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Friday, August 18, 2017

Rabbi and Mrs. Sebbag

(l-r) Alissa Joseph, Ayelet Crane, Yisroela Joran, Miriam Sebbag, Rabbi Yitzchak Sebbag, Abba Joran, Rabbi Avraham Crane and Rabbi Aryeh Leib Joseph

On February 26, Chabad of Passaic-Clifton held its annual dinner, celebrating 10 years of making a difference. One hundred and fifty people were in attendance at the Tifereth Israel ballroom in Passaic to enjoy this special event.

Like most Chabad houses across the globe, Chabad of Passaic-Clifton’s motto is “Every Jew is welcome: a Jew is a Jew.” Another phrase that shluchim Rabbi Yitzchak and Mrs. Miriam Sebbag are fond of is “Chabad is a place of unconditional love.”

Dr. Yisroel Susskind, the world-renowned psychotherapist and lecturer, was the dinner’s keynote speaker. Three couples were honored this year who have been instrumental to the success and growth of this Chabad house since its inception. Abba and Yisroela Joran were the Kesser Torah Award recipients; Rabbi Aryeh Leib and Alissa Joseph received the Yissachar/Zevulun Award; and Rabbi Avraham and Ayelet Crane were acknowledged for the Educator of Excellence Award.

Chabad of Passaic-Clifton offers many programs, including but definitely not limited to Chai Tots Preschool, Gan Izzy Day Camp, mivtzoim (weekly outreach visitations), holiday programs, Jewish Women’s Circle and adult education classes.

A video was shown of the honorees speaking about what the Chabad House has meant to them over the years, and about the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

When Alissa Joseph spoke, her subject of choice was the Lubavitcher Rebbe. “None of us would be connected the way we are, the world wouldn’t be what it is, if it wasn’t for the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Brooklyn.”

Ayelet Crane spoke of her experience as a teacher at Chai Tots preschool: “Being thrust as a main teacher into Miriam Sebbag’s Chai Tots made me realize just how much I love teaching, touching the hearts and minds of the kids, making it alive for them. And I realize that this is my passion, helping these kids learn and grow.”

The dinner this year was dedicated in loving memory of Dr. Dennis Borochovitz, the father of honoree Yisroela Joran, who addressed attendees briefly in a moving and inspiring talk. “I want to share with you one story that happened years ago: We (my siblings and I) were playing and, as often happens, we began fighting. Earlier, we had given our father a card of some sort—Happy Birthday or Happy Father’s Day—we were very proud of the card we picked out and paid for and all signed together. Dad called us downstairs and did something I have never forgotten decades later. He said, ‘If you can’t play nicely together, I don’t want your presents.’ And in front of us, he took the card and ripped it to pieces. It still strikes me, like Hashem destroying our Beit Hamikdash because of sinat chinam: We can’t get along, so Hashem doesn’t want our sacrifices.”

Yisroela urged attendees to follow what we have been taught, to be friendly to each other, to bring Moshiach with togetherness and love. She concluded by saying that this is what Chabad does: regardless of externalities, Chabad welcomes and loves each Jew, helping to bring the geula.

In the spirit of loving all Jews, the Sebbags’ mivtzoim route around the Passaic-Clifton area has grown immensely over the past 10 years. Every Friday, a few bachurim and Rabbi Sebbag visit over 40 secular Jews who work in the Passaic-Clifton area, bringing freshly baked challahs made with love from “Abby’s Loaves of Love” by Avigail Doiny, as well as candlesticks. This helps them do what Chabad does best—bring disassociated Jews closer to Torah and mitzvot.

A popular JLI class started this year at the Chabad house. JLI’s mission is to make Jewish learning accessible and meaningful to every Jew, regardless of background or affiliation. Rabbi Yitzchak Sebbag delivers the JLI course and Dr. Moshe Ackerman shares his wonderful insights during the class as the JLI founder/sponsor in Passaic-Clifton.

On Shabbat mornings there is always a lively farbrengen, replete with a delicious cholent and salads. Members are encouraged to share stories of inspiration either from chassidut or from their own sources. This year’s emcee for the dinner, Reuven Sarett, who is also the founder of the Carlebach minyan in Passaic, speaks almost weekly at the Chabad house on a plethora of subjects, focusing mainly on the subjects of God’s undying love for bnei Yisrael, and on the importance of ahavat Yisrael.

The message of the evening was clearly one of achdut and love, all inspired by shluchim Rabbi and Mrs. Sebbag.