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Blog - It's all Greek to me!!!!

Life in Greece with a Jewish twist

Tragedy in India

It is with a deep sense of shock and grief that we heard the terrible news: Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, dedicated directors of Chabad of Mumbai, were among those brutally murdered in the attack on the Mumbai Chabad House.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all the innocent victims and their families of the brutal attacks throughout Mumbai, India. But this one strikes so close to home.

A young man is raised in Brooklyn, NY with a deep sense of commitment and dedication to the Jewish people. He meets and marries a young woman of similar values, a daughter of a prominent Chabad family in Israel. They are learned and scholarly, perfectly primed for a life of scholarship and success in the warm embrace of their families and community. Yet they don’t choose the easy route.

Motivated by the call of the Lubavitcher Rebbe – by his vision of boundless love and service – this young couple chose to go off the beaten path. They chose a life as Shluchim – as emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe – to the far off city of Mumbai in India. It’s not exotic – they lived in a crowded section of one of the most crowded cities on earth, unnoticed and unknown to many of their neighbors. No glory, no financial stability. But they live there for a reason: to create a bastion of love and warmth, of holiness and purity. They open their home to thousands of people, Jews from every conceivable affiliation and background – providing a meal, an embrace, a home. Every single night they served warm Kosher dinners to dozens – the American businessman and the Israeli backpacker, the successful and the destitute. They provided counseling and help for people caught up in unhealthy behavior, and spiritual inspiration to the many seeking it.

And somehow, inconceivably, a place like that… people like that… are specifically targeted for attack, for terror, for murder.

I have no words, and definitely no answers…

Their son, Moshe, turned two years old today… a day on which he himself was miraculously rescued from the Chabad House by a loving nanny… a day which he will mark for the rest of his life as the yahrtzeit of both of his parents.

Today, Moshe lost his parents. Today, Mendel and I – and the 4,000 other couples around the world who serve as part of the family of the Rebbe’s Shluchim (emissaries) – lost a brother and sister. Today, the Jewish people lost one of its finest and most precious treasures.

There will be time to analyze the resilience of faith. There will be time for grand words and gestures, great memorials. But today we mourn…

And today we ask of ourselves, and of each and every one of you, to emulate the shining example of Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg. To dedicate our lives a little bit more to goodness and kindness, to true and boundless love of our fellows. To take on one additional Mitzvah, so that each and every one of us, in our own way, create a personal Chabad House – a personal space of love and holiness.

We’ve been repeatedly asked: What can we do?

Yesterday, Rabbi Rosenberg (Rivky’s father) called on all women and girls to light a Shabbat candle tonight in his daughter’s merit, as we deeply believe that a little bit of light can dispel much darkness.

A fund has been created for the victims’ families, for baby Moshe, as well as for the rebuilding of Chabad in Mumbai. Donations can be made at www.chabadindia.org 

On a personal note, Mendel and I would like to thank all of you for your thoughts and prayers, calls and emails. May we merit to celebrate many joyous occasions together, and live to see a brighter and better world.

(Adapted from a text written by Rabbi Dov Wagner)

A good investment advice

Everywhere I go, every conversation I hear, every newspaper I open deals with one hot topic: the financial crisis and the economic crisis.

Signs of trouble were visible for a while already, but the event that precipitated it all was the bankruptcy of the prestigious Lehman Brothers Investment Firm, the largest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

Their shares are not worth anything anymore, are they? Actually there is a branch of the Lehman Brothers investment that you still want in your portfolio:

First, a little bit of history:

The firm was founded by a German-Jewish immigrant, Mayer Lehman (Note: nowadays, it was not connected to the family anymore). Every Sunday without fail, he would take his three youngest children (he had seven) – Arthur, Irving and Herbert – through the wards of Mount Sinai Hospital to see for themselves both the fruits and the challenges of Jewish philanthropy and to develop the rich tradition of Tzedaka.

As adults, Arthur became the family banker, Irving, a judge, and Herbert, governor of the State of New York and US Senator. All three of those boys also became major philanthropists – Arthur as a co-founder of the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies and the Museum of the City of New York, Herbert a supporter of Lillian Wald’s Henry Street Settlement House and a founder of the Joint Distribution Committee, and Irving, a longtime president of the 92nd Street Y. The eldest son Sigmund was a founder of Montefiore Hospital.

Well, this part of the Lehman Brothers Portfolio is still reaping huge dividends.

So you want good investment advice? – Don’t ask your financial advisor, ask your Rabbi and invest in a Mitzvah. Even in the darkest recession you'll be a winner for all eternity.

(Thanks to Rabbi Simcha Backman for the idea and research)

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