In the chasidic world, matchmakers bring young men and women together.
In the case of Rabbi Mendy and Rachel Traxler, the shadchan was Katrina.
Mendy, 22, part of the Chabad-Lubavitch rescue-and-relief effort in Baton Rouge following the hurricane a year ago, traveled to Houston to join his parents, Chabad emissaries there, for the High Holy Days season. Rachel Kaufmann, also 22, was in Houston with her family, also Chabad shluchim, who left their home in New Orleans for temporary accommodations in Houston.
These weeks before Passover are in one coincidental way like the ancient Jews’ exodus from Egypt: everything is done in a hurry. There’s chametz to remove, boxes of dishes to shlep, food to buy, seder guests to invite, etc.
With time at a premium, who has the leisure to prepare for the spiritual purpose of Pesach — removing the chametz from us, imagining ourselves as part of the throng of ex-slaves entering an unknown wilderness? If your meals are ready for yom tov but you’re not, what have you accomplished?
On Rosh HaShanah will be inscribed and on Yom Kippur will be sealed how many will pass from the earth and how many will be created, who will live and who will die …
From the Rosh HaShanah liturgy
On these summer days in the late autumn of his life, on the mornings when he feels strong enough, Harold Dubow opens a siddur. Waking late in a living room on the edge of Brooklyn’s Midwood neighborhood, he takes some pills, eats a small cereal breakfast and recites Shacharit from a large-print prayerbook he keeps nearby on a small table.
The corner of Main Street and Jewel Avenue in Kew Gardens Hills is “on one hand a lousy location,” says Marvin Gruza, who has lived in the Queens neighborhood 20 years. Loud buses go by every few minutes.
“On the other hand,” he says, “I’m in the perfect location.”
A perfect location for doing chesed.
Bathed in light, wrapped in a tallit and kittel, the soul of a middle-aged New York Jew speaks to his earthly body on a Queens side street late one night last week.
“Chaim, Chaim,” calls the soul, flanked by a pair of large menorahs, an ark of Torah scrolls behind him, “good Shabbos. Did you have a good week?”
A plaintive voice — of Chaim himself, who is mentally disabled — is heard answering, “Nobody likes me.”
Don’t despair, answers the soul. “Soon it will all be over.”
Shortly after he moved here in 2001, Rome-born journalist Maurizio Molinari went shopping in a Manhattan supermarket where he found a wide variety of certified-kosher items. “It was not a Jewish store,” he notes.
Before Sukkot he noticed lulav-and-etrog sets being sold by vendors along West 72nd Street. No one seemed surprised, he says. “For the non-Jews, it was normal.”
One day he went to a Barnes & Noble bookstore. A “huge Judaica section” stood out. Most of the shoppers in the store, as he recalls, weren’t Jewish.
Five weeks after the Jewish world celebrated the Festival of Weeks, the Samaritans celebrated theirs.
On Sunday, Shavuot on the lunar calendar of the Samaritans — descendants of Jewish tribes exiled from the Holy Land nearly three millennia ago — several scores of members of the extant group made their annual pilgrimage to Mount Gerizim, their holy mountain near Nablus in the West Bank.
Thursday, October 15th, 2009
Are Heksher Tzedek rabbis, are the Uri L’Tzedek ethical preachers, any better than the Rubashkins of Agriprocessors? Not when it come to Sukkot. When it’s Sukkos time, just days after Yom Kippur, ethics be damned.