It is that time of year again when we find ourselves wondering: Chanukkah? Chanukah? Hanukkah? Hanukah?
Who knows if we will ever get it right, but here’s a story of something that is right on target. Chabad on Campus is donating free Chanukkah kits to students without Jewish resources in their area with the support of the Rohr Family Foundation.
There is big giving, little giving, and plain old generosity of spirit. I am continually impressed with both Chabad and the Rohr family’s efforts to enhance connections in vulnerable Jewish communities. How do they do it? Through a commitment to Jewish values and a directed and aggressive agenda.
To get your free menorah, register here.
About Chabad on Campus
Chabad on Campus intends to make college a “home away for home” for thousands of college students. In the 1950s and 1960s, under the leadership of Rabbi Menachem Schneerson (z”l), Chabad began establishing centers on college campuses to provide Jewish students with a resource for prayer and practice.
Today, the Chabad on Campus International Foundation is sponsored by George and Pamela Rohr.
Who are the Rohrs?
The Rohrs are major sponsors for vulnerable Jewish communities, including being one of the biggest supporters of Jews in Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union.
Sami Rohr (father of George Rohr) was a Columbian real estate developer. As a significant portion of his holdings were in the the Former Soviet Union, he traveled there often and had an opportunity to learn more about the Jewish communities struggling under Soviet rule.
Rohr grasped the opportunity to make a difference. He felt a personal and social responsibility to the Jewish people to help support Soviet Jews and to rebuild their communities. He believed that with his support and the contributions of others like him, he could reestablish Jewish life in the Soviet Union.
Consider some of the Rohr family’s most recent contributions to Jews in the Former Soviet Union (FSU):
- Restoring synagogues in Ukraine and Moskow
- Constructing 15+ synagogue, community centers, and mikvahs
- Providing for the salaries and living expenses of 200 rabbis and their families serving vulnerable and emerging communities
- Sponsoring a Russian language publishing house to produce the following Hebrew-Russian translations:
- 100,000 siddurs
- 100,000 High Holiday prayer books
- 75,000 Haggadahs
- 25,000 Torahs
- 25,000 psalm books
- Providing for the establishment of the largest Jewish website in the Russian language: http://www.jewish.ru
- Supporting Jewish women’s institutes, children’s homes, orphanages, yeshivas, summer camps, and funding mass holiday campaigns, as well as sending 350 rabbinical students to strengthen emerging Jewish communities during Passover and the High Holidays
Learn more about this admirable family and their work in the FSU. Please note that this is only a portion of the good work the family has undertaken.
A reminder that Chanukkah is celebrated this year from Tuesday, December 4th to Tuesday, December 11th, starting at sundown each day.
To learn more about Jews in Russia, I recommend the Federation of Jewish Communities of the Commonwealth of Independent States website for its high quality content and friendly usability. It is also a great way to learn about communities in need and how you can help.
Images sourced from the following: Chanukkah kit, Chabad on Campus logo, and Rabbi Schneerson; Sami Rohr; and Russian Jewish children dancing. With thanks.
If you liked this post, you might also enjoy:
- “Santa Bean Coffee Challenges Starbucks in Russia: The Tale of Two Jewish Entrepreneurs and One Coffee Empire” (learn about Ilya Yakubson’s efforts to build a coffee empire in Russia, Yakubson is also a philanthropist supporting Jews in the FSU)
- “Assessing the Forward 50: What We Can Learn about Top American Jewish Philanthropists” (learn about Tad Taube’s efforts to re-envision European Jewish culture)
- “Top Jewish Foundations and Their Philanthropic Giving” (read about the Ronald S. Lauder Foundation, which seeks to strengthen vulnerable and emerging former Soviet communities)
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