Remembering the Rebbe

Likud MK Miri Regev (photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
Likud MK Miri Regev
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
OTHER THAN a Carlebach minyan, few synagogue services are as uplifting as a Chabad service, particularly the one run in the basement of Jerusalem’s Great Synagogue by Rabbi Yisroel Goldberg, whose boundless energy, charisma and genuine concern for humanity have won him a lot of friends and influence. Equally important, he has found a happy medium between Halacha and the inclusion of women in religious Jewish life.
Goldberg carries the Torah scroll to the entrance of the women’s section so that those women who want to kiss it or touch it can do so. Later in the service, instead of having each congregant privately pray for the restoration to health of a loved one, Goldberg says a prayer aloud for each person who requires a prayer, first in the men’s section and then by the women’s section, where the women line up to give him the names of loved ones. In addition, when calling people to the Torah, he includes that person’s immediate family, naming the wife and the children.
The reason the services are held in the Great Synagogue and not at the Chabad Rehavia center around the corner is that the center has become too small to accommodate the ever-growing number of congregants. Nonetheless, Goldberg hosts a sit-down kiddush at the center every Saturday, with the women sitting inside and the men out in the courtyard. When introducing a guest speaker or making a speech of his own, Goldberg stands in the doorway so that the people both inside and outside can hear him. When he recites the blessing over the wine, he makes sure that all the women have sufficient wine. He makes a point of personally greeting people to the service and the kiddush; and when latecomers or newcomers arrive late and there are a few seats still empty, he walks up to them and tells them there is plenty of room for them and that they are very welcome. He has also organized a weekly Friday meeting at the Shosh café for the study of the weekly Torah portion.
Goldberg’s congregation has become so large that he had to take on an assistant. Rabbi Liraz Zeira is a new emissary who is now serving the spiritual needs of students and young adults. Zeira, his wife Anat and son Mendy were present at the kiddush last Saturday. It was a special occasion because it marked the 21st anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe.
He was the seventh and last of the leaders of the Chabad dynasty, who died on the third day of Tammuz. Goldberg said how much it pained him when watching videos of the Rebbe to see how many Chabad emissaries from around the world had brought large groups of people from the countries in which they served to meet the Rebbe. Although such meetings can no longer be held, he said, the mission that the Rebbe gave to all his emissaries continues, and thousands of Chabad emissaries, many of whom never met the Rebbe personally, are carrying on his work.
The special Shabbat in memory of the Rebbe was a marathon event that extended into the evening, with a lot of singing of the Rebbe’s favorite songs.
NO PLACE could be more appropriate for the awards ceremony of the Yehuda Amichai Prize for Hebrew Poetry than the Konrad Adenauer Center in Mishkenot Sha’ananim, a few minutes’ walk from the Amichai family home in Yemin Moshe. The prize is awarded by the City of Jerusalem and the Culture Ministry to preserve Amichai’s poetic heritage and to encourage the creativity of future generations of Israeli poets.
This year’s awards ceremony will take place on Sunday, June 28, at 7 p.m. with the participation of Culture and Sport Minister Miri Regev, Mayor Nir Barkat and Hannah Amichai, the poet’s widow. This year’s prize winners are Amira Hass and Dori Manor.