reader) and perhaps the Chazan too... and don’t forget to share a story from the Rebbe at the Kiddush; after all it is his Yahrtzeit on that Shabbat.” 

"Softer and green"

Two years ago at this time I was working on the video invitation to Mendel's Upshernish. The slideshow is based on the song “father, please tell me" which is playing in the background. It was only a few weeks later that I realized the little change that Mendel had done to the lyrics of the song...  

In one part of the song the child pleads:

Father please tell me , what does G-d intend,  
Will this long bitter exile soon come to an end,
Or must we continue to suffer and grieve,
Father please tell me, what should I believe.

Mendel, however, instead of “or must we continue to suffer and grieve" sang "or must we continue to softer and green"...

 Isn’t this a sum up of our generation in comparison to just two or three generation ago? Children growing up for about two thousand years of Jewish history knew all about suffering for their Jewishness. How amazing is it that we live in a time and place when children don't know about the daily difficulties of the Jewish bitter exile, when suffering is not part of their Jewish experience.

But there is also a call here. When you think about the sacrifices our ancestors did to stay Jewish, to be connected to their faith and heritage, so their children should know who they are, even at the price of "suffer and grieve”, shouldn't we make more effort in a time when our daily concern is all about "softer and green"?!...

Meeting friends for the first time...

Dear friends, 

On Thursday Chani and I passed another stage of parenting. For the first time me let our child travel for a few days on her own. Well, not entirely on her own but without her parents. Rivky(8) just left very special trip for a unique meeting in Calgary.

As some of you know, being that at this time there is no Jewish day school in Victoria; we have made a choice to enroll our children in the Shluchim online school - an internet school geared to children of Chabad families from small communities around the globe.

online school.jpgEvery morning three of our children sit by their computers to enter their virtual classrooms, where their teachers and all of their friends meet them. In this interactive classroom the children see each other, “raise their hand” to ask questions, they get to write on the board, comment and participate. In the breaks they chat and play with the other kids in a safe and friendly environment.

What they don't get to do is - to touch their friends, hold their hands, jump with one another and play the games they love most. To see their closest school friends in real life, they need to travel to places like Guatemala, Florida, California or Iowa. 

Rivky is very lucky that three of her online school friends, live in Calgary, which is just one hour flight away... So when Morah Feigah generously offered to fly there with Rivky for Shabbat so she can meet her friends, we couldn't resist. 

Rivky was talking about this trip for months. For many nights she couldn't sleep from anticipation. In the last few days she collected her precious items from all over the house and divided them into three decorated bags... on the day she left she was overwhelmed with emotions.

We just heard from Rivky and she seems to be having a wonderful time. She got to play with her friends; they baked together and prepared for Shabbat hand in hand. One never knows - they may even get to fight, for the first time...


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