The Chabad.org Blog

Chabad to Launch New Directory, and We Need You to Test It

Users invited to beta test the new Chabad directory

June 7, 2021 5:46 PM

Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries often serve as critical points of contact for Jews around the world—be it a family looking for community, a traveler stranded in Athens for Shabbat, a sudden Jewish burial in Kaliningrad, Russia, or someone looking to deepen their connection to their heritage through in-person Torah study in Peoria, Ill. With more than 5,000 emissary couples in 100-plus countries and all 50 states, helping people easily locate a Chabad House or rabbi near them can be a daunting task.

Chabad.org’s Chabad Locator has long been the first place millions of Jews look when trying to find a Jewish community or synagogue. It’s the largest synagogue directory in the world and one of the oldest on the Internet, and while updated regularly over the last decade, those updates have only been incremental.

"Chabad.org’s Chabad Locator has long been the first place millions of Jews look when trying to find a Jewish community or synagogue." Chabad.org has announced in a news story that its team of developers and designers has now entirely revamped its Chabad-Lubavitch Center Directory, and is releasing it as a public beta on Chabad.org at Chabad.org/New-Directory.

Harnessing the power of Google Maps and the ingenuity of Chabad.org’s development team, the new directory will provide a seamless transition between a global view of the thousands of Chabad-Lubavitch centers worldwide—an incredibly vast network that spans six continents across all 24 time zones.

The new platform will enable a user to easily identify individual offerings and the precise location of each center, including contact information, particular services offered and any other pertinent information. Users can instantly filter their search to only centers providing a Hebrew school, mikvah or any other specific service they require.

In addition to being able to connect more efficiently with the 3,500 Chabad institutions, the new map-centric web app offers a better appreciation of the global reach, impact and scope of Chabad-Lubavitch worldwide. Simply taking the map for spin, swiping across the globe, can feel like a massive sprawling game of Jewish geography.

With new Chabad centers popping up all over—from the United Arab Emirates to the rural United States—this tool will prove to be more useful, and frankly, more impressive, than ever before.

Take the new Chabad Locator for a test drive at www.chabad.org/new-directory.

The new Chabad Locator will help you find the nearest Chabad-Lubavitch center no matter where you are.
The new Chabad Locator will help you find the nearest Chabad-Lubavitch center no matter where you are.

Chabad.org and Chayenu Join Forces to Complete Online Text

June 7, 2021 4:43 PM

For more than a decade, scholars and laypeople have enjoyed an online side-by-side Hebrew-English Mishneh Torah by Maimonides.

Translated by Rabbi Eliyahu Touger and generously shared with Chabad.org’s students by Moznaim Publishing Corp., it is especially useful for participants in the annual study of Mishneh Torah, in which the entire compendium is studied over the course of just under a year (or three).

Of special interest are the copious and insightful footnotes, which provide context, commentary and elucidation.

However, due to technical reasons, roughly half of the 1,000 chapters that make up Mishneh Torah are without footnotes on Chabad.org. Conversely, Chayenu, a weekly paperback bilingual weekly study syllabus, has footnotes on all chapters, but only those crucial to understanding the text.

This year the Jewish world culminates the 40th annual study cycle of Mishneh Torah on Tammuz 3, anniversary of passing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of righteous memory. Inspired by the milestone, Chabad.org and Chayenu have partnered to upload the remaining footnotes to their respective online platforms and apps, completing the work that had begun more than a decade prior.

“Both of our organizations are focused on making Torah study accessible to everyone everywhere,” says Rabbi Yossi Pels, director of Chayenu. “Rambam footnote is an area in which we both have room to improve our offerings, so the partnership was a natural fit.”

Since the Moznaim translation was published in an era when digital records were not kept in formats accessible to modern programs, culling the footnotes will involve scanning paper copies of the book and meticulously converting the scans to text and formatting them to be published on both Chayenu and Chabad.org’s online platforms.

Chayenu’s Rabbi Mendy Angyalfi expects the project to take up the better part of a year and for the product to be released in chunks as it becomes ready.

According to Rabbi Meir Simcha Kogan, director of Chabad.org, daily study is a staple of the cornucopia of offerings the website has developed since going online in 1993. “Learning daily Rambam is both crucial to gaining a broad mastery of Torah as well as a vehicle through which we connect with Jewish brothers and sisters all over the world. With this added resource, our connection has gotten that much richer and better.”

In honor of the celebration, Moznaim is running a special sale, offering 15% off orders for Mishneh Torah and 10% off Sefer Hamitzvot until Sunday, June. 13.

Why Has Everyone at Chabad.org Been So Busy?

June 7, 2021 11:10 AM
Art by Rivka Korf Studio
Art by Rivka Korf Studio

The weeks and days leading up to Jewish holidays are a frenzied time for Chabad.org’s editors, programmers and Ask-the-Rabbi responders, each of whom is doing his or her part to make sure that every member of the Jewish nation has the tools, information, encouragement and guidance they need to fulfill the mitzvahs of the day and celebrate in style.

Walking into Chabad.org’s central offices, tucked away on the fourth floor of the office complex adjacent to the Lubavitch World Headquarters, that’s exactly what is happening this week.

No, Passover was not delayed, and it is not yet Rosh Hashanah. The excitement surrounds two annual events that are coinciding for the first time in history.

The third day of the month of Tammuz (this year, June 13, 2021) is the anniversary of passing of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. And that same date will be the day thousands of students begin the study of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah anew, an effort that takes approximately 11 months.

The anniversary of passing, known as Gimmel Tammuz, is traditionally used for reflection, learning, prayer, and above all, positive action. Jewish communities everywhere honor the Rebbe’s life and legacy with events that bring people together for farbrengens, to hear guest speakers from near and far, and to study the Rebbe’s teachings.

To mark 27 years since the Rebbe’s passing, the Chabad.org team has partnered with Merkos 302 to produce Unfazed: A Symphony of Living Voices, Story and Song, which will illustrate lessons of resilience and self-empowerment from the life and teachings of the Rebbe.

Set to air on June 14 at 7:00 p.m. EST, the online program will be hosted by Ari Hoffman and Chabad emissaries Rivka Slonim and Rabbi Dov Greenberg, and will also include Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, David Luchins, Dina Hurwitz, Michal Oshman, and Elisha Wiesel. A special musical presentation will feature violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and tenor Shulem Lemmer.

For those still at home due to covid, the staff has updated How to Observe Gimmel Tammuz at Home, as well as What to Do on 3 Tammuz.

If there was ever a single place that showcases the Rebbe’s global impact, it may very well be Chabad.org’s directory, through which one can find a Chabad presence on six continents across all 24 time zones. This impact has only grown in the quarter-century since the Rebbe’s passing, with Chabad Houses opening up in more and more locations. A newly redesigned and reprogrammed directory—more intuitive, accessible, and user-friendly than its venerable predecessor—has been released in beta version in honor of this milestone.

In an effort to share the inspiration as widely as possible, new videos have been released on social media, as part of the ongoing Illuminating Souls: An Encounter With the Rebbe project.

To help as many people get on board for the new Mishneh Torah study cycle, the Chabad.org team has created a cornucopia of new features and tools, in addition to the ever-popular daily study page, which includes classes by Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon and others.

Of special interest is the newly-revamped Daily Study App, which has been upgraded to include adjustable playback speed and the ability to subscribe to and save classes in advance, or from past days, for offline listening. Users can preload up to two weeks’ worth of classes, making it ideal for travel when data connections can be spotty.

New for this year, building on the growing collection of quizzes on the weekly parshah and just about everything Jewish, an ambitious project is underway to produce a quiz for every chapter of Mishneh Torah, being rolled out in time to be enjoyed by those following the one-chapter-a-day track.

Another exciting development is the creation of a Facebook group by TheJewishWoman.org, which will be a place where women can share insights, questions, and resources for learning the daily mitzvah.

For the advanced students on the three-chapters-a-day track, and anyone interested in learning more about halachah (Jewish law), a special new feature by Chabad.org author Mordechai Rubin will be a weekly essay on halachic issues learned that week.

Other upgrades include adding missing footnotes to the English translation of Mishneh Torah provided by Moznaim Publishing Corp, in partnership with Chayenu, and exploring ways to make the text more accurate.

Gimmel Tammuz is a major landmark in the Chassidic year,” says Chabad.org’s Rabbi Mendy Kaminker, “and helping people get on board with the new study cycle is something we work hard towards every year. When the two come together, our efforts are redoubled, and we hope and pray that the results are as well.”

New Version of Popular App Brings the Power of Daily Torah to Your Life

Chabad.org’s Daily Study app is revamped in time for 3 Tammuz, the anniversary of the Rebbe's passing

June 1, 2021 8:54 PM

Daily Torah study has never been easier—be it in line at the bank, on the subway on your way to work or at your dining-room table after a long day at work. One of the most popular Jewish apps, Chabad.org’s Daily Study, first released in 2014, has been rebuilt from the ground up to add a new dimension of daily Torah study to your life.

The app, which is currently available for public testing pending its official launch, features Judaica Press’s lucid translation of Chumash with Rashi, Psalms, Tanya (in a newly remastered format), Hayom Yom in original English renditions from Kehot Publication Society, the works of Maimonides as divided for the one-chapter and three-chapter cycles of study with Moznaim’s groundbreaking translation of Maimonides’ magnum opus and Sichos in English’s rendition of the daily mitzvah. Additional daily learning tracks are in the works.

The launch, opening up the app for the public after months of internal testing and refinement, arrives in conjunction with two major events on the Jewish calendar: The yahrzeit (anniversary of the passing) of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory on 3 Tammuz, and the completion of the fortieth cycle of the annual study of Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah, an initiative the Rebbe established in the spring of 1984. The two events, coinciding this year on June 13th, have brought renewed interest and focus on daily study.

Each day, each daily study track is refreshed on the app, allowing the user to select from relevant text for daily study. The app plays to the diverse study needs of the public. Users can choose from audio lectures of multiple acclaimed Chabad.org teachers, including Rabbi Yehoshua B. Gordon and Rabbi Manis Friedman, and adjust the playback speed to ease study, as well as make it more accessible to the blind.

Among its new features are a cleaner layout, the capability to stream related classes on the daily portion being studied, and the ability to subscribe to and save classes in advance or from past days for offline listening. Users can preload up to two weeks’ worth of classes, making it ideal for travel when data connections can be spotty.

“We wanted to build an app that would empower the user to keep up with their daily study, no matter where they were in the world,” says Rabbi Dov Dukes, lead mobile developer for Chabad.org. “With the new app, users can study on an airplane or the subway or any other time they may not have an internet connection.”

The prominence of daily Jewish study has grown in recent years and the Daily Study app, with some 50,000 installs, has played an important role in that growth. User Terri Petro-Roy notes how the app “keeps me focused on a good daily practice and gives so much more.”

"The rich content offered is the backbone of this app,” says Dukes. “Chabad.org is eternally grateful to our content partners who have invested to ensure that these texts come to life and become accessible to the English-speaking audience. In addition to their availability in the app, every Jewish home should have each of these foundational Jewish works in its library."

Feedback from the growing beta user base has been overwhelmingly positive with many users sharing how they are benefiting from the app as well as sharing suggestions for new features they’d love to see in future upgrades.

Now, access to the beta version is being made available to you as well, so that users can also begin benefiting from its new experience, ahead of the official public rollout.

The app, which is one of Chabad.org’s growing family of apps, offers students the opportunity to dedicate the studies from the app in honor of a loved one’s yahrzeit or other important life-cycle events.

Chabad.org’s suite of Jewish apps is graciously sponsored by Dovid and Malkie Smetana, Alan and Lori Zekelman, The Meromim Fund, and Moris and Lillian Tabacinic.

Click here to download the updated app.

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