ChabadNewOrleans Blog

A Woman of Valor Indeed, Henny Machlis

Last Friday our family suffered the loss of Malkie’s aunt, Henny Machlis, who passed away at age 58 following a long and difficult illness. She is survived by her husband, Rabbi Mordechai Machlis – a special man in his own right - and their large family, including several children still in their teens. She is also survived by her mother, siblings, nieces and nephews, grandchildren and many others who were touched by her life.

The Machlises are most renowned for their amazing open home in Jerusalem. Each Friday night over one hundred people participate in their Shabbat meal and Shabbat morning is a repeat of the same. People from every walk of life find food for body and soul at their home. Tens of thousands passed through the doors of the Machlis home and each one was impacted for the better as a result. Their dedication and selflessness is legendary. Just google Henny Machlis and read the fascinating accounts of people’s experiences at their home.

But beyond all of the well-deserved hype, Henny was one of the most unique individuals that I have ever met. I first met her at the time of my wedding 19 years ago. Over the years I had the occasion to see her when we were in NY and they were visiting at the same time. The last time was at my nephew’s Bris this summer when she was in NY to undergo treatment for the illness that claimed her life.

She combined a rare mix of qualities that are not often found in the same person. On one hand she was very intelligent, a person who constantly learned and possessed depth along with a strong intellectual curiosity to learn more. One could not have a conversation with her without sharing something in Torah learning. On the other hand she was all heart. She had a gigantic smile, a warm and bubbly personality that put a person at ease, and she truly cared about people. She never made anyone feel that they were talking to some superior person that is beyond their stature. She was very down to earth and practical while at the same time extremely idealistic and had very high standards for herself. She had a way of doing special things without making a big deal of it while simultaneously making others feel comfortable with not aspiring to those same achievements.

Henny oozed positivity. Despite many challenges in life she always remained upbeat and never let on that anything was troubling her. She told her daughters that she wanted to put a sign above her hospital bed stating “No Questions Here.” Her great faith in Hashem’s inherent kindness was unshakable by distress and this is a legacy that she worked very hard to impart to her family. She never had anything negative to say about anyone. Only happy and good things. She was a beacon of happiness to all who encountered her.

Her passing leaves a great void. Rabbi Machlis and the children are committed to keeping their home open. To learn more about what they do and to support this effort go to

At the funeral the family chanted Eishet Chayil – the woman of valor. She was one woman who truly deserved all of the praise. It was heart-rending to hear her husband cry out the passage “Strength and splendor are her clothing, and smilingly she awaits her last day.” May Hashem comfort our uncle Mordechai and his family and all those mourning her passing, among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. May we very soon merit the fulfillment of the prophecy, “Death will be swallowed up forever and Hashem will wipe the tears from upon all faces!”

Condolences to Miriam and Ben Schenker upon the passing of her grandmother, Mrs. Jenya Lorbert.

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Shmuel and Rivky Kaufmann, and grandparents Dr. David and Nechama Kaufmann, upon the birth of their son.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

The blood of our brothers calls out

After Cain murdered Abel, G-d comes to Cain and says “the voice of your brother’s blood calls to me from the earth.” Actually the word blood is rendered in the plural form – “bloods.” Rashi comments that Cain, unsure of from which part the body the soul departs, inflicted many wounds upon his brother.

There are multiple wounds being inflicted on the bodies of our brothers and sisters in Israel. Without question the bloods of our brother are calling out to us from the holy earth into which they have been spilled. While the murder of any person should not be tolerated, when it comes to the blood of my brother I must be moved to move heaven and earth to prevent it. We must heed the call of the blood of our brothers calling out to us.

But what can we do? Not all of us are in positions to physically intervene and protect the innocent blood from being spilled. But each of us wants to and must act. The following is a six point plan – a call to action.

1.      Men: Exercise the right to bare arms and wrap Tefillin!

2.      Ladies: Share the power of the light of Shabbat candles!

3.      Ensure that your (spiritual) security system is installed and up to date (check your Mezuzahs)!

4.      Pray – read a Psalm or prayer for the safety of our mishpacha in the holy land!

5.      Contribute – to organizations that help Terror victims such as or Israel in general.

6.      Share the message: Keep Israel’s story at the frontlines on social media and using any other method at your disposal!

For more info on this campaign – check out

Standing aside and doing nothing is not an option. The Torah instructs us (Leviticus 19:16) that we may not stand aside as the blood of our fellow Jews is being shed. Act now!

Mazel Tov to Rabbi Mendel and Chaya Mushka Ceitlin upon the upshernish of their son, Heschel.

Mazel Tov to Tomer and Michal Monfred upon the birth of their son.


Condolences to Gittel Kaplan and family upon the passing of her mother.

Shabbat Shalom, indeed 

Our humble thanks

Over the past month of holidays hundreds of people passed through the doors of the Btesh Family Chabad House (Uptown) and hundreds more at Chabad Metairie and Chabad @ Tulane. Chabad also offered holiday programs in Biloxi and Baton Rouge this year. Serving so many of our fellow Jews is a privilege but it requires a lot of help from a lot of people to pull it off. As they say, “it takes a shtetl.” I would like to thank those that were instrumental in helping us at Chabad Uptown this year! Some gave of their time, some of their resources but we could not have done it without them. On behalf of the Shluchim at Chabad Uptown and their familes we extend our appreciation to those that are mentioned and to those that we will forget to mention.

We thank our event sponsors, Saul and Raquel Hakim, Morris and Marilyn Brum, Allen and Paula (George) Samuels, Dr. Tere Vives, Jon Powell, Morris and Malka Lew, Uzzi and Rivka Kehaty, Gershon and Esther Schreiber, and George and Elaine Haas.

Thank you to: Sion Daneshrad for polishing the Torah crown. Igor Cherny for Synagogue setup. Jason Benillouz, Shayna Blum, Chagit Forsher, Zalman and Tova Borowski, Yosef Rivkin for helping with event shopping. Damaris Kurall, Leti, Jami and Vernica for helping with event prep and cleanup. Sara Rivkin, Mussy Schapiro, Chaya Schreiber and Chaya Rivkin for the children’s programs. The babysitting crew, Georgia, Gabby, Alyssia, Lulu, Morgan, Jennifer, Mollie. Adam and Michelle Stross for leading the Lambeth House delegation. Rabbi Saadya Kaufmann for leading services. Rabbi Peretz Kazen for manning the door for Yom Kippur. Avi Fine for the Sukkah Mobile. Kosher Cajun and Sarah Chaya Pertuit for the help with the Sukkah-Fest. Ben Schenk and Panorama for the amazing music. To the Sukkah-Fest setup crew, baking and cooking crew and the cleanup crew. Peter Fierman, Moshe, Michael and Hillel for the schach cutting and delivery. To Rabbi Leibel and Mushka Lipskier for the Kiddush in the Sukkah. Rabbi Saadya and Chaya Sara Kaufmann, Kotel Sadrusi, Evelyn Rodos for special Simchat Torah L’chaims. To everyone who helped make the holidays – the serious ones and the joyous ones – as meaningful as they were. To all those the contributed and pledged in support of Chabad so that we can continue to offer these wonderful events. To all those that attended and participated.

May Hashem bless each and every one of you in all areas of life.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Feel the love, show some love!

Simchat Torah.jpgThere are things we do not give much consideration until we are faced with the possibility of being without them. The Mitzvah of sitting and eating in a Sukkah is one that is enjoyed by many every year. It is wonderful that so many Jews are enthusiastic to perform this special Mitzvah. Last Sunday, as we prepared to usher in the festival of Sukkot that evening, the heavens let loose with a torrential rainstorm. The weather predictions informed us that there was a 100% chance of rain during the hours of dinner on the first night of Sukkot and a very high chance for the next day or two after that. (How they can claim to be 100% sure about anything is beyond me. But that is outside of the scope of this discussion…)

It seemed that G-d was testing our dedication. Then suddenly there was a break in the rain and we were able to finish up the holiday preparations. The predictions were still dire, but we all thought that at least we may be able to squeeze 30 minutes or an hour in the Sukkah before getting rained out. But the rain held off and we spent a wonderful evening in the Sukkah. Then the next day the rain held off again. And the next night and the day after that… In short the 100% chance of rain never materialized and we have been experiencing one of the loveliest Sukkot weathers in my memory. After teasing us with that downpour on the day of Erev Sukkot, Hashem showed us His love for us and our Mitzvah of sitting in the Sukkah for the rest of the week.

Now it is our turn to show some love back. The holiday of Simchat Torah begins on Monday night. Come express your love to Hashem by coming and participating in this amazing holiday. Rather than praying and studying, we observe this holiday by dancing and being happy in celebration of our special connection to Hashem and His Torah.

The party starts at 7:30 PM on Monday night. We will have a beautiful Kiddush and Hakafot (dancing) at Chabad Uptown. At Chabad Metairie they have a champagne dinner and dancing. No reservation needed. No reservations allowed! Leave your reservations at the door so you can be uninhibited in your celebration. We look forward to partying with you for the heaven of it!

Chag Sameach,
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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