ChabadNewOrleans Blog

Discover the Rebbe

In honor of the 3rd of Tammuz, the network has revamped the site about the Rebbe, it can be accessed at Please take some time to peruse and learn more about the Rebbe, his teachings and his outlook on life.

I have also pulled a sampling some of earlier blogposts where I shared thoughts about the Rebbe.

Caring for all of G-d’s Children -

Leadership that Inspires Faith -

How to View a Fellow Jew -

Defining Alive –

Celebrating Sixty Revolutionary Years -

A Tribute to the Rebbe -

G-d’s Gift to the World -

On Tuesday, July 8 @ 6:30 PM, Rabbi Nemes and I will be leading a discussion at Barnes & Noble in Metairie on Joseph Telushkin’s recently released biography – Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History.For more info:

Mazel tov to Alvis and Jessie Wilson upon the birth of their son. May they raise him to Torah, chupah and good deeds.

Have a good Shabbos!
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

The Inside Scoop

Dear Friends,

What do Presidents Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, King Hassan II of Morocco, Senators Frank Lautenberg, Bobby Kennedy, Patrick Moynihan, Joseph Lieberman and Jesse Helms, Israeli Premiers Golda Meir, Yitzchak Rabin, Menachem Begin, Yitzchak Shamir, Shimon Peres, Ariel Sharon and Benjamin Netanyahu all have in common? They are among the hundreds of world political leaders who interacted with the Rebbe and expressed their respect and admiration for his guidance and leadership.

What do Singer Bob Dylan, Psychiatrist Victor Frankel, Polish President Lech Walesa, Chess Grandmaster Samuel Reshevsky, and Sculptor Jacques Lipschitz all have in common? Their lives were changed by their interactions with the Rebbe.

What do Nobel Laureate Eli Wiesel, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Rabbi and author Josef Telushkin, veteran journalist Ari Goldman, Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, President’s Conference Chairman Malcolm Hoenlein all have in common? They recently gave interviews about the impact that the Rebbe had on their lives.

What do all of these abovementioned famous individuals have in common? None of them are Chassidim of the Rebbe. While they were all positively impacted by the Rebbe, perhaps even life-changing impact, yet they do not tell, nor can they share, the perspective of an insider.

Tomorrow night, we will have the pleasure of hearing a talk by Rabbi Yossi Lew, entitled A Tribute to the Rebbe – A Glimpse into the Soul of the Jewish People. Rabbi Lew had the privilege of spending many years as a Yeshiva student near the Rebbe in New York. He will be giving us an insider’s perspective – that of a Chassid.

On behalf of Chabad of Louisiana and all of the Shluchim at Chabad Uptown and Chabad Metairie, we hope you will join us tomorrow night, Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 PM – at the Btesh Family Chabad House – 7037 Freret St. for this special evening.

There will be a video presentation and delicious refreshments will be served.

Let us know that you are coming – [email protected].

To be an event co-sponsor please go to We thank those that have already given their support, Rivka & Uzzi Kehaty, Jon Powell, Esther & Gershon Schreiber.

We look forward to seeing you there.

#BringBackOurBoys - Beyond the Hashtag

A global campaign has been launched to bring the three kidnapped boys back - #BringBackOurBoys. As we enter the second Shabbat with the young men still missing, we need to go beyond the hashtag. As we all follow the news of the kidnapping situation in Israel, there is something more we can do. Let's pledge a mitzvah, add a prayer and a good deed for the merit of these three young yeshiva students. Their parents have specifically reached out to Chabad and asked us to request of all Jewish women and girls to light Shabbat candles this week in their merit. When doing a good deed, please have in mind their names:
Yaakov Naftali Ben Rachel Devorah
Gilad Michael ben Bat Galim
Eyal ben Iris Teshura

Take a minute and pledge a mitzvah today –  

May our collective efforts yield positive results with their safe return home, and may this be the last trouble that the Jewish people experience in exile, as we are ushered into the era of complete Redemption! Amen!

I would like to share with you about two opportunities to hear from an amazing array of speakers and lecturers.

1.     Soul Encounters… A Journey of Connection, Reflection, & Uplifting - Sunday, June 29 in New York.

2.     31 Rabbis, 12 academics and 7 community activists walked into a hotel…. The National Jewish Retreat - August 6-10 - Palmer House Hilton, Chicago, IL.

In other news, the recently released biography of the Rebbe by Josef Telushkin has skyrocketed onto the NY Times Bestseller list. For more on that Rabbi Nemes and I will doing a book review event at Barnes & Noble on Veterans on Tuesday, July 8 @ 6:30 PM. We look forward to seeing you there.

Finally, we are pleased to announce the Chabad of Louisiana will be hosting the Southeast regional conference of Shluchim (Chabad Rabbis) on Sunday, July 20-Monday, July 21. There will be an opportunity for the greater community to meet and greet the Rabbis. Details will be released in the near future.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Is Rebbe admiration over the top?

Many people wonder whether the admiration that Chabad Chassidim express for the Rebbe is over the top. Always gushing with stories. Pictures everywhere. Constantly quoting his teachings. Giving children his name (or that of his predecessors and their wives). Dedicating their lives to his ideals. Surely there are other great people who are not revered in the same way by those who they have inspired. Why the big fuss? Especially since all these years have gone by – one would think that the fervor would diminish and even fade (away).

The Rebbe was once asked why his Chassidim have such an unusual degree of love and admiration for him. He replied with a smile, it is merely a reflection of the love I have for them, as scripture states, “like water reflects the face so is the heart of man to man.”

The bond between a Rebbe and Chasid is extremely powerful. What is the nature of this bond? There is fierce love in it, and unquestioning loyalty. There is passion, devotion, admiration, appreciation, awe, mentorship, care, concern, sacrifice. Almost every human emotion is there, in heightened form. 

The truth is that trying to explain this to someone who has not experienced this connection – would be like (to paraphrase an analogy by Maimonides) describing the beauty of music to a person who is deaf or the beauty of color to a person who is blind. To truly appreciate it one would have to experience the connection first-hand.

That being said, while it may be impossible to capture the essence of what a Rebbe is or the root of the Rebbe-Chasid relationship, one can still observe and convey its expressions or results. Many books have been written by those who have observed and attempt to convey the depths of the Rebbe’s greatness and the breadth of his accomplishments. Now as we approach 20 years since the Rebbe’s physical passing, three new biographies have been released, each taking a different angle or approach. They are:
1. My Rebbe, by Rabbi Adin Even-Yisrael Steinsaltz.
2. Turning Judaism Outwards by Chaim Miller (editor of the Kol Menachem Library).
3. Rebbe, The Life and Teachings of Menachem M. Schneerson, the Most Influential Rabbi in Modern History by Joseph Telushkin.

Each of them is a work worthy of praise. I just finished reading Rebbe by Telushkin. It is certainly an outsider’s perspective (he missed the boat on a few issues – in my opinion) and it does not capture the depth of the Rebbe as I experience it. However, he did a masterful job on comprehensively covering many of the facets of the Rebbe’s life and sphere of influence.

Rabbi Nemes and I will be doing a book review at Barnes & Noble on Veterans on Tuesday, July 8 @ 6:30 PM. Go in and buy the book at the store or get it at It is worthwhile investment of time and it will leave you changed by the Rebbe’s message.

Mazel Tov to Yosef Kaumfann and Chana Kazilsky, who are getting married this week in South Africa. Mazel Tov to the entire Kaufmann family.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Avoiding a Shavuot Hangover

Inspiration often comes to us easily. The challenge is channeling that inspiration into something concrete and transformative.

Today is the day after the holiday of Shavuot. Shavuot has many distinct elements and qualities about it. There is distinct food – cheesecake and blintzes. There is a distinct way of celebrating – staying up all night learning and the intense reading of the Ten Commandments. It is even distinct in that unlike most other Jewish holidays we are not celebrating salvation from physical danger or assault. Shavuot is not a celebration in the vein of “They tried to kill us. We won. Let’s eat.” Oh, we do plenty of eating alright; but this time we are celebrating salvation of spirit and soul.

So the question is, as we wake up the morning after are we feeling the cheesecake or the Torah? Do we fondly recall the dairy Kiddush more than the moment that we dedicated ourselves anew to the study of Torah and fulfillment of Mitzvot? Do not be afraid of the answer. The Jewish people at Sinai also had a hard time maintaining the intensity of the inspiration they derived from their experience of revelation. A mere few weeks later many were dancing around something that was antithetical to everything they were supposed to have learned.

So what is the solution? How do we avoid Shavuot hangover? By immediately translating the inspiration into action. By fixing a new (or renewed) time for regular Torah study. By undertaking to attend the Synagogue more often than before. By resolving to fulfill a new Mitzvah or improving on one that had fallen to the wayside. The compliment to all of these suggested solutions is, “the best way to avoid a Shavuot hangover is to keep getting inspired.” I would strongly recommend that you take advantage of a real treasure trove of inspiration from which you can benefit in the comfort of your home or office. I refer to There are thousands of videos – with something for every preference. Taste and you will see that it is good.

Chabad of Louisiana has several exciting announcements to make in the next week. Stay tuned for details on these upcoming programs and events.

Wishing you a Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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