A Lifetime of Giving


  Fiction. Based on a true story

 

‘May the All-merciful Father who dwells in the supernal heights,

In His profound compassion, remember with mercy the pious,

The upright and the perfect ones, the holy communities

Who gave their lives for the sanctification of his Divine Name.’

(The Sabbath Prayer)

On Wednesday, 26th November 2008, Rebbetzin[1] Rivka Holtzberg woke up at dawn. Her husband, Rabbi Gavriel Noach (or simply Gabi as everyone called him) left to perform shechitah[2] at a farm, as it was the only way to get kosher meat for their Shabbat[3] table.

The Indian sun hasn’t scorched the city yet, and it was still quiet in their Mumbai Chabad House[4]. Rivka’s schedule was packed for the day, and, as usual, she decided to catch up on her sleep on another occasion. The young, petite woman whispered Modeh Ani[5], then washed her hands from a neggel vasser kvort[6] that stood by her bed, put on her glasses and got up quickly, which she could do since the early pregnancy months of morning sickness and dizziness had finished.

She went to the living room, took out a siddur[7] in a soft white leather cover, and immersed herself in Shacharit[8] prayer. Two birds, sitting on the windowsill sang along, giving their own praise to G-d, smiling at the Rebbetzin.

After davening[9], Rivka kissed the holy book and put it back into the massive cherry oak bookcase, filled to the top with Jewish books. She glanced at their family library with delight. During her childhood years, Rivka dreamed of marrying a fine man and setting up their home with a wide table ready to host many guests, comfortable sofas, and, most importantly, with a big bookcase, where she would place all of the holy books, which, together with the mezuzah[10], would protect their home from all forces of evil.

Suddenly, Rivka heard her son’s cries. She rushed to Moishe’s room. The curly-haired two-year-old boy with big hazel eyes was up in his cot, spreading his chubby arms in Rivka’s direction. As soon as he saw her, he started to jump and clap his hands, saying ‘Ima! Ima!’[11]

Rivka dressed Moishe and brought him to the sink. He poured water over each hand three times, then recited the blessing. Rivka praised her boy and kissed the top of his head. Even though they were on Shlichut thousands of miles away from Israel, their son was growing up to be a pious Jew.

Soon, Rivka’s husband, a tall man with the broad beard of a Torah scholar and a set of playful, boyish eyes, was back. Gabi was covered in feathers. Moishe ran to greet aba[12] and to touch the soft, fluffy feathers; Gabi picked Moishe up, whirled him around, and lifted up the laughing child to the ceiling. Rivka was afraid that Moishele – G-d forbid – might fall; but the happy faces of her husband and son spoke for themselves, and Rivka kept quiet.

They heard a knock on the door; a forty-four-year old Indian woman, Sandra, came in. She had worked in the house for a few years helping the Holtzbergs to run the household, take care of Moishe, and prepare the festive meals for their numerous guests who frequently popped in without notice.

The Chabad House of the Holtzbergs, known as the Nariman House, was a meeting spot for Israeli tourists, who wandered around Asia after their army years in search of spirituality; Jewish businessmen, changing flights in Mumbai; and the local Jews, coming in to pinch Moishe’s cheeks, have a bowl of Rivka’s hearty chicken soup and a cup of tea infused with the flavour of Rabbi Holtzberg’s Dvar Torahs[13].

The wall clock chimed 8 times, and soon men started coming for the morning service led by Rabbi Gabi. Sandra fed Moishe pancakes, and Rivka went to the marketplace to stock up for Shabbat.

The Rebbetzin walked on the twisted road in the direction of the market, filled with homeless people sitting in the dust and barefoot children running after cars. Memories of their first days in India flashed through Rivka’s mind. It’s been exactly five years ago since they had left behind the comfort of the western life. In the beginning, Rivka felt a bit lonely: she was afraid of the foreign crowd, and could not dismiss the pervasive smell of curry and the vision of rubbish scattered throughout the streets.

Nevertheless, Rivka knew that they had come to this distant land with a goal of building a vibrant Jewish community, and soon she got used to the lack of kosher delicacies and trendy cafes. She rolled up her sleeves and cleaned the chickens that Gabi schechted, baked challot[14] and gave classes about the beauty of Judaism.

Gabi was truly enthusiastic about Shlichut[15] as well. He spent days and nights establishing the Jewish communal network. On the day of their arrival, Gabi had affixed a large wooden plate with the words ‘Chabad House’ to the door of their rented apartment, taken out the thick yellow directory book and started calling all people whose last names looked Jewish to tell them about the new community centre.

Thanks to Gabi’s and Rivka’s efforts, soon the Chabad House moved to a new, five-storey building in Mumbai’s downtown, becoming the shelter and oasis for all Jews lost and found in the midst of Indian reality. Here the congregants relished the words of  Torah wisdom, enjoyed mouth-watering gefilte fish and discussed profound philosophical and cabbalistic concepts late into the night.

Gabi loved sitting at the Shabbat table, surrounded by people from all over the world. His face was glowing with joy as he sang niggunim[16], spoke about the Parsha[17] insights with his guests, or asked them to share an inspiring episode from their lives.

Rivka usually took her place by the women, and was always happy to listen to their stories. Little Moishe played by Rivka’s legs. When Gabi was starting a niggun, he always jumped on abba’s knees, joining in the song and banging his hands on the table.

Deep in her thoughts, Rebbetzin would have kept on walking, but the unborn baby kicked her just in time, and Rivka found herself next to the market entrance.

The bazaar was boiling with life: from all corners it was heard ‘Come closer! The sweetest peaches on earth!’, ‘The miraculous nectar straight from the paradise!’, ‘Try it! Buy it! Don’t pass by!’

Customers were rushing in all directions, hunting for bargains: cheap carpets, goats, so-called ‘Armani’ shirts or boxes of fruit. They touched the goods, asked for samples, held them against the sun and argued over the price at top of their lungs, leaving the kiosks and coming back five minutes later.

Rivka smiled. The Mumbai Bazaar reminded her of the Israeli Shuk, where she  went holding her mother’s hand as a child. Same variety, vigour, and passion. Every time Rivka came to the marketplace, she felt that she was back in Afula[18], where she lived before the wedding.

Rivka approached Amal’s kiosk, where she always bought fruit and vegetables for Shabbat.  The elderly shopkeeper bowed down slightly.

‘What would the lady wish?’ the shopkeeper asked with a smile, revealing the black holes in his almost toothless mouth. ‘Everything is exceptionally fresh,’ Amal said, raising up his barky finger, and using his other hand to push away persistent bees that were attacking the piles of plums and mangoes.

‘Today I need something special.’ Rivka said. ‘My Moishe is turning two this Saturday, and we are going to celebrate.’

Amal winked with a knowing smile and started to pick the very best produce. He knew the tastes of the Holtzbergs who never tried to get a cheap price for their Shabbat feasts.

Rivka sighed. ‘My Moishele is almost two. Thank G-d he is healthy, which is a pure miracle.’

She didn’t question G-d about the fate of their older children. However, both Gabi and Rivka were devastated when their firstborn son Mendel died at the age of three, and when their second child, Dovber, was diagnosed with a profound genetic disorder, having to stay permanently in an intensive care unit in Israel.

After she finished shopping, Rivka decided to hire a taxi to go back. A couple of eager drivers were advertising their services in front of the Rebbetzin, gesturing impatiently to get the job.

‘Mam, I am telling you, I will take you home within seconds. You won’t have time to count to ten!’ the first driver said.

‘What are you, nuts? Don’t listen.  He never says a word of truth. Come with me instead! I won’t charge you much. My car is a rocket!’

‘Your car is a wreck, not a rocket! The wheels are falling off! Go away! Mam, follow me please…’

Rivka was amused by the scene, but suddenly she heard a soft, familiar voice behind.

‘May I offer my taxi services to you as well, madam?’ Gabi asked raising his hat.

Rivka courteously lowered her head.

‘Of course, you may, sir. But how did you find me?’

The drivers lost their interest and quickly dissolved in the crowd.

‘I missed you. That’s all.’

Rivka saw the reflection of her eyes in Gabi’s glasses and blushed, just like she did at their first date, almost eight years ago.

A snow-white seagull stitched through the cobalt-blue sky. They loaded the car and Gabi turned on lively Jewish music and headed back home.

The windows were open wide and the streets filled up with the reassuring voice of Avraham Fried[19]: ‘Ashreinu, Ma Tov Chelkeinu, U’ma Noim Goroleinu! We are happy, how goodly is our lot, and how pleasant is our fortune!’

Rivka thanked G-d for allowing her to be so young, loved, and valued. Together with Gabi, they had the power to spread the light of Torah, bringing Moshiach[20] closer each day. And that’s exactly what the emissaries of the Lubavitcher Rebbe were meant to do. Rivka was happy.

At midday, Gabi went out to kasher[21] the kitchen of a newlywed couple, reminding himself to visit an elderly neighbour on the way back.

The Chabad House phone kept on ringing every few minutes. People called wishing to organise a chuppah[22] or brit[23], asking for the timetable of the upcoming Talmud lectures and simply inviting themselves for a Friday-night dinner.

Rivka answered their queries in detail, pressing the phone to her shoulder and simultaneously cutting up soup veggies ready to throw onto the broad industrial stove— a frequent host of humongous pots and pans.

Sandra, who had just put Moishe down for an afternoon nap, was peeling the third bag of potatoes. The Rebbetzin always cooked up a storm in preparation for unexpected guests, as she was terrified of being considered a bad hostess.

In the beginning, Sandra, who believed in cutting down the expenses at all times, did not understand Rivka’s overspending habits. As time went by, Sandra began to appreciate the giving nature of the Holtzbergs. Impressed by their generosity to complete strangers, Sandra worked tirelessly to show respect for their virtues.

Indeed, for Gabi and Rivka, people came first. Their own apartment on the top floor of the Nariman House was furnished modestly (except for the regal bookcase), while the recently renovated synagogue, spacious dining room and cosy guest quarters featured stunning artwork, spotless marble floors, and ornate chandeliers.

Rivka sighed and took off her stained apron. The tantalising aromas of pumpkin soup and Hungarian goulash filled up the air and spread outside through a tiny kitchen window.

Moishe was still sleeping, and the Rebbetzin decided to use the time wisely and prepare some notes for the class she was going to give after dinner.

She sat behind her small grey plastic desk —a kingdom of organised mess covered in multiple papers with inspirational thoughts and ideas for future classes. On the desk, she had two picture frames with the images of her parents and siblings on the left and the Lubavitcther Rebbe on the right, who always had a wise smile of approval on his face, encouraging Rivka to write late into the night.

She opened her old-fashioned laptop, letting the good friend to warm up and breathe, and then started a new document. The blank screen teased her for a minute. Rivka bit the top of her pen and looked outside.

Clouds had quickly invaded the sapphire-hued sky. A loud sound of thunder was heard and a flash of lightning illuminated the street. Within seconds it was pouring. People were rushing to their cars and hiding under the canopies. Tree branches were shaking high in the air, as if protesting against the unexpected storm. Soon the busy Hormusji Street was completely empty.

Rivka were mesmerised by the power of rain. ‘Hashem[24] has sent the mighty waters to cleanse and rejuvenate the world in His eternal wisdom,’ the Rebbetzin thought. ‘And that’s exactly what the mikveh[25] does – regenerating one’s body and soul. Mikveh. That’s what I’ll talk about.’

She briefly outlined the key points of class, just in time before Moishe woke up.

‘Ima, Imaaaa!’ the boy called in tears. Rivka ran to his room. Moishe’s hair and cheeks were wet. The boy only calmed down once she picked him up and Moishe put his head on her shoulder.

‘What, bubale, you had a bad dream? Sh-sh, don’t worry, Ima is here. It’s all over. The storm has finished.’ Rivka said, softly patting his back.

A phone rang and she put him down to play. Rivka hoped it was her mum. They hadn’t spoken for a few days, and now, both were thirsty for a hearty conversation.

‘Shalom Rivkale, what’s new? Busy-busy? How are you feeling? How is my cutie Moishelke? Gabi? The kehillah[26]?’

Moishe was building a multi-coloured Lego fence around himself with great concentration.

Rivka smiled. Only her mum could fit so much into one breath.

Boruch Hashem[27], Ima, Moishe is doing well and so are we. Things are happening. We are about to have a mega Chanukah party in a few weeks’ time. Just imagine, candles, donuts, fireworks! Everyone is excited; we are expecting a big crowd!’

‘Excellent! I am proud of you. I’ll tell your siblings and all the neighbours. Even Zissa the hairdresser. And how are you feeling, bubale? Are you eating? Does Moishe let you sleep? Does Gabi help with the dishes? I am sure he does, but really, does he? And what about the jellybean, is she kicking?

‘We are managing, don’t worry. Gabi is busy with the kehilah, but he helps. He takes Moishe to the park and lets me sleep. The baby and I are feeling good. Can’t wait to see her. Or him. Moishe will be a great older brother.

‘It’s a she. I know for sure. I had a dream last night that you were supposed to have a girl. Ok, my dear, I’ll talk to you later, your father is calling on the other line, but that’s Ok—he can wait—I must give you the best latkes recipe you’ve ever made, before I forget. I got it from Dina, I saw her at schul[28] today. She sends her regards. Her twins got so big, you won’t recognise them… Time flies. Moishe is also big, I can see on the photo you’ve sent me. Yes, time flies.’ Rivka heard her mother’s raspy breathing.

‘Ima, please don’t start. I miss you too. And I’ll see you soon. Have you forgotten, I am coming to Israel to give birth? It will be quicker than you think!’ Rivka said, scratching her eyes.

‘Yes, yes. I can’t wait. I send you my love and kiss Moishele from his savta[29]. Bye for now!’

‘Wait, what about the recipe?’ Rivka smiled again.

‘Oh, right, grab a pen. Ready?  So, you need about ten large potatoes…’

Rivka wrote down the instructions, wished her mother farewell and pressed the ‘end of call’ button. Suddenly, the room got very quiet. Rivka rubbed her eyes again. Moishe turned his head, got up and came to Rivka. He tried to climb up on her lap. Rivka helped Moishe and they hugged each other tightly.

‘Moishele, you are a very special, smart boy.’ The clock chimed three times. ‘Let’s go eat.’

Moishe nodded and they went into the light-filled dining room. The Rebbetzin sat the boy in a high chair and tried to spoon-feed him, but he insisted on holding the spoon himself, making a mess all over his face, chair and floor.

Rivka cleaned his face, while Sandra, who just finished washing the floors, sighed and went out to get the mop. She came back in a few minutes, followed by two elderly Indian women in faded orange saris.

‘They were outside, by the kitchen window. I thought you wouldn’t mind’ Sandra said quietly, while twisting the broomstick.

Rivka, who just took a first bite, quickly put down her fork and rushed to greet the senior women standing in the corner, too shy to come in further. Stunned by their bulging bones, she forced herself to smile and said:

‘Please, take a seat. I won’t be long.’

She ran into the kitchen and brought a tray overflowing with food—pumpkin soup, meat casserole and fresh garden salad, followed by a plate of warm homemade oatmeal cookies and lemon-ginger tea—and placed it in front of them.

The women didn’t ask twice. The cutlery clanked rapidly and the plates emptied within seconds. Sandra brought more.

Rivka allowed them eat in peace, and meanwhile showed Moishe a picture book. Moishe tasted the book corner and chewed it with joy.

The elderly visitors finished their meal and got up.

‘Thanks for your generosity. You have a big enough heart for the whole world, and even for us, two old dirty grannies on the verge of death,’ the first woman said in a trembling voice.

The second woman glanced at Moishe, who watched the visitors with interest, while hugging Rivka’s leg. Then she looked in Rivka’s eyes and said:

‘May your son merit a long and happy life. His special soul shines already. He will grow to be a righteous person—just like you and your husband—and no matter how far away you’ll be, he will always give you happiness and pride. Now it’s time to go.’

They opened the door, and Rivka tried to stop them. She asked them to wait for a second and ran to the kitchen to bring some fruit for them to take home. However, when she was back with a bunch of bananas a moment later, the women were already gone.

The Rebbetzin opened the back door. Sandra was putting Moishe on the slide. The women had disappeared. Rivka blinked and turned around to see Gabi entering the kitchen. ‘My Rivki is always waiting for guests, just like Sarah Imeinu[30].’

She laughed. ‘Are you hungry? Want something to eat?’

‘A banana would do.’ He snapped off one, wiped the sweat from his forehead and ran upstairs. It was time for a Torah class, and students of all ages were already waiting for the Rabbi.

The clock chimed five times, and Rivka went outside to read to Moishe. They sat on a wooden bench in the shade of a mighty oak tree. Rivka patiently showed her boy the symbols of Hebrew letters.

‘See, this is Alef, the very first letter of the Jewish alphabet. The word ‘Elokim[31]’ starts with the letter Alef.’

Moishe was mesmerised by his mother’s voice. ‘This is Ayef,’ Moishe repeated after her, and his tiny finger followed each letter. ‘And this is Beis.’

They sat together, indulging in their learning, and Rivka didn’t realise when Gabi sat next to them. Moishe, however, felt his father’s presence and jumped on his lap. Father and son started tickling each other and laughing away. Then Moishe saw a covey of pigeons pecking breadcrumbs that Sandra left outside after lunch. Moishe got off Gabi’s lap and went towards the birds. They instantly raised their wings and flew away; Moishe ran after them flaring his arms.

‘How do you like it, Gabi, he is already trying to be independent and fly on his own!’ said Rivka.

Gabi scratched his chin, nodded and closed his eyes for a second.

‘Yes, people can’t fly. But rising above our Yetzer Horo[32] is an even higher madregah!’[33]

They sat outside for another half an hour, talking and gazing at ruby sunset. When the time for Mincha[34] was approaching they went back in.

That afternoon, two Israeli newcomers joined Gabi for Mincha: twenty-six-year-old Bentzion Kruman and thirty-seven-year-old Leibish Teitelbaum came to India on a business trip and had tickets to go back home to their wives and children the following morning.

After the prayer, Gabi invited both of them for dinner—they were expecting a few more guests anyway—and both visitors happily accepted the offer. It was nice to spend their last night in India with fellow Jews.

While Gabi was talking to them, Sandra was setting up the table, because Rivka was still upstairs, trying to put Moishe to sleep. Initially, Sandra planned to leave early and visit her son in the city, but he had just called and told her that he got a flat tire out of the blue, and wasn’t going to be home. So, Sandra decided to stay in the Chabad House overnight.

Moishe was restless. He refused to lie down and held Rivka’s sleeve tightly with no intention to let her go. She sang him Shema[35] and his favourite lullaby, massaged his back, kissed his hands, but nothing has helped. He was standing firmly in his cot determined to keep mummy by his side.

The clock chimed seven times. Rivka was getting nervous. Norma was going to come any minute. It would be impolite to keep her waiting, thought Rivka while singing to Moishe. He finally laid down and Rivka tried to leave the room on tiptoes but as soon as she touched the doorhandle, Moishe opened his eyes and cried again: ‘Ima! Ima!’

Norma Shvarzblat Rabinovich, a fifty-year-old Jewish neighbour was about to move to Israel, where her children lived. After a couple of hectic months, she was ready to go: her flat sold, her suitcases packed, and her alarm clock set for tomorrow’s early flight. Carefree and excited, Norma decided to spend her last night in India in the company of her close friends – Gabi and Rivka, who had always encouraged her to move to Israel.

When Norma was about to step on the porch of the Chabad House, a passing-by woman in her sixties called her.

‘Excuse me, sorry for the trouble, I don’t speak English very good. I am from Israel, you know, visiting my daughter and grandchildren.’ Norma nodded with a smile.

’Do you know if I can send an email in this synagogue? I’ve spent two hours in this God-forsaken heat, trying to find an internet café, but wasn’t successful!’ The woman leaned her back to the wall, took a deep breath, and continued: ‘My name is Yocheved Orpaz. And what’s yours?

‘I am Norma, soon to be a full-time Israeli grandma.’ said Norma joyfully. ‘Yocheved, you came to the right place! Emails, phone calls, talks about G-d, and delicious cakes, it’s all here. Let’s go in, I’ll introduce you to the Rabbi and Rebbetzin, my good friends.’

Yocheved calmed down. Finally, her prayers were heard. Norma opened the door and they went in.

When Rivka came downstairs, the guests and Gabi were already sitting at the table and enjoying a lively conversation and dinner. Rivka smiled and sat next to Gabi. The night brought the long-awaited coolness. Sandra was ironing in the laundry. The clock chimed eight times.

Leibel Teitelbaum asked for everyone’s attention and said:

‘Dear friends! To be honest, I never planned to visit India. Why would a religious Jew ever go so far from where he belongs, in the Jewish neighbourhood?’ He looked at Gabi and Rivka and suddenly blushed. ‘I mean, it’s not a common thing for regular people. It’s amazing what you’ve built here! And here I am, eating a kosher dinner with wonderful people in India. Who would even think of that!’

Bentzion Kruman nodded and said:

‘Exactly so! Moshiach is on the way, if such things happen. Let’s say a L’chayim[36] for this hospitable home, for you, Rabbi and Rebbetzin! L’chayim, yidn[37]! To life!’

Suddenly everyone heard rapid gunfire rattle, followed by the noise of the broken glass. Two dark-skinned, heavily armed men ran into the dining room. They quickly bound and gagged Gabi, Rivka, and their guests, who were paralysed with horror.

‘I see you are having a great time, but not for long, you bastards! Tonight you are going to hell, where you truly belong, a bunch of filthy kikes!’ the first terrorist hissed with a heavy Pakistani accent and spit into Rivka’s face.

The second invader glanced over the victims and was satisfied with their pale-white faces. Then he said:

‘We are the emissaries of Allah, blessed is he, who commanded us to ruin your ugly burrow. And we’ll complete the mission. Oh yes, we will, even though we’ll die, but not before you!’ The bandits broke into a terrifying laughter. They were delighted to bring horror into the lives of vulnerable people.

Finally, after all those humiliating years in their own Pakistani village, they reached the power they dreamed of. No one would ever say again that they were simple losers, cowards and thieves. Soon their parents would acknowledge that they were real men, keen to die for their principles, and ready to kill for Allah.

Since they had become the members of Lashkar-E Teyba, a Pakistani Islamic terrorist organisation, they had gained respect in the eyes of many villagers. Brainwashed and loaded with drugs, they started to believe that murder was honourable. They waited to go on a deadly mission, which would take them to heaven, where seventy two virgins would greet them as kings.

The bloodshot eyes overflowing with hatred were the last things the victims saw. Screaming ‘Allahu Akbar[38] the terrorists opened fire and shot them with no mercy, one by one.

…. Finally it was quiet again. Sandra who was lucky to hide in the dark laundry cabinet, heard the sounds of descending steps. Her hands were shaking, ears buzzing. When Sandra’s senses gradually came back, she recognised the abrupt sounds of Moishe’s weeping. She gulped and slowly opened the cabinet door, her heart beating rapidly.

The tousled boy was wandering throughout the ruined room in his wrinkled pyjamas, covered with dark bloodstains. He stepped over the shattered glass doors of the wrecked cherry oak bookcase, falling over countless books with torn Hebrew letters.

Suddenly he saw the motionless bodies of his parents. Moishe stood still, frozen in fear. He knelt down slowly, pushing their bodies with his tiny hand.

‘Ima, Aba, wake up!’ Moishe cried. ‘Please, wake up. I will be a good boy, I promise!’

At that moment, Sandra grabbed him and ran away from the scene. Time was short; she heard the distant voices of the terrorists, who could be back any second.

‘Sandra, Ima sleeping? Aba sleeping?’ Moishe whispered repeatedly, as Sandra ran in the direction of the back entrance, praying to take Moishe out alive. She heard the gun shots behind her back, but somehow managed to push the door open, and kept on running with Moishe on her arms, further and further into the street…

… The funeral hall was overcrowded with all kinds of people: religious and secular Jews, journalists, politicians, Rabbis and celebrities hugging each other in tears.

The tragedy united them all. The world was shocked by the brutal murder, tearing the innocent lives at once. The holy bodies were wrapped in snow-white Talits[39] with the Star of David embroidered in cobalt-blue.

Not far from the coffins, near the window, a young Tzahal[40] soldier was holding Moishe, who couldn’t stop howling. He helplessly pressed a rubber ball to his chest (the only toy that was later found behind the fallen bookcase in the Chabad House’s living room.)

‘Imaaaaa! Imaaaaa!’ Moishe wept loudly, breaking the boundaries of human reasoning…

Ima heard her son’s crying. Invisible for people, Rivka was present at her own funeral, together with Gabi, the soul of their unborn girl and the rest of the innocent victims. She hugged Moishe incorporeally and gently stroke his head.

‘Sh-sh, don’t worry, bubale… Ima is here. It’s all over. The storm has finished. Moshiach is on the way, Moishele. We’ll be united again, I promise, my dear boy. I promise,’ whispered Rivka in his ear.

But the soldier couldn’t recognise Rivka’s words and took them as a breeze.


[1] Rebbetzin – the title used for the wife of a rabbi, typically from the Orthodox, or Haredi, and Hasidic Jewish groups.

[2] Schechita – the ritual slaughter of animals and birds according to Jewish dietary laws of Kashrut.

[3] Shabbat – the seventh day of the week and a day of rest and festivities in Judaism.

[4] A Chabad house is a centre for disseminating Orthodox Judaism by the Chabad movement. Chabad Houses are run by the local Shliach (emissary), sent to that place by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who founded all Chabad Houses.

[5] Modeh Ani (Hebrew: ‘I give thanks’) – the first words of the Jewish prayer that observant Jews recite daily upon waking, while still in bed.

[6] Neggel Vasser Kvort (Yiddish: ‘A cup of the water of the nails’) – A Jewish ritual is to wash hands upon rising from sleep, by pouring water over them from a glass. One of the reason is is that just as the priests in Temple times washed their hands from the hand-basin before beginning their service, so, too, a Jew should wash his hands as he rises to serve his Maker.

[7] Siddur – Jewish prayer book, containing a set order of daily prayers.

[8] Shacharit – the traditional Jewish service of morning prayers

[9] Davening – (Yiddish: ‘Praying’)

[10] Mezuzah – A parchment inscribed with specified Hebrew verses from the Torah, which is affixed to the doorframe in Jewish homes.

[11] Ima (Hebrew: ‘Mummy’)

[12] Aba (Hebrew: ‘Daddy’)

[13] Dvar Torah (Hebrew: ‘Words of Torah’)

[14] Challot –  A special braided bread eaten on Shabbat and holidays

[15] Shlichut – Starting in the 1950s, the Chabad-Lubavitch RebbeRabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, sent thousands of emissaries (Shluchim) all over the world, often to remote locations, to bring Jews closer to Judaism.

[16] Niggunim – a form of Jewish religious song or tune, often without formal lyrics. Some niggunim are sung as prayers of lament, while others may be joyous or victorious.

[17] Parsha (Hebrew: ‘portion’) – a portion of the Torah text for each week of the year.

[18] Afula – a city in the North District of Israel, often known as the ‘Capital of the Valley’, referring to the Jezreel Valley.

[19] Avraham Fried – a popular singer in the Orthodox Jewish community.

[20] Moshiach (Hebrew: ‘Messiah, the anointed one’) In Jewish philosophy, the future Jewish King from the Davidic line, who will be “anointed” with holy anointing oil and rule the Jewish people during the Messianic Age

[21] Kasher – to make kosher.

[22] Chuppah – A Jewish wedding ceremony

[23] Brit (Hebrew: ‘A union’) – circumcision

[24] Hashem (Hebrew: ‘The name’) – One of the G-d’s names in Judaism.

[25] Mikveh – a bath used for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism

[26] Kehillah (Hebrew: ‘Community’)

[27] Boruch Hashem (Hebrew: ‘Thank G-d’)

[28] Schul (Yiddish: ‘A synagogue’)

[29] Savta (Hebrew: ‘Grandmother’)

[30] Sarah Imeinu (Hebrew: Sarah Our Matriach) was known for her generosity, according to the Torah.

[31] Elokim – One of the names of G-d in Hebrew.

[32] Yetzer Horo – (Hebrew: ‘An evil inclination’)

[33] Madregah (Hebrew: ‘level’)

[34] Mincha – the afternoon prayer service in Judaism.

[35] Shema – one of the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism. Observant Jews recite Shema in the morning and before going to sleep.

[36] L’chayim (Hebrew: ‘To Life’)

[37] Yidn (Yiddish: ‘Jews’)

[38] Allahu Akbar (Arabic: ‘G-d is the greatest’)

[39] Talit – A Jewish prayer shawl.

[40] Tzahal – The acronym for Israeli military forces

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Categories: feelings, immigration, Judaism, life values, love, Shlichus, spirituality | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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2 thoughts on “A Lifetime of Giving

  1. Spot on with this write-up, I truly think this website wants way more consideration. I’ll in all probability be once more to learn rather more, thanks for that info.

  2. hENRI kORN

    Wonderful story telling, but as I knew the tragic ending I really feared getting to it. Having lived through the Holocaust I am somewhat diffident about God’s wonderful deeds but still feel unreservedly Jewish.
    HENRI kORN

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