Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cheder Chabad 4th Grade Makes Siyum

The Cheder Chabad 4th grade boys celebrated finishing משניות מסכת ראש השנה with a grand siyum. While the boys enjoyed their nosh Rabbi Wolowik spoke to the them and Rabbi Shusterman told them a story. Each talmid received a beautiful certificate for finishing this מסכת. After this, Rabbi Grossbaum came and presented a שופר workshop and each boy made his own שופר. We are excited to begin מסכת יומא!

Yud Shvat at Cheder Chabad Girls

Chesed Opportunity

A 15 year old boy who is in school during the day is in need of a place to sleep in Monsey at night. If you or someone you know can host him it would be a tremendous chesed. Please contact Reb Tzvi Webb at 845-598-2051.

A Bris on Birthright

Imagine that you are twenty-one years old, overseas for the first time in your life, sitting on a bus and driving through Israel in the midst of wartime. Nearby is a burly, bearded rabbi from Australia putting tefillin on your new roommate.

There are fifty people on the bus. A few hours ago you knew none of them. Jason, to your left, is boasting about how much money he raked in at his bar mitzvah. Amidst a messy and bumpy game of poker, Richard, to the right is divulging that his real name is something totally unpronounceable in Yiddish that sounds distinctly like what the Seinfelds scream at each other when they are in a TV land fight.

This is all followed by some playful Jewish boys club-style banter until the rabbi gives you a hearty slap on the back and exclaims, "And what name did you score when they had the big tip off?"

"Tip off?” you ask, conjuring images of Horace Grant flicking the ball back to Jordan in the halcyon Bulls days.

"You know, when you were just a wee lad, eight days your bris! What's the name they gave you at your bris?”

"Huh, bris?” you stammer, wondering if you were supposed to have already picked up Hebrew two hours into your trip. “Oh... that..” you reply, as it suddenly dawns on you what he is referring to. "Umm, well I never exactly did have one of those."

"No worries at all, mate," shoots back the rabbi you have now learned is Rabbi Oliver.

“Well, I sort of did," you offer. "It's just it was sort of no frills, not that I remember much, but I know it was done in a hospital by a doctor, does that still count?" you ask, figuring the answer must be yes, because it would appear this is a once-in-a-lifetime type of procedure.

"Well, now that you ask, no, not really mate, it doesn’t really count," Rabbi Oliver responds.

"Uh-oh," you reply.

"I think you mean oy vey," chimes in Richard.

"Not a case of oy vey at all," protests Rabbi Oliver. "First of all, with or without a proper bris you are still just as Jewish as Moses, King David, King Solomon, me or Adam Sandler. Secondly, we can arrange a retroactive bris for you at no cost, no hassle, almost no pain and with a big smorgasbord! So what do you reckon?" beams the Rabbi.

Suddenly the poker players are in full cry. "All in, ante up. Come on, go for it Dave,” your new "friends" start cajoling you. "That rocks dude, having your bris on your first trip to Israel, come on, go for it, and we'll all get a party!"

"Um, well… okay," responds either a deep spiritual voice from within your soul or a standard peer group pressure concession.

"Good on ya, mate!" booms the rabbi, and the rest, as they say, is history.

A few days before the end of your incredible Mayanot Taglit-Birthright Israel experience in Israel the “bris” takes place. It's actually known as a Hatofas Dam Bris - a procedure where a single drop of blood is taken.

After arriving in Jerusalem, you and Rabbi Oliver meet the mohel, a very warm and friendly man by the name of Rabbi Kremer. Sensing your apprehension, he calmly explains the procedure to you as well as explaining the significance of a Bris Milah, answering all your questions and steadying your turning stomach. In the end it's as “painful” as promised (not!), in fact you are waiting for the pain, when he informs you it's all over, phew!

Later that day, you and a group of girls from your bus, Mayanot 36, receive your official Jewish names. You receive your name, David Yair, after being called up for an aliyah to the Torah at the Western Wall. This is followed by a celebratory meal made all the more special by the guest performance of a highly talented young Chabad singer named Moshe Hecht.

That night you sleep with a certain satisfaction and increased sense of belonging. Being Jewish is not always easy, you have to do things that go against the grain, you have to be brave, you have to take a stand, and today you did.

A bris literally means a covenant, a sign between you and G-d. A Birthright trip is precisely that, but on this trip you “doubled up” on the sign, you went all in and you won!

To join Rabbi Oliver on a free Taglit-Birthright Israel trip this summer please visit No Bris required.

Seeking Ride

If you or someone you know is going to Crown Heights this Thursday night or Friday and has room for an 11 year old girl please call Dini at 845-406-3960.