Thursday, April 30, 2009

CJL-Hillel at RCC Update

The Center for Jewish Life/Hillel at SUNY Rockland, under the leadership of Rabbi Dov and Shevy Oliver, recently organized Jewish Heritage Month featuring a series of events from Purim until Pesach. More than 1,200 people in total attended the events which included:

• Sending Shalach Manos to Soldiers
• Purim at the Pool Hall
• "Go Green" Purim Party on Campus
• Interactive Drum Circle
• Lecture, "The Jews of Shanghai: A Survival Story"
• Movie, "Blessed is the Match: The Story of Hanna Senesh," followed by a talk with a Holocaust survivor
• Jewish genetic disease testing
• "Cool Jew Night," parent/student event with author Lisa Alcaly Klug
• Movie, "The Case for Israel"
• Kosher Culinary Workshop with cookbook author Jamie Geller
• Mivtzah Pesach (distribution of shmurah matzah)

Mazel Tov Borensteins!

Mazel tov to Rabbi Yacov and Hindy Borenstein of Poughkeepsie on the birth of a grandson born to Shmuel Sholom and Faige Rivka Serebryanski!

The Bris will I"YH take place this Sunday at K'hal Bais Levi Yitzchok, 556 Crown Street (entrance on Albany Avenue) in Crown Heights. Shacharis will be at 10:00 AM followed by the Bris at 11:00 AM.

Important Town Meeting This Tuesday

The Town of Ramapo Planning Board will hold a public hearing regarding the building application of Yeshivas Menachem Mendel Lubavitch of Monsey this Tuesday night, May 5th, at about 8:00 PM at Town Hall, 237 Route 59 in Suffern (across from WalMart).

The Town has advised the school to be sure that there is a large showing of Chabad community support to counter any opposition to the project.

As such, please show your support for the building of the Yeshiva and make every effort to attend this hearing (adults only).

Shabbos Afternoon Shiurim for Women

This Shabbos Parshas Acharei-Kedoshim, Zipora Reitman will be hosting her annual New Hempstead neighborhood shiur for women, which will be given by Rabbi Yossi Krasnjanski.

The shiur will take place from 5:00 to 6:00 PM on Shabbos afternoon at her home, 72 Southgate Drive. All are welcome. Refreshments will be served.

Please note that this shiur is in addition to and does not replace the Pirkei Avos shiur for women by Rabbi Lesches at the Abramowitz home, 6 Zabriskie Terrace, at 5:30 PM on Shabbos afternoon.

Mrs. Adina Steinmetz Sitting Shiva in Monsey Tomorrow Only

Boruch Dayan HaEmes – We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of the father of Mrs. Adina Steinmetz last week.

Mrs. Steinmetz will be returning from Belgium tonight and will be sitting Shiva in Monsey only for the last day of Shiva, tomorrow, Friday, May 1, from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at her home, 35 Park Avenue in South Monsey.

The phone number at the house is 845-352-6477.

Hamokom Yenachem Eschem Besoch Shaar Avaylay Tzion VeYerushalayim.

Rabbi Gancz Motivates Crown Heights Men to Take Tznius Seriously

Well over 100 men gathered at Crown Heights’ Kollel Menachem at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday evening for a special special lecture/shiur on tznius. The lecture was delivered by Rabbi Aharon Dovid Gancz, a veteran mechanech and shliach.

The primary thrust of Rabbi Gancz’s speech was that the Crown Heights community in general, and men in particular, need to take their own frumkeit and eidelkeit much more seriously, creating a ripple effect that will positively influence their homes, children, neighbors and community.

Using the example of a neighbor accidentally walking into one’s home unaware that her sheitel has fallen off, Rabbi Gancz said that Crown Heightsers must find the words within to say something “in a nice way” when encountering objectionable dress, just as one would know what to say to the neighbor with the absent sheitel.

The rabbi drew a round of applause when, towards the end of the talk, he pointed out the standing-room-only crowd. “People were saying, ‘Come on, rabbi—no one cares, no one’s going to listen and no one’s going to do anything—this event attests that people do care!”

The event was organized by Yagdil Torah, a leading Crown Heights Torah-study organization

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Call-In to Rabbi Gancz's Lecture Tonight

Due to high demand a call-in number to hear tonight’s lecture on Tznius by Rabbi Gancz has been arranged:

Call-in number: 616-712-8000
Access Code: #509080

JFK on Merkos Shlichus

Living Torah continues to surprise! In what may be Living Torah’s most captivating Sicha yet, the Rebbe speaks in 1961 about JFK’s launch of the United States Peace Corps to do humanitarian aid around the world. The Rebbe uses Kennedy’s talk to explain his plan of dispatching Shluchim to the far corners of the world.

As mentioned earlier, JEM has embarked on a worldwide “Living Torah-thon” to elicit the support of its many thousands of viewers around the world.

Take part at

Cheder Chabad Girls Launch Tznius Program

Cheder Chabad Girls launched their Tznius Program today with a Royal Banquet.

To the King’s Royal Banquet hall
We present you with a Royal Badge of pride
For each of you, a D.O.K., (Daughter of King) so beautiful inside.
Yes we know that צניעות is our Royal Role to play
And בזכות נשים צדקניות- We will bring משיח right away!

Spend Shavuos in Virginia

Spend Shavuos - from Thursday afternoon May 28 through brunch on Sunday May 31 - at the Farbreng Inn in Virginia!

There are only 14 rooms left. Children are welcome. For inquiries and reservations please call Devorah between 7:00 PM and 10:00 PM at 845-538-7389.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Mazel Tov Lefkowitzs!

Mazel tov to Rabbi Isaac & Roizy Lefkowitz on the engagement of their daughter Yachy to Dovi Reich of Boro Park!

The l'chaim will take place tonight, Tuesday, at the Lefkowitz home, 2 Cedar Lane.

Looking for a Job? Looking to Hire?

In response to the economic downturn, a new national organization, with a branch in Monsey, was created to help people, specifically those in the frum community, who are in need of finding employment.

If you or someone you know is looking for a job or is looking to hire please visit

Rabbi Gancz to Lecture in Crown Heights

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Rancor Where Private-School Parents Make Public-School Decisions

By Peter Appelbome, The New York Times

Spring Valley, N.Y. - If you wanted to help a Martian understand this sliver of the planet in Rockland County, you might do two things.

First, you would take him (or her or it) to the cavernous Foodmart International on the main drag, Route 59.

The shoppers chatter in the broad, chilly aisles in every language under the sun. The wares include Cuban bread, Thai jasmine rice, Vietnamese chili-garlic sauce, Chinese kidney and liver herb extract, Haitian sugar, Salvadoran pickled vegetables, Honduran cream, Malaysian papaya pudding — like the provisions for some modern ark.

Then, you would head a mile or so down the road toward Monsey, where you would see gaggles of observant Jews in traditional garb walking on the street, pushing strollers, popping into shops offering kosher pizza, falafel and ice cream.

This would be helpful in understanding not just this area, but disputes along sensitive cultural fault lines that are playing out in several suburban communities. In fact, the East Ramapo school district here is going through the same drama as the district in Lawrence, on Long Island.

In both cases, the boards voted to close one of the local schools. In both cases, one reason given is declining enrollments because so many local families now send their children to yeshivas. In both cases, the decision was made by boards dominated by Orthodox Jews who are running the public schools but don’t send their own children to them.

Many of the Orthodox here and elsewhere feel crushed by the weight of high school taxes and private school tuition. Making sure the school district is fiscally prudent seems a necessity. Nathan Rothschild, the president of the East Ramapo board, said its record demonstrated a clear commitment to provide a quality education, not just to carefully manage costs.

He said this was still a democracy, where whoever gets the most votes gets to serve.

“I take great offense to the idea that you can tell a specific part of the community, ‘You’re not entitled to run for office,’ ” he said. “That’s outrageous.”

But increasingly, others are chafing at the idea that people who don’t send their children to the public schools are making the decisions for those from very different cultures who do.

Steve White, a parent who is partly of Jewish descent, speaks fluent Creole and is married to Emilia White, a Haitian-American, has put together a slate of candidates for the three seats on the ballot in the May 19 school board elections. One is his wife, the second is Hispanic and the third is an Irish-American candidate who replaced an African-American who dropped out for health reasons. People wonder, he said, where the justice is in a public school district that’s overwhelmingly Haitian, African-American and Hispanic being run by what Mr. Rothschild calls “the private school community.” And, Mr. White added, in an area where the Orthodox have most of the economic clout and control the local health care center as well, the situation is a breeding ground for resentment.

“The current system doesn’t address the question of governance with the consent of the governed,” he said, adding, “It doesn’t feel like America.”

The issue has percolated since the Orthodox gained control of the board a few years back. It gained a measure of acrimony a year ago when two Orthodox school board candidates dropped out of the race a week before the election, in effect giving their seats to two other Orthodox candidates, one of whom never campaigned, never supplied information for a candidate questionnaire and never showed up at candidates’ forums.

It went into overdrive this year with the decision to close one of the schools, a decision that critics said played out more in private than at public meetings. Mr. Rothschild said the process was open and the decision was based on disrupting as few families as possible.

Mr. White said that recently announced plans for new housing and the growing number of Hispanic families with many children made it unclear whether a school closing made sense. And he said the composition of the board gave the appearance the decision was being influenced by the opportunity to turn the site into another yeshiva.

The enduring dynamic here and elsewhere is the Orthodox voting in huge numbers and, invariably, for one of their own. Competing here with splintered, low-income, ethnic constituencies, they invariably get the votes.

Of course, not all victories are worth the costs. And critics ask how the yeshiva parents in Ramapo would feel if the decisions about its schools were dictated by local black or Hispanic residents.

Memo to the Martian: Yeah, we live together, sort of. But it’s a lot more complicated than it might seem down here. Watch your back.

Bes Iyar Farbrengen Tonight

There will be a farbrengen with Rabbi Lesches tonight, Sunday, April 26, following the 9:30 PM Maariv minyan, in honor of Bes Iyar, the birth date of the 4th Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Rebbe Maharash.

The fourth Rebbe of Chabad-Lubavitch, Rabbi Shmuel Schneersohn (1834-1882), known by the acrynom "Maharash", was born in the town of Lubavitch (White Russia) on the 2nd of Iyar of the year 5594 from creation (1884). His father, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch (the 3rd Chabad Rebbe, known as the "Tzemach Tzeddek") once remarked that Rabbi Shmuel's birthday, coinciding with 17th day of the Omer Count, is defined by the Kabbalistic masters as Tifferet sheb'Tifferet ("Beauty of Beauty")

Although Rabbi Shmuel was the youngest of Rabbi Menachem Mendel's seven sons, he was chosen to succeed his father as "rebbe" and leader of Chabad in the movement's capitol, Lubavitch (five of his brothers established branches of Chabad Chassidism in other towns in White Russia and Ukraine). In addition to leading his Chassidim, guiding and advising their spiritual and material lives and authoring many maamarim (discourses of Chassidic teaching), Rabbi Shmuel traveled extensively to throughout Europe, meeting with government and business leaders to exert pressure on the Czarist regime to halt its instigation of pogroms against the Jews of Russia.

Rabbi Shmuel passed away at age 47 on the 13th of Tishrei, 5643 (1882).

Monthly Moshiach and Geulah Shiur

The monthly Moshiach and Geulah shiur by Rabbi Lesches will take place tomorrow evening, Monday, April 27, following the 9:30 PM Maariv minyan.

A Cleansing for a Holiday, in the Spirit of a Campfire

By Peter Applebome, The New York Times

Monsey, N.Y. - Maybe it was the intersection of the beginning of Passover and the Birkat Hachamah, or Blessing of the Sun, celebrated by observant Jews once every 28 years, when, according to Talmudic tradition, the sun returns to the position it occupied at the same time during the week of its creation.

But there did seem to be an exceptional degree of ardor at the site of the old Rockland Drive-In, its giant white screen hovering ghostlike over the vacant land next to the Kosher Castle restaurant, cars jamming Route 59, flecks of snow falling from the sky, at the annual Monsey chametz burning Wednesday morning.

“No plastic bags, no aluminum foil, no children,” Nathan Rothschild, Monsey’s fire commissioner, joked as people, about two-thirds of them Hasidim in traditional black garb, approached a giant trash bin, waves of heat and smoke pouring into the sky, with loaves of rye bread, crackers and cookies, boxes of cereal and other food to be burned before the Passover holiday began Wednesday evening. “You can throw in your mother-in-law if you want.”

Observant Jews are required to remove all chametz, the Hebrew word for leavened bread, from their homes, cars and person before Passover begins, then burn a portion of it and throw out the rest. The idea is for a spiritual cleansing as well as a house cleaning, and a prayer is recited that releases the family from ownership of any crumbs left behind.

Burning chametz is an ancient tradition that sometimes runs afoul of modern fire codes, population densities or standards of safety. A rabbi’s 27-year-old son was badly burned and four others were burned less seriously in 2004 when he poured paint thinner on a chametz fire in Borough Park, Brooklyn.

Hence the communal chametz burnings, which have become increasingly organized in recent decades. Monsey’s dates to 1977, when Mordechai Eizik, a local firefighter, brought two trash barrels to the firehouse parking lot for chametz. Since 2002, it’s drawn thousands to the former drive-in, which once was the proposed site of a new Wal-Mart. It sits on a busy avenue where immigrants looking for work, international markets and Hispanic clubs eventually give way to the suburban shtetl of Monsey.

And so they came, in old Buicks and new S.U.V.’s, mostly men and their children while the women were home cooking the Passover meal. Some were from far away: Shlomo from Baltimore, who gave only his first name, and his children, who usually burn chametz at the Pimlico racetrack; Martin Bernstein from Buenos Aires. Both were visiting friends or family in Monsey. A vast majority were locals who brought their chametz in plastic bags from the Rockland Kosher Supermarket or the All Fresh Supermarket just up Route 59, or in a pickle bucket from Flaum Appetizing. In addition to white bread or melba toast, many brought lulav, fronds of the date palm tree used during the Sukkot holiday and customarily destroyed in the ritual fire.

The men brought prayer books and read them, rocking back and forth, islands of religious focus amid the hubbub. The children, for the most part, just seemed taken with the spectacle and the opportunity to throw anything in the fire — bread, potato chip bags, licorice. “It’s free entertainment,” said David Rabinowitz with a shrug, as his kids suggested assorted offerings for the blaze.

People started coming before the site opened at 6:30 a.m., and kept piling in until well after the scheduled closing at 11:41 a.m. — the product of another Talmudic calculation. It took about 200 wooden pallets to keep the blaze roaring. Water was poured on the embers around 1:15. The final count — suspiciously precise, but we’ll go with it — was 9,876 participants.

It was, all said, a big success. There were eight trash fires elsewhere in town during the day, all presumably chametz-related, compared with the 40 or so expected without the communal burn. Do-it-yourself chametz burning, some pointed out, is very inefficient — bread being much harder to burn completely than paper or wood — so the religious purpose was better served in the industrial-strength trash bin.

And, just as some traditions are old and some not so old, Mr. Rothschild pronounced it a worthy community event.

“What I find rewarding is to see so many different parts of the community, different Hasidic groups and others, coming together in one place in unity,” he said. “And kids love it and look forward to it. If you have a fire in your backyard barbecue and burn chametz, it’s not a memory. You do this, standing among 500 or 1,000 people doing this together, it’s a memory.”

And, at least, they all got his jokes. One man looked at the burning trash bin and the orange one behind him for bags, trash and the rest, as if not sure what each was for. “Milchig and fleishig,” Mr. Rothschild said — dairy and meat, the basic delineation of keeping kosher. The man smiled and threw his chametz into the fire.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Author to Visit Monsey

Cheder Chabad 10th Year Anniversary Dessert Reception

Discover the Divine!

Do not miss the upcoming women’s retreat in the Berkshires – it’s worth coming even if you can only get away for a day or two!

“Discover the Divine” is an extraordinary learning retreat with some of the best educators around – Rabbi Manis Friedman, Sara Raskin (Chabad of Montreal), Miriam Lipskier (Chabad of Emory), Sara Karmely and Bracha Meshchaninov.

Come for the intriguing topics, the gorgeous setting, or the experience of meeting other women who’ve set aside time to for the finer things in life. A range of rates makes it easy to attend, there’s deferred payment if you need it, it’s only a 2 hour drive from Monsey and there’s childcare for young children.

All information is at Email or call 718.604.0088 for more info or to sign up. The following is the schedule (click to enlarge):

Four Star General

Seeking Ride

If you or someone you know is going to Crown Heights for shabbos and has room for a 12 year old girl please call Dini at 845-406-3960.

Voters Approve Finkelstein Library Budget

By By Jenna Carlesso and Suzan Clarke, The Journal news

SPRING VALLEY - Voters yesterday approved a $7 million budget for Rockland's largest library, which includes a 5.8 percent spending boost over the current plan.

According to unofficial numbers, 1,794 people voted in favor of the new budget for Finkelstein Memorial Library, while 808 voted against it.

"We're very pleased we were able to convince people we're spending their money wisely," Library Director Bob Devino said.

The 2009-10 plan will cost owners of a single-family home assessed at the district average of about $57,000 less than $16 extra in taxes. The total tax bill for such a homeowner would be about $290.99.

The library has been operating with the same $6.6 million budget that taxpayers approved in 2007-08 after voters last year defeated the $6.9 million proposal.

"We are very appreciative of the public support," said Richard Rothbard, president of the library's board of trustees. "The need for libraries is even greater now with the state of the economy."

The money will help bring back services that were cut last year, such as more weekend hours in the summer, Devino said.

It also will allow guests to check out a greater number of items at a time and help purchase new books, he added.

A steady stream of people filed into the library around 1:30 p.m. yesterday and waited in line to vote.

"I voted 'yes.' It's a wonderful library," said Karl Witte of New Hempstead. "I have five people in my family that use this library consistently."

Sam Dobner of Monsey agreed that the library provided a good service, but said that in this economy, his $800 library bill was too steep.

"It's just a lot of money for what I consider a luxury," said Dobner, who voted against the spending plan.

The South East Ramapo Taxpayers Association, a watchdog group that has opposed the budget in recent years, this year has said the increase was unjustifiable given the current economic situation.

"It definitely came at a bad time," Kalman Weber, president of the taxpayers association, said of the budget increase. "It's not just for this year, it's for next year also."

Finkelstein is the largest library in Rockland and in the Ramapo Catskill Library System, serving a population of about 100,000 in the East Ramapo school district.

It employs about 120 staffers and circulated 750,000 items last year, Devino said.

After last year's defeat, the library was forced to scale back on summer weekend hours, lower the checkout limit, limit computer access, and eliminate seven-day lending of best sellers, among other restrictions.

Most of those will be reversed with the new budget, Devino noted.

Incumbent library board Trustee Vivian Street also was seeking re-election to her post. Her bid was unopposed.

"Right now, we have no plans for additions, only restorations and stabilization," she said yesterday. "It's a bad economy. We're not trying to create more of a burden."

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Zipora Reitman Awarded SUNY Chancellor's Award for Professional Service

Mazel tov to Zipora Reitman, Director of Communications at SUNY Rockland Community College, who was selected as the recipient of the SUNY Chancellor's Award for Professional Service!

The following are excerpts from the selection committee’s letter of recommendation:

“Zipora Reitman is an innovative leader on campus who has performed with distinction as Director of Communications, a highly responsible position reporting to the President. She has also made it her mission to create a Jewish presence at SUNY Rockland. Shortly after arriving on campus nearly 13 years ago, she determined the need to strengthen Jewish life on campus. She was instrumental in launching Hillel of Rockland (the Center for Jewish Life), which enriches the lives of Jewish students and adds an important dimension to the rich diversity of campus life. Zipora also works with the Center for Jewish Life to offer Jewish Heritage Month on campus, a yearly series of events that includes performances, exhibits, workshops, lectures and other innovative programs that explore and celebrate Judaism.”

Author to Visit Monsey

Leah Kotkes, author, writing mentor and features editor at Binah Magazine is visiting Monsey from Jerusalem to give a talk and a workshop for women on Wednesday, May 13th, at the home of Mrs. Carol Engelman, 15 Wits End in New Hempstead.

Meet the Author Talk 7 to 8 pm prompt: Leah will read from her newly released book "The Map Seeker: One Woman’s Quest" take questions and open a discussion on the book’s main theme – Living with Faith. Entrance charge: free.

Workshop 8 to 10.30 pm prompt: This workshop is for women who enjoy reading and writing, as well as those interested in developing their writing skills and receiving advice on parnassah/publishing opportunities. Leah will give an inspiring talk on storytelling from a Jewish perspective, lead some writing exercises and open a discussion on enhancing a relationship with Hashem, others and self using the craft of writing. Bring Sefer Tehillim, notebook and pens. Entrance charge per person: $20.

Please reserve to Mrs. Carol Engelman at 845-362-4993 or

New Bi-Weekly Chassidus Shiur for Women

A new bi-weekly Chassidus shiur for women given by Rabbi Zalmen Leib Markowitz will begin this Monday, April 27th, from 8:00 to 9:00 PM at the home of Rochel Leah Ash, 96 East Willow Tree Road.

The shiur, which will be specifically geared to "Junior N'shei", will take place every other Monday evening. Suggested donation is $5. For more information, please call Rochel Leah Ash at 914 –263-9221.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

New Living Torah Children's Narration

Mazel Tov Litzmans!

Mazal Tov to Mordechai and Malka Litzman on the birth of a granddaughter born to Meyer and Miriam Litzman of Phoenix, AZ!

Town of Ramapo Lag B'Omer Event

Mazel Tov Kleinmans!

Mazel tov to Yechiel and Malke Kleinman on the engagement of their son Yitzy to Esther Malka Vcherashansky of Los Angeles, CA!

The l'chaim will take place tonight, Tuesday, April 21, at 8:30 PM at United Lubavitcher Yeshiva, 570 Crown Street (entrance on Albany, between Crown & Momtgomery) in Crown Heights.

Matzoh Baking with Rabbi Simcha Werner

Thanks to Reb Chaim Bloch for producing this video.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Daily Mincha

The daily Mincha minyan at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek is now at 7:00 PM and will remain at that time throughout the spring and summer until Chai Ellul.

Yeshivacation Learning Program for Women to be Held in Monsey this Summer

The Monsey Chabad community will again be hosting a summer program of learning for women organized by Machon Chana of Crown Heights.

Yeshivacation Upstate will take place during the month of July. Exact dates and advertising will begin shortly. The expanded program will include daily learning, Shabbatonim, and special workshops for the women of the Monsey community.

If you would like to be part of the planning committee or if you would like to host two or more women for the month of July (one, two, three or four weeks), or if you have any questions, please call Mrs. Yehudis Abramowitz at 845-352-2736.

The Planning Meeting for Yeshivacation will take place on Wednesday evening, April 22 (Koach Nissan), at 8:45 PM, at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek, in the small Bais Medrash (daily minyan room), immediately following Rabbi Lesches' Halacha Shiur. All women interested in helping with the project are invited to attend.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Mazel Tov Blumenbergs!

Mazel Tov to Shimmy and Brocha Blumenberg on the birth of a baby girl!

Shifra and Puah arranges homemade meals from people in the community for mothers of newborn children from our community. If you are able to cook a meal, please contact Karen Schild at 845-354-4898.

Women's Reading Glasses Found

A pair of women's reading glasses was found at the Elkind Kiddush today at Nikolsburg. If they are yours please call 845-517-4425.

Welcome Kutsys!

Welcome to Velvel and Chanie Kutsy on their recent move to our community (Rita Avenue)!

Welcome Blumenbergs!

Welcome to Shimmy and Brocha Blumenberg on their recent move to our community (School Terrace)!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Mazel Tov Baitzs - Shalom Zachor!

Mazel tov to Shloime and Shany Baitz on the birth of a baby boy!

The Shalom Zachor will take place tonight at their home, 1 Spring Rock Place (corner of Brick Church Road), Spring Valley.

Shifra and Puah arranges homemade meals from people in the community for mothers of newborn children from our community. If you are able to cook a meal, please contact Karen Schild at 845-354-4898.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Job Opportunity

The Jewish Federation of Rockland is seeking a 15-20 hour a week (flexible) secretary on either a short term or long term basis. Some knowledge of mail merging programs and data base management preferred. Interested individuals should email

Monday, April 13, 2009

Moshiach Seuda for Cheder Chabad Girls

There will be a Moshiach Seudah for Cheder Chabad girls who are in grades 1 through 5
at the home of Mrs. Rosenbluh, 39 Fessler Drive, on Thursday, Acharon Shel Pesach, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

Girls who are in grades 6, 7 and 8 are asked to please come and help out.

Please bring matzah and grape juice. We hope to see you there!

Birchas HaChama at Chabad of New City

Rabbi Avremel Kotlarsky leads the Birkat Hachamah cremony, the blessing of the sun, April 8, 2009 at the Chabad Jewish Center in New City. This once-every-28-year event is of high importance for Jews around the world. Kathy Gardner/The Journal News

A Free Man

By Tzvi Jacobs, L'chaim Magazine

Daniel's apartment was unlike any other college student's pad. Beautiful furniture, the smell of delicious food in the kitchen, a tastefully set dining table. I guess his upbringing in Paris had an influence on him. While Daniel prepared a salad in his kitchen, I looked around and saw a sheet on the coffee table, A Thought for the Week, adapted from talks of the Lubavitcher Rebbe by Rabbi Yitzchak Meir Kagan. "This week's Torah reading speaks about a Jewish slave who is set free after six years of working off his debt..."

I interrupt the verse with my own thoughts. A slave! The Torah speaks about slaves! How archaic! Even my great-grandfather, who was an Orthodox Jew all of his life, did not believe in slavery. "I didn't escape the poverty of Poland to die for the right to own slaves," he had said. Back in 1861, two Confederate officers came looking to recruit him into the army. My great-grandmother said, "Mr. Jacobs went on a business trip to Cincinnati and won't be back for months."

Her 2-year-old Louis tugged on her skirt, pulling it like a cowbell, "Mommy, Mommy. Daddy's there, under the bed." The officers sized up the situation. They didn't want any faint-hearted fighters. "Mrs. Jacobs, when he returns from his trip," one of the officers said with a wink, "tell him to report to the recruiting station."

My great-grandfather kept peddling his wares in South Carolina, but never fought for the right to own slaves. He later opened a shoe store in Charleston that was closed on the Jewish Sabbath. With his long beard and yarmulke on his head, the people of color affectionately called him "Jew Jacobs." I imagine for him, too, the Jewish slave was also a thing of the past... so how did he accept the Torah as something relevant today?

The words of the Thought for the Week continued, "But if the slave says, 'I love my master, I don't want to go free' you place the slave opposite the doorpost, and pierce the ear and put a ring in it." How demeaning, I thought. Still I kept reading, thinking there must be something ...

But we're like that slave, the Lubavitcher Rebbe says. For six days a week, we work hard and often long hours, might even skip lunch and supper, too, miss time with the family, in short, we work like slaves... But then comes the seventh day, and G-d says, "You're free. No work, the bills can wait, no master to report to, phone rings unanswered, even social obligations connected to work are turned down." G-d says, "One day a week, only Me and you and time to be with your family and get connected again. But if someone says, 'I love my master, I don't want to go free,' you discourage that temptation to be a slave to the outside world and bore a hole in his ear and put a ring through it..."

I looked at my life. Monday through Friday I studied at the University of South Carolina School of Public Health, working towards a master's in epidemiology. On the weekends, I published the school's magazine. It was non-stop work. Maybe I am like a slave. Even though no one was actually forcing me to come to work on Saturday, I "loved my master" and wanted the outside world to honor my contributions and look up to me. I was a slave to the outside world. I went beyond the request to publish a newsletter, instead I produced a magazine. I lost contact with myself, my family, my close friends, and my quest to find the Truth and meaning of life..

Yes, I was a slave. Now I was given a chance to be least one day a week. What was I going to do? Habits of a secular lifestyle were strong. Then again a powerful light shone through the Rebbe's teachings. For the first time in my life I saw that the story of the Hebrew slave was not archaic at all, but rather it was speaking to someone in modern America, an intelligent graduate student - to me.

Daniel invited me again to his Shabbat table. I returned after a few weeks and again he delighted me with delicious food and warm company. But more than that, my soul craved truth for with a capital T. My heart needed guidance and healing, and my mind wanted to make sense of life. Daniel shared with me the insights that were written in the Thoughts for the Week. I became stronger and broke away from my master more and more often, and ran to his home for Shabbat. After a while, I stopped catching a ride to his apartment, and instead peddled my bicycle. By the time winter came, Daniel invited me to sleep over and before winter came I became a regular sleepover guest, and began encouraging others to come to Daniel's personal Chabad House for a meal or two.

In the spring, Daniel and I drove to Crown Heights, Brooklyn, which teemed with guests from all over the world. We sat in a sea of thousands of men and boys, listening intently to the crystal clear voice of the Rebbe celebrating his 80th birthday.

The Rebbe started speaking at 9:30 p.m. and delved into many subjects: the significance of a birthday, the weekly Torah portion, the holiday of Passover that was beginning in four days. I was surprised and impressed that the Rebbe spoke about impending advances in solar energy and the need for the U.S. government to invest in solar cells to bring prices down. Throughout the night, the Rebbe looked at each of the birthday well-wishers, and nodded and smiled to their toasts of "l'chaim." At 1 a.m., dozens of children were still sitting at the Rebbe's feet. To me, that was the best proof that this lifestyle was more advanced than anything in modern society. At 3:30 a.m., the Rebbe ended his talks and handed specially printed volumes of Tanya (the basic text of Chabad Chasidic philosophy) to every man, woman, and child for the next three hours. There were hundreds of children and babies in the line.

The Rebbe handed me a Tanya. The shackles of slavery were broken. That night I walked out of 770 a free man.

Birchas HaChama in Alberta, Canada

Rabbi Simcha Werner and Rabbi Mendel Polter at the Birchas HaChama in Banff, Alberta, Canada in the Canadian Rockies. They were there as guests of the Werner Brothers KMR Pesach program.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Levaya Today

Boruh Dayan HaEmes - We are deeply saddened to inform you of the passing of the father of Dovid Shatz.

The levaya will take place today, Sunday, April 12, at 1:00 PM at the Wellwood Cemetery in Wellwood, Long Island.

Directions: Long Island Expressway [I-495] East to Exit 49S, Follow Pine Lawn Road South to Wellwood Road. The cemetery is on the left side of the road.

Hamokom Yenachem Eschem Besoch Shaar Avaylay Tzion VeYerushalayim.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Birchas Hachama 5769 at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek Lubavitch of Monsey

Hundreds of men, women and children turned out at K’hal Tzemach Tzedek Lubavitch of Monsey today, Wednesday, Erev Pesach 5769, April 8, for the once-in-28-year Birchas HaChama.

Following the singing of the Alter Rebbe’s niggun the bracha was recited by everyone together just as the sun peeked through the clouds for a few moments. This was followed by the rest of the nusach and children saying the 12 pesukim. The crowd then sang and danced to the live music of Rabbi Zalman Goldstein.

Thanks to Reb Dovid Kaplan for the pictures. Thanks to the Ramapo Police Department for organizing the traffic.

Mazel Tov Backmans!

Mazel tov to Rabbi Shlomo and Aidel Backman on the birth of a grandson born to Rabbi Yoel and Sari Backman of Buenos Aires, Argentina!

Need Matzoh?

If you or someone you know is in need of additional hand shmurah matzohs, please call either of the two families below:

Meir and Chemdo Steinhauser - 845-426-1625
Rabbi and Mrs. Chaim Rausner - 845-425-2706

Women's Moshiach Seudos

There will be Moshiach Seudos for women on Acharon Shel Pesach at the following homes:

Karen Schild, 27 Fessler Drive, New Hempstead

Yehudis Abramowitz, 6 Zabriskie Terrace, Monsey

Rivka Goldstein, 8 Algonquin Circle, South Monsey

All are invited to participate!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Pirkei Avos Shiur for Women to Resume Right After Pesach

Beginning the Shabbos immediately following Pesach, Parshas Shemini, April 18, women and older girls are invited to participate in Rabbi Lesches' Pirkei Avos Shiur, at the home of the Abramowitz's, 6 Zabriskie Terrace, from 5:30 to 6:30 PM.

The Shiur is a great favorite among N'shei Ubnos Chabad and will continue each week throughout the spring and summer culminating on the Shabbos prior to Rosh Hashanah.

Birchas HaChama Printouts

Please print out the following and bring it with you to the Birchas HaChama tomorrow morning. Thanks to Kehos and Shmais for making this available.

Click here for the English annotated.

Click here for the Hebrew annotated.

Click here for the Brochos and Sicha of the Rebbe from 5713.

The program will begin at 8:30 AM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek. Please be on time and allow some time for parking and walking.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Birchas Hachama Shiur at YMMLM

Rabbi Moshe Liberow, magid shiur at Yeshivas Menachem Mendel Lubavitch of Monsey, giving a comprehensive shiur and presentation on the topic of Birchas HaChama to all of the bochurim in the Mesivta.

Rare Jewish Blessing of the Sun to be Performed Wednesday in New City

By Suzan Clarke, The Journal News

NEW CITY - Jews around the world will gather next week for the rarest event on the Jewish calendar: the blessing of the sun, or Birkat Hachamah.

The event takes place once every 28 years.

"An opportunity to do a mitzvah, to fulfill a commandment of God that only comes once in 28 years, is an opportunity that's very special," Rabbi Avremel Kotlarsky, executive director of the Chabad Lubavitch of Rockland, said.

Kotlarsky will lead the historic early morning ritual Wednesday at Chabad in New City. Jews around the world are expected to gather for their own ceremonies.

According to tradition, Birkat Hachamah refers to the blessing performed on a specific Wednesday morning in the spring when the sun returns to the same position in the sky that it occupied at the time of creation.

The blessing is usually preceded and followed by a selection of Psalms and prayers.

Birkat Hachamah should be recited outdoors facing Jerusalem, and, when performed with a large group of people, it's considered to do greater praise to God.

"We don't worship the sun ... we're giving recognition to God, thanks to God for the great miracles that he's done for us in our lives," Kotlarsky said.

The sun is responsible for the bounty of the Earth, but it's a gift from God, Kotlarsky said, adding that the Torah describes the sun as "the great luminary."

Mostly observed in the Orthodox community, publicity around Birkat Hachamah has grown since the last time it was observed on April 8, 1981.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, led a ceremony in which thousands participated and discussed lessons from the sun that could be applied to daily life.

Kotlarsky will share a teaching from the rebbe during Wednesday's ceremony in New City.

"The Jewish community in general has just, I think, become more aware of Jewish observances," Kotlarsky said. "And also, with the tumultuous events that have been going on in the world in the last years ... this event that's taking place is seen as happening in a very important time in history, and Jewish history in particular."

He said it was important for Jews and non-Jews as well to recognize God's graces and blessings.

The blessing won't be performed again until 2037.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Matzah Available for Mivtzoim from N'shei Chabad

Each year before Pesach, in honor of Yud Aleph Nissan, N'shei Chabad of Rockland distributes packages of three shmura matzos to those who may not otherwise have. This year, we will be distributing 108 matzos in honor of the Rebbe's 108th year. Matza packages will be available for pick-up at the Abramowitz home, 6 Zabriskie Terrace, on Sunday evening, Yud-Alef Nissan, until Tuesday, Yud-Gimmel Nissan. Let's all share the mitzvos of this unique Yom Tov with other Yidden!

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Elie Wizman Lauds Cheder Chabad Science Fair

Dear Rabbi Shusterman,

I want to thank you for inviting me to participate as a Judge for the Cheder Chabad Science Fair on the evening of March 26th. I was impressed with the quality of all the students' projects, but even more so by the students themselves. They were poised, confident, and most importantly - knowledgeable about the topics they presented.

It was obvious in their well thought out responses to my questions that they truly understood the nature of scientific research and principles. I cannot stress enough the pleasure and pride I felt engaging with these wonderful students, each of whom demonstrated high levels of critical thinking.

There is no doubt in my mind that through your school's tireless dedication and commitment to quality education, you have helped nurture some of the great scientific minds of the future.

Kudos to you, your amazing staff, and to the children who always make us proud. May you all be blessed with continued positive growth. Keep up the great work!

Warmest regards,

Elie Wizman is the Director of the Office of Funded Programs of the East Ramapo Central School District. His office is directly responsible for overseeing and distribution of millions of dollars of state funding for both public and non-public schools. He has been a major advocate for Yeshivos, including Cheder Chabad, for all types of programs, both in the regular stream as well as remedial. As such, Mr. Wizman is constantly involved in the programs and curriculums of all the schools in the district.

Cheder Chabad Yud Aleph Nissan Hakhel Rally for Boys

Donate Your Old Cellphone to Chabad of Suffern

The thousands of Jewish families in Ramapo who are waiting to be connected to their roots are our responsibility. Help Chabad of Suffern accomplish this goal!

Donating a cell phone that you no longer use can help. A cash donation will be made to Chabad of Suffern for each cell phone donated. Any phone regardless of age or condition is accepted!

During the Pesach rush things tend to be hectic for all of us. That's why we make donating your cellphone easy. Simply drop your phone off in the box at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek or at Chabad of Suffern, 123 Route 59 in Suffern. It couldn't be easier. Help the environment and help our community!

For Your Birthday

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Shabbos HaGadol Shiur

Rabbi Lesches will be giving a Shabbos HaGadol shiur for men and women this Shabbos afternoon at 6:00 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek.

Communal Birchas HaChama Gathering

In the spirit of Hakhel and Achdus there will be a large communal Birchas HaChama ceremony for men, women and children this Wednesday, Erev Pesach, April 8, at 8:30 AM in the parking lot of K'hal Tzemach Tzedek.

Please be on time and allow extra time for parking and walking to the Shul. The program will last until approximately 9:00 AM at which point those who wish to stay can watch the new JEM Birchas HaChama video that will be shown inside the shul.

Please be sure to purchase the Birchas HaChama pamphlet in advance or print out the text here and bring it with you.

Yud Gimmel Nissan Farbrengen

There will be a farbrengen with Rabbi Lesches this Monday night, April 6, following Maariv at 9:30 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek in honor of Yud Gimmel Nissan, the Yarzeit of the third Lubavitcher Rebbe, the Tzemach Tzedek, in 1866.

Yud Aleph Nissan Farbrengen

There will be a farbrengen with Rabbi Lesches this Sunday night, April 5, following Maariv at 9:30 PM at K'hal Tzemach Tzedek in honor of Yud Aleph Nissan, the day of birth of the Rebbe in 1902.

Rockland's Only DMV Closed Indefinitely

By James Walsh, The Journal News

The Department of Motor Vehicles in West Haverstraw - Rockland's only DMV office - will be closed for the foreseeable future.

Mold is being removed from the facility. It was discovered about three weeks ago when a water leak in the office above the DMV was scheduled to be fixed.

The office, which was shut down March 9, was expected to be closed for only two days, but a few days later, the DMV extended the closing for another week.

Click here to continue article.

They're Not Talking, But Everyone Else Is

By Linda Lombroso, The Journal News

When a carp started speaking Hebrew six years ago at the New Square Fish Market, the story made headlines around the world.

The fish have since kept their mouths shut.

But the market, in the Hasidic community of New Square, remains a hot destination in the weeks before Passover: It is one of the few spots in the area that sells homemade gefilte fish and live carp directly to the public.

Most shoppers know gefilte fish as the beige forms wedged inside jars of clear jelly, sold by manufacturers like Manischewitz and Rokeach, and served as part of the traditional Passover Seder. Commercial gefilte fish is generally a blend of whitefish, pike, mullet and carp. But old-fashioned Passover gefilte fish - the kind they make at the New Square Fish Market - contains only ground carp, eggs, onion, salt and sugar.

"That's the real holy Passover fish, and it comes out delicious," says Zalmen Rosen, who's worked there since he married into the Kupperman family more than 40 years ago.

The fish market, tucked into a residential street near Route 45, does a brisk business, says David Kupperman, grandson of the founder. Year-round, the store sells 12 different kinds of gefilte fish, some sugar-free, and stocks a variety of fresh fish that Kupperman picks up every morning at the Fulton Fish Market.

But with the Passover carp, it's a different story. During the busy season, the live fish are delivered daily in a tanker truck and kept outside in a large vat of water. They range from 4 to 55 pounds in weight and are carried into the market in the arms of workers.

Many home cooks who make gefilte fish like to buy their live carp at the New Square Fish Market. But they can be a suspicious bunch.

"Some people come here and want to see it alive in the truck," says Rosen. He hesitates, blue eyes glimmering behind his glasses. "Maybe on the truck somebody gave it something to eat, some bread."

When kosher cooks buy fish that is not alive, there is always a concern about how it's been preserved, says Rabbi Moshe Elefant, chief operating officer of OU Kosher, the world's largest kosher certification agency. "In Europe, particularly, they used to preserve the fish in alcohol."

In the old days, Rosen affirms, things happened. Tricks were used. "They used to put alcohol and bread in the mouth of the fish to make it look alive," he says. Grain alcohol cannot be consumed during Passover. Bread, says Rosen, is also chametz - the Hebrew term for products that contain leavening agents - and forbidden during Passover.

At the New Square Fish Market, everything is done according to kosher practice. When live carp are turned into Passover gefilte fish, they are quickly filleted, deboned, skinned and put into a grinding machine with onions.

Every step of the process is monitored carefully, including inspection of the onions. "We look them over for bugs," says Rosen, his blue gloves dripping fish juice. "You know onions can have bugs?"

The ground carp and onions are then mixed with salt, sugar and eggs, cracked only after their shells have been rinsed with lukewarm water. The mixture is formed into loaves, cooked in a seasoned water bath and wrapped in kosher-for-Passover paper. A loaf of gefilte fish, which can serve seven people, sells for $7.75, says Kupperman. Fresh carp, which is also cut into steaks, retails for $7.49 a pound.

Although shoppers can find live carp in Chinatown, the New Square Fish Market's carp retain a certain celebrity status - especially the one that started muttering in Hebrew in 2003, saying something about the end of the world.

Rosen, who's told the story a million times, shrugs at telling it again. Then he changes his mind.

"It was a Tuesday afternoon," he says. "We had a whole box of fish. Live carp, they jump."

Suddenly, Rosen heard fish cutter Luis Nivelo yelling in the back room. "I hear this guy screaming: 'The fish is talking!' Why should I believe him?"

"I was running away," says Nivelo, who's worked there for 13 years. "It was like the devil."

When Rosen went into the room, the fish was indeed speaking Hebrew. "Before I cut it, I heard noise," he says. "I heard a voice coming out."

Nivelo still believes the fish's warnings came true. One local resident was killed in a suicide bombing in Israel, he says. Another died unexpectedly.

Rosen is suddenly tired of the talking fish. He holds up the severed head of a carp. "Makes a good soup," he says.

Click here for more photos.