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Statement By Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters On Thwarted Attack In Greece

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We are grateful to local authorities in Greece who thwarted a recent terror attack aimed at various Jewish targets in the country, among them Chabad of Athens. Rabbi Mendel Hendel, Chabad representative in Athens, has confirmed that Passover plans are continuing in Greece as usual with additional security precautions in place and in tandem with local authorities.

“We are as well grateful to law-enforcement authorities who work with the Jewish leadership in hundreds of cities around the world to ensure the safety of their communities all year-round,” said Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky at Chabad-Lubavitch World Headquarters.

“Events like these should strengthen our resolve to stand strong in our Jewish identity. I urge Jews everywhere to celebrate our heritage, and enhance their Passover celebrations with pride and joy. 

“Passover marks our exodus from enslavement and the beginning of our phenomenal and miraculous peoplehood. Let us all experience the richness and meaning of this historic tradition. Chabad-Lubavitch wishes Jewish people everywhere a redemptive, healing and joyous Passover. May this Festival of Freedom bring blessings of peace and unity to all of Am Yisrael, and to the world at large. 

A League of Their Own

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As the Supreme Court prepares to issue decisions in two cases challenging affirmative action, a flurry of articles, podcasts, and op-eds have looked back at the Ivy League’s history of excluding Jews. Less attention has been paid, however, to what Jewish life in the Ivies looks like now, and what it tells us about the Jewish future—on campus and off

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Make Her Name Great

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My world turned upside down in the early hours of Monday, February 6th.  The time of the call—3:00 am—and the caller—my mother’s nursing home—telegraphed the news before the words were spoken. An unfamiliar voice told me that my mother, 87 and in poor health, had passed away.

 “How do we proceed,” I replied in a voice that sounded far away. Later, replaying that brief exchange, I suspect that I was asking about something larger than funeral logistics.  How do we move forward without parents? Having lost my father in 2013, my mother’s passing felt as if the “N” had fallen off the compass face, leaving the magnetic needle swinging this way and that, unable to settle in its customary position.

I am not young. I have lived an independent, flourishing life for decades.  And yet, without parents I often feel shorn of rootedness and direction.  Their love shaped and guided my sister and me.  With every act and word they built us up, impressing on us that our lives are precious. Where would we be, what would we be, without them? In the beginning, our parents give us our names.  The Sages teach that parents receive a touch of prophecy when choosing names, and so the given name influences the child’s character and destiny. 

As a little boy, I asked my mother about my name, which stood out among the Joes and Bobs and Billys who were my playmates. She told me about Alexander the Great sparing the Temple and treating the Jews with respect. That “teachable moment,” likely my first Jewish history lesson, came back to me while mourning her.  The recollection seemed to hold some spiritual message which required decoding.

A few days later an old friend, a rabbi, called me. When I told him that reciting the Kaddish was helpful, he responded with a question. (He is a rabbi, after all.)  “Who is the ‘great name’” mentioned in the prayer’s opening verse? The answer seemed so obvious that I prepared for the classic I-never-would-have-imagined answer that often follows a rabbinic question. Not this time: my friend said that of course “great name” refers to God. But then he offered a secondary interpretation. “You are keeping your mother’s name great by not letting it be forgotten.”  

In the first days after the news, I felt as though I stood at the bottom of a deep and dark pit.  The prayer’s Aramaic words, the guttural chets and hehs, the clicking nuns, acted like ropes and spikes, helping me climb upward, towards the light.  My friend’s insight connected my mother’s bestowing my name on me with what I could now do for hers by saying Kaddish. It seemed he had uncovered a hidden spiritual truth that I had only sensed.

This connection received swift confirmation when I told another friend I wouldn’t be able to get to services one morning. He offered to say Kaddish for my mother, and asked me her Hebrew name. Later he told me that when he was in mourning for his mother, he had developed the custom of saying his mother’s name to himself before reciting the Kaddish

As we say at the Passover Seder, dayenu, that should have been benefit enough from one prayer. But there is more. I am lifted up by the sound of the Kaddish. The steady, sonorous chant of many voices, the call and response between mourners and congregants, seem to tell the story of my people and of my mother.

Yit-gadel v’yit-kadash shmay rabo . . .

In the measured cadences I hear the steady march of the Hebrews through the wilderness, following the pillar of cloud by day and fire by night.  It keeps time as they walk between the parted sea, a wall of water on either side, through a harsh landscape, and over treacherous mountain passes.  Always, they keep moving forward.  The prayer’s beat conveys an unshakeable determination to continue, without faltering, to the Promised Land.  

That was how my mom lived her life. Born in humble circumstances, she worked tirelessly to better herself. I hear her footsteps too in the Kaddish, moving, always moving forward to escape the dreary Bronx apartment of her childhood, the one that lacked a room for her. The building had dark corridors, a slow, stuttering elevator, and only a fire escape to cool off on summer nights. It was also a place of cramped expectations.  Her parents encouraged her to be a secretary. Instead, she got a master’s in economics and became a university administrator. Like her ancestors who left Egypt, she followed a twisting path towards a better place, a place of promise.

And just as surely as she gave me my name, Alexander ben Aryeh Leib, so I will rise from my seat in the days ahead and recite the prayer that elevates, ever higher, the name Shulamit bat Moshe.

This column is devoted to the memory of Sandra Troy, Shulamit bat Moshe (June 24, 1935 – February 6, 2023).  May her memory be a blessing always.

The writer welcomes comments from readers, and invites you to comment below or email him at

Alex Troy worked at two Jewish schools, teaching history at one and serving as head of the other. He has written a novel inspired by his time as an educator, which will be published in 2023. Alex also worked as a lawyer and investor. He and his wife, Dale, have three grown daughters. They live in Florida and Connecticut.

Purim Notes From The Chasidic Rebbes

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Mordechai “The Jew”

Mordechai was a Benjaminite, but he is called “Yehudi,” literally meaning a descendant of the tribe of Yehudah. Likewise, the Megillah refers to the Jewish people as “Yehudim,” ignoring tribal differences.

Why Yehudi? Yehudi is of the same root as “hoda’ah,” meaning to acknowledge, or to accept. The essence of Jewish identity can be traced back to the unified response of the Jewish people at Sinai, where they expressed acceptance of G-d and His will.

Esther vs. the Maccabbees

The name Esther, from the Hebrew word for “concealment,” is intrinsic to the Purim story, one of disguise, masquerade and illusion.

Unlike the events of Chanukah—miraculous, extraordinary and clearly from “Above”—by which the Jewish people were delivered, on Purim a series of coincidences, none too dramatic at first, conspire to deliver the Jewish people. Camouflaged in the ordinary, the Purim saga is resolved from “below” as it were.

Chanukah celebrates the transcendent aspects in the relationship between Jew and G-d; Purim illuminates a relationship with G-d that pervades the most mundane, everyday details of our lives.

Hence the Chanukah dreidel or the “top” is spun from above; the Purim gragger is held, and cranked, from below.


Pur is Hebrew for “lot” as in the lot cast before Haman (3:7)

Casting lots is a way of allowing “chance” rather than reason, to decide. By casting lots, Haman hoped to invest his scheme with the force of fate.

Indeed, it would take extraordinary efforts—of great repentance and personal sacrifice by the Jewish people—to reverse Haman’s lots. For the duration of almost an entire year (Haman’s decree was issued in the first month, Nissan, and reversed in the twelfth month, Adar) the Jews persisted and persevered in the face of looming annihilation, remaining steadfast in their adherence to Torah.

–Selections from Megillat Esther, Kehot Publication Society, New York 

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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