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

They were too spiritual. He was too physical.

Dear Friends,
It has been a while. So...
The sched:
June 27: Friday "User-Friendly" Service: 7:30pm followed by dinner. YES, you are invited. RSVP!
June 28: Shabbos Mevarchim Tehillim: 8:30am
            Shacharis: 10am followed by a kiddush with the best cholent, this side of....
            Kiddush sponsored in honor of last Shabbos morning's birth of Liron Chana to Ofir & Einat Caspi! Mazel Tov! Join the farbrengen!
            Minchah: 8pm, followed by informal class on Ethics of our Fathers, Chapter 3
            Maariv, Havdalla & Shabbos Ends: 9:07pm
Current Thursday Lunch (12-1:15pm) & evening (8-9pm) course, you can always join: Heading Somewhere: Bamidbar
Future Shabbaton dates listed at
The news (in short review):
  • Visited S. Antonio & Sea World with fam last week, a/c on our new van blows. Thank G-d for GPS, CarMax (4 min. away) here we come! They replaced entire a/c system, gave us a loaner, and we were forced to extend our vacation for another day (in Austin) with a stop at (the GPS located Kinkos) to book a priceline hotel for a bargain! Gave us some time to Walmart some purchases for the family.
  • Kids started Camp Gan Israel this week, Levi for his first time away from home for the day! They love it!
  • Spent two days of inspiration a the Southeast Regional conference of Chabad Lubavitch Shluchim held this year in New Orleans, LA. We heard from the President of City Council and the President of the Jewish Federation of the rebuilding challenges, and Chabad's exemplary work at  being in the forefront of the community and infrastructure of the rebuilding effort. Of course, the days were spent filled with inspiration and workshops with great camaraderie.
  • Finishing touches of the new building at the Chabad Lubavitch Center on Fondren are on and Chanie put together a great string of prizes to be included on the auction part of the West Wing Dedication Cocktail, Concert and Chinese Auction to be held on Sunday, July 13. More at
  • Our Uptown moving process has been featured in a news article here. Read all about it!
  • Next weekend marks the Yartzeit of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, o.b.m., and I - along with Mendel - will be joining the pilgrimage to the Rebbe's ohel in New York. As in the past, if you wish that I include your name and mother's name in my prayers at the graveside at this auspicious, feel free to send it to me, along with any prayers you may wish to add.
  • Chanie & I will be leading a Mayanot birthright-Israel of over 40 kids at the end of the July. We are looking forward to inspire and be inspired! (Oh yeah, and I renewed my passport today...)
The thought for the week:
Last week we explored the story of the 10 spies who resisted the notion of a material and physical lifestyle in Eretz Yisrael as opposed to the spiritually charged environment of the miraculous experience in the desert.

No, they were reprimanded by Moshe, our purpose is to enter the land, face the world - and make a difference.

More than all of the feelings, ideas and meditations that the Sinai peninsula offered, action was the main thing.

And action could only happen with people that would work the land.

More than what we feel or know, it's about what we do.

Well "Is that the case?"
says Korach this week. Is it really all about our actions? Then what makes you and Aaron so special?

After all we all do the same Mitzvot and serve the same G-d.

Korach had the same problem as the spies - in reverse.

They were too spiritual. He was too physical.

He forgot that while the action is the main thing, our kavana - intent, our spirituality, our knowledge of Torah (and in Moshe's case the prophecy) does make a difference.

Many of today's "youth at risk" disenchanted with Judaism often describe a ritualistic old-fashioned tradition devoid of any real depth or meaning.

That's probably because they were raised and educated with a Korach brand of Judaism.

The body and soul of Jewish tradition are equally important.

Wishing you a Shabbos of spiritual growth,

Rabbi Chaim & Chanie!

P.S. Join the excitement at the Dedication Cocktail, Concert & Chinese Auction (you do not need to be present to win!)

Changes Afoot at Lone Star State Jewish Centers


Houston’s Chabad-Lubavitch of Uptown, where a new Mommy and Me program is flourishing, has its sights set on bigger and better quarters.
Houston’s Chabad-Lubavitch of Uptown, where a new Mommy and Me program is flourishing, has its sights set on bigger and better quarters.

In the largest of the 48 contiguous states, thinking big is a way of life. So it comes as no surprise that when the opportunity arose to make the Chabad-Lubavitch Center of Houston bigger and better, the local Jewish community was ready and willing to chip in.

The same can be said in the city’s Uptown District, where Chabad of Uptown just moved into temporary quarters after outgrowing its previous home.

Dr. Irv Fishman, whose daughters-in-law teach at the Torah Day School at the Chabad-Lubavitch Center, says that he’s particularly excited about the center’s expansion, in which a new west wing will accommodate eight new classrooms, two Jewish ritual baths, a larger synagogue, social hall, kitchen and library.

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“We’ve been involved in the school for 30 years,” says Fishman, 62, of his family. “Our oldest child was one of the first students in the school.

“We consider it an extension of our home,” he adds. “Please G-d, our great-grandchildren will be there too.”

As part of the project – which will see the current 15,000-sqare-foot building mushroom to 40,000-square-feet of usable space – the Chabad-Lubavitch Center, directed by Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff, purchased two acres of land adjacent to its current structure. The acquisition will provide a new playing field, state-of-the-art playground and parking lot. A July 13 dedication ceremony will feature a Chinese Auction, rooftop party and concert.

“After we’re finished dedicating, we’ll start renovating the old classrooms and build the women’s mikvah,” says Lazaroff. “Then, it will be complete.

“The center is a three-acre campus right in the heart of Houston’s Jewish community,” adds the rabbi, who moved to the city in 1972 with wife Chiena Lazaroff – director of the day school – and four young children.

The Lazaroffs’ Chabad House, which also serves as the Texas Regional Headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch, was one of 71 new centers established that year in honor of the 70th birthday of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

The current women’s mikvah will be converted to men’s use. Chiena Lazaroff says that the new mikvah will boast three preparation rooms with “marble, granite, and the latest in fixtures and lighting.”

“It’s going to be stunning,” adds Lazaroff, who expects more than 200 women to regularly use the ritual bath.

Moving on Up in Uptown

When completed, the expanded Texas Regional Headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch in Houston will house 40,000 square feet.

While his parents oversee the expansion’s final touches, Rabbi Chaim Lazaroff has plans of his own to implement after Chabad of Uptown’s recent move.

“Our old shul couldn’t handle more than a minyan,” says the younger Lazaroff, one of three sons who serve as Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries in Texas. “Now, there’s ample space.”

“It seemed like a necessary move,” offers Dr. Jerry Simmons. “It keeps things going.”

Simmons, a neurologist, has been attending Chabad of Uptown’s Thursday afternoon lunch-and-learn Torah classes for the past two years.

The class provides “good insight,” he adds.

Seventh-generation Texan Bob Epstein says that he enjoyed the Shavuot services held at the new location, a holdover until an even bigger center is readied for permanent occupancy.

“It was absolutely beautiful,” says Epstein, 85, “very relaxed, comfortable and clean. I enjoyed being there.”

“The fact that we found it is a miracle,” says Lazaroff, who runs the Chabad House with wife Chanie Lazaroff.

One advantage to the new Uptown space is the ability to accommodate worshippers for High Holiday services. In the past, the Lazaroffs had to rent out local halls. The rabbi says, however, that the planned permanent location – to be located among the city’s high-rises – will be even bigger.

“We’ll be able to provide a greater amount of classes and holiday programs,” he says.

For his part, Shimon Lazaroff looks across the Houston landscape with a little bit of wonder.

“When I came here, there were only three Sabbath-observant Jews in the city,” he says. “Now there’s 400. And the community just keeps growing and growing.”

Gas hits $4, the lesson?

Friday night: 7:30pm
Shacharit: 10am
Mincha followed by Ethics of our Fathers: 8:00pm
Maariv, Havdalla and Kiddush Levana (Blessing of the Moon): 9:04pm
What a wonderful showing on Shavuot for the 10 commandments where we all once again stood like one man with one heart - 70 men, women and children together received the Torah at the new and approved Chabad of Uptown!
And... L'chaim for Yom Yerushalayim brought together close to 100 young professionals, singles and couples.
Check for listing of all future Shabbat dates.
Now here is a thought for Shabbos: At times others respect our traditions more than we appreciate our Shabbat and Holidays. Why is that?

Perhaps we need a double dose of the Shabbat Diet.

What's that you ask?
Well this week we are going to be reading about the Shabbat Diet.

No, not the Gefilte Fish, the Kishke, Cholent or even the Chicken Soup.

I mean "the Manna" a real desert treasure (even if it wasn't trading at $150 for a barrel of crude Manna).

Yep, I'm talking about that poppy like substance that miraculously came down from heaven six days a week and provided sustenance to the Jewish people.

It also taught them how to keep Shabbos - even in a recession - even when the Federal Reserve adjusts the interest rates!

You see the Manna was a reminder that while food (and all things filling) are important, we have to remember where it comes from.

Unfortunately when times are going good and the economy is up we can very quickly convince ourselves that out our success is due to our business acumen and and entrepreneurial spirit.

But then when things take a dip (and oil hits $4 a gallon at the pump) suddenly we all think "maybe I'm gonna need some help from Upstairs on this one."

That's what was special about the Manna. Even when the SDSE (Sinai Desert Stock Exchange) was up (a 100 point profit on Manna every Friday) they still always remembered that it came from G-d.

So whether you're going through a bit of a rough patch with the times ahead or your father in law is partners with a Sheikh in Abu Dhabi,  remember where it's all coming from.

And when Shabbos comes along to remind us of that with it's 25 hours of rest and joy, let's respect it - like an Indian, not a Kugel.

Wishing you a Shabbat of appreciation for the pause on the business of life,
See you Shabbos!
Rabbi Chaim & Chanie

P.S. Please note that Chabad of Uptown is moving to a larger and beautiful location at The Pavilion on 1800 S. Post Oak Blvd!


The Top Ten Reasons

Dear Friends,
Chabad of Uptown's grand reopening is here! (In The Pavilion, 1800 S. Post Oak Blvd., Ground Floor #140, between Westheimer & San Felipe).
This Shavuot, June 8-10 we be in full swing... Y'all should have gotten the info in the mail, if you haven't /won't, that means we probably do not have your address on file.
We have overcome many hurdles with preparing, repairing, a/c, plumbing and more for the space, but, the great moment is finally here! (Thank you so much to all those that stepped forward to assist this effort. You can still participate with the project by donating online at and placing "Uptown" in the "in honor of" section).
In case you missed it, here is the top ten reasons you should be in shul on Monday to hear the Ten Commandments:

10 You have no other plans.
9 You heard them last year.
8 You didn’t hear them last year.
7 You don’t know what they are.
6 You’ve never met a Rabbi.
5 You’ve never been to Chabad.
4 Your recollection of them has faded since you first heard them 3320 years ago.
3 You can not list at least 5 of them.
2 You have kids and want to raise them as a ‘Mentch.’
1 You are a Jew.

Here is the Uptown schedule:

Sunday, June 8:
Evening Services, 8:00 pm
All night Torah study, 12:00 am
Monday, June 9:
Morning Services, 10:00 am
Ten Commandments Torah Reading, 11:15 am
Children’s Service: 11:45 am - 12:45 pm
Followed by dairy kiddush & ice cream party
Evening Services, 8:00 pm
Tuesday, June 10:
Morning Services 10:00 am
Yizkor, 12:00 pm
Evening Services, 8:00 pm
Here is a thought for the long weekend (Shabbat and Yom Tov).

Another two days of no emails, cell phone, board meetings, clients and office managers...

So what's this holiday all about?

1. Torah. Spirituality. Meditation. Purpose. Life. Birth. Prayer. God. Divinity...

2. Decadent Cheesecake. Hot Lasagna. Sweet Blintzes. Hazelnut Coffee...

What's the connection?

For the focus on eating dairy foods -
see here. But why all the emphasis on eating in general?

On the contrary, other than the High Holidays, Shavuot is definitely
the most spiritual holiday lacking any real physical miracle or occasion.

(No Maccabees victory (Chanukah),  Egyptian freedom (Pesach), Persian downfall (Purim) or miraculous Desert Life (Sukkot) - just the giving of the Torah on Mount Sinai.)

And yet as opposed to all the other holidays where there are specific Mitzvot - spiritual rituals - to be observed, the only Mitzva on Shavuot is to stay away from work and enjoy the holiday - with delicious food and drink!

(Of course there is all of the holiday prayers, night of learning and Ten commandments to hear etc but none of that is associated with any special Brocho over the Mitzva...)

In fact, Shavuot is the only holiday when fasting is absolutely forbidden!

Perhaps the purpose of Shavuot, as the most spiritual holiday - is to sanctify the most physical and material elements of life.

Making Cheesecake holy may sound fictitious but that's why we got the Torah;

That's why we celebrate Shavuot;

To make cheesecake (and Emails, Cycling, Internet, long weekends, stressful clients, Baseball, Board Meetings and all of the other things that clutter up life...) holy.

On a day when we celebrate the descent of the Divine World in an unprecedented communication with mankind, we remember to focus on the ascent of  humanity into the role of  filling the world with a divine purpose.

Torah is our guide to make each and every experience in life, from the hours we spend in prayer and study to the first bite into the blessed cheesecake full of divine purpose and meaning.

And that's what we'll be celebrating on the long weekend...

Wishing you a long weekend of a Shabbat Shalom and Chag Sameach!
We hope to see y'all Shavuot!!
Rabbi Chaim & Chanie

P.S. Please note that Chabad of Uptown has moved to a larger and beautiful location at The Pavilion on 1800 S. Post Oak Blvd!

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