ChabadNewOrleans Blog

Life's Little Things / Jewish Nachas

Dear Friends,


This past Monday, Chabad held a social event for Young Jewish Professionals at the lovely home of Vivian and Richard Cahn (photos below). 35 young members of the New Orleans Jewish community came together to enjoy each other’s company, cocktails, refreshments and a wonderful talk about relationships by my uncle, Rabbi Joshua Gordon, who was visiting from California.


Among the participants was Ofir Levy, the young man from Israel who recently underwent a liver transplant. It was a nice opportunity for him to get out and socialize with people his age after all these months in a hospital room. During the event Malkie encouraged Ofir to take in the interesting artwork at the Cahn’s home. She later asked him what he thought. Ofir replied that what was most valuable to him was the ability to touch and kiss the many Mezuzahs throughout the home. We then realized that he had not seen one in over four months. The little things in life that we take for granted become much more significant when we are deprived of them for a period of time.


This weekend my nephew Mendel (son of Yochanan and Sarah) Rivkin celebrates his Bar Mitzvah. Of the things we wish for as parents and we bless others to have is Nachas from our children. What is Nachas? Loosely defined as the pleasure in seeing our children grow and develop in the way that makes us proud. Many Jewish parents take pride in their children’s academic, professional or social accomplishments. While these are certainly worthy of parental pride, they are not uniquely Jewish. What is Jewish Nachas? The ultimate Jewish Nachas is seeing our children grow in their love for G-d, Torah and Mitzvot, and fine character.


Often the kid that becomes an actor, a musician or a pro athlete, is lauded and celebrated. I feel that we would be much better off celebrating accomplishments in Torah study. This is why I am so happy to congratulate my brother and sister-in-law on their son’s Torah accomplishment. Some two years ago, Mendel embarked on an ambitious Torah study journey – his goal, to complete the entire Mishna (60 volumes) by his Bar Mitzvah. This Shabbat we will all derive Nachas as Mendel makes a Siyum (conclusion ceremony) on the Mishna. May this be the beginning of a long life of dedication to the study of Torah and living by its ideals. To quote the Rebbe’s blessing to Bar Mitzvah boys, “may you grow to be a Chasid, Yarei Shamayim (G-d fearing person) and Lamdan (scholar).


I write these words from New York where Malkie and I have the distinct pleasure of being to celebrate another Simcha. With joyous hearts we wish Akiva (Wyatt) Hall and Channah Black a Mazel Tov upon their engagement. Mazel tov to their families and our personal best wishes to Ron Hall, Wyatt’s father, who has been most amazingly supportive to Wyatt throughout his journey – and now Ron, it’s Nachas time!!


I also want to take this opportunity to wish my mother, Mrs. Bluma Rivkin, well as she celebrates a very special birthday with an evening of gratitude next week, Many long healthy, happy and fulfilling years.


Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Getting to Know the Rebbe

This Shabbat marks 18 years since our Rebbe was physically taken from us. In many ways the pain is still as sharp as it was on that dark day. Yet in taking our cue from the Rebbe, we know that this day should be spent reflecting on the Rebbe’s continued powerful influence on our lives and environment. Furthermore it should be day focused on action, living the Rebbe’s instructions and guidance for making our world a G-dly place through the coming of Moshiach. Please join us as we mark this occasion in New Orleans with a Kiddush/Farbrengen at both Chabad locations on Shabbat after services.

The team has outdone themselves once again in preparing an extensive wing on our web network about the Rebbe – I would like to share several blogposts from previous years on this occasion. One is entitled Defining Alive The second is entitled A Tribute to the Rebbe.

One of the wonderful things about technology is that it allows us to continue to be inspired by the Rebbe via the many videos that are available of his talks and interactions with people. Last I shared with you about the weekly video magazine called Living Torah. Each Saturday night we gather after Havdallah at Chabad House and Chabad Center to watch the weekly edition of Living Torah. It consists of a talk, a special moment, a personal interaction and an interview with an individual about his or her encounter with the Rebbe. It is a powerful way to kick off a week. One usually walks away uplifted and inspired. The Rebbe’s talks are always extremely relevant and the other segments are very interesting. Please join us sometime for Living Torah – each Saturday night just after Shabbat. It can also be viewed online at

Mazel Tov to Mery Beit Halahmi and Stephen Blitz upon their upcoming wedding this week.

Mazel Tov to Uri Odem (Rothstein) and his parents Chana and Larry, upon his Bar Mitzvah this Shabbat.

Mazel Tov to Amit and Mazi Weizman upon the birth of their daughter Tehilla.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

What a Wedding!

Nemes wedding.jpgWhat a wedding it was! I refer to the marriage of Bracha (Nemes) and Avremi Slaviticki that was held at the Hilton Riverside on Wednesday evening. The Chupah took place on a beautiful plaza overlooking the Mississippi. It was a moving ceremony that incorporated tradition, spirituality and family. Even the weather cooperated for the outdoor ceremony. Following the Chupah the guests proceeded to the main ballroom for a lovely dinner and lively dancing. Hundreds of people from near far shared the joy of the bride, groom and their families. Our locals danced hand in hand with the family and friends that came from out of town.

Mazel Tov to the Nemes and Slaviticki families. Kudos for your efforts in ensuring that everyone was graciously received and had the chance to enjoy and celebrate with you.

Every Saturday night after Havdalah we watch a video called Living Torah – consisting of several clips of the Rebbe’s talks and interactions with a variety of people. This past week the featured clip focused on the role of Federation in the broader Jewish community, which I found fascinating. So I am sharing the link if you would like to check it out for yourselves. It can be viewed at

Our Lunch N Learn Downtown NOLA takes place on Wednesday (June 20) @ 12 noon at New York Camera – 705 Canal St. We serve a hot lunch and this month’s topic is: The Lunar Files – Coming to grips with the moon’s gripe. In honor of Rosh Chodesh we will explore the moon’s demotion and the ramifications it has on Jewish life and thought. To rsvp or sponsor – [email protected] or

On Monday evening, June 25 – Get Chai – a social event for young Jewish professionals is being held at the home of Vivian and Richard Cahn. See below for more info or go to

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Mazel Tov Nemes Family

If you happen to be at Armstrong Intl Airport early next week, you may get the sense that you are in Brooklyn, Bnei Brak or possibly Antwerp. You will see a bunch of Chasidic looking types converging on New Orleans. No, it is not a rabbinic conference or a jewelry trade show, they are coming to attend the wedding of Bracha, daughter of Rabbi Yossie and Chanie Nemes. Bracha is marrying Avremi Slavitcki, of Antwerp, Belgium.

While our community has had a few Chasidic weddings over the years, it is still a rare occurrence and one to get excited about. There is an energy associated with a Chasidic wedding that is quite unique. There is the spirituality of the ceremony and then joy of the dancing and celebration. There will be some things that require some getting used to – like the separation between men and women for the dancing and even the dinner – but history has shown that a great time is had by all.

If you are attending, get ready for a wonderful and inspiring experience (and a great workout – bring good shoes-). If you are not attending, I hope to give you a report in next week’s email.

In the meantime, I would also like to make you aware of an awesome program called the National Jewish Retreat. This year’s retreat is being held at the Hyatt Bonaventure Resort and Spa in Ft. Lauderdale from July 31-August 5.

Let the power of Jewish thinking enrich your life. Spend five days of learning and discovery with master Torah teachers. Explore new ideas and expand your horizons in an open, embracing environment. Relax, reflect, and refresh your spirit in a luxurious setting. Meet new friends and experience meaningful Jewish living. For more info,

Our monthly Downtown NOLA Lunch N Learn will take place on Wednesday, June 20 @ 12 PM – NY Camera -705 Canal St. This month’s topic is: “The Lunar Files-Coming to grips with the moon’s gripe.” In honor of Rosh Chodesh, we will explore the moon’s demotion and its ramifications on Jewish life and thought. Sponsorships welcome –

We are excited about an upcoming event called Get Chai – an elegant social event for young Jewish professionals – being held on Monday evening, June 25 at the home of Vivian and Richard Cahn. Following the cocktail reception, a stimulating discussion will be led by visiting speaker, the witty Rabbi Josh Gordon of California. More details to follow. For sponsorship or rsvp: [email protected].

We wish to welcome Allen Dianat, who just moved to New Orleans for a job opportunity. We look forward to having you as a part of our community.

Welcome also to Yishai Schwartz, who will be in New Orleans for a summer internship at the New Orleans Public Defenders Office.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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