Chabad of Hawaii
Last week, Chabad of Hawaii, in Honolulu, was privileged to host a visiting family, the L. family, from Sydney Australia – and their oldest son’s Bar Mitzvah.
As the Bar Mitzvah was unfolding, it turns out that neither the father nor the grandfather had ever put on Tefillin before.
In an unprecedented, incredible occurrence, grandfather, father and son all put on Tefillin for the very first time on the same day.
The mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy was stunned – and moved to tears. She confided to the Shlucha Perel Krasnjansky that she never expected or dared hope that something like this could happen.
“Everyone at the simcha was tremendously overcome with emotion at the site of 3 generations putting on Tefillin at the same time – for the very first time,” Mrs. Krasnjansky said.
Stories similar to these unfold every day at Chabad of Hawaii, she says. Another example is the 63-year old Catholic businessman who discovered that he was actually Jewish, while in a conversation with Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky.
From Yud Zayin Kislev (2 days before Yud-Tes Kislev), Chabad of Hawaii had an event going every single day / night . Here’s a little recap of Chanukah in Oahu (the island that Honolulu is on) , to give you a flavor of life with Chabad in Honolulu….
AN INTENSE CHANUKAH
Chabad of Hawaii had nine events going in the eight days of Chanukah: Yes, you read that right: NINE events! It was an intense time – and the pictures below just tell a little bit of the story. A short recap:
Sunday night – Community Party, Chanukah Around the World
Monday night – Chanukah Party at Schofield Barracks Army Base, for servicemen and women, people who generally get little to no Yiddishkeit in their lives. This celebration was organized by Brian Field, a member of Chabad and a former servicemen himself.
A Soldier Comes Home
Interesting note: the daughter of the Shluchim, Sari Tilson, teaches at a Chabad school in New Jersey. One of her colleagues, an Israeli- American traditional woman, has a son stationed at some far out military base on Oahu. The woman begs Sari to get in touch with her parents, the Shluchim, to get in touch with her son. Everyone follows through – and voila! This young (19 year old) Israeli-American, far from home – heeds the invitation – and shows up to the Chanukah celebration on remote Schofield Barracks – where it turns out by great Hashgacha Protis – he is stationed!! (Incidentally, after having these celebrations for 8 years now, a frightening pattern seems to emerge: It seems that intermarriage rates in the military are close to 100%. Or, possibly, at 99%. All the more urgency for Chabad to invest energy into having a presence in the US military.)
Tuesday night – Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky’s weekly shiur with young Israelis (photo below.): Many of these young Israelis would not set foot in a Chabad House in Israel. Almost none of them come from observant homes. For the last decade or so, more and more of these young Israelis flock to Chabad House to get a feeling of warmth and home – and B’H, many have started embracing Yiddishkeit as a result. Shabbos, kashrus, Tzitzis, tefillin, coming to minyanim…. It is absolutely heartwarming to watch this unfold.
Wednesday: DOUBLE HEADER – Car Menorah Parade and Public Menorah Lighting Ceremony! In a city overwhelmed with decorations and music of the dominant culture holiday, it was incredibly gratifying to see people’s joy at the open “Geon Yaakov” and Jewish pride expressed with the Menorahs on the cars being driven in the parade! More than one passersby had a huge grin when surprised with the Car Menorah driving by, and yelled out , “Happy Hanukkah!”…. The Public Menorah Lighting Ceremony was held, as it has been for almost all the 32 years that Rabbi Itchel & Perel have organized it, at the entrance to Waikiki (the tourist neighborhood and “Manhattan” of Honolulu), where thousands drive by daily and can see the huge, 12-ft. menorah standing proudly. Another shout out for Jewish pride!
Thursday – Chanukah party for young Israelis: Since they work late hours, at the kiosks, in the malls, etc., for over a dozen years now, Chabad has been organizing special Chanukah and Purim celebrations for the many young Israelis here. Many of whom lit the menorah for the first time that night. (And many others were given Menorahs on mitvtzoim previously.)
Friday night and Shabbos – weekly communal Shabbaton – packed house.
Sunday – Home Depot event for children.
And, that’s just Chanukah! Right before Chanukah, there was a Jewish Women’s Circle event; then, a Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen. Followed, the night after, by a wedding in Chabad House of a young Israeli couple – and on and on and on…. A huge shout out to the young shluchos, in Honolulu for the year, who, with unending dedication and devotion, helped all of this to happen: Rivka Elgrishi (Marseille) and Gitty Strassberg (Crown Heights).
FROM THEN TO NOW
In the summer of 1987 (5747), the Rebbe sent a young couple, Rabbi Itchel and Perel Krasnjansky, (with a toddler and a newborn) to Hawaii with the mandate: Turn Hawaii into Hashem’s home.
In over three decades, Chabad of Hawaii has tirelessly worked to fulfill this mandate. In countless ways. In the Chabad House. In the streets. In hospitals. In prisons. In shopping malls. In every human encounter.
Chabad of Hawaii has blossomed into a network of neighbor island Chabad Houses.
Reuben* has been living on the streets for years. 3 months ago, the Shliach’s son began a conversation. Then, a chess game. Then, Torah study. Today, with the help of Chabad and the generosity of the community, Reuben is off the streets, in an apartment – and a regular at Chabad of Hawaii.
Susie*, a single mother with three children and a limited income, desperately was looking for a place for her children to have summer fun. Chabad was there to give her support and a safe, fun, Jewish environment for her children.
When Naava* came from Israel and got stuck in Hawaii and had no place to sleep, to eat, to live – Chabad was there for her.
When Jonathan needed a kosher burial – and no relatives stepped in – Chabad House took care of the Tahara and Jewish burial and funeral.
For thousands of locals and visitors, Chabad is the address – for a warm Shabbos meals, for Kosher food, for support and counseling, for Jewish knowledge and education and so much more. For hundreds of young Israelis, Chabad is a home away from home.
Please help Chabad of Hawaii meet its goal before the end of the year at Givechabadofhawaii.com. Every donation is being tripled by generous matchers.