Episodes
Published 01/28/24
Mrs. Sandy Weinbaum lives in London, England where she, together with her husband, Dr. Bunim, directs the London Jewish Family Center. Mrs. Weinbaum's story begins sixty years ago with a shliach knocking on the door of her father's office and comes full circle today with her having raised fourteen children, many of whom are themselves shluchim. Over the years, the Weinbaums have been involved in many of Lubavitch's initiatives in London, even if they never assumed official titles or...
Published 01/28/24
R' Mendel Duchman lives in Los Angeles and is a businessman, business coach and motivational speaker. He is also, to my mind, one of today's most outspoken motivators and cheerleaders for shluchim and Lubavitch around the world. But while R' Mendel very much lives in "today," he is also a staunch defender of the idea of "gezhe," or the value of holding on to one's past that can be traced to the old home back in Russia. While "gezhe" has come to mean all kinds of things today, in our...
Published 01/21/24
Rabbi Mendel Zirkind has taught for over a decade in the Wilkes-Barre and Jets yeshivas. Not having planned to become an educator, Mendel shares the lessons he's learned from his time spent in these so-called "outlier" yeshivas and how the discussions and questions taking place there have so much to teach everyone. We discuss the seeming changes in Lubavitch regarding the asking of introspective questions, what may have led to these changes and where they leave us today.
Published 01/14/24
Zevi Slavin is a student of philosophy and mysticism and host of a YouTube channel on this topic, Seekers of Unity. He is also the son of shluchim in Sydney, Australia and a proud chossid. On this episode, we discuss if and how Zevi manages the tension between his intellectual pursuits and his Lubavitch identity. We also discuss his thoughts on the collision of Lubavitch with modernity and where it leaves each of us.
Published 01/07/24
Rebbetzin Fradel Sudak was sent on Shlichus to London sixty years ago with her late husband, Rabbi Nachman Sudak, a”h. She is also my great aunt, and I’ve wanted for years to hear more from her about my great-grandparents, Rabbi Benzion and Esther Golda Shemtov, who also lived in London after they escaped the Soviet Union. Over the course of several hours, I heard all kinds of stories and insights about my great-grandparents, where they came from, what drove them, scared them, inspired...
Published 12/31/23
Rabbi Dr. Reuven Leigh is a shliach and affiliated lecturer at University of Cambridge. His recent book, “The Philosophy of Rabbi Sholom Ber Schneersohn: Language, Gender and Mysticism,” endeavors to bring the famous maamorim of 5659 (RaNaT) into dialogue with postmodern thinking. We sat down to discuss what led him to focus on these maamorim, his relationship with Reb Volf Greenglass and other personalities in Montreal, and his lessons about Chassidus and the Chossid persona he carries to...
Published 12/24/23
Leibel Gniwisch is a lawyer and Ivy League graduate. He is also a good friend who lives in the neighborhood over. Over the past year we've had many discussions about Lubavitch identity, the questions worth asking and avenues of inquiry worth pursuing. More a conversation than an interview, this episode is one of those. We talk about Leibel's growing up in Montreal, what led him to pursue a profession in law and what lessons he has learned along the way.
Published 12/17/23
Dr. Tali Loewenthal is a renowned fellow at UCL where he lectures on Jewish Spirituality. But he is also a chossid, whose continued life in academia and philosophy is strictly at the behest of the Rebbe. We sat down to discuss his own reflections on the costs and benefits of engaging in the world of philosophy, if it can be reconciled with the life of chassidus and Emunah, and what he suggests for those who find themselves attracted to the knowledge the "outside world" offers. Going deeper,...
Published 12/10/23
Yanki Tauber is a writer who lives in Woodmere, NY where for over a decade he has been working on his newly released Chumash, the OpenBook Torah. What makes his Chumash different is the confidence it has that the reader can be brought into the process of commentary, and the more the reader knows about the process the better. We discussed his upbringing in Crown Heights and his special relationship with his grandfather, the famous poet and chossid Zvi Yair, and how this led to the manner in...
Published 12/03/23
Rabbi Levi Greenberg is a shliach in El Paso, TX which is also where he grew up as a shliach himself. Continuing the discussion raised in previous episodes, we discuss the challenges of leaving home for schooling at a young age, the cost of raising children in faraway cities, and the metrics of a successful shlichus. Along the way, the conversation veers into familiar territory of the "chassidishe maase," how it has or hasn't changed over time, and what it means to realize some of our...
Published 11/26/23
Rebbetzin Bassie Garelik is one of the earliest shluchim, having been sent to Italy over 60 years ago. She was also born in the United States, growing up in Pittsburgh, which is why I wanted to have her on the podcast to discuss what it was like to grow up in America before Lubavitch - and indeed Yiddishkeit - was established here the way it is today. We discussed what it was like to grow up in her parent's home, and what has and hasn't changed in the generations since.
Published 11/20/23
Rabbi Moshe Leib Gray was a teenage Lubavitch yeshiva student when he found himself in the renowned yeshiva of Gateshead just a year after Gimmel Tammuz. This would not be the last time he'd find himself somewhere unexpected: Never expecting to go on shlichus, today he is the shliach at Dartmouth University. In this podcast he tells us his amazing story and the lessons he learned along the way.
Published 11/13/23
Rabbi Moshe New is the senior rabbi of the Montreal Torah Center and a shliach for over forty years. In this episode, we talk about his upbringing in Australia and the changing Lubavitch landscape he observed as he travelled to the United States and finally to Montreal. We also discuss how the landscape continues to change and how it might point in a more positive direction, namely with a more specific focus on empowering the individual.
Published 11/10/23
Captain Mendy Avtzon is my brother and currently serves as a JAG lawyer in the United States Air Force. In this episode, we discuss his rocky journey from shlichus in Hong Kong to yeshiva continents (and universes) away. We discuss some things he wished he had found in yeshiva and also those things he hopes he will never lose. *Any views expressed are personal and do not represent the views of the DoD or USAF.
Published 11/09/23
Rabbi Shmully Hecht is the founder and senior Chabad rabbi at Yale, and co-founder of Shabtai, the global Jewish leadership community. We discuss how everything changed this Simchas Torah and where we might go from here. Not only the world around us but also Lubavitch itself.
Published 11/08/23
Sholom Jacobs grew up on shlichus in Glasgow, Scotland and is today a successful real estate developer in Long Island where he lives with his family. In this episode, we discuss his journey into business, how the Lubavitch perspective around business has changed over the years, and what he has carried with him from his days growing up on shlichus.
Published 10/16/23
Leibel Mangel is an IDF veteran who grew up on shlichus in Blue Ash, Ohio. In this conversation, we discuss his perspective on the recent events in Israel as an IDF veteran and how one might respond in these uncertain times.
Published 10/09/23
Rabbi Shmuel Wagner is a teacher at Lubavitcher Yeshiva Ocean Parkway. We discuss the changing attitudes towards teaching and becoming a teacher. We also discuss how one of his own teachers had a profound impact on how he dealt with his six year journey through infertility.
Published 10/02/23
Eldad Drori is a Lubavitcher dentist who grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota. He is also an avid powerlifter who has been working on his strength and fitness for more than thirty years. We discuss how he reconciles his gym identity with his lubavitch identity, and how the identity that comes out of it is something both traceable to his family's past and yet entirely his own.
Published 09/26/23
Rabbi Yossi Nemes is a Shliach for more than thirty years in Metairie, a suburb of New Orleans. In our conversation, we discuss what it was like for him to learn in 770 back in the 80s, and what kinds of discussions about Lubavitch identity were taking place already back then.
Published 09/15/23