Rabbi's Blog

Israel - Luzern - Israel, one day trip.

 Dear friends, 

This week I merited to do a special Mitzvah and help another Jew whom I never met.

N. called me from Israel with an unusual request: "My father is ver sick and there is a chance that a certain medicine which can only be obtained from the hospital in Luzern, will help him. They are willing to give it only to an immediate family member. So I'm coming tomorrow, I will be landing in Basel and flying back to Israel just a couple of hours later.

Would you be able to help me get to the hospital from the airport, the quickest possible way? We unfortunately don't have that much money, so a taxi is not an option." 

I immediately contacted my colleague, Rabbi Wishedsky, the Chabad Rabbi in Basel, We we… Read More »

Mazal Tov During a Funeral

 Yesterday I had a Mazal Tov, a tragic Levaya (funeral), and then another Mazal Tov. How? Here is the story: On Wednesday afternoon I traveled to Israel to officiate at the Bar Mitzvah ceremony of my dear Bar Mitzvah-student, just as was planned close to a year and half ago.

I was looking forward to the following day, as a joyous and happy one, and indeed it was. The Bar Mitzvah boy did an outstanding job. He led some parts of the service as the Chazzan, he read from the Torah like a real pro, and said a wonderful speech about the weekly Torah portion.

During the preparations for the Bar Mitzvah ceremony, I received a very sad message, which made me quite sad, personally as well as on a communal level.

Rabbi Mordechai Ashkenazy… Read More »

"One Mitzvah brings to the next Mitzvah"

Dear friends,

"One Mitzvah brings to the next Mitzvah", is what our sages have taught. Last Friday, I literally experienced that.

Last Friday afternoon I was on my daily visit at the Luzern hospital, just about an hour before Shabbat. After I finished my visit and was ready to leave the building, I met another Jew, who was just passing by that moment. He told me that in the maternity ward, there is a young Jewish woman, who was visiting Switzerland from Israel, and was about seven months pregnant. During her trip she was rushed to the hospital with pains and gave birth to her little baby girl.

I immediately went over to the maternity ward to wish her Shabbat Shalom and to see if I can help with anything. Her mother, who h… Read More »

Its time to help

You surely heard about the terrible accident, which happened near Luzern at the bginning of this week. In the past few days I've been busy with this, helping and supportin the injured and their families. I received a lot of warm feedback and thank yous. 

I would like to forward the thank you's to the group of volunteers who have worked tirelessly together with me. Without them I would not have been able to organize all of the help we were able to offer. Thank you to Uri, Goren, Dana, Sagit, Naaman, Pnina, and to all of the others, who have offered and keep offering their help.

The media reporter of the Chabad headquarters in New York wanted to be updated on the story and summed it up in his own article, which you can read here.

Sw… Read More »

Love, Love, and More Love

Within all the bad news, the sufferings of the war in Israel, there are some beautiful moments of Ahavat Yisrael (loving your fellow) and amazing unity among all parts of our nation. Here are some interesting facts from this past week:

* 30 thousand people came to participate in the funeral of a "lone" soldier, (who had immigrated to Israel without his family,) whom they have never met nor did they know his family. An evening prior to this in Haifa, 20 thousand attended the funeral of a soldier with a similar background.

* A Jewish doctor from Luzern (yes, from our city) decided to fly to Israel to volunteer his help in treating the wounded. * The medical team at the Shiba hospital feels the need to ask the public to slo… Read More »

“Rabbi, you look like the Taliban”

“You look like the Taliban,” one of my friends in Luzern once told me, “but you’re not.” I asked him; “how do you know?” So he answered, ”because I know you.”

I really don’t like to sit and discuss anti-Semitism. I prefer to think that even though it exists, and is hiding under the surface, we don’t need to wake it up. However, this simple assumption that many people (especially from smaller cities or villages, who don’t know any Jews,) have, that Jews are problematic unless they prove it otherwise, annoys me.

This week it happened again.

My fitness trainer whom I now know for about a year and half, told me very openly that he tells all his Swiss friends, tha… Read More »

500 times Shabbat Shalom!

The newsletter which you are reading right now, is number 500! For the past 500 weeks, I sat down every Thursday evenings to write the weekly newsletter, which is sent out the following day to hundreds of email addresses. Sometimes I thought to myself is it's worth the effort? Do people even read it? Although I do get feedback from time to time, I was thinking if it was still worth all the time and effort?

It was about at week 200 and something, I had a lot going on with work commitments, and as much as I tried, I did not manage to send the email newsletter that week... I was upset but I thought it wasn't that bad, anyways there are only few who actually read it. Maybe it is a sign that I need to stop it altogether.

Well, over the n… Read More »

A 60 Year Old Hagada

I hope you had a nice Seder.

With thanks to G-d, we had a very successful Community Seder. A wonderful Pessach atmosphere in the air. And the amount of participants, which was close to 100 added a lot to the wonderful experience.
I would like to share with you two inspiring moments which I experienced during the Seder.

Before we started, a local Jew, who is a holocaust survivor, and with his family has spent many holidays together with us, showed me a very old Haggada which he received from the American soldiers after being freed from the camps in April 1945.
I asked him for permission to read from it during the seder, to which he agreed.
When we came to the paragraph where we start reading the answer to the Four Ques… Read More »

My Jail Experience

This week I was in prison. I was not forced to go in, but rather went in out of my own will. As part of my profession, I visit Jewish inmates in local prisons. It is not easy, but I do it. Each prisoner and his story.

There are some tough cases, in which it doesn’t seem like the prison sentence will help much. Meaning, the person is in jail in order to keep the outside society safe and not in order to help himself get better.
There are, however, those prisoners, where you can see that they are taking their imprisonment seriously and are trying to plan their new lives for when they will be released.

Such an example is Isaac (not his real name), whom I have been visiting quite often in the last year. He is obviously not sitting i… Read More »

Brotherly Love at the Grocery

We often talk about the unconditional love that Jews have for one another. Last week Friday I had an inspirational experience which reminded me again what true Ahavat Yisrael (brotherly love) is.

I was standing in line to pay at one of the kosher shops in Zurich. The cashier was a nice guy, friendly to everyone.

Before me was a Jewish man, who was clearly a visitor and does not live here. When he got to the cash register, the cashier started scanning his items. When he was about to finish, the cashier looks at the man and says, “Wait a minute, I see that you are buying wine, challah, gefilte fish, a salad or two… I can tell that you are planning a Shabbat by yourself. Do me a favor, put everything back on the shelves, y… Read More »

Spoiled 'Cheese'

This week I found myself in a situation, where I felt so ashamed, I wished the earth should swallow me up. Here is what happened.

I was standing with Rivky at the entrance of a big shopping center, enjoying the wintry sun shining on us. 

A couple of meters away from us, a family was getting out of a nice car, a young woman with 2 small children and an elderly couple, who seemed to be her parents. They were all dressed very well and looked like respectable people. At the entrance of the mall the woman stopped  to pose for a picture with her daughters, asking her elderly father to take the picture with her iPhone. Up until here everything is completely normal for a family outing.

However, the grandfather didn't manage to tak… Read More »

Swiss Youth in Jaffa

This past Monday morning, in the old city of Jaffa-Tel Aviv, I was amazed and emotionally touched to see two young men from Zug standing amongst the ancient houses, holding a siddur (prayer book).

It was just  a few minutes before the start of the Bar Mitzva ceremony of one of these boys. His name is Rapahel. Like any other Bar Mitzvah boy, he was using the last couple of minutes to go over and review the reading of his Torah portion. From my experience, it is usually helpful if the Rabbi is around in order to encourage the boy and help him do one last repetition before the big moment.

And so, I approached him in order to help, but then I saw that he was standing together with another boy, called Ydan, also from Zug, who celebrated… Read More »

A Surprising Spiritual Experience

This week Tuesday I had a very surprising spiritual experience.

On Tuesday was the 3rd of Tammuz, the Yahrtzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. In middle of the day I felt myself longing for the Rebbe, so I called a friend who was in middle of his workday at his office, and asked if he would be interested in watching a video together with me of  one of the Rebbe’s speeches, which in the Chassidic dictionary is called a ‘farbrengen’.

He was also eager to and right away invited me to join him at his office after 4pm.

From the many DVDs which I have in my archives, in which there are hundreds of hours of speeches and lectures of Torah knowledge, Life lessons, Belief  and what not… I chose one from  the wint… Read More »

My Coke Incident

Dear Friends,

Yesterday I had a very uncomfortable experience, which ended well. The lesson I learned from it is once again, not to judge a person before knowing the whole picture. And it was all because of a small bottle of Coca Cola.

I had an early morning meeting in Bern. After finishing the meeting, I went back to the train station, and bought myself a small bottle of Coca Cola on the way. I said the blessing „shehakol nihya bid’varo“ and took a couple of sips all along my trip back to Luzern.

When I arrived in Luzern I get a SMS from Rivky, asking me to buy garbage bags at one of the shops in the train station.

I went in to the Coop supermarket, Coke bottle in hand – now only half full, and again drank a bit… Read More »

A Moving Photo

A few days ago, on Yom ha’Shoa (Day of Rememberance), I got a phone call which caused me great sadness, more than any other Yom Ha’Shoa in the past years.

What happened?

On the phone I was told that Mrs. Eva Weber passed away. Mrs. Weber was a Holocaust survivor, who lived in Luzern, and whom I was privileged to get to know closely. She was about 93 years old when she passed away a few hours before Yom Ha’Shoa.

As I think about her and am saddened, I open the pictures application on my iphone and search for this picture, which I took about two years ago at Eva’s home.

Take a look at this picture. What do you see? A simple tray, an old Siddur (prayer book) and  a set of ancient candle holders. At first glance… Read More »

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