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Chabad-Lubavitch Partners With JFNA

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JFNA and local Federations have worked together with Chabad-Lubavitch for many years on a wide variety of projects. Most recently, JFNA and Chabad have partnered in providing emergency assistance to the Jews affected by the conflict in Ukraine. Now they are expanding that cooperation to the present crisis in Israel.

“Jewish Federations of North America are dedicated to the welfare of Jews around the world, and Chabad is a vital partner in that work,” said Eric Fingerhut, President and CEO of the Jewish Federations of North America. Chabad’s partnership in this campaign is meaningful and logical, he noted, as it enhances JFNA’s fundraising efforts and allocations to those in need.

“I am looking forward to seeing how Chabad can use its vast network–not only in raising funds but also in the allocation on the ground in Israel,” said J. David Heller. Heller is the immediate past board chair of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and campaign chair for the Emergency Campaign for Israel. 

Heller is the chair of the second phase in the JFNA’s Ukraine relief effort. “I saw the work Chabad is doing on the ground in Ukraine. I was in Israel as well, where I met orphans taken by Chabad from harm’s way in Ukraine to freedom in Israel. Watching that, and watching how Chabad worked together with the JFNA through that crisis, it only made sense to me that Chabad should be part of this effort as well.”

Rabbi David Eliezrie, who has spearheaded the Chabad partnership with JFNA, said, “Chabad has the boots on the ground, disbursing resources to the survivors. This includes medical care, and trauma treatment; addressing the needs of the broader society in Israel and the hundreds of thousands displaced from their homes, and eventually, the efforts to rebuild that which was destroyed by terrorists.”

“Throughout the US, Chabad and local Federations have partnered in many projects,” Eliezrie noted. “And we’re honored to work together with JFNA on a global level.”

Chabad’s relationship with the Federation has a long history. Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Chabad’s educational and social services, recalled the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s endorsement 43 years ago, of a UJA/Federation joint campaign. “In view of the growing needs of our brethren, both here and overseas, in particular in the area of Jewish education, I earnestly trust that everyone who is approached for a contribution to this campaign will respond warmly and generously,”  the Rebbe had said.

Now again, said Rabbi Krinsky, Chabad will partner with the Federation “to ameliorate the suffering from the savage attack and ongoing war in our homeland.”

With Mitzvahs and Prayers, Jewish Communities Celebrate Hostage Rescue

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When 70-year-old Louis Har and 60-year-old Fernando Simon Marman were rescued in a daring joint operation involving the IDF and Israeli police and intelligence, Jewish communities everywhere celebrated their homecoming. The hostages, who were abducted from Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak on October 7, had been held for 127 days in Gaza. 

As Har and Marman’s family members celebrate the return of their beloved relatives, they are joined by the communities who prayed with them, cried with them, and stood by their side throughout the months of uncertainty and crisis.

During the attacks on October 7, five people were kidnapped by Hamas from one room in Kibbutz Nir Yitzhak: Louis Har, Clara Marman, her siblings Fernando Marman and Gabriela Leimberg, and Gabriela’s daughter Mia.

One month after the kidnapping, two of Louis’ daughters, Rinat Har Sheleg and Natali Har Afgan, were in New York to raise awareness for the plight of their father and the other hostages. They contacted Chabad of the Five Towns on Long Island. Would the Chabad representatives, Chanie Wolowik and her husband, Rabbi Zalman, accompany them to the Ohel—the Rebbe’s resting place—to pray for their family in captivity? 

“Our community has gone to the Ohel to pray for them every day since then,” Chanie Wolowik told “We have a group coordinated by local women from the Five Towns who go every day to the Ohel to pray in a rotation. We pray for all the hostages and for Israel.” 

Then, the first miracle.

On November 28, Gabriela, Mia, and Clara were released by the terrorists. Louis and Fernando, however, languished in captivity. 

In early January, Chabad of the Five Towns led an Israel Solidarity mission, and Wolowik invited the entire family—including those who’d been recently freed from captivity—to come and celebrate Shabbat with the Five Towns community in the Old City of Jerusalem.

“That Friday evening was the first time Clara and Karin ever lit Shabbat candles,” Wolowik said. “We said the Shehecheyanu prayer, thanking G-d for allowing us to live to this moment.”

Natali and her husband Tom Afgan later traveled to Florida to continue raising awareness of their plight. On Chanie Wolowik’s suggestion, they visited The Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside. Chabad representative Chana Lipskar invited them to address the Shabbat class she leads for women of the community. 

After Tom and Natali spoke about her father Louis, Mrs. Lipskar challenged her audience. 

“A tremendous change has happened in the Jewish world,” she told the 100 women gathered. “And each of us has to be willing to do more.” The women each resolved to commit to a mitzvah.

Natali pledged to light Shabbat candles each week. Lipskar then asked if Tom would agree to put tefillin on every day in the merit of his father-in-law. Tom agreed. 

Natali, feeling confident that the multitude of prayers would be answered by her father’s safe return, then asked Mrs. Lipskar for a second pair of tefillin, “so that when my father comes home, he will also be able to put them on each day” 

The IDF’s bold operation to rescue Louis and Fernando made world news. At the Chabad Centers on Long Island, in Surfside, in Israel and around the world—joy erupted, with great thanksgiving, while prayers continue for the return of the remaining hostages.

California Chabad Rabbi Donates Kidney

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Paul, a resident of Northern California’s Bay Area, was not likely to make it to his 60th birthday. Advanced kidney disease meant that he’d need a transplant to live. 

“At that time I turned to our community,” said Paul, who asked that his last name be withheld. After a five-year search for a kidney donor came up short, he decided to turn to his Chabad reps, Rabbi Raleigh and Fruma Resnick.

“When I contacted the Rabbi, he and Fruma jumped into action,” Paul told “Rabbi Resnick sent out a letter to our community explaining my situation and made a call for volunteer donors.”

But the rabbi felt a sense of urgency to do better. “I went home that night and thought about it,” Resnick told “Being in a position of leadership and guidance instills within you the urgency that you’re expressing to others.” 

He would be the donor.

As it turned out, of all the community members who volunteered, Rabbi Resnick was the only one in good enough health to donate his kidney. Alas, Resnick’s blood type wasn’t a match for Paul’s.

There was a way around it. The University of California, San Francisco Medical Center’s Kidney Transplant Center, which is part of the national Kidney Registry program, offers a sophisticated swapping program allowing people to donate an organ on behalf of a patient in need. 

Resnick would donate his kidney to another patient and get Paul on the shortlist for a kidney of his own.

“By Rabbi Resnick donating a kidney for me to get a match, he gave me a brand new life,” Paul said. “I am no longer tied to dialysis three times a week for five hours at a time. I am no longer feeling run down and in much discomfort.  My food restrictions have been lifted so I am able to enjoy food and drinks and celebrate life. I am back to a fully healthy life where I can enjoy my time with my family, my community, travel, go to the gym and be a normal person again.”

This Shabbat, Paul and Rabbi Resnick will lead a discussion over lunch marking a year since the kidney donation.

Resnick is at least the second kidney donation by a Chabad rabbi. In 2010, Rabbi Ephraim Simon of Bergen County, NJ, donated a kidney and then, in 2019, he donated his liver, respectively, to strangers.

Resnick says it’s important to remember that anyone can be a donor—you don’t have to be a match; you just need to want to give.

“The Rebbe emphasized love for a fellow Jew; giving them whatever they need, both materially and spiritually,” Resnick said. “Donating my kidney was simply something that, as a shliach, I felt I should do.”

Speaker of the Knesset Visits Chabad Headquarters

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Speaker of the Knesset Amir Ohana, who is visiting New York, met with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters Saturday night. 

Ohana shared warm words with Krinsky, the chairman of Chabad’s worldwide educational and social services divisions. He expressed appreciation for the work that Chabad does on behalf of world Jewry and presented Rabbi Krinsky with the gift from the Knesset: a Book of Psalms. 

Israel is a nation in trauma, said Ohana. “But we will come back stronger than ever.” Rabbi Krinsky lauded the strong stance of the government on making the security of the country and the return of the hostages paramount in the face of international pressure. 

Following the meeting with Rabbi Krinsky and members of Chabad leadership, the Knesset Speaker visited the Rebbe’s office where he spent some time in prayer, as well as the Chabad Headquarters communications center from where the Rebbe’s talks were broadcast to Israel and around the world.

Photo Gallery Credit: Yossi Jerufi

Reflections On Leadership

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How would the Rebbe bring healing to survivors nursing shame and insecurity, wanting to hide their identity, to forget, to be left alone in their grief?

Here, we share reflections on the Rebbe’s iconic leadership culled from interviews with thinkers and scholars who had direct experience with the Rebbe.

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Hundreds of Young Professionals Gather in Crown Heights for Connection, Exploration, and Empowerment

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Back home, they’re executives, entrepreneurs, and leaders. They’re making “30 Under 30” lists. They’re the next generation of Jewish leaders and advocates.

But here in Crown Heights, they’ve donned aprons, dusted their hands with flour, and are carefully following step-by-step challah-braiding directions as patiently taught by Mrs. Rochie Pinson, who literally wrote the book on making challah.

Photo Credit: Sadya Liberow

It’s the start of Encounter: Crown Heights, and these young professionals have flocked to the Brooklyn neighborhood to immerse themselves in their Jewish heritage, connect with fellow Jews, and be empowered to effect real positive change in their own communities back home.

The weekend, which was hosted by Chabad Young Professionals, a division of Merkos 302, included visits to Chabad Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway; a firsthand look at the process of handwriting Torah scrolls, tefillin, and mezuzot; a tour of a mikvah; and ample opportunity to study, celebrate, feast, and connect. 

Photo Credit: Shalom Ross

A highlight of the event was a musical Havdalah ceremony and concert with Bentzi Marcus of the Hasidic pop rock band 8th Day. Hundreds sang, danced, and were inspired to make their Judaism a priority in their lives. One of the attendees was Josh Hoffman, a PhD student and computer scientist from Austin, Texas. “The concert was a reminder that when we put our Judaism first, life is more uplifting, inspiring, and meaningful,” Hoffman said. 

Hoffman’s Chabad rabbi, Rabbi Mendel Levertov, says that the weekend’s inspiration comes amid a growing determination among many to ensure their Jewish future in response to the acts of hatred on Oct. 7. “I’ve never seen this level of enthusiasm,” says Levertov, who directs Chabad Young Professionals in Austin, Texas. “People are getting serious about marrying Jewish.”

Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross
Photo Credit: Shalom Ross