Shalom Aleichem!

Mazel tov to 2010 QC alumna Rivkah (Robyn) Lieber on her engagement to Yosef Wolf of Tuscon, Arizona! You may recall the interview I did with her father, a Police Captain, a few months ago. Check it out here.

Mazel tov to 2009 QC alumna Breindy (nee Dreyfuss) Rothman on the birth of her daughter, Chaya Miriam!

Check out our new video feature about the Bike Sukkah:  vimeo.com/78225352. Kudos to Prof. Gerry Solomon for shooting the footage, and to my brother Aaron for editing it. It’s only 1.5 minutes long, and I think you’ll like it!

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Everyone seems to be speaking about the recently released results of the Pew Report, which give an abysmal view of Jewish life in America today: 73% intermarriage rate amongst non-Orthodox Jews; less synagogue attendance; etc. In a word, depressing.

But last Shabbat, I had a “Phew” instead of a “Pew” experience.  (Thanks to Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky for the inspiration for this idea).

I spent Shabbat with about 700 college students from all over the U.S., including a group of 11 from Queens College, at the annual Chabad On Campus Shabbaton (see a partial group picture of the QC contingency, below). It was truly a remarkable event.

So many young Jews — most of whom do not come from an Orthodox background — celebrating Shabbat together in the heart of Brooklyn. These students are full of passion, excitement and energy, so while the Pew Report is depressing, the Shabbaton was a big sigh of relief! Phew!

I don’t mean to diminish the challenges facing the Jewish community, but I do mean to say that it ain’t over! Not only is there hope, but our future is bright!

And now comes the International Conference of Shluchim, which began on Wednesday and runs through Monday morning. The 3500+ emissaries of the Rebbe gather in Brooklyn to inspire each other and ourselves so that we may inspire others. There are, indeed, challenges, but the future is bright! Am Yisrael Chai!

Yet what can we do about the Pew report?

There tends to be a natural downward progression in life; gravity pulls us down. If we’re not inspired, well, that’s a problem 🙂

Yet how do we get inspired? One time-tested way is by inspiring others. It is literally impossible for any of us to reach everyone. Here’s a basic mathematical formula: If you inspire five people, and each of those five people inspire another five, and so on, how many people will be inspired?

Answer: A LOT!

Let’s not let the Pew Report get us down. While we need not gloss over the challenges of life in America in 2013, if we consider for a moment — and these are only samples — this powerful student Shabbaton and the Shluchim conference, you, too, will want to declare with confidence: Am Yisrael Chai!