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Chabad Lubavitch

Chabad Lubavitch

Translation, meaning and philosophy

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The Philosophy

Chabad-Lubavitch is a philosophy, a movement, and an organization. It is considered to be the most dynamic force in Jewish life today.

The word "Chabad" is a Hebrew acronym for the three intellectual faculties of: chachmah-wisdom, binah-comprehension and da'at-knowledge. The movement's system of Jewish religious philosophy, the deepest dimension of G‑d's Torah, teaches understanding and recognition of the Creator, the role and purpose of Creation, and the importance and unique mission of each Creature. This philosophy guides a person to refine and govern his and her every act and feeling through wisdom, comprehension and knowledge.

The word "Lubavitch" is the name of the town in White Russia where the movement was based for more than a century. Appropriately, the word Lubavitch in Russian means the "city of brotherly love." The name Lubavitch conveys the essence of the responsibility and love engendered by the Chabad philosophy toward every single Jew.

The Movement

Following its inception 250 years ago, the Chabad-Lubavitch movement -- a branch of Hasidism -- swept through Russia and spread in surrounding countries as well. It provided scholars with answers that eluded them and simple farmers with a love that had been denied of them. Eventually the philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch and its adherents reached almost every corner of the world and affected almost every facet of Jewish life.

Leadership

The movement is guided by the teachings of its seven leaders ("Rebbes"), beginning with Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, of righteous memory (1745-1812). These leaders expounded upon the most refined and delicate aspects of Jewish mysticism, creating a corpus of study thousands of books strong. They personified the age-old, Biblical qualities of piety and leadership. And they concerned themselves not only with Chabad-Lubavitch, but with the totality of Jewish life, spiritual and physical. No person or detail was too small or insignificant for their love and dedication.

In our generation, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known simply as "The Rebbe," guided post-holocaust Jewry to safety from the ravages of that devastation.

The Organization

The origins of today's Chabad-Lubavitch organization can be traced to the early 1940's when the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn of righteous memory (1880-1950), appointed his son-in-law and later successor, the Rebbe, to head the newly-founded educational and social service arms of the movement.

Motivated by his profound love for every Jew and spurred by his boundless optimism and self-sacrifice, the Rebbe set into motion a dazzling array of programs, services and institutions to serve every Jew.

Today 4,000 full-time emissary families apply 250 year-old principles and philosophy to direct more than 3,300 institutions (and a workforce that numbers in the tens of thousands) dedicated to the welfare of the Jewish people worldwide.

Click on any of the following words or pictures to get a short snippet about each topic:

Approach

       The Rebbe    

Paint Flower

   

We Are One

  The Rebbe   The Emissary
   

Handshake

 

 

 

Kinus (icon)

             

Chabad Center

       

Torah

   

Chabad House (small) 

   

The Campaigns

 

Torahs

   

The Youth

   

Gallery: Tfillin Club

 

 

  Boy with Finger Pointing

 

           

Campus

     

The Elderly

   

Stack of Books

   

The Woman

 

Glasses

   

The Forgotten

   

womanneshek.jpg

     

Rose

 

           

Israel

     

Beyond the Community

   

Purim at IDF

   

The USSR

 

Gragger - Muchnik

   

 

 

New Fruits

       


Approach

The discussion centered around several simple folk whom the Rebbe praised effusively. A diamond merchant, one of the Rebbe’s distinguished followers, exclaimed, “Why do you make so much of them?”

The Rebbe: “They possess fine qualities.”

The chassid: “I don’t see it.”

Later, the Rebbe suddenly asked to see the merchant’s packet of diamonds.

The chassid spread them out, and pointed to a stone; “This one is a superlatively wonderful gem”

The Rebbe: "I see nothing in it!”

The Chassid: “One has to be a mayvin (expert).”

The Rebbe: “A Jew is superlatively wonderful -- but you have to be a mayvin!”

-- Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, the sixth Chabad Rebbe

This is the philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch, the world’s largest Jewish educational outreach organization.

Chabad-Lubavitch is a vibrant, dynamic force in Jewish life, and its programs touch the lives of millions of people and directly or indirectly affect Jewish life in every community.

How many institutions does Chabad-Lubavitch have, what is its program, what services does it provide and who is being served? Who are its workers, representatives and emissaries? What motivates them? We will provide some answers to those questions. Although some outlines of philosophical background are included, the prime focus is on the activities of a general view of Chabad-Lubavitch.

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Once upon a time there were different synagogues for different social classes’ one synagogue for carpenters and shoemakers, another for farmers, and an entirely separate one for learned Torah-scholars who would not pray alongside the “common folk.”

Unbelievable? Just two hundred years ago, throughout the shtetls of Eastern Europe, such was indeed the situation.

Then came the Baal Shem Tov.

Rabbi Israel Baal Shem Tov(lit. “Master of the Good Name,” 1694-1748), founder of Chassidim, showed how such “social” divisions were inimical to Judaism. He explained the common Divine origin of all souls, and the beautiful traits of spiritual treasures to be found in every Jew, whether scholarly or unlearned. He taught:

It is written, “For you (the Jewish People) shall be a land of desire, says the L-rd of Hosts.”

Just as the greatest scientists will never discover the limits of the enormous natural resources which the Almighty has sunk into the land, neither will anyone ever find the limits of the great treasures which lie within Israel G‑d’s “land of desire.”

Everywhere he went, the Baal Shem Tov broke down the barriers between Jews, building bridges of Ahavat Yisrael (love of one’s fellow), bringing them together, teaching them about their enormous obligations of mutual responsibility and mutual affection; showing that we are one.

But opposition was fierce -- sometimes fanatical. Building bridges between the Torah-scholar and the unlettered -- declared his opponents-degraded the honor of Torah and encouraged simplicity.

Yet, within several generations, the Chassidic attitude became universal. In our own age, the notion of separate synagogues for different classes of Jews seems such an absurdity that some, to this very day, find it difficult to accept that the Baal Shem Tov was indeed the author of the barrier-melting revolution in Jewish society two centuries ago.

History repeats itself. Just seventy or eighty years ago, all smaller rural communities throughout Europe consisted entirely of religious people; a non-observant Jew was an unheard-of phenomenon. But the subsequent upheaval of two World Wars utterly changed the face of Jewish society, and in the 1930s and 1940s we find the communities of Western Europe and America divided into two separate, distinct camps partially or totally non-religious in one group, and the observant in the other, with the latter having no desire to mix with, or to reach out to, the non-religious camp.

Then came Lubavitch, in the 1940s, and the assault on the barricades dividing Jew from Jew began in earnest.

First and foremost, Lubavitch pioneered the Jewish day-school system in America, introducing the concept that a full-time Torah educations be made available for all Jewish children. Then they turned their attention to the Public Schools, where the majority of Jewish children in attendance were non-religious. Yet, precisely for those children, Lubavitch educators utilized the “Released Time” provision of New York State Law to set up, in 1942, a network of classes providing basic Torah-instruction for one hour a week. “Mesibos Shabbos” youth groups for Shabbat afternoons were established; Chabad Chassidim began to appear on the city streets during the Sukkot festival, offering Etrog and lulav, to whom? -- to the unobservant, of course; the first Torah-oriented English children’s monthly in the world, “Talks and Tales,” first came off the press for Chanukah, 1942.

Thirty years ago, Russian-born “chabadniks” sat shoulder to shoulder with their Jewish brothers of supposedly doctrinaire communistic and “anti-religious” persuasion, in an atmosphere of warm affection and joyous friendship, at a Chassidic gathering in the Israeli Lubavitch settlement of Kfar Chabad. The world’s first yeshiva for baalei teshuvah (“returnees” to Jewish practice), Hadar Hatorah, opened its doors in Brooklyn in 1962; later, another, the Tiferes Bachurim “New Direction Program” in Morristown, New Jersey. Then the Chabad Houses…

…And the rest is history.

Just as in the Baal Shem Tov’s era, the Lubavitch barrier-breaking approach was, at first, sharply criticized, even attacked with vehemence; and once again, after the passage of only a few years, the Jewish day-school system and an “outreach attitude” has become all-but-universal. Throughout the community it is becoming increasingly recognized and accepted that we are one. A oneness unique to the Jewish people. Limbs of the same body. Strengthening one limb, one Jew, fortifies us all. A oneness given frequent and eloquent emphasis within Chabad Chassidism, reflecting its fundamental belief that every Jew, regardless of affiliation or background, possesses a neshama, a unique soul, a G‑dly spark. In its essence, this spark of G‑dliness is common to all Jews and equal in all Jews, which gives new significance to the often-repeated colloquialism, “A Jew is a Jew is Jew.”

By virtue of the neshama (the G‑dly soul), the Torah and all its precepts are the inheritance, the right and the privilege of all our people. So when the question is raised, “Why do you put on tefillin in the street, or hand out Shabbat candles and candleholders, to men and women whom you have never met before?” the chassid of Lubavitch responds:

Because of what they already are, not because of what they may become; not so that he or she may one day become “orthodox,” but because right now they are already Jewish, and tefillin and Shabbat-candles belong to them; it is their right and their obligation to perform the mitzvah, and it is our privilege, honor and obligation to respectfully help them do so, with the same fervor and compassion that I would provide a warm meal and a place to sleep for a passerby whom I have never seen before and may never see again.

Some have termed outreach kiruv rechokim, “drawing close those who are distant.” The Rebbe comments: No Jew should be characterized as “distant,” for, in essence, we are one.

Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, founder of Chabad-Lubavitch, declared: “Grandfather (as he called the Baal Shem Tov) deeply loved simple folk. In my first days in Mezritch, my Rebbe (the Baal Shem Tov’s successor) said: It was a frequent customary remark of the Baal Shem Tov that love of Yisrael is love of G‑d. “You are children of G‑d your G‑d”; when one loves the father -- one loves the children.

-- Rabbi Joseph Isaac Schneersohn, the sixth Chabad Rebbe

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A brief biography
The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, the seventh leader in the Chabad-Lubavitch dynasty, is considered to be the most phenomenal Jewish personality of modern times. To hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of sympathizers and admirers around the world, he was -- and still is, -- "the Rebbe," undoubtedly, the one individual more than any other singularly responsible for stirring the conscience and spiritual awakening of world Jewry.

The Rebbe was born in 1902, on the 11th day of Nissan, in Nikolayev, Russia, to the renowned kabbalist, Talmudic scholar and leader Rabbi Levi Yitzchak and Rebbetzin Chana Schneerson. Rebbetzin Chana (1880-1964) was known for her erudition, kindness and extraordinary accessibility. Her courage and ingenuity became legend when during her husband's exile by the Soviets to a remote village in Asian Russia she labored to make inks from herbs she gathered in the fields -- so that Rabbi Levi Yitzchak could continue writing his commentary on Kabbalah and other Torah-subjects. The Rebbe was named after his great-grandfather, the third Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel of Lubavitch, with whom he later shared many characteristics.

To Save a Life: There is a story told about the Rebbe's early life that seems to be almost symbolic of everything that was to follow. When he was nine years old, the young Menachem Mendel courageously dove into the Black Sea and saved the life of a little boy who had fallen from the deck of a moored ship. That sense of "other lives in danger" seems to have dominated his consciousness; of Jews drowning in assimilation, ignorance or alienation--and no one hearing their cries for help: Jews on campus, in isolated communities, under repressive regimes. From early childhood he displayed a prodigious mental acuity. By the time he reached his Bar Mitzvah, the Rebbe was considered an illuy, a Torah prodigy. He spent his teen years immersed in the study of Torah.

Marriage in Warsaw: In 1929 Rabbi Menachem Mendel marriedthe sixth Rebbe's daughter, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, in Warsaw. (The Rebbetzin, born in 1901, was chosen by her father, the sixth Rebbe, to accompany him in his forced exile to Kostromain 1927. For sixty years she was the Rebbe's life partner; she passed away on 22 Shvat in 1988. He later studied in the University of Berlinand then at the Sorbonne in Paris. It may have been in these years that his formidable knowledge of mathematics and the sciences began to blossom.

Arrival in the U.S.A.: On Monday, Sivan 28, 5701 (June 23, 1941) the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin arrived in the United States, having been miraculously rescued, by the grace of Almighty G‑d, from the European holocaust. The Rebbe's arrival marked the launching of sweeping new efforts in bolstering and disseminating Torah and Judaism in general, and Chassidic teachings in particular, through the establishment of three central Lubavitch organizations under the Rebbe's leadership: Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch ("Central Organization For Jewish Education"), Kehot Publication Society, and Machne Israel, a social services agency. Shortly after his arrival, per his father-in-law's urging, the Rebbe began publishing his notations to various Chassidic and kabbalistic treatises, as well as a wide range of response on Torah subjects. With publication of these works his genius was soon recognized by scholars throughout the world.

Leadership: After the passing of his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, in 1950, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson reluctantly ascended to the leadership of the Lubavitch movement, whose headquarters is located at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York. Soon Lubavitch institutions and activities took on new dimensions. The outreaching philosophy of Chabad-Lubavitch was translated into ever greater action, as Lubavitch centers and Chabad Houses were opened in dozens of cities and university campusesaround the world.

Uniqueness: With the Rebbe's teachings propelling them and his example serving as a beacon to emulate, Lubavitch has rapidly grown to be a worldwide presence, and all its various activities are stamped with his vision. Small wonder then, that many ask, "What is it about his leadership that was -- and, in so many ways, still is -- so unique? Why do leading personalities of the day maintain such profound respect and admiration for him?"

Past, Present and Future: Many leaders recognize the need of the moment and respond with courage and directions. This is their forte -- and an admirable one. Others, though their strength may not lie in "instant response" to current problems, are blessed with the ability of perceptive foresight -- knowing what tomorrow will bring and how to best prepare. Still other leaders excel in yet a third distinct area, possessing a keen sense of history and tradition; their advice and leadership is molded by a great sensitivity to the past.

But one who possessed all three qualities was truly unique, standing alone in leadership. Such is the Lubavitcher Rebbe -- the inspiration and driving force behind the success of Lubavitch today. Radiating a keen sense of urgency, he demands much from his followers, and even more from himself. The Rebbe leads, above else, by example.

Initiation, Not Reaction: He is a rare blend of prophetic visionary and pragmatic leader, synthesizing deep insight into the present needs of the Jewish people with a breadth of vision for its future. In a sense, he charted the course of Jewish history -- initiating, in addition to reacting to, current events. The Rebbe was guided by inspired insight and foresight in combination with encyclopedic scholarship, and all his pronouncements and undertakings were, first and foremost, rooted in our Holy Torah. Time and again, what was clear to him at the outset became obvious to other leaders with hindsight, decades later.

Everyone's Unique Role: From the moment the Rebbe arrived in America in 1941, his brilliance at addressing himself to the following ideal became apparent: He would not acknowledge division or separation. Every Jew -- indeed every human being -- has a unique role to play in the greater scheme of things and is an integral part of the tapestry of G‑d's creation.

For more than five of the most critical decades in recent history, the Rebbe's goal to reach out to every corner of the world with love and concern has unfolded dramatically. No sector of the community has been excluded -- young and old; men and women; leader and layman; scholar and laborer; student and teacher; children, and even infants.

He had an uncanny ability to meet everyone at their own level -- he advised Heads of State on matters of national and international importance, explored with professionals the complexities in their own fields of expertise, and spoke to small children with warm words and a fatherly smile.

"Actualize Your Potential!" With extraordinary insight, he perceived the wealth of potential in each person. His inspiration, now accessible through his writings and videos, boosts the individual's self-perception, ignites his awareness of that hidden wealth and motivates a desire to fulfill his potential. In the same way, many a community has been transformed by the Rebbe's message, and been given -- directly or indirectly -- a new sense of purpose and confidence. In each case the same strong, if subtle, message is imparted: "You are Divinely gifted with enormous strength and energy -- actualize it!"

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They are a team. Husband and wife. Shliach and shlucha. They are the emissaries of the Rebbe, the representatives of Lubavitch, the messengers of Chabad.

They are the Shluchim.

There are no trumpet sounded when they arrive in their new home city; no red carpets unrolled in their honor. They have few friends, no relatives, no familiar culture, atmosphere or environment. Many commodities, such as kosher meat, dairy products and other basics, may have to be flown in, but here are certain staples, vitally essential to their mission, which they bring with them by the truckload: Friendliness, affection for all Jews, compassion, tolerance, self-sacrifice, utter devotion and selfless dedication.

Armed with these, they immediately begin their work of outreach-explaining, shedding light, dispelling myths, countering stereotypes. “what does it mean to be a Jew?” “Rabbi, how can I observe the Shabbat-when my store has its best sales on Saturday?” “How are mitzvot relevant today, in this community?” The shliach of Chabad does not insist; he suggests. He does not criticize; he encourages. He does not “preach down” at people; he acts as a genuine equal, a friend. And the revolution begins. It takes place without anyone realizing it. A few years fly by, and, “out of nowhere,” it is a familiar and accepted sight to see families with sukot, observing Shabbat, kosher, etc. …

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A Chabad House is a Jewish community center in the truest sense of the term -- the nerve center of all the educational and outreach activities of the Chabad-Lubavitch lamplighter, serving the needs of the entire Jewish community, from the youngsters to the elderly, and everyone in-between. The Rebbe called for the expansion of activities in existing Chabad Houses, and the establishment of new Chabad-Lubavitch centers wherever Jews live, in the cities, in the suburbs, on college campuses throughout the nation and around the world. And his representatives are responded and are still responding to the Rebbe’s call.

In 1972, in a letter written on the occasion of the opening of a new Chabad House, the Rebbe extended his prayerful wish that the new institution should serve as a key to open the hearts of all who will visit it, and all who will come under its sphere of influence -- open their hearts to the very core of their Jewishness. Of this innermost core, it has been said that it is always “awake” and responsive, regardless of the outer layers encrusting it. And when the inner core of the heart is touched, it reveals the very essence of the Jew, permeating him with the Torah, Torat Chaim, and the mitzvot whereby Jews live, so that he becomes an inspiration to others.

In the Chabad Houses, and in all their activities, the shluchim are Abraham’s heirs, all their doors are open.

They have inherited his kindness and compassion, his selfless commitment to the cause of making G‑d known in the world, and revealing G‑dliness every place on earth. They will not rest until the wellsprings of Torah have spread forth everywhere, “…to the West, and to the East, and to the North, and to the South.”

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The Jewish Pride Revolution

Our vocabulary has changed.

In the Jewish community today, “mitzvah” is a common word; teffilin are not strange, exotic paraphernalia for the Bar-mitzvah boy -- but familiar articles. Shabbat candles are no longer “something grandmother lit” on Friday nights -- but a commonly observed practice throughout Jewish society; leafy-roofed sukot huts? -- even “yuppie” suburbanites build them, and everyone knows about them.

It wasn’t always this way.

Just a few short decades ago mitzvot and holidays were the private, quiet domain of the few. Then came the Rebbe’s “Mitzvah campaigns,” and Lubavitch literally took to the streets. “Did you put on tefillin today?” “Can I offer you Shabbat candles?” “Can I interest you in some classes on Judaism?” On Wall Street in New York, in London’s Piccadilly Circus, and in Tel Aviv’s Dizengoff Square, Jewish pride and Jewish precepts came out of the closest forever.

The effect? One word sums it up. Revolution. An ever-burgeoning renaissance of belief and resurgence of interest in the traditions of Judaism. For countless individuals and families, that mitzvah in-the-street was the first step on the road to an intensified identification with Jewishness, with Jewish education and Jewish observance.

To name a few.

Tefillin: it is the familiar human condition: Heart and mind struggle. Where mind is ineffectual, where emotion dominates unrestricted, the seeds of tragedy are sown. The head-tefillin are placed on the head, the seat of intellect, and the hand-tefillin on the left arm, opposite the heart. The idea is subservience of the mind and heart to G‑d, and control of the hand and arm -- the instruments of action of the mind and heart.

In addition, the wearing of tefillin, our Sages teach, instills fear in the hearts of our people’s enemies. Shortly before the outbreak of the Six-Day-War in June, 1967, the Rebbe launched his unprecedented tefillin campaign, whose most famous “outpost” is at the Western Wall, the Kotel, in Jerusalem, where several million visitors have since observed this cardinal mitzvah.

Mezuzah: Daily, Jews recite the scriptural command about Mezuzah, in the sh’ma prayer: And you shall write them upon the doorposts of your house, and upon your gates. The Code of Torah-Law states: A human king sits inside and his servants guard him from the outside, but you sleep on your beds and the Holy One Blessed-Be-He guards you (i.e. through the Mezuzah on your doorposts) from the outside.

In 1974, the Rebbe launched a global Mezuzah campaign, which sparked a total renaissance in Mezuzah observance worldwide, and since then tens of thousands of faded, unfit mezuzot have been discovered and replaced and several hundred thousand new mezuzot have been affixed in Jewish homes.

Kosher: It was summer, 1975. Speaking in Lubavitch headquarters, with simultaneous telephone transmission to audiences around the globe, the Rebbe addressed the problems caused by lack of kosher observance. He called upon the Jewish family to return to the scrupulous observance of “the kosher laws,” addressing his remarks primarily to the woman, who is the dominant influencing factor in keeping a kosher home and who therefore bears the main responsibility for implementing this vital mitzvah.

As for the cost factor in changing a kosher kitchen, the Rebbe instructed that a fifty-percent rebate of expenses be made a universal offer. Chabad emissaries began to actively promote the campaign, and today there are untold tens of thousands of homes that have become kosher all around the world today.

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Establish many pupils.

--Ethics of the Fathers

Torah Scholarship: In the world of Torah-study, Torah-knowledge and Torah-research, Chabad-Lubavitch excels. Its senior yeshivot and its kollel institutions are renowned for their eminent standards of scholarship; each publishes weekly bulletins of commentaries and discussions by pupils and faculty, and a monthly, quarterly, or biannual research journal with learned articles on Jewish law, Talmud and Chassidism.

Then there is the rabbinate: Throughout all of Europe, Israel, Africa, the Former Soviet Union, Australia, South America and North America, Lubavitch chassidim and graduates of Chabad institutions occupy prominent rabbinical positions.

The Inspiration: The impetus and inspiration for these achievements was and is provided by the Rebbe, whose teachings until this very day motivates effort, toil and an aspiration to excel, on two fronts -- personal growth in learning and teaching Torah to others. He motivated not only by urging and instructing, but also by personal example. The Rebbe is, simply stated, the greatest Torah-scholar of our age, both in Talmud and Jewish law, as well as in the esoteric depths of kabbalah and Chassidism. He showed through a lifetime of teaching the intimate connections between the “revealed” and “hidden” Torah, between the practical rules of Jewish law and the truths of Jewish mysticism or, more correctly, of Chassidism. Over two hundred and fifty volumes have been published of the Rebbe’s talks and writings and more are waiting to be published.

Central among them are the thirty-nine volumes of Likkutei Sichot, an anthology of the talks relating to the weekly sections of the Torah and special occasions in the Jewish calendar. In addition, twenty-six volumes of his letters -- containing new Torah insights -- have been published thus far (from the year 1928-1970), and a further (approximately) twenty volumes are being prepared for publication in Hebrew and Yiddish. The many letters in English that have not been published thus far are currently being prepared for print.

The Maimonides Study Campaign: The monumental Mishneh Torah of Maimonides encompasses all Jewish Law. In 1984 the Rebbe initiated the idea that this encyclopedic code should be studied day by day, to be completed every year. Hundreds of thousands of people -- from children to accomplished scholars-are united in this daily study. The annual celebration of the Siyum, when the Mishneh Torah is completed and begun anew, has become a pre-eminent occasion on the calendar, when public gatherings of scholars take place on every continent.

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In the autumn of 1980, the Rebbe unfurled his vision of a new educational campaign for Jewish children.

He asked that an organization be formed, exclusively for boys under the age of bar-mitzvah (13), and girls under the age of bat-mitzvah (12), to be called Tzivos Hashem -- "The Army of G‑d." Perhaps the Rebbe desired to bolster the spiritual "lines of defense" of the Jewish people, by mustering an army of children and drawing on their enthusiasm and sincerity to lay the foundations for a Jewish tomorrow.

When a child is born into this world, all its impulses and behavior are basically self-centered.

It wants to eat, and sleep, and receive its mother's love; giving is a concept which is not yet within its grasp. Our sages tell us that although a newborn infant has a G‑dly soul, that soul has not yet been internalized in such a way as to influence its behavior. Only gradually does the soul begin to manifest itself in the child's personality. This is the process of education -- learning to express oneself, to care for others, to cooperate and share, to grow from being self-centered toward the fulfillment of "Love your fellow as yourself" -- that all-embracing mitzvah which Rabbi Akiva calls the "great general principle of the Torah."

Despite all the advances of modern civilization, the quality of education in today's world leaves much to be desired. Instead of promoting the growth of caring, sensitive, loving children, contemporary culture often glorifies selfishness, arrogance, and cunning; and society's educational institutions are increasingly ineffective in their efforts to counteract this trend. Violence in the schools, vandalism, insubordination, and the all-pervasive drug culture are symptoms of a tragic failure in education. It has become a matter of great concern, not only to educators at large, but also -- and even more so -- to Jewish educators.

Quality Torah-education for all children has always been a top priority in the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. For generations, its leaders have been a powerful force in the establishment of innovative, effective educational institutions, and have been a source of inspiration to educators and parents throughout the world. It was in keeping with this tradition that Tzivos Hashem was founded.

Chabad links Jewish learning to Jewish practice and family celebrations through a series of creative and stimulating hands-on experiences and events. Children and their families are actively involved in this educational process.

It makes Judaism, what it should be, fun and immensely enjoyable by the entire family.

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The heart of Jewish student life

Going away to college is a priceless opportunity to mature and thrive intellectually, socially and politically.

For Jewish students it is also an opportunity to deepen and broaden one’s Jewish identity, and enhance the sense of commitment and responsibility to the greater Jewish community -- on campus, at home, across America and throughout the world.

On-campus is where it all happens. Agony and ecstasy. Heartbreaks and breakthroughs. Frustration and fulfillment.

The possibilities and the pitfalls are endless. Which is what opportunity is all about.

For many Jewish students on the American campus the most important question is “Why?”

Why should I care about my Jewish identity?

Why should it matter what kind of Jew I am?

Why shouldn’t I date and marry whomever I want?

Others have fewer questions. They arrive with a strong Jewish identity and a genuine desire to maintain, nurture and enhance their Jewish character during these critical college and graduate years.

Nevertheless, it can be challenging to find oneself a minority within a minority. Everywhere there are voices urging change, experimentation, the reconsideration of Israel’s legitimacy, the alleged anachronism of heritage.

On leading campuses all across America the Chabad House offers the anchor and embrace of ‘family’ for Jewish students regardless of background, observance or affiliation. It provides a safe haven in an ocean of uncertainty -- an address any Jewish student can turn to for any reason at all 24 hours a day.

Some come on a Friday night for a bowl of homemade chicken soup, fresh baked challah and camaraderie;

Some come in order to participate in vital efforts that help the community -- clothing drives for the homeless, blood drives for the sick;

Some come simply to socialize -- to relax and enjoy themselves with Jewish activities such as Challah or Hamantashen baking, Shofar making, or trips to Holocaust and Jewish museums; or activities with other Jewish students including kosher cooking, spa night, concerts, the Kosher Movie Club, skiing, paintball, hikes, chorus or athletics;

Some come during a moment of personal crisis knowing they will always get a discreet, sympathetic ear, an warm heart and appropriate advice or referrals;

Some come for one of the myriad classes offered -- from beginner’s Hebrew to Parsha, Mysticism and advanced Talmud -- or simply to ask serious questions about Judaism. (It’s remarkable how many students -- despite their large academic load -- are eager and ready to learn without credit when it comes to Judaism and Jewish lore;)

Some come to attend Shabbat or holiday services;

Chabad activity on campus is not limited to what goes on in the Chabad House. Chabad is inherently extroverted, and an active and highly visible presence throughout each campus -- reaching out to Jewish students through tabling, holiday celebrations, at the Student Union and on fraternity/sorority row.

Campus-based Chabad Houses can be found at over 100 colleges and universities across America, and in many countries around the world.  Hundreds of other campuses are served by nearby community-based Chabad-Lubavitch centers. They are staffed by Chabad-Lubavitch couples whose sole purpose is to embrace the totality of the Jewish community and foster a viable Jewish future through love and acceptance of every Jew.

Walk into a Chabad House on Friday evening and you will be amazed, shocked, delighted, and baffled by the mélange of students that come together for a few hours of real Jewish fellowship. Those attending have only one common denominator -- they are all Jewish.

To find a Chabad on Campus click here.

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She opens her mouth with wisdom; the law of kindness is on her tongue.

--Proverbs 31:26

Within the chassidic community, Torah education has always been considered a vital element in the growth of a young woman. Chabad history is replete with anecdotes of the woman scholar participating with her husband or father in discussions of halacha or chassidic philosophy. Such education was given discreetly, quietly, for in that era formal, organized Torah education for girls did not exist in Jewish society. (This was, of course, neither unusual nor "backward" The concept of formal women's education was also unknown in the general society at the time -- three centuries ago, in Eastern Europe.)

Later, the "revolutionary" idea of formal schooling for girls was cautiously and gingerly introduced into Torah society in the 1930s, not without some opposition. In Lubavitch, however, the concept was enthusiastically welcomed and supported by the Previous Rebbe. Then, in 1941, the Rebbe arrived in the United States, at which point the "Central Organization for Jewish Education" (Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch) came into being. The Rebbe was appointed its head by his father in law (the Previous Rebbe) and one of the first institutions to be established by Merkos was the Beth Rivkah Girls' School.

As the challenges and demands of the world beyond the home grew, Chabad Lubavitch responded by making formal, intensive Torah education for women an integral part of Jewish life. Today, eloquent testimony to the Rebbe's outlook on women's education is provided by the extensive network of Beth Rivkah and Beth Chana Girls' schools that span the globe from Melbourne, Australia, to the huge campus in Kfar Chabad II in Israel. The level of scholarship in these institutions is unmatched, both in scope as well as depth. Beginning from the earliest ages, through the High School and Seminary level, the schools provide a quality education that equips their graduates with the ability to meet any challenge.

For the woman whose Jewish involvement came later in life, Chabad pioneered the concept that Torah knowledge must be an accessible necessity, not an unreachable luxury. Machon Chana in Brooklyn, New York, Beth Chana in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Machon Alta in Safed, Israel, and Ohel Chana in Australia are notable examples of institutions that have provided an intense intellectual experience to thousands of women, who had little or no background.

Such is the picture in women's education. And what of communal activism?

Shortly after ascending to the leadership of Lubavitch, the Rebbe founded Lubavitch Women's Organization ("Agudas N'Shei Chabad"), which was and remains unique. It was the first major women's organization which did not emphasize the objectives of fund raising and auxiliary activities, but education. Education of self and of others. For oneself continuing intellectual and emotional growth through Torah study, particularly chassidic teachings which provide the philosophical background for the way of life and pride of the Jewish woman, explaining the uniqueness of her role as foundation of the home ("akeret habayit"); and the unique powers granted her.

Dynamic outreach programs, bringing the depth of Torah and the beauty of mitzvot to the attention of the less informed, particularly to other women and girls, as exemplified by Lubavitch Women's leadership of the world wide Lubavitch campaigns for "Family Purity;" Shabbat candle lighting, kosher, etc.

Today, Lubavitch Women's seminars and learning programs, speakers bureaus and resource centers are just a few of its activities. In hundreds of communities around the globe Lubavitch Women's sponsors the "Week of the Jewish Woman." Annually in Europe and Israel, and biannually in America, thousands of women from all walks of life come together at Lubavitch Women's conventions to teach and to learn, to inspire and to be inspired, setting the agenda for the year ahead; and the girls' division, called B'nos Chabad, parallels all these activities on a younger age level.

The Shlucha: The ingredients: An intense Torah education to the highest levels. Involvement in communal activism and in outreach endeavors from the earliest years. A co-equal sense of mission constantly re-emphasized by the Rebbe, by teachers and parents.

The result: Women who are uniquely capable of formulating and implementing the programs that can satisfy the challenges and respond to the questions of the times. Thousands of talented women, alongside their husbands, have become emissaries (shluchos) to various communities. The first challenge these couples face is to transplant the familiar chassidic environment in an atmosphere of foreign and opposing values; to create the warmth and strength of a chassidic home without the support of a nurturing community, far from family and friends. Quite often the challenge includes the need to learn a new language, to cope with incredible difficulty in obtaining kosher food, and to adjust to a new and strange style of day to day living. Many shluchos are admired for the grace and aplomb with which they rise to these challenges. The generous hospitality which characterizes Lubavitcher homes throughout the world is an expression of the warmth and wisdom of these women.

The shlucha has the multifaceted role of mother and teacher of her own children, and "mother"/teacher to hundreds of others; a role model to her family and an inspiration to the community as a whole. Typically, she works tirelessly from early morning directing a school or teaching a class, counseling a parent or planning a program to the wee hours of the night, in addition to her obligations at home. (Many of the Lubavitch day schools and summer camps are administered, directed and managed entirely by women.) The shlucha embodies the very opposite of the stereotypical notion that leadership must be expressed through public posturing and exposure; she restores the classic Jewish model of leadership through the quiet, unassuming feminine approach of moral authority, influence and personal example.

Every activity and institution of Chabad-Lubavitch world-wide is the accomplishment of a team of emissaries, comprised of both husband and wife.

A Letter from the Rebbe: Being a "lamplighter" of Jewish souls is even more emphatically relevant to the Jewish woman, for she is the actual candle lighter, who was given the special divine assignment, extraordinary privilege, and bright mitzvah of lighting the candles for the holy Shabbat and festivals; and in a deeper spiritual sense ...in her role as "foundation of the home it is her privilege to light up the Jewish home and everyone in it including her husband and children, and the friends and visitors who come into the home; and in her role as mother, she is the first to light up the young little souls of the infants, until they begin to shine on their own. Thus she has a very important share in making her house and the House of Israel as a whole a fitting home for G d's Presence, in accordance with G d's design and desire -- "that I may dwell among (and within) them."

Adapted from a letter to the Lubavitch Women's OrganizationConvention, 1980

For more about the Jewish/chassidic view on femininity, visit our woman's site – www.JewishMansfield.com/Women.

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Give respect to the old

--Leviticus 19:32

Some years ago, it happened that an American college student was vacationing in Israel, and paid a visit to some distant relatives he had never met before. His hosts, a large family of recent immigrants from Eastern Europe, spoke very little English, and lived a deeply religious traditional lifestyle. It was the young man's first exposure to Judaism of any kind. Nothing in his previous experience had prepared him for what he termed the "culture shock" of seeing a way of life so vastly different from his own. Later, when asked what it was that impressed him the most, he replied, "It was the old people, the grandparents and great-grandparents'." He had never before seen elderly people who were so deeply respected by their children, and children's children, who continued to lead such productive lives, and who remained so cheerful and filled with inner peace.

What a contrast to the depression and feelings of uselessness that afflict so many senior citizens in our society today! The popular view of old people is that they are incompetent, "over the hill." Age is considered a serious handicap; the aged are made to feel that they are a burden to those around them. In the business world, they are often forced to retire and make way for younger men or given some minor niche in the company hierarchy --"kicked upstairs," where their advice can be conveniently ignored. Within the family, they are often placed in nursing homes and remembered on Father's Day, Mother's Day, and occasional Sunday afternoons. And the resultant psychological and physical debilitation serves only to reinforce their second-class status in the eyes of the young.

Most unfortunate is the fact that society thereby turns its back on the tremendous stock of hard-earned experience and wisdom which older people possess. They have been through various trials and tribulations, have learned ways of coping with many of life's toughest problems, and can be an invaluable resource of sage counsel to younger people lacking this experience. Such a priceless store of knowledge is acquired only over the course of many years. But instead of utilizing this valuable asset to the full, quality is callously cast aside for the doubtful advantage of youth.

In the summer of 1980, the Rebbe delivered a public address on the occasion of the 36th yahrzeit of his father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, who was Chief Rabbi of Yekatrinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk), Ukraine. The Rebbe spoke at length about the plight of the elderly in contemporary society, and called for a vigorous, widespread effort to rectify the situation.

"There should be no such thing as compulsory retirement," he said. "Older people who are compelled, for whatever reason, to relinquish their job or positions, should be helped to redirect their lives productively, for their own sake and for the benefit of the younger generation." The Rebbe proposed that special Torah study classes be established in every community, for men, and for women, on a level appropriate to the particular group. Old age homes, where the staff are constantly seeking new ways of keeping their clientele occupied and happy, are particularly suitable for introducing daily Torah classes. But the Rebbe made clear that he was addressing himself to the needs of all the elderly, and that those who do lead active, productive lives should also take part in these programs. He suggested that the groups be named Kolel Tiferes Z'Keinim ("Glory of the Elders"), and he expressed his heartfelt appreciation for those who would add the name "Levi Yitzchak" after his father, who had so courageously dedicated his life to the advancement of Torah-study among Jews of all ages. In addition, the name Bais Chochmas Noshim (the "Wisdom of Women") was given to classes organized for elderly women.

"Many years bring wisdom," says the Biblical verse (Job 32:7). And the Talmud comments that the minds of elderly scholars become more settled with age. The classes, established through Chabad centers internationally, and named Kolel Tiferes Z’Keinim Levi Yitzchak have become a means of making the later years truly "golden years." Older people can one again become respected members of the community; feelings of inferiority are being replaced with wisdom, with Torah content; and the elderly are being inspired to share their ever-deepening wisdom with the younger generations, for the benefit of all. These many thousands of study groups are indeed bringing blessings to every individual, regardless of age, and to society as a whole -- as alluded to in the Fifth Commandment: "Honor your father and mother, so that your days my be lengthened (in quality as well as quantity) upon the earth which the L-rd your G‑d is giving you."

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…but I will not forget you.

--Isaiah 49:15

"He who saves one Jewish life is considered as if he had saved an entire world'." This concept imbues ahavat yisrael (love of one's fellow) with an urgency, a vitality. To the Rebbe and subsequently to the shliach, each human being is an infinity, the spark is there, and nothing in the entire world is more important. Perhaps most revealing of this outlook is the response to those whose cries are the faintest, the constituencies without advocates the elderly, the sick, the vulnerable, the imprisoned, the addict, the remote communities. In a word, the forgotten.

Small Communities: The small, isolated communities, without access to Jewish resources these are a major concern. Initial contact is often made through the Student Visitation Programs. Rabbinical students voluntarily give up their personal vacations to travel from place to place, meeting, giving classes; disseminating Jewish publications ...planting seeds of Judaism.

The Hungry and Needy: In today's modern society, with its highly developed social conscience, one would be justified in believing that all the needs of the Jewish people throughout the world are taken care of. Sadly, this is not always true.

Chabad Lubavitch worldwide is organized to reach out and help the hungry and the needy among us. For it has always been the Chabad tradition never to turn away a person in need.

Outstanding in the field of social service and rehabilitation is the Chabad centers and Jewish Community Centers in the Former Soviet Union.

The Vulnerable: The missionaries and cults have found many of our young people vulnerable targets. The response is vigorous and forceful, filling the void with a knowledgeable pride in our heritage. Throughout the world, it is to Lubavitch that distraught parents turn for help in bringing their children home.

The Addict: Chabad National Drug Abuse Treatment Programs: Once upon a time, Jewish men and women did not get addicted to drugs. Or if one did, certainly no one talked about it. Times have changed. Over the course of the last decade the upward spiral of drug use and abuse has taken root and begun to spread in the Jewish community. Each year more and more men and women within the Jewish community identify themselves as drug dependent, and seek treatment. But for those that desire professional, clinical care in a Jewish environment, there is but one place to turn the Chabad National Drug Abuse Treatment Programs, operated under the auspices of Chabad Lubavitch of the West Coast.

The Prisoner: Finally, those most isolated and forgotten of all the prisoners. In State and Federal penitentiaries, in prisons in countries throughout the world, Jewish inmates know that Chabad remembers them and cares, and helps. The Alef Institute, headquartered in Miami, Florida, coordinates visitation, religious services and publication for Jewish prisoners throughout the U.S. Walking through the rain for miles to conduct a Seder in a jail, taking hours out of a busy day just to talk to a despairing prisoner, bringing a message of hope and dignity.

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The land upon which the eyes of G‑d your G‑d constantly gaze…

--Deuteronomy 11:12

Eretz Yisrael. The Holy Land. A land uniquely endeared to the Jewish people and to G‑d, as the land "...upon which the eyes of G‑d your G‑d gaze from the beginning of the year until year's end."

For hundreds of thousands of Israelis -- from the core of the country to the farthest reaches of its borders -- month by month, day by day, moment by moment -- the work of Chabad profoundly affects the very fabric of daily life in Israel.

In Tel Aviv a Russian immigrant spends sleepless nights in his newly won freedom straining to learn a new language, adjusting to new social customs, making friends, worrying over the loneliness of his young children.

A woman in an impoverished district, her husband long gone to work, her children out of school and on the streets from 12:30 in the afternoon till bedtime, sits in the 95 degree heat of a three-bedroom apartment that houses her family of eight.

On the cool, tiled patio of a villa in Carmiel, a group of professors sip their cocktails, discussing in measured intellectual tones the latest developments in astrophysics research as they await the arrival of the local Chabad rabbi, for their weekly class in chassidic philosophy.

A young soldier, spending his first Chanukah away from family and friends, stands a cold, wet guard along the Lebanese border, his bravery and patriotism struggling to combat the numbness in his feet, the emptiness in his heart.

These are the people of Israel. From every corner of the world. From every imaginable background and descent; of every economic and social status. Of every level of religious observance from the most religious and chassidic, to the most secular and cynical. Chabad has accomplished what was deemed impossible -- to have open channels of communication to them all, to be endeared to all and respected by all.

Israel is a country beset with economic struggles, internal factionalism, and a growing materialism that threatens to erode its religious and moral foundations. In the face of this, Chabad provides the hope and idealism so desperately needed for Israel's vitality. Chabad infuses those they touch with joy and pride in the uniqueness of the Jewish people and the holiness of the Land of Israel -- so that their life takes on purpose and meaning, transcending the hardships of every day existence. Chabad Houses everywhere hum with a steady flow of people needing help, finding a job, paying a bill, or feeding the family; while others seek religious guidance, a pair of tefillin, or help with their son's bar-mitzvah.

The Jews of Israel. All loved and served by Chabad in a thousand ways, every day, and with an overflowing heart. Indeed Lubavitch is accepted by hundreds of thousands as the spiritual heart­beat of the country, and everyone knows "Tzach," the Lubavitch Youth Organization -- Chabad's general activities arm.

For the Children: Over 300,000 boys and girls in Israeli cities and villages attend informal weekly classes under the auspices of the Tzivos Hashem organization; 40,000 children participate in day‑camps during the summer vacation; Shabbat afternoon gatherings are conducted weekly in over 300 communities; every year thousands of children gain their first exposure to Judaism by spending a Shabbat in the picturesque chassidic community of Kfar Chabad.

In the pre‑Purim educational campaign, literally tens of thousands of children actively participate in the mitzvah of giving gifts of goodies to friends and total strangers; throughout the following month, fleets of buses converge on the Kfar Chabad village in order to show schools how handmade sh'mura matzo is baked (and this means taking home new learning, new songs, a new Passover Haggada, and a sample of real matzo). To meet the learning needs of this vast array of young people, mobile and conventional libraries lend out books and tapes, and a computer center develops state‑of‑the‑art educational programs.

The Chabad Houses: From Nahariyah in the north to Eilat in the south, 130 Chabad Houses serve the adults with open minds and warm hearts. They organize teams of volunteers to check mezuzot, conduct study sessions, make kitchens kosher, distribute Shabbat candles in hospitals, visit and teach the elderly, help in the rehabilitation of prisoners, and the list goes on.

The Festivals: Each festival sparks off a range of public service projects -- scores of sukot on wheels, public menorah‑lighting and rallies for Chanukah, megillah‑reading and shallach‑manot distribution on Purim, etc. One of the annual activities peculiar to Eretz Yisrael is the educational program for Tu-B'Shevat, the New Year for Trees, when religious agricultural laws associated with the Holy Land are highlighted. On Lag Ba'Omer, hundreds of colorful parades, involving over a quarter of a million children, take place throughout the country.

The Institutions of Education: All of Chabad's educational institutions are qualitatively remarkable. In addition, some are quantitatively outstanding -- in terms of enrollment, success-rate, scope and beauty of their buildings and grounds, sophistication of their equipment and front‑line educational technology. A few examples: The yeshiva called Torat Emet, founded in Hebron in 1912, and today a major institution of higher Torah‑learning in Jerusalem; the great yeshivot of Kfar Chabad, whose academic standards are respected worldwide, and whose senior students often volunteer to spend their rare free Shabbat in a kibbutz where there is neither a kosher kitchen nor a synagogue; the magnificent campus of the girls' high school and seminary complex of Beit Rivka; the forward‑looking vocational schools in Kfar Chabad, offering training in agriculture, carpentry, printing and engineering; the Ascent Institute in Safed, with its English‑language outreach seminars and vibrant publications; Machon Alta, with its intellectually stimulating study programs for women of college age; Shifra and Puah, which recruits teams of teenage girls to cheerfully take over the household tasks of women immediately after childbirth. These and many other institutions have made a major impact upon Israeli society.

Chabad Towns: Kfar Chabad (founded in 1948), Nachalat Har Chabad (1969) and Kiryat Chabad (1979) three of the major Chabad towns in the Holy Land serve as the base of many Chabad activities. These towns have its own schools, yeshivot, synagogues and medical centers -- as well as textile factories and other industries.

Lubavitchers in the Army: The scene had an aura of surrealism. It was the holiest day of the year, Yom Kippur, in the Lubavitch town of Kfar Chabad, in 1973. In the three major shuls, the gentle, yet awe-inspiring, voice of the chazzan could be heard over the hum of praying. A sea of white kittel robes (worn only on this special day), the tallis shawls covering the faces. Here and there a quiet sobbing. The Day of Judgment; the day of supreme self-honesty. Shattering the atmosphere -- the raucous diesel engines of army transport trucks, raising clouds of dust as they roared down the deserted roads of the town, and came to stop outside the shul. Invasion. War. Call-up. Shock. The word spread like lightning throughout the sea of worshippers.

Pikuach nefesh, danger to life, mandated violation even of Yom Kippur observance. Chassidim began to file out of synagogue and clamber into the trucks, their tallis and kittel removed, but still incongruous in their long black coats.

The Lubavitchers were on the way to their units and their posts as part of Israel's army, joining the other defenders of their people, "as one man, with one heart" (Exodus 19.2 Rashi).

Lubavitchers for the Army: The special relationship of Chabad with the Israel Defense Forces is legendary. "Chabadniks" (the affectionate Israeli colloquialism for Lubavitch Chassidim) will tramp through miles of mud to bring Chanukah or Purim cheer to an isolated, desolate army base. Cherished by the soldiers of Israel, their selflessness and self-sacrifice is seen as a genuine expression of love and unity with these brave men who steadfastly guard our Holy Land. These are not isolated, sporadic visits. Visitation by Chabad takes place on an army-wide scale every Sukot, Chanukah and Purim, and there is a highly-organized program of regular visitation by the "mitzvah‑tanks," which have become famous on the Lebanese front. All of which is in addition to the person‑to‑person warmth exuded by the men of Chabad to their buddies, when they serve their tour of duty in the Armed Forces.

War Orphans and Widows: In 1967, following the Six‑Day‑War, David Golombowicz, a Chabad soldier, fell at the Suez Canal. His young widow, Shifra, having just given birth to a baby boy, felt the crushing loneliness, the devastating emptiness and loss -- and resolved to establish an organization to help others like herself. Years of effort began. And today? The widows of all of Israel's fallen heroes are regularly visited by one of a team of dedicated women. Every Purim a sisterly volunteer brings mishloach manot; every Pesach each bereaved family is brought handmade matzo; and on Chanukah the friend from Chabad is there again... The ongoing, unsung, year‑round support programs are actively encouraged by the Ministry of Defense. And that is just the beginning ...

Publications for the Public: Religiously, Israel is complex; a place where the religious foundations of Judaism are often scorned beneath the proliferation of secular values, and Jewish children can receive little or no traditional Jewish education. In response to this, Chabad has launched a massive campaign of Jewish education to Israel's young. Millions of colorful books, pamphlets, brochures and posters are distributed throughout Israel, urging, instructing, and inspiring Israeli children to the proper observance of holidays and mitzvot.

Kolel Chabad: The leaders of Chabad Lubavitch were actively involved in settlement of the Holy Land, as long ago as two hundred years. From 1776 onward, they raised funds throughout Europe to aid the economically beleaguered inhabitants of Israel. The oldest Jewish charitable organization in the Holy Land is Kolel Chabad, founded in 1788 by Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi (1745-1812), first leader of the movement, and continuously active since that time, Kolel Chabad treats Israel's needy as if they were their own brothers and sisters. At the subsidized supermarkets run by this unique humanitarian organization, the poor maintain their self-esteem by buying the food, not taking outright charity. The elderly homeless avail themselves of free daily hot meals at Kolel Chabad's soup kitchens, while other low-income families receive a variety of social and humanitarian services, including free heaters installed in their meager apartments, and assistance with heating bills.

Kolel Chabad provides temporary apartments, food and utensils, and many other services to newly-arrived Russian immigrants, and sponsors Russian-language literature for these spiritually impoverished families. The organization heads a nationwide program of hospital visitation for children, particularly during the festival seasons. For example, during Chanukah, Kolel Chabad is famous for turning up in the wards of chronically ill children, with gifts, clowns and hot potato-latkes.

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Russia -- the cradle of Chabad. Here Chabad was planted and nurtured; blossomed, flourished and struck its deepest roots. From Liozna and Liadi, from Lubavitch to the furthest reaches of the Pale of Jewish Settlement, Chabad was renowned, revered and cherished.

The Early Years: By the early years of this century, Lubavitch emissaries had reached the furthest corners of the Czarist empire. Sent by Rabbi Sholom DovBer (known as the Rebbe Rashab, 1860-1920, fifth leader of Chabad), they visited and inspired Jews in even the remotest communities. The unlearned descendants of the "Cantonists" -- Jewish children torn from their families to spend their lives as soldiers of the Czar, oriental Jews in Bukhara, the mountain Jews of Georgia and Dagestan, all welcomed Chabad emissaries sent to teach them Torah and raise their standards of Jewish practice.

The First World War plunged Eastern European Jewish communities into chaos, uprooting large populations and disrupting the traditional Torah education system. Then came the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

The Revolution and the Stalin Era: The Revolution opened a frightening new era. Religious education of the young was banned, practice of Judaism was systematically obliterated, and observant Jews -- particularly chassidim -- were persecuted, arrested, exiled, tortured and shot. To circumcise a child required enormous courage; observing Shabbat and kashrus became virtually impossible for the Jewish masses -- who had been largely Torah-observant before the Revolution.

"Schneersohns Don't Run..:" Most Jewish leaders took advantage of any opportunity to leave the country. But the destiny of Chabad was inextricably bound up with Russian Jewry. The Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn (1880-1950), son of the Rebbe Rashab, once told a Czarist police officer: "The Schneersohns don't run away!" True to his word, he stepped into the gap as the only Jewish leader to remain active in the Soviet Union.

The Foundation: Throwing himself into the task at hand, the Previous Rebbe proceeded to build a widespread network of underground institutions -- through the length and breadth of that vast land.

Any vestiges of Jewish religious life in the Soviet Union today trace back directly to those foundations.

On a dark night in Moscow, in the winter of 1924, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, the sixth Rebbe of Lubavitch, made a covenant with a group of young men. They vowed to fight to the end to preserve their religion for the Jews of the Soviet Union, even if it meant losing their lives.

Under the Rebbe's leadership, an organized underground of hundreds of Cheder elementary schools, Yeshivas and Mikvahs sprung up, from St. Petersburg in the west to Tashkent in the east, these dedicated men and women managed to keep the spark of Yiddishkeit (Judaism) alive in hundreds of towns and cities across the land.

The communists persecuted, chased and harassed the Rebbe and his operatives. Often within days, a new Mikvah would be filled with cement. A report would arrive of a teacher sent to the firing squad, his young students sent to Siberia.

Through the years of communism, hundreds of Chassidic activists were executed. Thousands more were arrested and sent to Siberia for years of hard labor.

In 1927, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak himself was arrested and sentenced to capital punishment. Through the intervention of the Governments of United States Germany, and Latvia, and petitions signed by hundreds of thousands of Jews across the Soviet Union, the sentence was commuted. The Rebbe was banished from Russia.

New Start: In 1950, his son-in-law, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, at 48 years old, became the Rebbe. Under his guidance, the struggle intensified. Not a day would go by when the Rebbe would not struggle for the Jews of Russia.

The Rebbe toiled endlessly for their physical and their spiritual well being. He sent couples, posing as tourists, as clandestine Shluchim, bringing strength and determination to his Russian underground.

The couples would memorize hundreds of names and addresses. Russian border guards were left scratching their heads by Chassidic couples who would travel to Russia for a two-week stay, laden down with Kosher salami and Jewish books and films. The humanitarian aid was used to feed Jews in cities and shtetls across the land.

Perhaps more than anything else, the message the Shluchim brought the Jews of Russia was that someone on the other side of the curtain remembered and cared. Someone would not sleep and would not rest, until they would be freed from their bondage.

In 1989, the shackles began to break open with the fall of communism and Perestroika.

Immediately, the Rebbe began to dispatch Shluchim to bring Judaism above-ground.

With restriction on religion being officially released, the ashes, glowing for seventy years, finally burst into flame. The warmth of Judaism began to glow for the millions of Jewish men, women and children across Russia who didn’t even know the meaning of the word "Jew."

Schools, shuls, Mikvahs and community centers began to spring up. Once again, children were laughing in the hallways of Jewish schools.

An entire Jewish infrastructure has sprung up from the Embers which were kept alive for 70 years.

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For the longest time, man has been experimenting with a variety of ideologies, ostensibly to establish a truly civilized world in which he can live with purpose and in happiness.

The condition of the world today, however, bears testimony to his pathetic failure. Human logic alone simply cannot formulate a system of ethics and morality that will be universally acceptable and binding.

Witnessing the moral degeneracy of today’s society, what should the Jewish response be? Perhaps we should withdraw and become an isolationist community, concerned only with our own survival and developing our “chosenness” solely to our own advantage? That might indeed serve our own interests to a degree, but it has always been a key component of G‑d’s plan that we, the People of Torah, should share with mankind the way towards hope and purpose.

No, Judaism is not a proselytizing religion. It does not seek converts. We believe that every person has a mission to fulfill in G‑d’s creation, and can be deemed worth of the Almighty's rewards -- both in This World and in The World To Come -- providing, of course, that he or she accepts and follows the guidelines that have been Divinely ordained for him or her. For the Jew, this means the 613 commandments. For the non-Jew -- i.e. all “descendants of Noah” -- it means the basic program of ethical monotheism built on seven commandments, the universal moral code called “The Seven Laws for the Descendants of Noah.”

“The Seven Noahide Laws” begin with the prohibition against worship of anything but the One Supreme G‑d, and contain an orderly system of ethical behavior, comprising the code by which all of mankind is obligated to live. The Rebbe launched a campaign to teach and disseminate the Noahide Code to the world at large.

There is an obvious question, “Why now?” Why embark upon this outreach program to the Gentiles at this particular time in history? Why have the great Torah-leaders of previous generations not appeared to consider this a priority? The answer is, that throughout his turbulent history, with very few exceptions, the Jew has not been in a position to communicate on this level with his non-Jewish neighbor. The Jew has been a victim of severe circumstances, and could not dare suggest that he had something to teach his contemptuous hosts about faith and morality.

Today, in most countries, the Jew is, thank G‑d, free to speak his mind on almost every subject. He would therefore be failing in his religious obligation and moral duty were he to choose to be an “unconcerned bystander” and not share his knowledge and insights with others. The opportunity triggers the obligation.

The obligation, in turn, triggers action -- which has been highly successful on two levels, the governmental and the grass-roots. Some examples: Heads of State and government officials of various countries -- particularly the United States -- have issued proclamations encouraging their citizens to observe the Noahide moral code.

History repeats itself. As with many of the Rebbe’s past campaigns, the initial sense of “innovation” was total. The average non-Jew, though familiar with the Ten Commandments, had never heard of the Seven Noahide laws. Yet now, only a few years after the launching of the campaign, leaders in both government and education around the world are making increasing mention of the Noahide Laws as a cardinal foundation for ethical behavior. Seriously concerned by the erosion of morality all around them, they express warm appreciation of, and support for, the campaign.

Within the Jewish community, too, there is a greatly heightened awareness of the obligation to utilize one’s contacts with non-Jewish friends and acquaintances not only for material concerns but also to impart moral influence, to inform and educate about the Noahide Laws.

In summary: What is the Chabad-Lubavitch attitude to the non-Jewish world? Just this; that if we live our lives with Divine dignity and purpose, will inevitably inspire others; if we talk about a Supreme Being who created this world and continues to watch over it, others will begin to sense His presence; and if vociferously deny vulgarity and promote G‑d-give decency and purposefulness, others will follow our example. In these times of moral crisis, an all-out attempt must be made to remind all people of their original purpose. The ultimate intention of G‑d’s plan will be realized when everyone declares this world to be G‑d Almighty’s dwelling-place, and recognizes that, “The earth and all in it is the L-rd’s, the world and its inhabitants” Psalm 24

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