INTERVIEW WITH RABBI YEHUDA
Without going into a lengthy autobiography, what caused
you to making Judaism so central to your life?
Growing up in a Brooklyn Chassidic neighborhood obviously made Judaism the
only choice. The strength and vitality in Judaism came from Rabbi Menachem
Schneerson whom I merited to grow up in his circles.
|What is your denominational history? How were you
raised? What denominational affiliation do you currently hold? How
important is denominationalism to you personally and to Judaism as a
I grew up in a Chassidic household, a
cardinal principle in my upbringing was to love every Jew regardless
of affiliation or background. I believe that we must find a common
denominator among all people and place great importance on the
positive parts that we all share, thereby choosing Jewish unity. It is
no secret that when you have two Jews you have three opinions
nevertheless we must remember we are one family.
Judaism rests on three major categories: God, Torah and
Israel. How do you currently understand each of these terms?
G'd, the Torah, and the Jewish nation are all one. By a Jew being
constantly aware that G'd is constantly with us this will bring him to
increase his Torah awareness. The above will result in Jewish unity.
What do you believe to be the central challenge facing
contemporary Judaism in general / in Berlin?
The challenge facing Judaism in general will be educating the young
generation that they have basic Jewish knowledge. As we enter the next
millenium, it is incumbent on all of us to take a few moments a day to
think about the future of our nation.
The challenge facing Judaism in Berlin is the same as above, however the
circumstances here demand immediate action, we must educate our youth and
give them the ability to live as proud knowledgeable Jews.
How are you addressing these challenges?
As director of Lubavitch Berlin, I have established weekly study classes
for students, a Sunday Jewish learning program for children, plus many
other ongoing events and activities to reach our goal of bringing more
Yiddishkeit to Berlin.
Given that this interview is being used as an
introduction to you and your work, what three things do you want people to
know about you?
I would like people to know that 1) at Chabad we accept and love every Jew
regardless of the background, 2) that by doing one good deed you can
affect the world at large and turn your own life around, and 3) that by
participating in any of our Jewish awareness programs you are in no way
obligating yourself to anything, but rather you are giving yourself a
chance to know what Judaism is all about.
While your interests are wide is it often true that
teachers have an essential message they wish to impart. Is that true of
you? And, if it is, what is your core teaching?
The message I wish to impart is that every Jew and every person is
important to society at large, and by doing acts of goodness and kindness
we can bring Moshiach/redemption to all people.
What is the current focus of your work?
The current focus of my work is the upkeep and expand all of the twelve
outreach programs we have going on a continuous basis.
What kind of support are you in need of?
We have the support of the Jewish Community, we want to involve as many
people as possible and help them help themselves. By investing in the
upkeep and expansion of our Jewish outreach programs you are securing a
bright future for our community.
What helps you to deal with the danger of burn-out?
We have the enthusiasm and courage to go on when we see the fruits of our
labor, the Russian immigrants affected by our holiday programs, the
children by our youth programs and summer camps, the students by our
Shabbat beginner's service, and so on. When we see the feedback from the
people, this helps to go on with more strength and vigor with our work.
When have you been amazed about yourself during the last
The Talmud tells us that when you have hundred you should strive for two
hundred, and when you have two hundred you should strive for four hundred.
We cannot take the time to sit and think about our achievements, rather
all our energy must be focused on the work that remains to be done in the
What is your vision for yourself / for your family / for
The vision for myself and my family is that we increase our acts of
goodness and kindness and that we help as many people as we can, thereby
making the world a better place. The vision I see for Judaism is that
hopefully soon Moshiach will come and nobody will suffer or be hungry,
rather we will have all we need.
As a closing statement I would like to say that if anybody wants to be in
touch for any matter, he or she can call any time (030) 891 25 31, fax:
(030) 890 96 777 or email
Berlin, January 1999 (questions by Iris Noah)
Rabbis in Berlin