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Dr. Kaufmann Memorial Photos & Videos - Jewish Census Takers

Thursday, 25 May, 2017 - 12:48 pm

Last night we held a very meaningful gathering in memory of Dr. David Kaufmann. Over 100 people came together at Chabad House to honor his life and memory. Heartfelt words were shared by Chabad Shluchim, community members and Tulane alumni, as well as a video message from a member of the family. Hundreds of people were watching around the world as the event was being live streamed on Facebook and over 1,000 have viewed it since the event concluded. A beautiful slideshow of photos from Dr. Kaufmann’s life and work in the community was shown. A booklet of selected writings was printed as a memento of the evening. It was truly an outpouring of love and gratitude to David and his family.

Pictures of the event can be viewed at

The video and the slide show of the event can be accessed via

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the census that was taken of the Jewish people in the Sinai desert. Generally when we think of census workers, we are thinking newly employed, semi-retired, or temps that are hired to do the tedious work of census taking. It is hardly a glamorous job and certainly not a very stimulating task. It means walking from door to door and asking the same questions over and over again, and dealing with the moods of the folks answering (or not answering) the doors on which they knocked.

Contrast that with the instructions Hashem gives for the census of the Jewish people. Hashem commands Mosher to conduct the census himself, and because the job is too big for one person, he instructs him to take Aharon the High Priest as an assistant. Just in case the job of counting over 600,000 households is too big for two people, Hashem assigns the princes of the twelve tribes as associate census takers. So essentially you have the top brass, the king, the high priest and the aristocracy of the Jewish nation doing the grunt work of census taking.

Why is this so? To Hashem, the Jewish people are so precious that counting them deserves to be performed only by the greatest of leaders. This idea is expressed in the following well-known story.

For years, on Sunday afternoons, the Rebbe would greet and bestow a blessing and dollar bill for Tzedakah upon anyone who came to see him. He would often stand for hours as thousands of people filed by, many of them seeking a blessing or advice about a personal matter. The Rebbe was once asked how he had the strength to stand all day, sometimes for seven or eight hours, to accommodate everyone. The Rebbe beamed and replied: “When you’re counting diamonds you don’t get tired.”

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin


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