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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Parshas Va’eschanan: Skinning Cats

Moshe Rabeinu repeated his request to enter Eretz Yisroel in over 550 different ways.

Open-mindedness. We cannot just try once. If one style doesn’t work, another approach might. In dealing with others, we need to remember that just as no two faces are identical, no two minds are exactly the same either. 

My Shabbos table may be perfect for me, but somebody else might have different needs.

My friend Sid made a siyum this morning in honor of his father Allen Bridge, whose Yahrzheit is today. Here is a story Sid wrote about his father on his blog (

The Uncomfortable Guest
By Sid Bridge

It was Friday night at B’nai Israel Congregation. My mother was busy back at our Shabbos apartment preparing dinner for our family, a friend, and a guest of his. The guest arrived at the synagogue and quickly realized no one had told him how to dress. He was wearing a T-shirt and shorts.  The poor guy spent the whole service sweating bullets because everyone around him was wearing suits and ties. 

My father, of course, always dressed a cut above everyone at the Synagogue. He would go out of his way to make sure his cravat was perfectly tucked into his pocket, his tie was just right, and his shirt (usually some color other than white) worked in concert with his entire ensemble. His sense of style went beyond synagogue and even beyond mafioso. 

Our guest kept talking about how uncomfortable he was as he walked with my father and I back to the apartment. We all felt a little bad for him, to say the least. 

As usual, a beautifully set Shabbos table was waiting for us at the apartment, all ready for my father to sit down and make Kiddush. Before he could sit, he excused himself to the bedroom and assured us he’d be right back.

In a move that was no doubt painful for my father, he emerged in a casual shirt and shorts, sat down at the table, and said, "I’m ready to make Kiddush."

From that moment on, our guest’s mood changed. He immediately got comfortable and enjoyed a wonderful meal with us.

Posted on 08/14 at 03:02 PM • 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