The vintage chassid, Reb Mendel Futerfas, was wont to say: "There are chassidim who would say: A dank der Oibershter far'n Rebbe'n. "Thank You G-d, for giving us the Rebbe," expressing their genuine appreciation to G-d for giving them the opportunity to know and appreciate the Rebbe.
Others would say: A dank der Rebbe'n far'n Oibersht'n; "Thank you, Rebbe, for giving us the opportunity to know G-d." The intent is not merely that the Rebbe's teachings open up new windows of spiritual awareness. Although this is true, these chassidim meant more: Their intent is that from watching the Rebbe, and seeing his uniqueness, they were able to appreciate G-dliness.
A Two-Year Nightmare
Even when Father disappeared, Mama clung to her joie de vivre. It was during the period of the infamous Doctor's Plot in which Jewish doctors were accused of planning to poison government officials. As a result of the accusations, many doctors and Jews were imprisoned and executed—scapegoats for all of their nation's woes. The rest of the Jews lived in terror. Father had left the house one day and didn't return. Hoping for the best, Mama had combed all the hospitals, but in vain. When she arrived to the police station, she was told, "Stop searching. You will never find him."
The neighbors, acquaintances, people who had attended the prayer services in their home, all withdrew, afraid to have contact with them once Father was imprisoned. In the synagogue courtyard that Rosh Hashanah, the congregants had moved quickly past them, avoiding eye contact. Isolated, alone, as though struck with a contagious condition, no one had extended to them the age old greeting of leshana tovah. "Don't cry," Mama had said when she sensed the tremor in her daughter's hand. "Better not to start the new year with tears; we want to have a sweet new year."
Suddenly in the hushed stillness of the night, a voice rang out. "Leshana tova tikaseiv veseichaseim…" It was Pinchas Grenitz singing to the stars, leaping and twirling and dancing, as he appeared to be greeting the stars, showering them with his New Year blessings that they be inscribed for a good new year.
"See here, Batya. He's talking to us," Mama whispered to Batya. "Stars don't need his greetings, he's talking to us. He's afraid of the KGB, but he means us."
(From "You Be My Kaddish'l")
Shluchim Studying Together
On its first anniversary the live classes boast of 500 regular participants and hundreds more who access the archived versions.
“I enjoy the classes that address contemporary issues,” says Pearl Krasnjansky who tunes in from Honolulu. “Following the tragedy in Mumbai and during the recent situation in Israel, study sessions helped us deal with our own emotions and helped us formulate responses for our communities.”
Before the High Holidays in September, seasoned shluchim presented a full-day symposium including relevant laws and community practices. They also taught how to lead the services and run a children’s program. When Pesach rolled around in the spring, they were back with a detailed how-to for the seder. Topics have also included the laws of burying the dead and comforting the bereaved; step-by-step instructions on how to run a kosher wedding; and cooking classes that could rival anything on the Food Network.
“The Beis Medrash allows shluchim in remote areas to come together as a unit, to feel part of a much bigger class,” says Kotlarsky. “The interactive nature enables them to ask questions from respected rabbis and mentors, a chance they may otherwise not have.”
The list of instructors reads like a veritable Who’s Who of Chabad’s most prestigious intellectuals. Rabbi Moshe Bogomilsky, noted author and rabbinic authority, was tapped for several classes concerning the laws of a funeral and mourning period. “These are issues that shluchim have to deal with on a regular basis,” Bogomilsky explained, “and these classes provide them with a knowledge base they otherwise would not have.” The expert would know. He regularly fields calls from shluchim looking for guidance, from around the world.“When I came to Florida in the 1970s, there was no infrastructure to help us,” recalls Biston. “We had to reinvent the wheel each time.” Today, though, shluchim can access weekly speeches, holiday brochures, and program ideas at the click of a button. “And that,” says Biston, “gives us time to accomplish a lot more.”
(From "Hitting the Books")
Don't Release Terrorists!
Terror Organizations have long ago understood that they cannot win a country with military force, but they can win its citizens’ set of mind and its mental strength, causing them to give up their principles and positions. The terror organizations have understood that one of Israel’s central pillars is its citizens’ mutual concern for each other. Our society cannot accept a lonely citizen’s distress under the enemy’s captivity, and it will do what it can to release him. Knowing this, terror organizations initiated many kidnappings, in order to break Israel’s fighting spirit and force the government to fulfill their dangerous demands.
During its first ten years the country’s leaders understood that in order to stop the waves of kidnappings, we must hold a firm position toward terrorists, using our military forces to rescue our kidnapped citizens. This position decreased the amount of kidnappings since the terrorists understood that they cannot profit from them.
This statement of Israel against the terrorists was shattered in the “Jibril Agreement” in 1985, when three Israeli soldiers were captured by Ahmed Jibril’s organization in Lebanon. In exchange to them Israel released 1,150 terrorist, among them serial killers. These terrorists have formed the hardcore of the first intifada, a massive wave of terror attacks which started in year 1987. Since then, Israel has agreed time and time again to release terrorist in various irrational agreements, and terror organizations have since then dedicated their efforts for the kidnappings of soldiers and citizens. The results of these agreements are well known- the big majority of released terrorists continued their executions of terror actions, and Israel has been under a daily threat of terror attacks, by explosions, shootings, guns, stabbing, and these days by missiles. Since the first intifada, hundreds of people were killed and thousands were injured.
We, terror victims’ families, decided to struggle stubbornly against the release of our relative’s murderers , in order to prevent the suffering other citizens will experience if another massacre will appear on our streets.