Showing posts from July, 2021

Helene's Last Gift to Me

When someone passes away, you think about your last interaction with them. Where did you leave off? Was it on a good note, bad note? Did I miss an opportunity to appreciate them, tell them how much they mean to me? When will my time be? Will I have any “unfinished business”? With Helene, I could have had felt guilt, but thank G-d she saved me from it. The last direct interaction I had with her was a couple weeks before her tragic passing. She was a member of our monthly  Chai Club , but sent an additional, seemingly random and generous gift to Chabad. Since this was out of the ordinary, I reached out to her, thanking her for her generosity, and asked what we can attribute her out of the ordinary kindness to. This was her response: “Just a thank you and although my travel has prevented me from taking classes, participating in women's group, you are in my thoughts and I appreciate all you do.” Indeed, in the last year, we were a bit less in touch than we used to be. She had attended

I Just Learned Something New

This week was tough but beautiful. It was tough because of Helene’s passing. She really was an important part of our budding community, and she will be missed very much. It was beautiful to see community come together and pay their respects. Torah teaches that visiting a shiva home not only consoles the family of the deceased, but also consoles the deceased themselves. Seeing everyone come together and pray in her home, share stories, memories and just be there for her family was really a beautiful thing to be a part of. It felt right. I also learned two things. One thing that someone else said, and one thing that I said. 1) Helene’s son shared a story of how she came to visit them in Phoenix recently, and their house was a wreck (two young children at home and no housekeeper due to Covid). They opened the door and apologetically explained why it was so messy. They were expecting her to start helping them clean. Instead, she exclaimed, “You’ll have plenty of time for a clean home when

Reb Yoel Kahn Ob"m

Sunday is Tisha B’ Av, marking the day the first and second Jerusalem temples were destroyed. Yesterday, Reb Yoel Kahn passed away and there is one more reason to mourn. Most of what I know is directly or indirectly thanks to this giant. I’ve spent at least hundreds of hours listening to recordings of his classes and thousands of hours studying the Rebbe’s books, which were primarily written by him. Even as recently as two weeks ago, I was listened to a recorded class of his on my morning walk around the block. Reb Yoel was the Rebbe’s chief scribe, a position that doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world. He was responsible for writing down the Rebbe’s teachings (the Rebbe taught almost exclusively verbally, at farbrengens). His name is not in the books, though. He could have become a decorated rabbi with a following of his own, but instead dedicated his entire life to understanding and disseminating teachings of the Rebbe. This is what it means to be a chossid. With all of his unbeli

It's Happening

You likely remember that we had a minyan a few weeks ago for a fellow to say kaddish for his father. After he left town, this nice fellow offered to sponsor Jewish books for our new synagogue in memory of his father. My first response was kindly to decline the donation. We have a building to build, and we don’t yet have the money in hand! How can I buy books for it!? Where will I store them? Just a few hours later, the most bizarre thing happened. A friend of mine called me up and asked me to buy a set of Artscroll Talmud for our new synagogue, as his father is moving cross country and can’t take them. Artscroll Talmud is a 73 volume Rolls Royce set of Jewish books. I can’t remember the last time that someone offered to sell me used books, let alone a very nice set like this. Again, my first response was to kindly decline. “I don’t yet have the money to pay for this building, and I’m getting overwhelmed thinking about buying books for a building that isn’t built yet.” And then it hit m