The reactions have been surprisingly overwhelming. Social media has been full of passionate comments. The major news outlets have covered the story. In Jewish Ottawa, it was the primary water cooler conversation. All of this as a result of a bakery.
Devoted community volunteer Sheila Hartman died suddenly during Purim on March 21 at age 76. Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn of Chabad of Centrepointe offers thoughts on her life and the impact she had on her family and her community.
In the Jewish tradition, when someone passes away, a shomer recites prayers near the deceased as a demonstration of respect until they are buried.
On Purim day, I was a shomer for the late Sheila Hartman. The hours that I spent as a shomer allowed me the opportunity to reflect on Sheila and what she meant to me specifically and more broadly of her impact on the Jewish community of Ottawa. [Read more…]
The joyous festival of Purim is approaching. My children are so excited. The excitement brings back such vivid memories of my own childhood.
I remember attending synagogue to listen to the Megillah. I was so proud of my Purim costume. I would help my mother decorate the traditional Purim baskets that we gave to our friends and acquaintances. The adults were all singing and dancing after drinking a little too much whisky and we the children were always feeling a bit queasy after eating one too many Purim sweets. What fun! What memories! [Read more…]
I wrote this article during the month of Cheshvan. It is one of the few months without a Jewish holiday. Coming on the heels of the High Holidays and Sukkot, some of you may have breathed a sigh of relief. But for me, as a congregational rabbi, I felt sad. There was such a wonderful divine excitement swirling around the community for a full month that came to a crashing halt.
By divine providence, I wrote this article after my 17th wedding anniversary. Compared to my grandparents, who recently celebrated their 69th anniversary, or my parents, who just marked their 40th, 17 may not be a great accomplishment, but nonetheless it is certainly reason to reflect. [Read more…]
As I write this article in my office in Ottawa, my mind is elsewhere. I am preparing for my annual trip to New York City where I will be spending Shabbat in the proximity of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s resting place. Thousands of men, women and children will gather to mark his yahrzeit, the date of his passing. This year, his date of passing will correspond with the Shabbat in which Jews around the globe will be reading the Torah portion of Korach.
Korach was a villain. He was a charismatic figure from a royal family. Indeed, he was Moses’ cousin. Yet, he gathered hundreds of other Jewish leaders and created a rebellion. He challenged Moses’ authority. “Why was Moses in a role of undisputed leadership,” he thundered, “and who gave him the right to select his brother Aaron to serve as high priest?” [Read more…]
I received a shocking phone call. It should not have been a shock, but to me it was shocking. My Bubby, 92 years old, has been moved to a hospice. The doctors are predicting her end is near.
I knew that I must travel to Israel to see my Bubby.
After arriving at Ben Gurion, I went straight to the hospice. My Bubby was lying in bed, her eyes closed and her breathing heavy. My aunt and uncle stood at her bedside.
My head began to throb. My knees began to buckle. As a Rabbi, I have witnessed this scene before, but this was different. It was my Bubby. [Read more…]
We are commemorating the festival of Sukkot. This has always been one of my favourite holidays.
Eating outdoors with family and friends in the sukkah under the branches is always a unique treat. It felt like an adventure as a child and still feels like an adventure today. The weather never seems to dampen our spirits. Whether it was the sometimes brutal heat I grew up with in South Florida or the chill in our bones we often feel here in Ottawa, it is always fun and, more importantly, meaningful. More than anything you feel a real sense of kinship and fraternity with family and friends sitting around your table. [Read more…]
The publication date for this issue of the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin is just after the conclusion of Passover. The rush and anxiety associated with Passover preparations will be behind us. The Passover seder with extended family and friends will be a thing of the past. Some will be feeling relief, while others will feel a void.
Either way, I am sure you will be glad to learn that there is another major holiday right around the corner, another biblical holiday with its own variation of meaningful customs and traditions. This of course is the holiday of Shavuot. [Read more…]
I am writing this article from Brooklyn, N.Y., where I, together with 4,000 Chabad activists from across the globe, have gathered for an annual conference. We spend time attending informative workshops, networking and celebrating the extraordinary achievements of the Chabad movement.
As such, I would like to dedicate this article to the Chabad perspective on Jewish outreach and its crucial contribution to the global Jewish fabric. [Read more…]
I am writing this column from Brooklyn, N.Y., headquarters of the Chabad Lubavitch movement. I am here with tens of thousands of other members and admirers of the Chabad movement who are converging for a weekend to mark the Yahrzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Schneerson.
Every year, I do my best to join this annual pilgrimage to the Rebbe’s gravesite where I pay tribute to my mentor and spiritual leader. I reflect on his selfless leadership, his vision and his sensitivity. [Read more…]