ChabadNewOrleans Blog

A New Orleans Tradition Goes Untraditional

After 22 successful years at the Riverwalk, Chabad’s Grand Menorah Lighting is moving to a new venue. The event, which draws several hundred to over 1,000 participants, has long become a true community wide Chanukah celebration. Mayors, members of congress and state legislators have attended. The annual New Orleans Chanukah celebration was nationally featured in print and visual media as well as by a theme park seeking to depict American holiday traditions.

The beautiful background of the Mississippi, the bridge and the riverboats made for a picturesque setting and the event was eagerly anticipated by hundreds every year. However weather and parking challenges propelled Chabad to seek an alternative venue.

We excited to announce that the annual Grand Menorah Lighting will now be known as CHANUKAH @ LAKESIDE. Scheduled for Tuesday, December 11 5:30-7 PM, this year’s Menorah lighting celebration will take place near the Pottery Barn entrance of the mall. In addition to the traditional Menorah lighting, Latke bar, dreidel and gelt distribution and kid’s craft, this year’s event will feature a magic show by Mentally Hyp’s Paul Carpenter, an opportunity to compose letters to IDF soldiers, a hollow Menorah to be filled with Tzedakah for Hurricane Sandy and Southern Israel victims, and the all new Chabad NOLA Chanukah medallion presented by Mardi Gras Zone. Chanukah @ Lakeside is also rain proof and provides ample free parking, a win-win for all.

Chabad of Louisiana is very grateful to Lakeside Shopping Center for hosting the Chanukah @ Lakeside. Special thanks to Marketing Director, David Colomb for his assistance with this effort.

Please come join us in our new location as we celebrate together with an 11ft Menorah, 1000 latkes, hundreds of Chanukah beads, and, with your help, hundreds of friends and community members. Look out for the Chanukah @ Lakeside email and the Chanukah @ Lakeside Facebook event and postings.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom and happy Chanukah preparations.
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

What I am thankful for...

We have an obligation to always be mindful of our gratitude to Hashem – we begin each day with Modeh Ani and we move on to Hodu and Modim and many other expressions of thanks to Hashem throughout the day. In our daily prayers we recite, “We will give thanks to You and recount Your praise, evening, morning and noon, for our lives which are committed into Your hand, for our souls which are entrusted to You, for Your miracles which are with us daily, and for Your continual wonders and beneficences.” Yet a day like today makes us pause to really think about the things for which we are thankful.

I am thankful to be alive and well. I am thankful for my loving family, my wife and children, parents and siblings, grandparents and in-laws. I am thankful for the wonderful community in which I live. I am thankful that I have a roof over my head, food to eat and clothing to wear. I am thankful to be in a country where I am free to live and worship as I choose. I am thankful to be living in a time where advancements have enhanced our lives so much.

I am thankful to be a Jew. I am thankful for the Torah, Mitzvahs, customs and traditions of Judaism which make our lives rich and meaningful. I am thankful for having been influenced by the beauty and depth of Chassidic teachings and the ways of Chabad. I am thankful for being a follower of the Rebbe, who I see as a direct continuation of leadership and inspiration in the model of such greats as the Baal Shemtov, the Rambam, Rabbi Akiva and Moses. I am thankful for the privilege of being one of the Rebbe’s shluchim – to whom he entrusted the sacred task of really caring for the welfare of each and every Jew. I am thankful for having been taught and trained that it is more important to look out for the needs of another than to be concerned only with oneself. I am thankful to be living in a time of history wherein we will witness complete and final redemption through the coming of Moshiach. As we conclude in the aforementioned prayer, “Beneficent is Your Name, and to You it is fitting to offer thanks.”

Mazel Tov to Chaya Sara and Saadya Kaufmann upon the birth of their daughter Leah Raizel Mushka. Mazel Tov to the grandparents, Nechama and David Kaufmann and Chana Leiba and Reuven Nathanson.

Mazel Tov to Becca and Guy Bradley upon the birth of their son. Mazel Tov to the grandparents Judy and Gerald Newman.

Mazel Tov to Aline Waknin and Gary Connelly upon their upcoming marriage this Sunday. Mazel Tov to Linda and Simon Waknin and the whole family.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

A weekend of recharging batteries

As you read this, I will, G-d willing, be in New York attending the annual conference of Chabad Shluchim. It is a very powerful experience that brings with it a sense of rejuvenation. It is a weekend with thousands of colleagues - each coming from their place in the world - to spend time together with each other in the Rebbe's shul, visiting the Rebbe's Ohel and networking for ideas and inspiration.

Chabad can be found in almost every corner of the world, making Shluchim a very powerful army. One the most poignant moments of the gathering, is standing together as a group at the Rebbe’s Ohel. It is simultaneously humbling and empowering. On one hand, there is a real sense of reporting for duty. Coupled with that is the feeling of sharing the burden of the challenges that each Shliach faces and the blessing of strength that comes from the Rebbe to every one of us.

The highlight of the program is the Banquet, which brings over 4,000 of us together. This year due to Hurricane Sandy the logistics have been more difficult and the venue had to be moved – but it will still be a great event. It can be viewed live on Sunday evening beginning at 5 The gathering will be addressed by, among others, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Former Chief Rabbi of Israel. I hope to be able to report on it to you next week.

I am very gratified by the response from our local community to the Hurricane Sandy Relief effort appeal. As of last Monday, over $100,000 had been distributed to people in the affected region. More help is needed. If you would like to participate go to or

The Chabad of Louisiana 2012 Raffle drawing is next week on November 15. For a chance to win $10,000, go to

For the sports fans in our midst, Kosher Sports Inc. has a Kosher cart at the Superdome for all Saints home games and the Superbowl. The cart is on the Concourse outside Section 543. For a menu, go to

Chabad of Metairie’s Rosh Chodesh Society for women kicks off on Thursday evening, Nov 15. For more info,

Chabad’s Chanukah program schedule will be released next week. If you would like to book the Olive Press Craft Workshop please contact [email protected].

Shabbat Shalom from NY
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


Helping with Hurricane Relief

We all remember the feeling of being embraced by so many around the country and around the world as we felt our lives crumbling after Katrina. The American Jewish community really “came of age” during that time as a real player in the relief efforts. As we watch the scene unfolding in the aftermath of Sandy, we, of all people can relate to the devastation they are experiencing.

Since the affected areas are so densely populated and the number of people impacted is so great, a very broad relief effort will be required. Our colleagues at Chabad Houses along the Jersey shore, coastal NYC and the Southshore of Long Island have been working around the clock to assist people in any way possible. This is all despite their own situations of destroyed homes, Synagogues and communities.

Malkie’s brother Rabbi Yisroel Stone runs Chabad on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. He and his wife Chanie have been walking the streets giving food, rides and kind words to people in their neighborhood. They are still waiting for their power to come back (we have been giving them freezer tips), but they are “taking orders” to help people with Shabbat food. In the harder hit areas Chabad Rabbis and their wives are tracking people down and bringing them basics for survival. As of the most recent report, 30 Chabad Centers have sustained damage from the storm – some have been destroyed completely - and we are just seeing the beginning.

Chabad Headquarters in NY has reactivated a dormant fund that was launched in 2005 after Katrina. The contributions to this fund will benefit people in those hard hit communities directly via the Chabad Centers throughout the region. To contribute and follow the activities of Chabad’s Hurricane Relief efforts, please visit A special fund has also been established to help the Chabad Rabbis and their families who have been impacted – which will allow them the peace of mind to continue the work on the ground in their communities. To contribute please go to

In our Torah portion Hashem declares his love for Avraham in the following way, “For I have known him because he commands his sons and his household after him, that they should keep the way of the L-rd to perform righteousness and justice.” Tzedakah has always been an important part of our heritage and now is the time for us to step up and help others as were once helped.

Congratulations to Anna Gil upon the opening of her Art Show, Letters of Light, at Gallery Orange this Sunday.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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