On Sunday, October 18, 2015, the Chabad House at Rutgers was honored by a visit from Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi David Lau of Israel. Hosting this special visitor was no less than a climatic and unifying moment among the Rutgers’ Jewish community. Before his arrival, the halls of Chabad were filled with chattering excitement over Rabbi Lau’s visit. There were not even enough seats to house the entire audience, which consisted of not only Rutgers University students and Rabbis, but also alumni, journalists, and an assortment of guests. However, no matter the background of each attendee, all were eager to hear what Rabbi David Lau had to share. Finally, the moment arrived when the Rabbi came and suddenly all of the excited murmurs ceased. Silence filled the room and the congregation stood up at his arrival with great respect awaiting to hear what would follow.
Rabbi Lau began with something perhaps unexpected, a story about his daughter. His sixteen-year-old teenage girl loves to take dance lessons. However, her studio is in Jerusalem, and as a result of the recent acts of terror erupting in this city she had been reluctant to go. “I urged her please go,” Rabbi Lau said, “Even not safe, we must feel like at home.” Why would a parent urge such a dangerous thing?
The answer came as the Rabbi continued his speech, which continued with the story of Noah. That week, the Torah portion described the famous story of Noah’s Ark, in which Noah with G-d’s help gathered a male and female pair of each and every animal into an Ark during an apocalyptic flood. “Why did the animal come?” Rabbi Lau asked, “Because they must stay, even if they don’t like it.” In the same way, Israelis must stay in Israel – their home, their Jewish State.
“Israel speaks of days we want to be together,” Rabbi Lau explained. Amongst the hatred between political factions, ethnic groups, and nations of the world, this is a hard fact to swallow. Yet, if the Torah promises something, the Jewish people believe that this will certainly come true. If days are promised of peace, then days of peace will come. “World should be like what people forgot,” Rabbi David Lau concluded. Indeed, hope and the valuing good deeds is a key in the right direction. Just like the Rabbi’s daughter, many people, especially those in Israel, are afraid. However, Rabbi Lau’s speech implies for us to remember not to have this fear. First, Israel is the Jewish people’s home, and so we must act like it and believe in it. Even if the violence urges us otherwise, we must uphold values of peace in defense. Second, as promised in the Torah, the world will ultimately be at peace. Thus, hope is key. That is, for the Jewish people, for Israel, and for the world.
The Rabbi’s visit concluded with an opportunity to ask a question or leave a message for the honored guest. Rigel Janette of Chabad bravely spoke up. His words left a powerful message for Rabbi David Lau to remember. “Rabbi, we’re occupied with studies, we’re students, but… people gathered tonight for support. You should know we all support Israel,” he stated, “Thank you for coming. If you ever need help, you can always come to New Jersey.” Subsequently, the Rabbi thanked Rigel for his words, which vividly capture the greater feelings of Chabad House at Rutgers.
Rabbi David Lau’s visit to the Chabad House at Rutgers was special. His presence was inspirational and enhanced the community’s connection to Israel. The latter is something Chabad House at Rutgers’ truly cherishes.
For more information about Chabad House at Rutgers, visit us on the web at chabadrutgers.com, chabadnj.org, or call 732-296-1800