ChabadNewOrleans Blog

It feels good to be home

This week we moved Chabad House back to the newly renovated original location at 7037 Freret St. There is still some work left to be done and unpacking and settling back in will take time, but it feels very good to be home. All services and classes are now being held at 7037 Freret St. Once everything is complete and settled there will be time to think about a dedication ceremony and celebration.

We thank our supporters for making this new facility possible. Dedication opportunities are still available for the new facility. We would welcome the chance to discuss them with you. A proper expression of gratitude to all of the parties involved in the planning, design, consultation, construction and to the donors will be offered in its proper time.

At this time I would like to thank those that helped with the move from 1216 Broadway back to 7037 Freret St. A special thank you to Peter Seltzer, Nir Maoz, Shane and Chaim Schreiber, Max Chiz, Ezra Sackett and Yosef Rivkin. We could not have done it without you.

Pesach is a time for new beginnings and this Pesach will be special for Chabad Uptown and the new building.

Mazel Tov to Rebecca Begtrup and David Broniatowski upon their marriage this past Sunday. We wish them a life of much happiness and fulfillment as they establish a new branch of the Jewish nation.

Time is running out to sell your Chametz, please visit to do so using our online form.


Wishing you all a Shabbat Shalom and a very meaningful and joyous Pesach!

Rabbi Mendel Rivkin 

Perpetuating a Legacy

Dear Friends,

One the preparations that the Jewish people were required to undergo before the Exodus was circumcising the males in their families. This week our community had the opportunity to celebrate with Rabbi and Mrs. Yossie Nemes as they brought their newborn son into the covenant of Avraham.

It is the custom in many Jewish circles to name a child after a relative (the Ashkenazi custom is to name for a deceased relative while the prevailing Sefardic custom is also to name for a living relative). The Nemeses named the baby Yitzchak, after Rabbi Nemes’s father. This is a powerful opportunity to honor a father even after he has passed on. By perpetuating his name the hope is that his legacy will also be perpetuated.

Reb Yitzchak Nemes left a very big legacy to perpetuate. He was an individual who experienced many wondrous encounters. The impact he had on many people around the world was really appreciated only after he passed away and those people came forward to relate how he had touched their lives.

I will share the story that Rabbi Nemes told at the Bris this. One Sukkot Reb Yitzchak was visiting New Orleans and instead of a vacation or relaxation he told his son that he wants to go to the hospital to find Jewish patients with who to perform the Mitzvah of Lulav and Etorg. They went across the street to EJ and asked for the Jewish patient list. After very little success, Rabbi Nemes was ready to give up and go home. Reb Yitzchak insisted on reviewing the patient list to find Jewish sounding names even if they hadn’t declared their religion to the hospital. In one room they found a very Jewish but unaffiliated Mr. Weinberg who was thrilled to meet them and to do the Mitzvah. After chatting with him and his son for a good while they wished them well and departed. A year or two later, Rabbi Nemes received a phone call from Mr. Weinberg’s son informing him that his father had passed away. But before he died he instructed his son that he call Rabbi Nemes so that arrangements for a complete Jewish burial could be made. In the merit of Reb Yitzcahk’s persistence a Jew who may never have had a Jewish burial was given a tahara and a burial as a Jew should.

I am sure that you all join me in wishing little Yitzchak Nemes that he should merit to live up to his namesake and give his family nachas for many healthy and happy years.

Mazel Tov to Mery and Stephen Blitz upon the birth of their son. They should continue to have much joy and pleasure in raising their son in good health to be a proud Jew.

Mazel Tov to Josh Gertler and Carli Schwartz upon the engagement. Warm wishes to his parents, our good friends, Mr. and Mrs. Mike Gertler.

For information on Chabad Metairie’s communal Seder call 504-454-2910 or go

Chabad Uptown is moving back to 7037 Freret St. for good this week. The first morning Minyan will be held at the new Shul on Tuesday morning.

To sell you Chametz using our online form go to

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


Yearning for Freedom

A Rabbi once arranged for a Seder to take place for Jewish inmates in a prison. After Pesach he followed up with the inmates to see how things went. They said, “Rabbi, everything was wonderful and plentiful. There was only one thing missing from our Seder. When it came time to open the door for Elijah, the guards did not allow us to do so.

Several years ago I wrote a blogpost entitled Defining Freedom, which can be found here: In a nutshell it explains the apparent paradox of Jews in exile – under all kinds of difficult conditions – declaring Pesach to be a “season of our liberation” – and asserting their freedom.  

This week, on one of my visits to Louisiana Correctional Institute for Women, I shared this thought with Rachel, the Jewish woman who is incarcerated there. We discussed the idea for several minutes but I saw that it was not speaking to her. She mentioned something to me that I had not considered. She pointed out that even when the Jews were in the concentration camps, gulags and other circumstances of persecution, they usually had each other with whom to declare their freedom and try to experience the inherent freedom of the Jewish soul. The difficulty for Rachel is that she is the only Jew in a facility of over 1,200 inmates. Holidays are very tough because there is nobody with whom to celebrate. As she put it to me, “I will be doing Passover, but celebrating is going to be difficult.” The intense loneliness that is there all year round becomes more strongly felt at holidays.

Last year I reached out to the community asking for people that are willing to get involved in being supportive of Rachel’s situation in various ways. Several generous and kind individuals have come forward to get involved. Some have gone to visit. Others have written and emailed. Others have provided some financial support so that we could give Rachel Kosher food. As another year has passed we are looking for more people to take an interest and get involved. If you are interested and would like to find out more please let me know.

As we prepare to celebrate Passover with family and friends let us not forget those that are less fortunate than ourselves. We say in the introductory passage of the Haggadah “let all those that need come and eat.” It is not just lip service – we have to mean it and do something about it.

Wishing you all a very meaningful, kosher and happy Passover season!

A hearty mazel tov to Rabbi and Mrs. Nemes upon the birth of their son, who’s Bris will be held this coming Tuesday afternoon. May they have much nachas from him and the rest of the family.

Mazel tov to David Rittvo upon his engagement to Corey Smith. We extend heartfelt congratulatory wishes to David & Corey and his parents, our good friends, Lee and Steve Rittvo.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Purim Recap and Photos

With Purim 2013 in the back window we can take a moment to look back at Chabad’s holiday events. On Saturday night Chabad Uptown moved back to Freret St. in what was billed as a soft opening - moving in for Purim without really moving in completely. It was a chance for folks to preview the new building – with a Megillah reading and Purim party being held in the Shul itself. The sheer joy of being back was evident on everyone’s faces. Even those that had never been to Chabad before the construction were commenting on the features of the new facility. Many shared a L’chaim and warm wishes for the new Chabad House.


Chabad Metairie also held a Megillah reading and Purim party at the same time with a good crowd and good time.

For an encore the new facility hosted a Purim brunch for Young professionals that featured great food, a Megillah reading, a performance by Matt Berman and a Pub Quiz. Purim Judge Miranda Larsen lent an air of authenticity to the competition with her official robes and pronouncements while quizmaster Alan Tarrab fired his question at the three teams, the Jew-Dats, the Persians and the Hamantashen. The Persians won collecting their prize – an 18 pack of beer. In true New Orleans fashion, the judge was bribed with an open bottle of vodka and shalach manos packages that she was openly soliciting.

Throughout the day the Megillah was read all over town including at Lambeth House, on Canal St and in Metairie.

The grand Purim event was A Rockin’ Moroccan Purim held at Chabad Metairie. The room was completely transformed into a middle-eastern Casbah, complete with draperies, thrones, henna stations, and much more. The Moroccan food was “knock your socks off” good and the music by Yossi Nahmias was off the charts. Nearly 200 people were rockin’ away to the music for hours on end. A wonderful children’s program was being held in another room so the adults could really enjoy the Purim atmosphere. A masquerade for adults drew many people forward to declare their costume – the winners – Queen Vashti, Mysterio the Conjurer, and a Moroccan Queen Elizabeth. A lot of work by many members of the community went into making this event a success. All of the Shluchim of Chabad of Louisiana thank the individuals who invested so much effort!

For a full pictorial review: More photos can be seen at and

Very early Monday morning Malkie and I were off to NY along with several other members of the community to participate in the wedding of Harry and Tova Borowski. It was a wonderful wedding and we wish Harry and Tova a life of happiness and fulfillment in every way possible. We welcome the new branch of the Jewish people!

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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