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Friday, August 21, 2009

Movers and Shakers

I’ve had a very pluralistic summer. I met new people, went new places and did new things. As the summer draws to a close it is time to draw some conclusions and let my mother know that I’ve been gainfully occupied.

First of all, there is my family. We celebrated simchos, visited certain relatives, and went on numerous day trips. We rode the Big Bad Wolf and made Play Dough and learned to ride a two wheeler. We tried to catch up on a year’s worth of projects and prepared for the upcoming school-year.  We picnicked and played and spent hours and hours together.

Beyond family, there was camp. We had great counselers and rabbeim, including myself. We invented and executive an innovative Os Yomi program focusing on one letter each day and its’ attendant lessons. We used Mysteries of the Aleph Bet as a text and hope to make the curriculum available one day soon.

And then there was everything else:

Last night, for example, I was given a handwritten notebook listing all of the construction equipment in downtown Norfolk. The meticulous notes included operators, manufacturers, license numbers, serial numbers and countries of origin. I become aware for the first time of the advantages of steel wheels vs. metal ones and the importance of air-conditioned cabs.

I have no idea why I was privileged to receive this information. It was given to me by a young man who spent all day gathering it and at times chased trucks by bike to ensure that he got the serial number accurately. I know that if Hashem sent me this information on Rosh Chodesh Elul it was with a specific purpose in mind, if only to test my patience.

I spoke with a friend (a more mainstream fellow) a couple of weeks ago. He was in town to take pictures of the nuclear reactors aboard aircraft carriers. His company is developing a program to simulate the carrier’s nuclear plants and train military engineers. He has a very limited audience for his program since the United States only has eight carriers with those particular controls and they won’t be building any more. The simulator is classified, so it will be limited to a handful of engineers training for emergency situations that will probably never take place.

I guess the point is that our autonomy, infrastructure and security are made possible by some powerful movers and shakers that we simply do not think about.

Over the summer I learned with Yungeleit in Vizhnitz, Baalebatim in Flatbush and Young Working Guys in Rabbi Cynamon’s chabura. I spent time with Reb Nota Greenblatt, Rav Shlomo Brevda, and R’ Uri Zohar. I took a Torah Umesorah course with a group of Lubavitchers and I gave a shiur on Maharal to a chabura of Litvaks. I welcomed one hundred people to Norfolk and was (sort of) welcomed by hundreds of people in other communities. I was in touch with rabbis who left Norfolk to become lawyers and with lawyers who came to Norfolk to become rabbis. I had my license suspended and was summoned to serve on a Jury. I buried an older woman with frum grandchildren and I visited a hospitalized six year old with unaffiliated parents.  I ended up (accidentally) at a frum singles event and (separately) locked in a home with an archivist from the Philadelphia Historic Society. I bought Lipa Schmeltzer’s new Non-stop CD and downloaded ancient shmuzen from Rav Gifter Zatzal. I read the memoirs of Rabbi Shlomo Lorentz and the autobiography of Reb Moshe Mendelowitz.  I reread the Pulichever saga and Permission to Believe. I even read Skyscrapers and Innocent Deception. I learned Shvil Hazahav on how to get wealthy and was told by a millionaire that it isn’t important. I met old friends and current Rosh Yeshivas. I reviewed the end of Bava Metzia and the beginning of Ahavas Chesed.

On the secular front, I read the fictional biography of David Ponder, the anthology on the future by Mike Wallace, and a review on the Britannica by A.J. Jacobs. I spent less time than ever on the internet and more time than ever lifting weights. I still have outstanding invitations to ride a Harley and go fishing.

I’ve come to the conclusion that, despite current events, the world is not such a bad place after all. We don’t get along and usually aren’t aware of each other’s existence, but we are inevitably interconnected. We have the ability to move each other and to shake each other up.

Close family and unique friends; The M-Series Bobcat and the USS Ronald Reagan; Rabbonim and rabble-rousers; Septuagenarians and six-year-old boys; Williamsburg, NY and Williamsburg, VA – they are all movers and shakers.

Posted on 08/21 at 05:10 AM • Permalink
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Meet Rabbi Sender Haber

Rabbi Sender Haber is the Rabbi of the B'nai Israel Congregation in Norfolk, VA. He is well known throughout Hampton Roads, having arrived over twelve years ago as one of the original four members of the Norfolk Area Community Kollel. In that capacity, Rabbi Haber was involved in community wide programming, teaching, and outreach. He has inspired many Jews to expand their Jewish identity and increase their love of Torah and commitment to its observance. Everyone who knows Rabbi Haber is touched by his breadth of Torah knowledge and his ability to convey the wisdom of the ages in such a way as to make those esoteric writings accessible to persons of all levels of experience and a variety of backgrounds.

Rabbi Haber has served in a number of capacities during his years in Norfolk. Since 2003 Rabbi Haber has been a teacher of Jewish Studies at Toras Chaim Day School in Portsmouth, teaching boys and girls of all ages, with a focus on Gemara, Halacha, and Chumash. He has also taught at Yeshivas Aish Kodesh and Bina High School in Norfolk, and served as Assistant Rabbi of B’nai Israel for 6 years. He also serves as the Rabbi of the “Lost Tribe,” Tidewater’s Jewish Motorcycle group! While handling all of these responsibilities, he has continued to participate in numerous Chavrusos (one-on-one learning partnerships) covering a wide range of topics and writings.

Rabbi Haber and his wife Chamie have been married for thirteen years. They have four children, Minna (9), Moshe (6), Ely (4), and Akiva Meir, born in August of 2012. They both come from rabbinic families steeped in Torah, Kiruv and Chesed. Rabbi Haber received his Rabbinic Ordination (Yoreh Yoreh) from Rabbi Sender Rosenbloom and Rabbi Mordechai Freidlander of the Jerusalem Beth Din. He was awarded a Teaching Certificate by Torah Umesorah Association for Jewish Day Schools in 2004 and again in 2009. In addition, Rabbi Haber has spent over a decade studying Talmud, Jewish Law, and ethics in some of the world’s most prestigious Yeshivos including Beth Medrash Gavoha in Lakewood, NJ and Yeshivas Mir in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Haber can be contacted through the Synagogue office at 757-627-7358, or through e-mail at