Friday, December 05, 2008


This has been the longest week to have ever flown by. Each day has brought a blur of news reports, countless blog-tributes and heart-searing images that will be indelibly etched in all our memories.

I boarded a plane at JFK airport last Wednesday, soaring on the high of a spectacular Chabad rabbi's convention. The world was still intact.

I crash landed as I walked our of the airport in Johannesburg and heard the unspeakable news. Instead of my usual routine of catching my wife up on the stories, encounters and "farbrengens" of my annual NY recharge, we both stayed glued to our Tehillim (Psalm) books and Internet.

Moments before Shabbos, we got the confirmation we wanted to never hear...

Last week, with exacting precision, darkness incarnate pierced the warmth of Chabad Mumbai and the hearts of Jews around the world. Six of our brothers and sisters were brutally cut down in what was always a haven in the madness of India’s financial centre.

Only now, the haze is lifting somewhat, the jumble of emotion beginning to come into focus. While there was so much to say, there was nothing I could say for the last week.

The dam wall is cracking, thoughts cascading out along with an urgency to do; to make a difference.

Considering the meticulous planning that preceded this attack, you have to wonder why they selected the modest Chabad House rather than the magnificent (and more central) Knesseth Eliyahoo Shul. Built in 1884, it is certainly more of a Jewish icon than Nariman House.

Knesseth Eliyahoo represents the Judaism that was, while Chabad housed Judaism with a future. The Chabad House and its dedicated directors brought Judaism to life in an otherwise dwindling community. Pharaoh’s ghost has returned to try once more to eradicate the promise of a Jewish tomorrow.

Yet, Pharaoh is again trounced as baby Moshe is plucked from the clutches of savagery; as his family swears he will one day return to lead the Jewish community in Mumbai; as world Jewry unites in an unprecedented fashion and pledges to add light in a world turned dark.

I remember, in the 80’s when the Rebbe called on us all to name our private homes Chabad Houses. He even wanted us to hang “Chabad House” signs on our front doors.

"Chabad House" is not a restricted brand, Chabad Shliach (emissary) is not an elite club. It’s time to take up the challenge: use your home as a hospitality base, invite your friends and family to do an extra Mitzvah.

Become the phoenix that rises with greater force each time they try to destroy us.

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