In the 17 years since the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, died, celebrities have come and gone. But the chasidic movement he helped grow into an international phenomenon has kept up with the times. A Facebook page with thousands of fans and the 50,000 — chasidism, non-chasidism and non-Jews — who paid their respects at the Ohel at Old Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens, this week are indicators that the rebbe’s influence is as strong, if not stronger, than during his life.
Most of the Jewish community celebrated Shavuot, the holiday that marks the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, in mid-June.
Some residents of Israel, including the Black Hebrews of Dimona, celebrated Shavuot a few weeks later.
The group, like the Karaites and Samaritans, who also recognize only the Torah but not the Oral Law as a source for their traditions, count Shavuot as occurring on the Sunday seven weeks after the Sunday of Passover.
A surprising highlight of a touching Torah dedication ceremony aboard the USS Iwo Jima last Wednesday at Pier 88 was the fact that the admiral of the ship, who received the scroll on behalf of the Navy from the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, happened to be Jewish.
(An estimated 1 percent of the U.S. military is Jewish.)
Adm. Herm Shelanski appeared moved by the ceremony, telling the 30 or so assembled JCRC representatives and guests that having a Torah on board is deeply meaningful not only to Jewish members of the crew but to all on board.
Among Ashkenazic Jews, it’s Lag Ba Omer. For Sephardim, it’s Lag LaOmer.
The holiday this week — the name means the 33rd day of the Omer period between Passover and Shavuot — is a minor part of the Jewish calendar in many diaspora communities, but a prominent day in Israel. For students, a day off from school. For many workers, a day off from work. For many Israelis, a day of picnics, celebrations and bonfires, as here in Meron.
One hundred and two people stood on the stage at a ballroom in the Grand Hyatt hotel in Manhattan last week, during a break in the dinner marking the 20th anniversary of the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. The foundation, which concentrates its work in the Jewish community, serves as a registry for life-saving donations of bone marrow, blood stem cells and umbilical cord blood.
Of the men and women in the photograph, 94 are donors or recipients; the other eight are foundation board members.
Students at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion began serving meals, on an ad hoc basis, to needy people in Greenwich Village in the early 1980s, making the Monday night soup kitchen a formal institution in 1988.
Every week — no matter the weather, no matter what holiday occurs that day, no matter the state of the economy — a few dozen volunteers from the Reform seminary, and a cadre of other volunteers, welcome and serve more than 100 “guests.”