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ChabadTexas.org News in the NY Times

ChabadTexas.org News was featured in today's NY Times.

If It Involves Jews, Chabad’s Tiny but Far-Flung News Organization Is on It
By ALAN FEUER
Published: December 27, 2008 

When the news broke on Thursday of a freakish traffic accident that injured several people at the Chanukah Wonderland workshop run by the Lubavitch community of Woodmere, on Long Island, the story was picked up by the usual suspects: Newsday, The Daily News, The New York Post and The Associated Press. It also happened to be that day’s top North American offering of a much smaller — and somewhat more specialized — journalistic venture: Chabad.org News.

Written and produced from a small home office in Israel by a husband-and-wife team, Chabad.org News is a nonprofit international reporting operation that focuses on stories of interest to Jews — and more specifically the Lubavitch community — around the globe. On any given day, it might cover the opening of a new kosher cafeteria at the University of Miami or a fatal bus crash in Eilat, Israel. Its headlines reflect the tenets of the movement and the interests of its readers: “Light Again Issues Forth from Mumbai Chabad House” or “Mountaintop Circumcision a First for Southeastern Peru.”

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Click here to visit ChabadTexas.org News.

ABC 13: Hanukkah celebrated in front of city hall

There was a big celebration in front of Houston City Hall as the public menorah was lit downtown.

Mayor Bill White joined many of the Jewish faith for the 13th year of the lighting of the giant menorah. The mayor lit the center candle last night and then said a few words to the crowd.

"Happy Hanukkah to all," he said. "We celebrate many different traditions in this beautiful city."

Hanukkah is celebrated for eight days and eight nights, and the dates change each year. This year, it started on the December 21. Next year it will begin on December 11.

Chanukah lights brighten city

<font color='red'><i>Photo by MARK KATZ</i></font color><P align='left'>Thousands of children and adults, including Sarah Gabay, Adi Torkin, Tamara Shabi and Houston Rockets mascot Clutch, celebrated the first night of Chanukah at Chabad’s Chanukah on Ice in The Galleria. (The child on the left, regrettably, was not identified.)
Photo by MARK KATZ

Thousands of children and adults, including Sarah Gabay, Adi Torkin, Tamara Shabi and Houston Rockets mascot Clutch, celebrated the first night of Chanukah at Chabad’s Chanukah on Ice in The Galleria. (The child on the left, regrettably, was not identified.)


Chabad of Houston events draw thousands to The Galleria


More than 2,500 skaters and onlookers packed The Galleria ice-skating rink area in celebration of the first night of Chanukah, Sunday, Dec. 21. Members of the Jewish community and friends occupied every seat at the end of the rink, and on all three floors, filled to capacity the balconies overlooking the skaters. The event, Chabad Outreach of Houston’s “Chanukah on Ice,” captured the joy of Jewish unity, commemorating the miracle that has been celebrated with light for nearly 2,200 years.

Highlights of the evening included a Hakhel Year Jewish Unity address, by Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff, Texas Regional director of Chabad Lubavitch; lighting the chanukiah, by Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Asher Yarden; recitation of the Sh’ma by Zack Katzenellenbogen from the Friendship Circle; and guest appearances by Clutch, mascot of the Houston Rockets, and Chilly, Houston Aeros mascot.

The evening also included a giveaway of four tickets to a Rockets game.
Chabad will sponsor more Chanukah events for the entire community during the eight-night celebration. On Saturday, Dec. 27, at 8:30 p.m., there will be a public lighting of the chanukiah at City Hall; Mayor Bill White will attend.

“Yes We ‘Can’ ” on Sunday, Dec. 28, 5:30-7 p.m., at the Chabad Uptown, 1800 Post Oak Blvd., will feature a “Can-orah” building and lighting ceremony with Chanukah foods and arts and crafts. Participants should bring canned food to help build a chanukiah; canned goods will be donated to the Houston Food Bank.

On Monday, Dec. 29, Chabad and the Houston Rockets present “Hoops & Chanukah.” Those arriving at the Houston Rockets vs. Washington Wizards game at the Toyota Center, two hours prior to tipoff, may attend the Chanukah party. Order tickets by calling 713-758-7231 or 713-758-7455.

For more Chabad Chanukah, go to www.chabadhouston.org.

TDS G.O. Production

Torah Day School’s Girls Organization is
proud to present...

In our Mothers' Footsteps

An evening of song, dance, and drama
Wednesday, December 17th
כא כסלו
7:00 P.M
At Torah Day School (for Women & Girls only)
Written, directed and produced by the girls in G.O.

Rabbi Yossi Paltiel Shabbaton-Save-the-Date

ב"ה

Chabad Lubavitch of Texas is pleased to announce a
Shabbaton with Rabbi Yossi Paltiel
Hosted by Chabad Lubavitch Centerpaltiel.jpg January 23-24,2009 Shabbos Mevarchim Shevat


Rabbi Yossi Paltiel is a popular teacher, with a gift for communicating his passion for Torah and Judaism.

His classes weave together classic commentaries, Jewish Law, history and philosophy, personal stories, and a deep knowledge of Chassidus and Kabbala into a whole that's both intellectually challenging and heartwarming.  

 Rabbi Paltiel will speak :
Friday night at shul (dinner will be with your hosts)
Shabbos Morning
Shabbos Farbrengen- Kiddush Lunch
Melava Malka for Women only

Stay tuned for more information

Yud Tes Kislev Hakhel Community Farbrengen

When tragedy overcomes a community - JHV

Jewish Herald Voice, Dec. 4, 08, Front Page
Photo by JHV: VICKI SAMUELS

The greater Houston Jewish community began to fill the auditorium of Chabad Texas Headquarters for the Dec. 1 Memorial Service for Mumbai Victims. A standing room-only audience of 400 participated in the comforting service.


Chabad Lubavitch of Houston brings Houston-area community together to remember the victims of the Mumbai terrorist attack

It was a Jewish response, borne of love for Torah and the desire to help those searching for answers to questions that have no justifiable answer.

Inside a room filled with sadness, yet overridden by lofty spirituality, the Houston Jewish community came together on Monday evening, Dec. 1, to mourn the senseless deaths of two beloved leaders of the global Jewish community. Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg and four other members of the Jewish community lost their lives during the terrorist siege in Mumbai, India, that began Wednesday, Nov. 26, the day before America’s Thanksgiving holiday. The young Holtzbergs, 29 and 26, respectively, were Chabad Lubavitch shluchim (emissaries) who, since 2003, have welcomed into their home thousands of Jews from around the world seeking a Jewish connection far from their own homes. Other Jewish people who died were Norma Shvarzblatt-Rabinovich, 50; Yocheved Harpaz, 59; Rabbi Betzion Chroman, 28; and Rabbi Leibisch Teitelbaum, 37.

Standing room-only crowd

Chabad Lubavitch Texas centers, from around the city and state, hosted a standing-room-only gathering of 400 Houston-area Jews inside the new auditorium of the Chabad Lubavitch Texas Headquarters, 10900 Fondren Rd. The service began with Rabbi emeritus Joseph Radinsky and Rabbi Barry Gelman, both of United Orthodox Synagogues, lighting candles, one for each level of the soul. Chasidic masters explain that the soul has five dimensions: nefesh (the engine of physical life), ruach (emotional self and “personality”), neshamah (intellectual self), chayah (supra-rational self, seat of will, desire, commitment and faith) and yechidah (essence of the soul).

While not scheduled on the program, Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff, Chabad of Uptown, read a condolence letter from U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee.

“According to Jewish tradition, everything that happens comes from Torah,” began Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff, regional director of Chabad Lubavitch Texas. “Torah, the words of G-d, tefillah (prayer) and tzedakah (loving kindness): This is how we react to times of tragedy.” Rabbi Lazaroff led the community in the Hebrew recitation of Psalms 20, which was projected on a screen in Hebrew, transliteration and English. Rabbi Dovid Goldstein, Chabad of West Houston, led the English translation.

Excerpts from “Pioneers,” a video about Lubavitcher Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, followed. It detailed how he mobilized Jews to respond to tragedy, following a massacre that took place at Kfar Chabad in Israel in 1956. The rebbe said that we never can understand such an event, and he sent a message to his fellow Jews: “Behemshech habinyan tinacheimu. By your continued building will you be comforted.”

Consul General of Israel to the Southwest Asher Yarden expressed what Chabad means to Israeli Jews. “Chabad houses are corners of Yiddishkeit,” he began. “Whenever [Jews] face difficulties traveling abroad, we turn to Chabad, people like the Holtzbergs. Chabad was the only place where only Jews could be found [in Mumbai]. This was a difficult place.” After such tragedy, the consul general asked if there would be fewer Chabad houses. “No,” he responded emphatically to his own question. “Will there be fewer Israelis looking for Chabad Houses? No. Will Israelis be deterred by terrorist attacks? No.”

Personal reflections

Ben Adler and Raphael Altman each told poignant stories of their being in Mumbai and meeting Rabbi and Rivka Holtzberg. “I was in Mumbai three weeks ago,” Adler said. “From backpackers to business people, Chabad gave them a place to stay. They knew that for Shabbos, there was only one place to go. Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, Rivka, were excellent, pure, humble people. Many came through their doors; they were always open. I was not the first, but one of the last. They fed 20 to 50 people daily, every evening, free of charge. Pure, for the mitzvah. You can’t just get kosher in supermarkets. I remember they were sitting up front, between them, their little son.”

Altman was in Mumbai for 14 months, from 2004 to 2005. “First, there was darkness, then light,” he began. Altman described traveling through heavy traffic and even animals, before arriving in downtown Mumbai. He recalled climbing up a few steps and, on the top floor, there was a mezuzah. “A bright light,” he said. “a terrace overlooking the Arabian Sea. Anyone could open the door.” He described 15 Jewish souls around a Shabbat table – Israeli diamond traders, backpackers from Israel and European tourists. One of the memories he came away with was the “spiritual light of wonderful love and hospitality. We told stories, sang songs.” Sometimes, without a minyan, visitors would daven (pray) in a nearby Sephardic synagogue. During the 10-minute walk back to the Chabad House and at the Taj Mahal Hotel, “we would look for Jewish life to pick up people. [The Holtzbergs] would teach Indian Jews mitzvot. We even talked about having a mikvah in the lake, even though there were crocodiles,” he said, with a glint in his eye. Altman’s greatest memory of his stay in Mumbai was putting on tefillin. He recalled, “The last few weeks there, most of us put on tefillin to help [the Holtzberg’s] son, who was ill. I still remember, and still continue that tradition.”

After the personal reflections, another video was shown, of scenes from Mumbai during the terrorist siege. But instead of filming demonstrations of fanatics dancing in the street during the nightmare, this plain-speaking Jewish video provided the Jewish response to tragedy. In simple terms, one should give light to darkness, by lighting Shabbat candles and giving tzedakah.

Memorializing with deeds

Rabbi Moishe Traxler of Chabad Outreach of Houston followed the video with emotional remarks. “We want guidance,” he began. “We comfort the mourners. Moshe [Holtzberg] was only 2 years old. The whole family, of the Jewish people, have prepared a condolence card in memory and honor of the departed. We have many opportunities to bring real comfort,” he continued. “The cards will be read by Moshe, of the holy lives of his parents. We increase the light and dissolve the darkness and bring about a time when darkness will no longer be here.” 

For every mourner attending the service, Chabad of Houston prepared a memorial card for the Mumbai victims of terror. It reads: “To honor the memories of your family members, I will make an effort to do, or improve in, the following mitzvah [with a box to check one or more]: Light Shabbat & Holiday Candles; Tefillin; Torah Study; Prayer; Charity and Acts of Kindness; Mezuzah; Kosher; Family Purity (Mikvah)” In addition, there is a space for a personal note. For those unable to attend the service, memorials may be written online at www.chabadtexas.org/773655.

Rebbetzin Chiena Lazaroff of Torah Day School of Houston delivered the keynote address. “How do we fight evil?” she inquired. “With acts of goodness and kindness,” she answered. “We are here with a heavy heart. Those killed and injured were of many nationalities. . . . Our hearts and prayers go to all and to the people of India. This is their own 9/11.” Lazaroff saluted the people of India, the police officers, the brave nanny, Sandra Samuel, who saved the Holtzberg’s son, Moshe. She likened Samuel to pharaoh’s daughter, who saved the biblical Moshe. “Saving one life, saves the entire world,” she recalled from the Talmud (Sanhedrin 37a). Regarding the Holtzbergs, Lazaroff said that they left New York and Israel to move half-way around the world, out of love for the Jewish people. The rabbi, she said, would kosher 100 chickens a week; his wife baked 80 challahs a week, and they always had a warm smile. “They were a beacon of light,” she continued, “extinguished by 10 evil men.” We can’t make sense of it, she added. “To understand, we become complacent.”

Surprise announcement

“Fifty years ago, a Chabad village was gunned down,” she continued. “The rebbe said you will find comfort with continued building. So, Rabbi Schneerson sent 10 men, who established a living memorial [in Israel].” Chabad Lubavitch of Texas will continue to build, Lazaroff added. Honoring the lives of the Holtzberg couple and their chesed (loving kindness), Chabad will open its 18th institution in Texas – in Pearland. 

The announcement was the greatest light of the evening, inspiring a spontaneous outpouring of applause from the audience. “The Torah center,” she added, “with outreach and education for goodness and kindness – this is our response to India!” With that, she introduced New York Rabbi Yossi Zaklikofsky, who, with his wife Esty and their 1-year-old son Mendel, will be the new Pearland shluchim.

Returning to the tragedy, Lazaroff said that before last Shabbat, a half-dozen résumés had been submitted to continue the Holtzbergs’ work in India. Even Rivka’s Israeli parents are ready to help. “The power of love,” Lazaroff added, “is more eternal than the power of hate. With three pillars: Torah, prayer and tzedakah.” She concluded her remarks by saying, “May we have many opportunities to come together to share simchas.”

Rabbi Betzalel Marinovsky, Community Collel of Houston, led the community in a Hebrew reading of daily liturgy of Mishna, followed by Rabbi Zaklikofsky’s leading the English translation.

The service concluded with a prayer from Rabbi Lazer Lazaroff, Chabad House at Texas Medical Center. Members of the community were reminded to complete their memorial cards and leave them before departing for home. 

For more on the Holtzbergs and the tragedy in Mumbai, go to www.chabadtexas.org. Contributions may be made online to a fund benefiting the victims’ children and rebuilding Chabad in Mumbai at www.chabad texas.org/chabadmumbai. Donations to help establish Chabad Pearland may be sent to Chabad of Pearland, c/o Chabad Lubavitch Center, 10900 Fondren Rd., Houston, TX 77096.

Statement by Israeli Consul General to the Southwest Asher Yarden

From Consul General to the Southwest Asher Yarden,
 
      The terrorist attack in Mumbai last week, that took the lives of over 170 people, was meant to destroy the lives of as many civilians as possible. In addition to Indians, there were nationals from 24 different countries killed or injured. The targets which were chosen, among them the Taj Hotel, Victoria Railway Station, the Oberoi Trident Hotel, Leopold Cafe, and Nariman House, known to us as the Chabad House, were all places of gathering for Westerners who visit India. However, Chabad House is different in a sense that there, and only there, will one find a concentration of Israelis and Jews - and this was another objective of the terrorists, not necessarily secondarily - to murder as many Israelis and Jews at a Chabad Center.
      Have they succeeded? Well, they certainly spread anguish and agony among the mourning families of the victims and among Israelis and Jews worldwide, but they have not deterred a single Israeli or Jew from traveling to India. Nor have they deterred the Chabad movement from continuing and even strengthening their mission.
      During the memorial service at the Chabad Center in Houston, those present were notified of a new Chabad House which is soon to open in Pearland, TX. May this be the message to the perpetrators of the massacre in Mumbai, their accomplices and the people who sent them.
 
For the text of President Peres' eulogy on December 2, 2008 and comments by Prime Minister Olmert and Foreign Minister Livni, click here.

Sympathy Letter from Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee

Presented at the Memorial on behalf of the Congresswoman. Click on image for a larger view.

Address by Rabbetzin Chiena Lazaroff at Memorial Service

HOW DO WE FIGHT EVIL? WITH ACTS OF GOODNESS AND KINDNESS!

It is with a heavy heart that we gather here this evening to pay our respects to all who were massacred last week in Mumbai, India.

Those killed and injured were of many nationalities- Indian, American, Australian, Canadian, German, Singaporean, French, Israeli, British, Chinese, Italian, Japanese ,Jordanian, Malaysian, Mauritian, Mexican, Spanish, Thai, Austrian, Filipino, Finnish, Norwegian. Our hearts and prayers go out to all the innocent victims and their families, and to all the people of India who bore the brunt of this tragedy- their own 9/11.

We wish a speedy recovery and convalescence to the many hundreds that were wounded. We note the sacrifice of those police officers and security personnel, who lost their lives in the line of duty.

At the same time we salute the bravery and self sacrifice displayed by the nanny - Sandra Samuel- a non Jewish woman –in saving the crying toddler, Moshe Holtzberg. This brings to mind the biblical story of the daughter of Pharoah, a non Jewish woman- saving the life of the crying baby Moshe- Moses. In saving one life we save a world.

HOW DO WE FIGHT EVIL? WITH ACTS OF GOODNESS AND KINDNESS.

I want to draw your attention to our colleagues, Gabi & Rivki Holzberg.

They left their families in N.Y. and Israel to move halfway around the world. They did not do it for the excitement, the money, the fame or the glory. They did it out of the love for the Jewish people and as dedicated Chassidim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of Blessed memory.

Their home was sought out by business people needing kosher provisions while traveling; by tourists from around the world; and by the many Israelis, backpacking across India, after completing army service. Each guest was welcomed with open arms, unconditional love and respect. Kosher in India meant that Gabi has to shecht- ritually slaughter- 100 chickens every week and Rivki has to bake 80 loaves of bread – reminiscent of our Patriarchs Abraham & Sarah who welcomed wayfarers- to feed Jews whom they had never met before, and might never meet again. Gabi and Rivki were there, always with a warm smile, a warm word and a warm meal.

They were a beacon of light for all who wished to come and pray. A .light extinguished by 10 evil men. Where 10 evil men come to destroy, 10 good men - a quorum, will once again make a minyan and pray (fighting darkness with the light). The power of 10!

We are here tonight to comfort one another. We cannot fathom the ways of the Almighty, nor to make sense of a terrible and senseless event. We have no theological answers. We are not obligated, nor expected to become G-d’s defense attorney. We are however; called to act as the biblical Aaron did, when hearing of the loss of his two sons. Torah says VAYIDOM AHARON. “Aron was silent”. He made no attempt to explain the why .He accepted G-d’s will with silence. We cannot understand – for to understand is to become complacent and that we can never be.

 WE WILL FIGHT EVIL WITH GOODNESS AND KINDNESS.

As we just saw on the video, some 50 years ago there was a terrorist attack in the Chabad village near Tel Aviv, in which a teacher and 5 young students were brutally gunned down in the midst of their evening prayers. The village had been established a few years prior, by Chassidim who had escaped Stalin’s Russia and Hitler’s Europe. The attack was devastating, with many ready to leave the village and the country, for safer havens. They wrote to the Rebbe in pain and sorrow expressing their helplessness. The Rebbe responded with a 3 word telegram” Behemshaich Habinyan Tenacheimu”. “You will find comfort through continued building”. And the Rebbe sent 10 of his devoted followers to lift the spirit of the community with light and joy. The Rebbe was teaching us that we must turn our tears into action.

These three words Behemsheich Habinyan Tenacheimu,” You will find comfort through continued building” galvanized the community into establishing a vocational school for North African Immigrants, as a living memorial to the fallen students.

HOW DO WE FIGHT EVIL?- BY BUILDING - BY ACTS OF GOODNESS AND KINDNESS.

The Talmud states Anon pa’alah diyamoma anan – we are but day laborers. In this vein, Chabad Lubavitch of Texas, will continue to serve the growing Jewish community of Texas in the spirit of the Holzbergs, may G-d avenge their blood.

To date, we have centers in 10 cities with 17 institutions. Tonight, we would like to announce the opening of the 11th city and the 18th institution and welcome Rabbi Yossi Zaklakovsky who together with his wife Esther and 2 year old son will shortly be moving to a growing Jewish community with the establishment of a new Chabad Jewish Community Center in Pearland!!

The new Chabad establishment in Pearland , will provide a Torah center to serve the entire community with outreach and education and most importantly, it will be a place for goodness and kindness. This is our response here in Houston, and this is our response to the evil wrought in India.

We are not closing our doors in Mumbai. We will rebuild!

Before Shabbat there were already a half dozen resumes from young couples ready to move to Mumbai to continue the Holzbergs Legacy . In fact, I was just informed this morning that Rivki Hotzberg’s parents are ready and willing to continue the work of their children in India.
We too, should turn our grief into action. Do another Mitzvah – a good deed. Find another vehicle for making this world a brighter and more peaceful place. The power of love is stronger, more durable and more eternal than any power of hate.

This evening we came together to give each other strength and courage. The cards distributed, contain suggestions of Mitzvot you could explore, to honor the Holzbergs’ memory.

Tonight we use the 3 pillars of which Torah teaches us, support the world. They are Torah, Prayer and acts of loving kindness.

We have recited words of prayer;

We will share words of Torah;

and we will commit to acts of Loving Kindness.

On a personal note, we here in the greater Chabad Houston area thank all of you for coming here tonight in a show of unity. We thank you for the flood of thoughts prayers, calls and emails.

Many of you have asked about making a contribution to help little Moshe or to support Chabad in Mumbai. Please visit our website www.chabadtexas.org/chabadmumbai for the many ways to get involved.

We will conclude with the study of Torah, with a Mishna and a memorial prayer. Thank you all for coming this evening. May the Almighty help us that we have many opportunities to come together to share simchos, and happy occasions. Thank you.

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