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The Chabad.org Blog

New Video App Shows Children a Better World

Chabad.org/Kids continues to raise the bar for Jewish children’s media

November 27, 2019 8:40 AM
The new Chabad.org video app for children will deliver technologically advanced features while including the hundreds of videos from JewishKids.org, packaging them in a feature-rich experience with an improved look and feel.
The new Chabad.org video app for children will deliver technologically advanced features while including the hundreds of videos from JewishKids.org, packaging them in a feature-rich experience with an improved look and feel.

Living as we do in an online world overflowing with toxic words and images, providing children with Jewish entertainment—rich with values and tradition—has been an overarching goal of Chabad.org’s children’s site, JewishKids.org for more than a decade. Created in partnership with Tzivos Hashem, the site has been a trailblazer for setting the bar for Jewish children’s media of every kind. The much beloved and entertaining series about a rabbi and his eccentric yet lovable congregation, “Itche Kadoozy”; “Mitzvah Island,” a delight for toddlers and young children; and the whimsical series “What If” are all trademarks of the most frequently visited website devoted to content for Jewish children. Also featured are videos covering the joy and meaning behind each Jewish holiday, complete with crafts, cooking tutorials (with parental supervision, of course) and more.

“The videos on JewishKids.org have allowed my kids to see that Judaism is fun and exciting,” says Rebecca Klempner of Los Angeles. “I think it’s important for them to see that you can be Jewish and funny, and for them to be able to look at Jewish ideas and giggle over them; it sends the message that Judaism is approachable and engaging. My children enjoy many of the children’s videos. Their favorite, with the most lasting impressions, are ‘Itche Kadoozy’ and ‘Space Rabbi.’ ”

Children and parents aren’t the only ones who benefit from the site; teachers do as well. A third-grade Hebrew-school teacher said she recently shared her experience showing her students a video about Sukkot. “The video was clear and straightforward, and helped my students understand the many components of the holiday. After watching one of them, they kept asking for more and more. We then watched another Sukkot video, which sparked an interesting conversation about Jewish unity. The kids absolutely loved it, and I look forward to incorporating similar such videos into my lesson in the future.”

With Chanukah fast approaching, teachers and parents are looking forward to videos that will help teach and entertain children about Chanukah when they are in the classroom, or at home for the winter break. Favorites like ‘What if We Were Chanukah Heroes”, “Rebellion in the Holy Land” and “How to Create Your Own Menorah” will keep kids engrossed and enlightened during the Festival of Lights

To make all this great content more accessible and engaging, JewishKids.org is now expanding its video feature to a new-and-improved, intuitive and easy-to-use Jewish Kids Video App.

A pioneering Chabad.org video app for children has been available for years for both Apple and Android devices. The new app will deliver technologically advanced features that were not available previously, while continuing to include all of the hundreds of videos from JewishKids.org, packaging them in a feature-rich experience with an improved look and feel.

In this upgraded edition, videos will continue to play one after another, offering nonstop education and entertainment for little ones; browsing is also much more fluid. Users can bookmark their favorite videos, and the app automatically serves up suggestions for videos to watch related to ones previously seen. Teachers can incorporate videos into their lessons by projecting them directly onto a larger screen using the built-in Chromecast options.

Other new features include speed control, an improved search engine, support to show comments with threaded conversations, and options for dark and light modes that are easier on the eyes. The interface and technical architecture have been completely revamped to create a more engaging and seamless experience for kids, parents and teachers.

Like its predecessor—and Chabad.org’s entire suite of Jewish apps—the new kids’ video app is sponsored by Dovid and Malkie Smetana, Alan and Lori Zekelman, The Meromim Fund, and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic, and will be available for Android and iOS devices.

New Course to Take an In-Depth Look at the Rabbinic Tradition

A four-week tour of the Oral Law begins on Nov. 26

November 19, 2019 9:06 PM
Rabbi Ari Sollish, director of Intown Jewish Academy, a center of adult Jewish study in Atlanta, will unpack the relevance, origins and contemporary application of the Oral Torah during a four-week course on consecutive Tuesdays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17.
Rabbi Ari Sollish, director of Intown Jewish Academy, a center of adult Jewish study in Atlanta, will unpack the relevance, origins and contemporary application of the Oral Torah during a four-week course on consecutive Tuesdays from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17.

One of the most misunderstood elements of Judaism is the Oral Torah, the companion to Scripture in which the terse laws of the Torah are elucidated, expounded and expanded. Talmud, Midrash and many other bodies of work all fall under this general rubric, but what is it? Is the Oral Torah a rabbinic invention, or is it given by G‑d, on par with sacred words of the Torah? And if it’s “oral,” why is it all written down?

To gain clarity on these issues, the public is invited to join a new course on Chabad.org, titled “Two Equals One.”

The course will be presented by noted educator and author Rabbi Ari Sollish, director of Intown Jewish Academy, a center of adult Jewish study in Atlanta.

During the four-week course each Tuesday from Nov. 26 to Dec. 17, the rabbi will unpack the relevance, origins and contemporary application of the Oral Torah.

In the first lesson, viewers will learn the Divine origins of the laws and how they were carefully preserved throughout the generations, from Moses until today.

The second class takes a look into the future, projecting how the unchanging principles of the Oral Torah can be applied to modern-day dilemmas and scenarios.

The third installment will focus on the many elements of Judaism that are actually of rabbinic origin. The lesson will explore how and where the Torah authorizes the rabbis to enact laws and practices.

In the fourth and final teaching, viewers will learn about customs: how they originate, how important they are and how they become accepted as normative Judaism.

“If you’ve ever read the Bible and wondered how we’ve gotten from there to here,” says Rabbi Zalman Refson, who produced the course, “then this is the course for you. We’ll ask the questions you’ve been asking yourself, as well as some others, culling answers from across the spectrum of Jewish scholarship.”

The course will be presented on four consecutive Tuesdays beginning on Nov. 26, streaming on Chabad.org and then available for enrolled students to watch at their own pace. Each lecture will be accompanied by texts, quizzes and discussions with fellow students on Facebook, with student support at every step of the way. Although the course is offered free of charge, registration is required.

Register for the course here.

‘101 Meditations’ on the Rebbe’s Wisdom Debuts at International Convention

A compact edition of Tzvi Freeman’s best-selling ‘Wisdom to Heal the Earth’

November 19, 2019 8:55 PM
“101 Meditations: Selected From Wisdom to Heal the Earth” by Tzvi Freeman offers a concise collection of transformative insights from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—first published in Freeman’s “Wisdom to Heal the Earth.”
“101 Meditations: Selected From Wisdom to Heal the Earth” by Tzvi Freeman offers a concise collection of transformative insights from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—first published in Freeman’s “Wisdom to Heal the Earth.”

Nearly 6,000 rabbis and guests from around the world will converge this week in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., for the annual International Convention of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim). Coming together from 100 countries and all 50 states, the shluchim will assemble for a weekend to rejuvenate, and gather strength and inspiration that they then bring back to their home communities.

But what motivates these emissaries? Where do they draw inspiration to dedicate their lives to helping others? For Chabad.org senior writer Rabbi Tzvi Freeman, the answer is obvious.

“Chabad is built on the Rebbe’s teachings,” says Freeman, “the ideas he transmitted to us over more than 40 years. These ideas are everlasting. We continue to be inspired by them year after year.”

Freeman is the author of the best-selling Bringing Heaven Down to Earth, and now, a new condensed compilation, 101 Meditations: Selected from Wisdom to Heal the Earth, which offers a concise collection of transformative insights from the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, first published in Freeman’s Wisdom to Heal the Earth.

While the Rebbe’s wisdom is readily accessible in an abundance of material on the Rebbe’s life and times, his personal correspondence, books and writings, and personal encounters, many of the most novel ideas are to be found in Chassidic discourses replete with Kabbalistic terms and abstract concepts. Others are to be found in talks and writings delving into complex Talmudical discussions or sandwiched between explanations of passages in Rashi, the foremost biblical commentator.

As he has done for decades, Freeman sets out in 101 Meditations to present the Rebbe’s wisdom in a concise form, within reach of anyone who so desires. More than merely a translation, the goal is to bridge the gap between Chassidic philosophy and Western consciousness. In what can only be described as a work of art, Freeman took concepts that one might expect to read long chapters on and abbreviated them to a mere few lines in an almost poetic fashion.

Peering into the world around us, Freeman shows how in light of the Rebbe’s wisdom, individuals can make sense of and find their place and purpose in today’s world by focusing on the inherent spirituality present in everything encountered.

To have these timeless messages reach even further, Chabad.org partnered with Ezra Press, an imprint of Kehot Publication Society, to publish 101 Meditations. Culled from Wisdom to Heal the Earth (published in October 2018, also by Ezra Press), and produced by Chabad.org, the smaller version presents selected teachings in a convenient, pocket-size format, granting the ability to study the wisdom contained within in a more personal setting.

“Many have expressed their appreciation to me for presenting the Rebbe’s teachings in a short, condensed manner,” says Freeman. “I am sure that with the publication of 101 Meditations, the teachings will become all the more accessible and reach a much broader audience than ever before.”

“101 Meditations: Selected From Wisdom to Heal the Earth” can be purchased online here and is available at Jewish bookstores. Chabad.org’s growing selection of best-selling books can be viewed and ordered at www.chabad.org/books.

Tzvi Freeman, author of “101 Meditations: Selected From Wisdom to Heal the Earth” (Photo: Marko Dashev)
Tzvi Freeman, author of “101 Meditations: Selected From Wisdom to Heal the Earth” (Photo: Marko Dashev)

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