Yoseph Janowski
By the Grace of G-d

The Rebbes

Ninety-six years ago, the Previous Lubavitcher Rebbe was imprisoned, and then exiled, for keeping Judaism alive in Russia. He risked his life to do this. On this very day, the thirteenth day of Tamuz, he was freed.

He eventually came to America, with a plan to revitalize Judaism. Prominent people told him to forget it, because America is different. The Rebbe proclaimed, “America is nit andersh,” — America is not different. And he established institutions to strengthen and broaden Jewishness. His son-in-law became Rebbe and continued this effort. He did it in a peaceful way, gently reacquainting Jews with their heritage. He made it clear that one Mitzvah (like putting on Tefilin, or lighting candles before Shabbat) is just a start. There are 613 more Mitzvahs. But it’s a good start, and one Mitzvah brings another. He enabled Jews to taste the beauty and warmth of a Mitzvah, and to see how it brings light to themselves and to the world.

When it came to protecting Jewish lives and identity, the Rebbe passionately worked to do so. For example, he often spoke and wrote about not giving away any part of Israel, because of the danger. And we are all witnessing today that he was right. He spoke passionately about making sure that Israel defined a Jew according to the halacha — Jewish law, as transmitted from Mount Sinai and throughout the generations.

The Previous Rebbe was once asked why he insists on strict accordance with halacha. The person asking, offered a parable to strengthen his point: If there is a fire (he meant the fire of assimilation), then even dirty water will put it out. The Previous Rebbe answered, that this is true if you are using water. But what if it’s kerosene?

Right after the holocaust, the Lubavitcher Rebbes uplifted the spirits of our people. And they did it with compassion, caring, and kindness. And they stood firm to protect the holiness and sanctity of our tradition.

About the Author
The author lives in Toronto, Canada. He has written for
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