Reb Zusya of Hanipoli and a Tailor

Penniless as always, patient as always, Reb Zusya of Hanipoli knew no rest – and now his wife was nagging him for a new dress. In the end he had no option but to somehow put together the money needed. He bought the material and handed it to his wife to give to the tailor. Now, surely, he would enjoy some peace and quiet.

But when Friday came, he saw clouds gathering over the features of his Rebbetzin.
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The life of Rabbi Shimon Bar Yochai

Once, during the difficult days under the Romans, Rabbi Shimon sat with his fellow rabbis, Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbi Yose ben Chalafta. During their conversation, they were discussing the Roman rule. Rabbi Yehuda spoke first saying, “The Romans aren’t all bad. They have invested in dozens of beneficial projects, beautiful cities, bridges and roads, which all serve to enhance public life.” Rabbi Yose remained silent.

Only Rabbi Shimon spoke up in fearless disdain of the wicked conquerors. “How can you say that?  Everything they have done was only to satisfy their own greedy desires. They built cities to contain their houses of vice and bridges as an excellent source of revenue to fill their coffers!”
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The children of the Rebbe

A number of years back, the Jewish Joint Organization arranged for a group of Jewish educators, principals and teachers from America to travel to Odessa, Ukraine. The purpose of the trip was for them to see firsthand the way of life of Jewish students there.

When the organizers of the trip searched for a place where the group could have a Shabbat meal together, they reached out to the Shluchim of the Rebbe in Odessa. Unbeknownst to them, this special Shabbat was the day before Yud Alef Nissan, the birthday of the Rebbe.  
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“Rebbe, I need a hug!”

I’m originally from Melbourne, Australia and despite the fact that I grew up going to a Jewish school with Jewish friends, the extent of my family’s observance was making kiddush on Friday nights and attending Pesach seders.

 We also went to shul for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, and that’s about it.
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“Elijah the Prophet” appears at the Seder!

Macon, Georgia, an hour’s drive from Atlanta, did not yet have a Chabad presence. Enter Rabbi Chaim and Chayala Markovits, directors of Chabad of Rural Georgia. This young couple from Australia and California, opened the first Rural Chabad Center in the US. They travel around the state to small Jewish communities and bring the warmth and light of Chabad to each place. One of their first Jewish experiences was to offer a public Seder in Macon for Passover last year, 2021. They rented a room in a hotel and transformed it into a beautiful Passover Seder complete with all the details including a delicious kosher for Passover meal. Jewish people heard about it and came out of the woodworks to attend. As the Seder progressed, little did they realize that G-d had planned a special guest to join them for the Seder. The unexpected guest appeared and for a moment the assembled thought they were seeing, “Elijah the Prophet” dressed up as a local.

Here is how it happened:
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The Rebbe saved her life!

There was a young kallah (bride) from a Satmar family who, as her wedding day approached, wanted to go to the Rebbe for a bracha (blessing). Her family members tried to dissuade her from going (as they were not followers of the Rebbe and in some cases very much against the Chabad ideology) but she was adamant.

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The Rebbe’s blessing after an Ohel visit

Although I lived in Brooklyn for many years, had an Orthodox Jewish education in my youth, and passed by 770 (the main Chabad synagogue located in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, NY) quite often, I never had the opportunity to engage with Chabad in a meaningful way, until….

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