Saadya Notik delivers his thoughts on the weekly Torah portion and events in the Jewish calendar.
Its stories have been told millions of times the world over to hundreds of millions of people in every conceivable dialect.
Its words have been praised, criticized, and condemned. Its pages the target of disinformation and conspiracy theories. Its prose the inspiration for many a poet and scholar, many a rumor and myth. Its narrative the foundation for major religions. Its ink pretext for war and for peace.
Now explore the stories as you’ve never explored them before.
Join us this fall in NYC for a closer and more personal look at the actual texts of the greatest and longest living stories ever told. Stimulate your mind and heart as we unravel the stories of Genesis, layer after layer, to reveal the perpetual heartbeat of every story ever to be born.
No background in Hebrew or Jewish study necessary. Skeptics welcome.
If you're interested in attending or would like to suggest a topic of interest to you, please contact me.
Monday, November 21
Toldot: The Art of Harmony
Monday, November 14
Chayei Sarah: Beauty in the Beast
Monday, November 7
Vayeira: The Evolution of Love (or "On Negotiating With G-d")
Monday, October 31
Bereishis+Noach+Lech Lecha: Insights Into The First Three Portions
Monday, September 5
Ki Teitzei: Holy Chutzpah
Monday, August 22
Monday, August 15
Eikev: A Moment of Silence
Video Presentation and Discussion
Singing The Universe Into Being
by Sarah Lehat
I clamber up the stairs of 144 Fifth Ave known as the Chabad Loft, and open the door in breathless anticipation. It’s Monday night and I’d normally be making the weekly pilgrimage to my beloved yoga class. But this week, I’ve suspended my normal routine in light - or in dark - of 26 year old Yael Pittman’s plight.
On Simchas Torah, while the rest of New York danced the night away, Yael returned home from her Yom Tov meal, only to discover that her Crown Heights apartment had been reduced to rubble by a vicious fire. Tonight, I join a hundred or so fellow Jews at the “Fire Benefit Concert,” organized by Rabbi Saadya Notik and featuring the Moshe Hecht Band and Gavriel Kahane, as we mobilize to transform Yael’s tragedy into blessings.
A quick conversation with Yael reveals that she is indeed in dire straits. After the fire, Yael turned to her rabbi, friends and family for help, but soon realized that the complete devastation of her apartment’s contents would require significant funds (beyond her loved ones’ capacities) to replace. Yael, who is a sheitelmacher (wig stylist), estimates that, in addition to the furniture, clothing and appliances she lost in the fire, just the professional tools she needs to be back in business would cost $2000 to replace.
An architect of safe spiritual havens that envelop their occupants within an aura of calm inspiration, Rabbi Saadya has refined the art of erecting spiritual bridges that help guide us back to ourselves - and each other. Monday at the Chabad Loft is usually reserved for Rabbi Saadya’s weekly Torah class: a journey along avenues of Jewish mysticism and lifestyle that unites NYC Jews from across the globe. This Monday, however, Rabbi Saadya has elected to channel his master builder talents towards constructing a fund raiser on Yael’s behalf.
Mon. Oct. 11
The Moshe Hecht Band live in NYC with special guest Zacharia!
This will be rising-star Zacharia's first ever NYC public performance - straight from Israel.
Last week a fire ravaged Yael’s apartment, consuming all of her belongings and killing her beloved cat Sydney. This Monday help us turn her tragedy into a blessing by joining two super-talented musicians in NYC for an intimate benefit concert. You can make a difference in Yael’s life simply by coming out to an awesome show and having a great time!
The proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to help Yael.
Please spread this message to your friends.
$15 in advance, $20 at door.
RSVP and invite friends via FB here:
A concert benefiting a victim of a terrible apartment fire will be held this Mon.
Crown Heights community members helped organize the concert set for Oct. 11th
at the Chabad Loft in the Flatiron District of NYC. The fund-raising show will feature
a rare, intimate, acoustic performance by Moshe Hecht. Billed as a special guest,
Zacharia, a talented songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, will perform as well. He is
coming in directly from Israel and this will be his first-ever NYC public performance.
The fund-raising is the brainchild of Rabbi Saadya Notik, who is the founder of The
Shabbat Society and a dynamic community organizer.
According to Notik’s website, “the proceeds from the ticket sales will go directly to help
Yael recover from the devastating fire that devoured all of her possessions and killed
her beloved cat Sydney.”
“When Saadya asked us to play, I didn’t even think about it,” said Moshe Hecht. “Firstly,
my wife and I are friends with the girl and as with anything that involves the needs of a
Holocaust survivor meets woman whose passport saved her
French family helped young girl get to U.S. and start new life.
By Meredith Moss
Friday, September 24, 2010
TROTWOOD — It wasn’t long ago that Cherie Rosenstein began sharing the story of her amazing childhood.
A Holocaust survivor whose parents were killed in Germany’s Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, the Trotwood woman first began speaking to area school groups a few years ago, and eventually published a first-person account of her life in the Dayton Jewish Observer.
That heartbreaking autobiography, captured on the Web since 2007, led to a reunion this week between Rosenstein and Monique Valvot, the French woman whose passport allowed Rosenstein to come to America. The two had not seen one another or known each other’s whereabouts for 63 years.
“I was one of the homeless, tempest-tossed for whom Lady Liberty lighted the way through the golden door,” wrote Rosenstein, who remembers the flight to the United States in 1947 at the age of 5 on a “monstrous bird of steel.”
Valvot’s mother accompanied Rosenstein on that life-altering trip, delivering her to new parents in Cincinnati. Because Rosenstein had no official papers and the immigration office was closed, Valvot’s mother used her daughter’s name and passport to get Rosenstein into the U.S., bleaching the little girl’s hair blonde to match the document photo. Soon after, the families lost touch.
Rosenstein said she has vague memories of life in a Jewish orphanage in Paris.
She remembers high walls and being told never to venture outside because “the evil Nazis hunted for Jewish children to bake in their ovens.” She also remembers the kind French family who took her in and gave her candy, friendship, and the name of Cherie.
After 62 years, Holocaust survivor reunites with lost friend whose passport led her to America
By Brett Michael Dykes
When Cherie Rosenstein penned her essay about being a 5-year-old orphan fleeing war-torn Europe for a new life in America, she probably couldn't have imagined that the story would reunite her with the woman whose passport secured her entry into the United States 62 years ago. But that's exactly what happened.
In 2007, Rosenstein, whose parents both perished in a Nazi concentration camp, wrote about her childhood experiences for the Dayton Jewish Observer. Her name as a child was Maria Helena Chuchnowicz, and in April 1947, she was living in an orphanage in Paris. As Rosenstein put it, "The war's end brought problems of staggering proportions: thousands of Jewish survivors with no homes, families or money." The Rev. Samuel Schmidt of Cincinnati visited the orphanage and returned to the States with photographs of the facility and the children it sheltered. A local couple -- Libby and John Moskowitz -- saw a picture of Rosenstein and decided to adopt her.
That launched what Rosenstein dubs "Operation America": the plot to get her out of France and into the United States. Officials moved her from the orphanage to the home of a Frenchwoman, Eleanor Bohne-Hene. During her brief stay there, Rosenstein befriended Bohne-Hene's daughters, Monique and Catherine. The family began calling her "Cherie," French for "dear" -- a name that would become permanent.
The next phase of the plan was for Bohne-Hene to take Rosenstein to the United States -- but America's quota system blocked Rosenstein. So the little girl posed as Monique Bohne-Hene, her hair bleached blond to resemble Monique's passport photo.
She boarded what she recalls as a "monstrous bird of steel," which deposited her in her new home in Ohio. There, the Moskowitz family taught her to speak English and worked to get her legally recognized.
The following is an important article that was recently published on the societal impact of observing a day of rest. If you or somebody you know would like to experience such pause, please contact me or visit www.shabbatsociety.org for more information.
How the Sabbath keeps the Jewish people
By Judith Shulevitz, The Forward
To love Judaism is to know how much the Sabbath matters. But neither knowledge nor love is quite enough to move many Jews, perhaps most Jews, to observance, or even to the level of observance they feel, deep in their hearts, commanded to achieve.
This state of cognitive dissonance prevails even in Israel, where the non-enforcement of the many Sabbath laws on the books has the effect of deepening the divide, every Saturday, between observant Jews and everyone else.
There are many secular Israelis who look back with a fierce nostalgia at the quiet, commerce-free Shabbat of their youth, and mourn the fact that the day of rest appears to have become the exclusive province of the Orthodox.
"The Israeli Shabbat nowadays is either a religious one in synagogues or spent in shopping centers," the writer Amos Oz remarked recently. "I regret that."
How can we make Sabbath keep-able for all of us, not just for the highly religious?
That we need something like the Sabbath in our lives makes obvious, intuitive sense. Both Israel and the United States are places where the economic engine of high technology makes us richer and smarter but also revs us up into a state of endless, inescapable on-ness.
Dutiful in our electronic consumption, fulsomely confessional in our blogging and tweeting, obsessive in our quest for total connectedness, we divide and subdivide our time and attention ever more finely and continuously among professional and domestic tasks and games and gizmos with adorable names (Blackberry, iPod, Google, Twitter).
Sometimes you just gotta start over.
For the past few days I found myself toiling over my pre-Passover (Pesach) greetings. I had a theme for the email set, but when I put pen to paper it came out clunky, awkward, and utterly non-compelling. I thought I knew what I wanted to say and exactly how to communicate it. And I did! But that was the problem. I thought I was in control; I had an idea that I was stuck on and I was stuck on it.
I’d start a paragraph and jump to another. Cut from one place and paste to another. My words were losing cadence and life. Try as I might, I couldn’t revive the splintered and now overweight email.
The theme was to be about the ego and how its riddance is the first step toward personal transcendence. But instead of communicating the message, I was exercising its opposite intent. I was so caught up in communicating every sentence, every word, indeed every letter, with such precision and relevance that I lost the plot. My ego wouldn’t let me let go. I was holding on to a steering wheel that was never mine.
So instead, now I’m trying to practice not my crafty words, but the message I wanted them to convey: That in order to be free we must first be free of self. True self-expression can only come when we get out of our own way. So I hit Control+N and began anew - a fresh page, white space with infinite potential.
Generally, though, it’s not that easy. Change can be an arduous journey with seemingly insurmountable obstacles – pitfalls and pit-bulls.
So we employ strategy: I’ll add this; get rid of that. I’ll cut here; paste there. This for today; that for tomorrow. But for all our reckoning, we end as shreds on our own cutting floor – overanalyzed and deconstructed; therapy leaving us not just broke, but broken.
Welcoming Shabbat with Notik
The Yediot Achronot
By Gil Shefler
February, 12, 2010
The young rabbi promised not to save our souls, so we came to a fascinating Shabbat dinner in Crown Heights
Rabbi Saadya Notik is the poster-boy for what Chabad wants to project to the secular world. On the one hand he is an ordained rabbi who travels the world to attract young Jews to Jewish tradition. On the other he is a 26-year-old guy who speaks in Brooklyn street slang and can quote not only from the Talmud but from hip-hop songs as well. As the young face of Chabad he managed to appear many times in the media. Last year, for example, Notik was the focus of a New York Times' article about the "Party Bus" that Chabad organized for Purim. When he's not traveling between Chabad Houses around the world or organizing parties on wheels, Notik likes to invite friends to Friday night dinners by friends in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn.
Usually, I don't respond to invitations of this nature, for all sorts of reasons, but it's hard to say no to Notik. My friend Gadi met him at a bar, and after Notik persuaded him, he persuaded me to come along to the meal. "You know who he looks like? Matisyahu. He really reminds me of Matisyahu."
Gadi was right. The young 26-year-old rabbi resembles Matisyahu. Not only because both of them are tall, slender, wear a long black beard and dress in Chasidic garb, but also because Notik is gifted with the unique combination of charisma and calm, just like the famous Chasidic singer. "I started organizing these Shabbat dinners a year ago," he told me, "and since then we've been doing it once a month. Our aim is simple: To bring Jews together to meet one another and bond. That's it." And so it happened that I found myself making my way over to the Chabad enclave to welcome in the Shabbat together with another 32 invited guests.
The Shabbat Society is an invite-only Friday night dinner group.
The Shabbat Society’s authentic Shabbat dinner experience is a potent mix of mouth-watering food, endless toasting, and spontaneous self-introductions by New York City’s least affiliated and most talented young Jews.
The dinners are socially stimulating, meaningful and fun.
If you are interested in joining us for a Friday night dinner, please visit us at www.shabbatsociety.org or contact Saadya.
Tonight starts the two-day holiday of Shavuot. On Shavuot we relive the revelation of G-d and the giving of the Torah.
G-d spoke at Mount Sinai, but there was no echo. The question is, Why?
Our sages explain that when G-d spoke at Mt. Sinai there was no reflection of sound, not in time and not in space. Every fiber of existence and non-existence, of the here-and-now as much as of the then-and-there, swallowed and internalized G-d's voice, His expressed will. There was no resistance or throwing back, and hence no echo. And so G-d continues to speak, the cosmos absorbing and constantly reabsorbing his words.
This ongoing revelation (read revolution) which began at Mt. Sinai effectively shattered the impenetrable barrier that once divided matter from spirit, the physical from the spiritual. Now they not only co-exist but actually affect each other, each illuminating in the other their inherent potential.
This year, as every year, we won't be merely commemorating a historical and unprecedented event that happened 3,321 years ago, but reliving, re-receiving and reabsorbing the same vibrant vibrations of G-d's word, the Torah, in our time and in our space.
Wishing you an internal-most receiving of the Torah into your inner and outer-most dimensions with true joy and gladness of heart; a happy and echo-less Shavuot to you and yours!
See you at Sinai!
For more information on Shavuot or to find a local reading of the Ten Commandments, visit www.shavuot.com.