s a pilot who flies two different business / executive jets, I have traveled to 51 countries on 5 continents on this globe. And let me tell you, I have lost count how many Chabad centers have welcomed me with open arms for Shabbat and holiday services and meals.
Absurd as it may sound, Chabad has been foreign to me until later in my life. I never know of them.
I grew up in a home that identified with the Conservative Jewish movement in Northridge, a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents sent me to public school and to a Hebrew school afterwards. They celebrated my Bar Mitzvah at the Kotel in Jerusalem at which time I started to stray from my “roots.”
It wasn’t until I went on a Birthright trip to Israel and later getting to know Chabad that my spirituality started to change for the better.
During my 4 years at California State University Northridge (CSUN), Chabad on our campus wasn’t even born. The only real Jewish facility was Hillel. Something of more substance on campus was lacking. Only after my graduation did Rabbi Chaim S. Brook and his wife Raizel come and open a Chabad branch.
The Brooks and the many other wonderful Chabad couples that I later met have re-kindled my Jewish identity and consciousness and brought it to a spiritual level that did not exist before. They have led me to have a more personal relationship with G-d, and an ongoing desire to bring heaven down to earth.
When I moved to Moscow for work in October 2007, I found a growing Chabad there as well. Rabbi Berel Lazar, Rabbi Avraham Berkowitz and Mendy Goldberg of New York have personally helped and guided me.
Today, when I travel around, some Shluchim joke that I am a “non-rabbi Shliach” and I am honored they see me as such.
My connection to Chabad has solidified my belief that we are all potential agents for positive change in the world, and this is in fact is our role and responsibility as Jews.
Chabad is a wonderful spiritual and educational experience. It affords a great opportunity to meet with and make friends with fellow Jews. I marvel at the high level of dedication by the group’s leadership as it awakens our long dormant feelings about our great heritage.
As I approach the stage of dating for marriage (I’m 29) and plan to build a Jewish home, I can’t thank Chabad enough for all the hard work they have done and the power through knowledge I have gained.
Capt. Mark H. Young
Los Angeles, CA, USA