January 2005

Happy New Year?!

It's true that we already wished each other Happy New Year around three months ago. The New Year for Jews was solemnly ushered in with Shofar blasts, hours of prayer and Rosh Hashana resolutions

As the rest of the world ushers in the year 2005 there is one aspect of this New Year's that we don't want to miss. New Year Resolutions! We don't want to miss a single opportunity to renew ourselves for that is the purpose of our lives; to add on and grow in our Judaism as well as making the world a better place. What's your resolution?  

February 2005

Never Again

On a freezing cold day in Auschwitz, a special ceremony was recently held commemorating the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the infamous labor camp.  It was attended by the leaders of the world, who reiterated the promise "Never Again."

Eastern Europe before the war housed flourishing Jewish communities. And we, the post holocaust generation have the great responsibility to restore what was lost, albeit in the Western world. As the nations of the world pledge Never Again – we must focus on replenishing Judaism - Once Again.

March 2005


"Survivor" is not just a popular T.V. program! Survivor is a badge of honor for everyone in our generation who survived the Holocaust.

But there is much more to this title. There is a famous song, Kol Haolam Kulo Gesher Tzar Meod, meaning, the whole world is a very narrow bridge. Anyone who embarks on the journey of life, and safely crosses the bridge, with their family’s Jewish identity still intact, is a spiritual survivor.

And what is the secret to Jewish survival? Continue the song. Vihaikar Lo Lifached Klall; the main thing is not to be afraid at all. With strong faith and Jewish stubbornness, we will all make it!

April 2005

The Schiavo Case

 The debate is still raging and all Americans feel personally affected by the fight about removing the feeding tubes of Terry Schiavo. This saga actually has more relevance to each of us than we may realize.

Just like our bodies need physical nourishment to stay alive, so too our souls need spiritual nourishment. The difference is that you never have to be reminded to feed your body, but the hunger pains of a starving soul cannot always be felt.

The Torah is our Soul Food. Every morning and evening, every one of us should engage in some type of Torah Study. This is your spiritual breakfast and dinner! And a Lunch ‘n Learn is also not a bad idea!


May 2005


Were you snowed in on Seder night?  For many of us, this year’s Seder was the most challenging ever.  For my sister & brother-in-law, Rochie & Bentzi Sudak, this was truly a challenging Passover for they had four days to purchase, order, and cook a full Seder for 75 Jews in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam!

As the world commemorates thirty years since the end of the war in Vietnam, it’s heartwarming to know that Jews from America were working hard to bring positive assistance to residents of the former Saigon.


As the Rebbe often said, “Darkness is not fought with sticks and stones; it’s best combated with light!”  This Seder truly ignited a spark in Vietnam.  May it be a good beginning

June 2005


This word was recently added to my English vocabulary! According to the dictionary, filibustering means delaying legislative action in the Senate by prolonged speechmaking.

I was thinking that if the senators ever run out of words, they can bring in some Rabbis - we know the art of lecturing on and on ...!

In contrast, check out the "dictionary of Chassidus", and you will find the description of a Chasid as one wh talks less, thinks more and does even more!

Thinking positive thoughts are wonderful, speaking words of encouragement is great too - but ultimately it’s our actions that really count!

July 2005

The Rebbe

"Distance makes the heart grow fonder." This saying comes to mind when I remember the upcoming Yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

As a student, I spent six years studying "by the Rebbe". I never missed a single Farbrengen, his famous weekly Torah lectures that were an amazing intellectual experience. Celebrating the holidays and attending services in the Rebbe’s presence were each an experience in their own right. These were the most spiritual and meaningful years of my life, and I enjoyed each and every minute.

Now, as time passes, I find "the heart grows fonder"! I realize how lucky I was to have this privilege, and I know that it’s for me to share.

August 2005



     This August, Israel is planning on implementing the Disengagement Plan; removing Jewish settlements from the Gaza Strip. If you read the Israeli news, you know how emotional this topic has become.


     Some strongly support the plan, while many others vehemently oppose it. It certainly has created a big “disengagement” within the Jewish people.


     What we need today, more than ever, is to “Engage” positively– to connect with other Jews, to bond with our communities, to unite as a people.


     As we commemorate Tisha B’av, the destruction of the Holy Temple, which was caused through baseless hatred, let’s dedicate this month as a month of unity.




Raging Waters

As we watched the raging waters of Katrina covering New Orleans this past week, it was a relief to know that proper precautions helped save millions of lives.

Chassidic teachings compare the hustle and bustle of our demanding lifestyle to ragingwaters. Life is one big rush – running to work, to the kids’ sports events, pick up the cleaners, stop off at the store; sometimes we feel as if the daily chores are drowning us.

Who has time to pray, to attend classes, to volunteer, to visit the sick…? It becomes harder to find time to do anything meaningful.

But with proper planning, and prioritizing our lives, it can be done. As the High Holiday season approaches, let’s begin our spiritual journey now


Healing Waters

Rita… Katrina… Thank G‑d, the Hurricane names are not Chaim, Chana, Yenta or whoknows which other Jewish names! The only Jewish connection to be found is in the“Levi’s” (levee) that were breached!

Traditionally, water is symbolic of life and blessings, yet this past year, from the tsunami through hurricane Rita, water has caused a lot of grief and destruction.

On Rosh Hashana, Jews all over the world will gather near a natural body of water for the Tashlich service. We ask G‑d to “throw” our sins into the depths of the sea and inscribe us in the Book of Life.

This year, as we stand at the water’s edge, let us add a special prayer, asking G‑d to turn the water of devastation into waters of healing.



Visit Israel

Last week, the Iranian President publiclycalled for “wiping the state of Israeloff the map.” Once again, the existence of this little, yet vital country is threatened.

Our reaction should not be just “oy vey!” Perhaps, we should consider this attack as a wake up call for all Jews to be proactive in supporting our brethren in Israel.

One of the most effective ways to support Israel is to make a trip there in person. Not only is this the best recipe to strengthen the Holy Land, but as a side benefit, it will strengthen your Jewish identity.

By the end of the trip, you may be pleased to discover that more than you have done for Israel, Israel will have done for you.



From Oy To Joy

I just returned from the international conference of Chabad Rabbis that took place in New York City. Professor Alan Dershowitz was the keynote speaker at the banquet which was attended by 3,000 Rabbis and lay leaders from all over the world.

Dershowitz pointed out that for many generations the drive to observe Judaism was the “oy” factor - the famous Jewish guilt. In contrast, he noted, Chabad brought the joy aspect to Jewish life by emphasizing the beauty and excitement of our heritage. It’s up to each of us to turn the “oy” into “joy”.