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Chabad of Uptown and personal diary updates! Please comment on our posts, we would love to hear from you!

Tu B'Shevat Shabbat - Where is your



* Dates of Tu B'Shvat (& Young Adults) Shabbaton: This Tu B'shvat Shabbos will be jammed packed as part of the special "One Shabbat, One World" project. Friday candlelighting at 5:41 pm. 6:30pm user-friendly services for all ages followed by young adults (professionals, students, singles and couples) Shabbat dinner with wide array of Israeli (DATES, figs and more), new and kabbalistic fruit among the always great food and company. tantalize your palliate and soul. RSVP now!!!

* Shabbat services @ 10am followed by buffet lunch for all well-deserved service-survivors with more fruit and the best cholent this side of the Mississippi!

* Melava Malka: This special Shabbos will culminate with a joint Melava Malka of the six local participating Chabad locations with scholar-in-residence Rabbi Eli Silberstein of Ithaca, NY. Topic: Kabbalah of Happiness. $15 a person; RSVP.

* Mommy & Me: Chanie will be having her winter Mommy & Me session with the budding Einsteins and Michelangelos having their first Jewish experience through art and song. Click here for more info and share the light - let moms know!!!

* Parsha Class: It aint too late to join the Birth series - a weekly Exodus parsha journey; mirrored image of the birth of every soul and applied to our daily lives. Timeless lessons in a one hour timed study! Join us Tuesdays. lunch 12-1:15 and Thursdays 8-9.

* Kabbalah of Character: There is also the JLI ongoing class: Kabbalah of Character with Rabbi Moishe Traxler on Tuesday evenings. More at

* Birthright Recruiting - Registration opens soon No longer eligible for a free Israel trip through Birthright Israel? Well, you can still get in on the excitement. Apply to be a Mayanot Birthright recruiter, sign up your friends for the trip, and you can find yourself staffing this summer's trip. Age eligibility requirements have just been lowered from 21 to 18. Contact me for more details.
Of course, if you are eligible, this is an opportunity you'd have to be crazy to miss. 10 days in
Israel doing everything you could possibly imagine. Jeeping in the Desert, white water rafting, floating in the Dead Sea, swimming in the Mediterranean, riding camels or donkeys, sleeping in a Bedouin tent, experiencing the awe of Jerusalem and the Western Wall, and so much more. And all for free. for info and to pre-register. Registration opens Feb. 15, and is expected to close in less than three weeks.

* Spring Break: Argentina. This Spring, join students from all over the country for an exciting and meaningful alternative spring break program. Help a community in need and explore a region you've never seen. See site for more!

In other news...


* Rivkie celebrated her second birthday last week with a quaint family celebration with a choice of chocolate or color-sprinkled cupcakes and lessons how to - when prompted - hold down the pinky and ring fingers [look up finger names] to indicate age two (and for the peace sign for her teen :) years...) I was tempted to teach her the longhorn-two, but in respect to you aggies (yes, you: a.s., a.s, b.e., m.k., s.f.e., r.b. and others ) I kept the "peace". :).

* NYC Trip: I joined thousands at the ohel in commemoration of "Yud Shevat" and rejuiced as we forge ahead through the uncommonly bristling cold Houston winter. Every trip to NYC comes with a price, a prize object to be brought back to the third largest city that does not have what the big apple's got (or for the same price).... The looks on the airline personnel's faces are golden when I answer to their harmless, procedural question of, "what is in the box, sir?" I say quite naturally "gefilte fish". She stops tagging for a moment and looks up at me and I get this blank stare, "fish?" "yep, 30 frozen fish" "hmm interesting", and she carries on with her business and sends me off with the box to no. 8 to make the sure "gefilte" does not equate packed with explosives (that maybe was the case when our grandmas made it the real way in the old country)... The uniformed dude at monstrous no. 8 repeats the same (to me humorous) dialogue, "fish, huh?" - always a fun part of my trip to the city that never sleeps.

* MATISYAHU: A girl seated in A of my row, headed home from a three month trip in west Africa to learn Dakar and Ghadie dance from the top teachers, surviving riots, sporting waste-length dreadlocks, and writing a diary in a simple spiral notebook, shares her interests in Matisyahu and her hooked experience at a club concert in Santa Fe, where she is from. Interesting to hear how a soul was touched by his music.

* Seeking guests: Chanie has got her turn too - for she is headed to the International Conference of Shluchos next week. I'll be home with three of the kiddos and making shabbos too! Looking for some guests to join me so Chanie beleives me that I really do know how to make good competitive chicken...

Construction has begun in earnest with tractors, bobcats, cranes and jackhammers. The greatest challenge, keeping our vessel for G-dliness functioning throughout the construction stage of our new one.

* Groundbreaking ceremony with Mayor, Israeli Consul General, and the whole line up, this Sunday at noon.

* My 8 year old niece Bat-Sheva Lazaroff of the west coast - LA, CA - (my Rabbi/law-student brother Leible's daughter) came to visit for her winter break and spent some great time getting to know her cousins in the real west.


Laugh, comment or shout at any of my ramblings. Love to hear your thoughts, feedback and your own experiences. I will be posting (this and my past) stuff at - you can comment there too.


See you real soon!

BO: Our ancestors in Egypt caused on uproar

Our ancestors in Egypt caused on uproar when (as we'll read Shabbos morning in Shul) they took lambs and tied it to the doorposts of their home in preparation for the Paschal sacrifice to take place four days later.

But instead of the SPCA, it was actually the Egyptian religious authorities that took issue with this sacrilegious tradition; you see in Egypt of old the lamb was considered a G-d, a divine deity to be worshiped, not made into lamb chops for the Seder.
While there is no documentation of talk shows in Egypt, the public outcry demanded to know; (although there was not any cruelty inflicted on the lambs, as cruelty to animals is a prohibited as a Universal Mitzvah in the Torah) "Why are you doing this to our God?"

Good question. Why did they have to do this? Does God need our little lamb?

The Midrash implies that they needed to do this in order to merit redemption. But wasn't our departure from Egypt part of the script even before we left? G-d promised it to Abraham 190 year before we even rocked up to Egypt.

The Rebbe says that perhaps the reason for them to bring this sacrifice was for their own freedom. Yes, they would have left Egypt regardless of the Paschal Braai, but would " Egypt" have left them?

They were slaves. Not only slaves to the Egyptians. They were slaves to their habits, to their inhibitions, to their lack of belief in a better tomorrow. They were slaves to a materialistic and immoral mindset of the perverted philosophies of Egypt. They had to break loose.
The idealism and strength of character that would soon define them as G-d's chosen people had been frozen to death over the years of backbreaking labor building the pyramids of commerce and trade for the Egyptian idols.

They had to free themselves from the symbolic G-d's of Egypt so that they could express themselves as a truly free people to serve and embody the infinite potential of the divine soul within them.

So the paschal sacrifice wasn't for G-d. It was for them; to allow them to see beyond the primitive goal of survival and see the opportunities that lay ahead for them.

No, I'm not implying in any way that we should be sacrificing lambs on our front lawn. But we should be eliminating society's God of material and personal self gratification.
Let's see the opportunities that await us tomorrow if we only free ourselves from our inhibitions of today.

Wishing you a Shabbat of freedom,
Rabbi Chaim Editor
P.S. This Monday, I will join thousands, of all waks of like, to visit the Ohel  - the resting place - of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, o.b.m in commemoration of "Yud Shevat". You may submit your Hebrew name, your mother's Hebrew Name and anything in particular you would like me to pray for, and I will mention you as part of my prayers at the Rebbe's grave on Monday.

VA'EIRA: Aaron miraculously transformed his staff into a snake

As we'll read tommorow morning, when Moses and Aaron were standing in front of Pharaoh, Aaron miraculously transformed his staff into a snake, a great Miracle proclaiming the divine origin of their mission to Pharoah.  
Great stuff; but not for long. Pharaoh's sorcerers immediately duplicated the trick producing the same snakes, threatening what seems to be Aaron's secure demonstration of divine strength. But instead of Aaron standing back, his staff then went on to swallow the all the snakes of the Pharoah.
But whose staff was it; Moshe's or Aaron's?
The Abarbanel and Rashi both would seem to follow the simple understanding of the verse that it was Aaron's. Perhaps that's because Aaron was known as someone who put his love for others before anything. His approach was overflowing love and concern. That's why only he was able to swallow his adversaries in his favor.
Rashi even quotes the Talmud that says that before it swallowed the others it had reversed into being a staff again. That might teach us that so long that you're "a snake" with a sense of venom (anger, frustration, scorn) at other people, you'll never succeed in inspiring them to join you. 
Only when you follow Aaron; a premises of unconditional love, with a staff (not a snake); consistent and straightforward vision, will inspire those around you to learn from the positive contributions that you can and must share with the rest of us. 
Wishing you a Shabbos of straightforward love for others,
Rabbi Chaim Editor

You know I'm in love with the Uptown Shul....

Dear Friends,
Exodus. The story of a people enslaved in Egypt, and a Moses that ultimately leads them to freedom. In the unfolding drama prior to the happy ending, king Pharaoh, hoping to annihilate the future redeemer of Israel, decrees that all Jewish male babies be thrown into the Nile. The day was saved by two heroic midwives, who whisked away the babies before they can be found by the Egyptians. This, amongst other heroic acts of the Jewish women in Egypt, brings our sages to teach that “Our ancestors were redeemed from Egypt in the merit of the righteous women.”
The Rebbe, of blessed memory, taught that we must learn from this to never underestimate the power of the Jewish Woman. The woman must utilize her feminine qualities to bring Judaism to the world, one child a time. This will bring us closer to the ultimate redemption. The Rebbe's message inspires the thousands of "Shluchos" from around the world who will gather at the Annual Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Shluchos in New York. They are at the forefront of the Jewish renaissance in thousands of cities around the globe. As the co-director of Chabad of Uptown and Chabad Hebrew School in addition to teaching and other responsilbities, Chanie will join this conference (and of course, visit family) to gain inspiration to impart Jewish spirit in our world around us. I hope we all follow her shining example.
The Uptown Shul...
  • Anyone want to write the lyrics for "The Uptown Shul"? :-) Your reward: We will sing it in Uptown! (No, I do not know the song - in fact I do not even know how it goes! A friend of mine just alerted me to this Billy Joel favorite).
  • OK, back to serious stuff: THIS WEEK: Friday Night: 6:30 pm followed by dinner, Shabbos Day 10:00 am followed by lunch (as if anything has changed besides our age...) (RSVP)
  • Mommy & Me dates have been set for the winter session. Six Tuesdays, Feb 20 - March 27; 10-11:30 am. Spread the word!
  • JLI Parsha Series for the book of Exodus, BIRTH, has taken off with a strong following! As it is a parsha class, you can join for any class that fits your schedule! Tuesdays, Lunch & Learn 12-1:15pm & Thursdays 8-9pm.
  • SAVE THE DATE: Uptown Young Adults Shabbaton for next Uptown Shabbos on Friday, Feb. 2 as part of the One Shabbat, One World project (to be held in Houston in six locations),
In other news:
  • Many of you have probably seen by now the Building Expansion Project brochure for the Chabad Lubavitch Center - Texas Regional Hdqtrs. Save the date for the groundbreaking ceremony to be held Sunday, Feb. 4, 2007 at Noon with guest speaker Rabbi Sholom B. Lipskar of Bal Harbor, FL and many local dignitaries including City of Houston Mayor Bill White. You will not want to miss this historic event for the Houston Jewish community!
  • Mendel (now 4) and Chaya Mushka (now 5) had their birthday parties with their friends in Uptown two weeks ago, in their classes at TDS, and at their home this past shabbos together with Bubbie & Zaydie Lazaroff.
  • Levi turned one month old (boy, time flies) this past Shabbos.
  • Rivkie... well, she turns two this Wednesday.
Our mailbag:
  • We sure enjoyed your class! When I always start your class (each time) I feel like I am viewing it with foggy glasses on. I am not sure about what the lesson will be, I am not sure where the subject will go. But by the end of class, the fog is gone from the glasses and I feel like I am wearing 3D glasses! So many different facets to a subject.
  • Shalom everyone [Houston school administrators and volunteers],
    The community-wide Chanukah (Israeli-style) celebration on Dec. 21st  far exceeded our expectations!  Over 250 parents and children came to celebrate at the Merfish Teen Center.  It was wonderful to see families from the entire Jewish community come together in celebration.  You can catch a glimpse of the Torah Day School choir singing on the following link:  . [...]
    We would like to thank those of you who were actively involved in promoting, volunteering, and organizing for the celebration.  We would especially like to thank Torah Day School and Chabad Hebrew School for their incredible leadership in the event, bringing student volunteers, and the choir.   We would also like to thank Lisa Klein and Lori Actor from the Bureau of Jewish Education for their help and support throughout the planning and the event itself. [...]
    Renee and Tali
    Consulate General of Israel

See you in the Uptown Shul!
Rabbi Chaim & Chanie

SHEMOS:“Thank G-d, I make a living

There's a classic Jewish joke about an elderly Jewish man who is run over. He’s lying in the street when the paramedics arrive. As they load him carefully onto the stretcher, one asks, “Are you comfortable?" He replies, “Thank G-d, I make a living."

This week we begin the second book of the Torah: Exodus. Though living in Egypt, oppressed and spiritually far from the Holy Land, Jacob and his family, the forebears of the Jewish nation - and the generations following - all  made a living. They made a life for themselves by continuing to study the Torah and the Jewish traditions. In fact it states that in the merit of them not changing their names, clothing and language our forefathers were redeemed. But, shining through them all, is the tribe of Levi whom bring forth Moshe Rabbeinu occupying themselves with spirituality and Torah study.
Fast forward to 2007. We may not be in Egypt, but we're definitely not in the "Holy Land" yet. However, we can still live the good life, by studying Torah.
Two exciting options out there are the newest upcoming courses from JLI, The JLI 10 week Parsha series: Birth on the book of Exodus and the Kabbalah of Character, which promises to be a highly fascinating and exciting 8 weeks. Additionally, you can study online, choose from over thirty classes weekly, or contact us and we'll schedule something.
Looking forward to seeing you at the JLI.
Good Shabbos!
Rabbi Chaim Editor

VAYECHI: The yartzeit of the Rambam

The 20th of Tevet, this year January 10, marks the yartzeit of the Rambam (Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon), Rabbi Moses Maimonides, more than 800 years ago. The Rambam was an outstanding codifier, commentator, philosopher, physician to the Sultan and leader of Egyptian Jewry.
A little over 20 years ago, the Lubavitcher Rebbe urged all Jews to study every day a section of the Rambam's Mishne Torah, or at least the briefer Sefer HaMitzvot. Hundreds of thousands of Jews undertook this great endeavor and are studying one of the above-mentioned works.
Although the Rambam passed away so long ago, he and his great wisdom are still with us. When a person sits down to study a chapter, or a law from one of the Rambam's works, his spirit and teachings remain alive.
About the Rambam, our Sages have said, "From Moses to Moses, there was none like Moses!" This means that from the time of the Moses who took us out of Egypt, there has never lived a person who exhibited all of the Rambam's unique qualities of transmission of the Torah. This saying is engraved on Maimonides' gravestone, which implies that it was accepted by all of our Sages from all circles who came to visit the Rambam's resting place.
With wishes fo a successful year,
Rabbi Chaim Editor

We are back this Shabbos!

Dear Friends,
I hope seeing an email from me on New Years doesn't put you into shock... I mean after all it isn't a Yom Kippur appeal or anything, just a few thoughts from this side of the road…
Uptown Stuff...
  • Shabbaton this week.(RSVP)  6:30 pm Friday followed by of course - dinner, and 10 am Saturday followed by buffet kiddush with Chanie's wonderful cholent. (Yes, expectantless-Chanie and I and ALL the kids will be there!)
  • This week we will wrap up Origins and start a new course next week: Birth. I am sure you all got the email. Notice the day change of the lunch from Wednesday to Tuesday to better accommodate our students. Please join us on Tuesdays, Lunch at 12-1:15 pm and Thursdays 8-9:00 pm.
  • We will be hosting/having a Young Adults Friday night dinner at Chabad of Uptown on Feb 2 as part of the One Shabbat, One World project. Stay tuned for details!
  • I have reworked the webpages at so that now it is easier to browse through our Uptown specific photo galleries. You know, a little Uptown pride!
  • Also, check out our new YouTube channel with some Chabad and personal stuff posted and to be posted there. Your comments are welcome! (This is of course in addition to
In other news....
  • Chanukah - what a trip! Rabbi Baumgarten first wowed us all with his spectacular voice. The City Hall menorah lighting was attended by hundreds - young and old. After a spectacular car menorah parade (YouTube), the Galleria, Chanukah on Ice was witnessed by thousands (YouTube). Hundreds attended the beautiful Sugar Land City Hall menorah lighting. West Houston enjoyed a wonderful evening at JCC- West. Of course, Chabad of Uptown's menorah lighting was a wonderful evening. Finally, the Israeli Consulate put on a party at Merfish center where Torah Day School's choir performed (YouTube) and Rabbi Chaim (yes, that's me) was honored with lighting the menorah..... (This was of course in addition to a packed house at Borders Meyerland for Story time and daily Olive Press demonstrations at the Children's Museum and Friendship Circle's Bowl).... WOW, anyone want more latkes?! See the many news stories and photo galleries.
  • As part of Rabbi Dovid Goldstein's Golden Circle, we went to visit the Vosswood Senior Living Center among many others visited over Chanukah. See YouTube here.
  • Ah, the Bris. The long awaited party finally came with a 24hr notice. We appreciate the good wishes all of you shared and understand those that could not make it due to it's late invite nature and vacation plans. It was fine, there was more food for me. :) We named our new addition Levi Yitzchak after the Rebbe's father o.b.m., and my mother's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schapiro, a.h. who passed away a little over a year ago. May he grow to be a source of pride for the entire family and Jewish (and of course Uptown) community. See photos here. Thanks to Caroline Stanley and Ilan Melnik - our great photographers! Thank you Suzy for all of your help, and especially the 6am bagel pickup!
  • Many thanks owed to Rabbi Dovid & Elisa Goldstein for filling in for us the last Uptown Shabbos. I understand it was a wonderful weekend and that it will be hard to fill their shoes now.... hmmmmmm.
  • Our kids vacation is, thank G-d, coming to an end. They will now go back to school, and will not need never ending well-time-spent entertainment. It was nice, but also nice to see them go back tomorrow to learn a little more Torah from their great teachers at Torah Day School. Their well versed parsha story is something I look forward to hearing again next Shabbos!
  • My brother Yossi and family came to visit over the break, and my kids had a great time bonding with their cousins. Sunday, we took them rock climbing. I could not resist and try it myself. What fun!
  • Chanie's mother came to visit from New York and she has been a great help with the Baby and kids...! 
  • So.... (M.S. - the "so" was for you), last night just as I finally dozed off reading some light Midrash, Chanie and I were awakened to frantic knocking. I too, frantically, ran around the house and checked windows and doors, until I looked at the clock - it was 12:01 am, Jan. 1, 2007. Feeling really bright and special, I crawled back in bed, and could not fall back asleep for at least an hour.
See you at classes this week, or Shabbos!
Rabbi Chaim & Chanie
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