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Berkeley's Warm Welcome!

Friday, 2 August, 2019 - 8:28 am

On Tuesday, I flew out to Oakland, where I was honored to attend the premiere of The Rabbi Goes West, produced by Amy Geller and Gerald Peary about Chavie and I and our life to Big Sky Country. It was strange watching myself on a theater screen, but I was really touched to be received so warmly by the two hundred in attendance at the Landmark's Albany Twin Theater near Berkeley. While so much of the film is about the Chabad Lubavitch philosophy and movement, about the Rebbe and his incredible mission, about our achievements and future aspirations, what inspired me most, was the many conversations with Montanan, both Jews and gentiles, who spoke warmly about our friendships and their appreciation for the Jewish traditions that we celebrate together in our beloved Bozeman.


In this week’s double Torah portion, Matot-Massei, the last in the book of Numbers, we read about Jewry’s forty-two encampments during their forty years of desert dwelling. The Baal Shem Tov taught that these specific locals are not only geographical, but also a reflection of the internal journey we each are on in life. Like the Jews leaving Egypt en-route to Israel, every human being experiences many liberations from internal slavery, some bigger breakthroughs and some smaller, but each step is vital for our spiritual growth. It doesn’t say “this is the journey” leaving Egypt, but “these are the journeys”, because yesterday’s exodus may have been enough for yesterday’s bondage, yesterday’s struggles, but today we must leave our current Egypt, our self-inflicted restrictiveness created anew today.

A “Jew on a journey”. Constant development.

Paola and Brooke, each in their own way, eloquently addressed this precise topic in the film: At Chabad everyone is always welcomed as they are, no strings attached. We aren’t scared off by your self-imposed labels, we aren’t unprepared for the reality that most Jews have previous “Jewish trauma”, we aren’t journalists seeking to assess your current “relationship with G-d”; we care about you, period. Every member of our Jewish family has their own unique journey and Chabad is a place, both physical and in mindset, for each to see their beautiful self, their naturally embedded G-d spark, and strive to make brightness ensue. I’m certain that not all the Berkeley Jews in attendance agreed with everything I said or how Chavie and I live our life, but they were respectful, grateful that I showed up and recognized that we are a family and, while we don’t always agree on methods, we are journeying to a common destiny with Mashiach Tzikeinu.

Thank you, Berkeley!!!

May You guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May You protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!







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