The official blog of Chabad of Crimea

Chabad of Crimea at Work

I used to think I worked hard, working half the night, till I'd finally fall asleep on the computer, often waking up there an hour or two later.  Now I have an even bigger workload!  Before I left Crimea, we organized the moving of the sifrei Torahs to an alternate location in Simferopol, away from the "action."  A temporary "aron kodesh" was hastily set up, and davening was held there for several weeks. Now, with guards in place at the shul, services are again in their regular location.  

1-Aron Kodesh.jpg 


We have been interviewed, and written up both correctly and incorrectly.  One newspaper wrote that we took a sefer Torah with us, and another dozen followed suit --totally untrue!  The sifrei Torah, including our personal family sefer Torah are in Simferopol. We are running around trying to raise funds for the new big costs of guards and surveillance systems.  If anyone is willing to make a parlor meeting, we will travel to you!  If anyone would like to contribute to the crisis fund, they can do so on this site.  

We are organizing classes on Skype at various times.  Anyone who would like can join in.  We are learning hilchos Pesach, chassidus, and more.   


Plans are underway for Pesach, if anyone needs help, they know they can turn to us, for counseling, physical needs, or just a listening ear.  Yes, there are those who say "it's quiet now," but others are very fearful...

Nowadays, when I'm about to doze off at 3 or 4 a.m., chances are someone will be Skyping or calling me from Crimea...  and I am wide awake and back to work again.....

Please  click HERE to help us in our time of crisis.





Purim Celebrated in Simferopol

Normally, we would have had a much larger turnout... However, in spite of the turmoil around them, and Purim being the day of the Crimean referendum, over 40 members of Chabad of Crimea gathered for an Israeli themed Purim program in Simferopol where the Megillah was read and they were able to carry out the mitzvos of Purim. Mishloach monos were exchanged, matonos l'evyonim was given to more than 2 poor Jewish people on the day of Purim, and of course a delicious Purim meal was enjoyed by one and all. The Megillah was also read Motzai Shabbos, in the synagogue. We thank our very own Mordechai who stepped up to the plate to read the megillah. He deserves so much credit, as he never even heard the Megillah read before! Thanks to Ari for helping him, and a tremendous thanks to Shira Malka for organizing everything and stepping in to take over for me during my TEMPORARY absence. Chabad of Crimea has continued and intensified its programs unabated throughout the current crisis, and G-d willing, will continue to do so.

If you know of anyone who is in need of help because of the situation, please contact us at  "Contact Us" above.

If you are able to help financially, with the huge costs of multiple surveillance and security systems, guards, and food, we appreciate your either sending it securely and tax deductible online at "Donate" 

or send a check to Chabad of Crimea, 1601 Union Street, Brooklyn, NY 11213.  Thank you!  Leah

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Crimea On The Line

I haven't been able to write much over the past several days, as I have been traveling (except for Shabbos, of course!). 

It appears that there is some misinformation circulating, so I would like to clear it up. 

Our synagogue is right across the street from the Crimean "White House," and where much of the "action" is currently taking place, and therefore in the interest of the safety of the members of the Kehilla, we found it necessary to remove the sign from the building, and to temporarily move the Torahs and the services and other programs to another location, farther from the center of town. Even my house is only a few blocks from the cordoned off city center. 

As unidentified soldiers took over Crimean government institutions, surrounded Simferopol with tanks, closed off roads connecting us to the mainland, took control of airports, seaports, controlled the airspace over Crimea, etc. you can surely understand that the situation became quite precarious. My husband was actually flying back to Crimea from a fund raising trip in the States, in order to be together with our community in this time of need. His flights into Simferopol were cancelled several times. At this point, we consulted with higher ups in the Chabad central office, and my husband was told not to go to Crimea, and I was advised to leave. Plans kept changing as the roads were closed to civilian traffic (many thanks anyway to R' Yossie Wolf for his generous and kind offer to send a driver to pick me up) to take a plane or bus   (they had stopped running) etc.  Finally we found one train still leaving Thursday night and Yakov and Liza Gaissinovych kindly reserved the last tickets on it for me. I was left with basically 10-15 minutes to pack, so pretty obviously, the packing was haphazard, and I forgot some important items -- like my good sheitle :-(  . My driver, Sasha, took me to the train station. Many of my children stayed glued to their phones till they heard from me that I'd passed over to the mainland. As soon as my husband, stranded in Sheremyetova airport,  heard that I would be going to Donetsk, he changed his ticket and flew there.  He actually arrived before I did, and picked me up in the airport. Shabbos we enjoyed the very gracious hospitality of the Gaissinovych family.  Liza was amazing -- going to so much trouble for us just a week after giving birth!                                                                                                                                                 After Shabbos my husband farbrenged with men in Makeevka, in the Shul of R' Eliyahu and Dassie Kramer. Sunday morning B"H we were able to fly from Ukraine to the States via Moscow, and we have arrived now.                                                                        

 We are very grateful to the various individuals and organizations (government and others) who did their best to help and advise us, and have been concerned about our safety. We are constantly in touch with people who are running the davening, youth club, etc. for us in Crimea.                                                                                                                                                                      Our situation differs from that of most other nearby shluchim in that we are Americans (most shluchim are Israelis) and anti-American sentiment is running high.  Our city and Crimea are completely surrounded, and cut off from the rest of the world. Additionally, we live in ummmm not-the-greatest neighborhood, and in an old home, not a more protected modern apartment, as do most shluchim, foreigners, and Jewish functionaries.   Right now, we feel that until the situation stabilizes, we can serve our community much better from outside. Additionally, as someone in our kehillah put it: мы,члены общины сами просили раввина и ребецин уехать,они были в реальной опасности здесь,они нам нужны живые и здоровые. лена р.                                                               Translation:  We, the members of the community, ourselves asked the Rabbi and Rebbetzin to leave. They were in real danger here. We need them alive and well. Lena R.                                                  

Shabbos davening and the meals took place as usual.  Sunday and daily, men daven in another location, and a young adults club met there as well. We were instrumental in getting one person to leave immediately after Shabbos to be m'gayer in another city, and are trying to help others in various ways. We are involved in counseling. We are also in touch with our secretary, workers, and others there. We plan to teach classes via Skype.                                                                                                                                             So please do let others know that CHABAD OF CRIMEA IS ALIVE IN CRIMEA, and we ask people to please:                    

  * Say Tehillim for the Jews in Ukraine                                     * Take on a mitzvah or a hidur to help the situation                   * Donate to help us afford guards, security systems, and other needs                         

Here is the link to donateThank you for your interest! May we soon meet, with the coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu, b'korov mamash, in Yerushalayim!                                                                                                           Leah Lipszyc


A young Jewish boy without a Jewish home...  He comes to us and becomes a part of our family.  At his bar mitzvah we were only able to get him "loaner" tefillin.  He sorely desires his own good Rashi and Rabbeinu Tam tefillin.  Won't you reach out to him so that he can have his own tefilline, just like the other boys in his class in yeshiva?

Donations may be made HERE.  You can contact me HERE.  

 Thank you so much! 


BE GRATEFUL! (And not Grateful Dead)

Do not read further if you are faint hearted!

There is absolutely no getting used to this place.  When you think you are accustomed to everything, something else will happen to make you realize that. 


 A woman just called me from the states.  She had come in the summer to bury her uncle, after receiving a phone call that he had been murdered and was in the morgue, awaiting burial.  When she'd arrived, she was informed that, actually, he had died many months previous to that time, and had been buried in an unidentified mass grave.  It took till now for them to be able to locate his body, and she can now come and rebury him -- for the nominal (actually astronomical here) fee of $1,000 USD.  Then she was asked what she would like to do  with his head and hands..........?!?!?!  What?  Well, they were in the prosecutor's office in jars, since they had needed them for the "investigation."  Now they no longer were in need of them, so should they put them in storage, or dispose of them?  She is having recurring dreams of her uncle coming to her.  I am afraid that I might join her, as I envision the head of her uncle, in a glass jar, entreating me to bury his scattered body! 

This woman told me that as soon as she got off the plane in America, she literally fell to her knees and kissed the ground, and thanked Hashem that she lives in the states, and not here!  She had been born here, and lived here as a child.  She cannot fathom how a country can have so much knowledge, and fall to such a level, like a third world country!  Now we "just" need to find 10 Jewish men who will be willing to travel to Yalta so that kaddish can be said at the funeral. 

BE GRATEFUL FOR EVERYTHING THAT YOU HAVE!  Do not take anything for granted!  Think about how many of you, had your ancestors not left this place, would be living here still today! 

I would like to suggest taking upon oneself to undertake (no pun intended -- ugh!) to do a mitzvah which you have not done till now,  in gratitude to the One Above, that you live in truely free countries (yes, despite all their mishugasim!) and to elevate the soul of this poor man, who is still not buried.



Keeping Up

I've been remiss about posting, as it has constantly been hectic, but  now all's quiet on the western front, or whatever...  Because of the Swine Flu scare here in Ukraine, all schools, universities, theaters,     etc. are closed for three weeks!  The two boys who had been living    with us are in yeshiva now, so in that way it's much calmer, as well.         I think my days of raising boys are over, pretty much!  I think we   finally have the heat ready to roll in the school, and the shul is moving    a whole one block closer to us!  (I walk a half an hour to shul twice every Shabbos, and a bit longer back, since it's uphill!)  The new    place is not only a lot less expensive, it's a better location (next to a  park instead of a liquor store,) and is brighter and in better condition     -- it's called "Evro-remont" here;  i.e. like in Europe.  It also has a     gate and will have a security camera system, G-d willing.

Last Shabbos was a nice one.  A group came on a Shabbaton from Kharkov.  A girl who used to learn in Bais Menachem had just got-   ten married as well, and she came with her husband and their parents.  We made sheva brochos for them both on Shabbos and after Shab-bos.  Saturday night they said they could only come for a short time, since they had to go out with her family.  Imagine our surprise when  they walked in all decked out from a reception that was basically a second wedding, here in Simferopol!  

Next wedding is already on the horizon!  We're getting ready!




Pictures show: Sheindel and Dovid Gershon; Don Yaakov with       boys from other cities; and Menachem Mendel Gitman.

Kol tuv!  Leah 

Just a Little Thought - WAKE UP YIDDEN!

Probably anybody who was ever a camper in any Gan Yisroel knows this song: 

“Wake up, Yidden, from the dream of Golus, get ready to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu (our Righteous Moshiach.)  Redemption is coming swiftly towards us; Behold he is standing right outside our door."

Here in Crimea, we are going through an extremely difficult time now.  We never had it easy here, but somehow we always managed to squeak along.  Always in debt, but managing.  But for how long can we not pay salaries? Tomorrow morning we need to know -- only if we have managed to pay the staff, school will be able to open on September 1st.  We have turned to everyone we can think of -- individuals, organizations, following up on every lead.  And nearly every door was closed to us.  THE CRISIS.  Every day we hear about another supporter with financial woes.  Even those who had promised us funds -- the funds have dried up.  I just called still another organization, hoping that they had a supporter who might have saved the school -- but he hasn't even been able to give them the money he usually gives for their own salaries for the last few months. 

WHY?  Why is everyone being hit so hard?  What does G-d want from us?  The Lubavitcher Rebbe said that we have already done most of what needs to be done for Moshiach to be revealed, and it is supposed to happen very, very soon already!  Maybe we were just too comfortable in golus (exile,) and when nothing else worked, G-d felt He had to take us out of our comfort zone and shake us up a little, so that we would ALL finally start to pray.  And not just to pray for our own meager and not-so-meager needs, but for the needs of Klal Yisroel, of the entire Jewish people.  It is time for everyone to turn to our loving Father in heaven and ask Him to please have mercy on us already, so that we may see the revelation of Moshiach NOW!

“Wake up, Yidden, from the dream of Golus, get ready to greet Moshiach Tzidkeinu (our Righteous Moshiach.)  Redemption is coming swiftly towards us; Behold he is standing right outside our door."

PS: If you are able to donate something -- anything -- please do it right now.  You can click "Donate" in the top left corner of this page to pay by credit card.  If you live in or near Crown Heights, please call 1-917-501-5906 or 1-718-774-5620, and someone can pick up your donation.  At the same number (or by clicking "Donate" and arriving at another page of this site,) you can also get wiring information.  Please look deep and see how much you can help with, so we can stay open for these children who have until now been totally alienated from Judaism.  And every mitzvah will bring Moshiach one step closer!  Thank you! 


Senseless Hatred or Senseless Love?



The saddest day on the Jewish calendar is the Ninth of Av, "Tisha b'Av." It is the date when both our Holy Temples were destroyed, and exile, persecution and spiritual blackness began for the Jewish nation.

The fast of Tisha b'Av starts at sundown of the eighth of Av (tonight) and lasts till nightfall tomorrow night.

We are taught that the Bais HaMikdosh, the Holy Temple, in Jerusalem, was destroyed because of senseless hatred which we had, one for another.  And we also learn that when we will have "senseless love" for each other, G-d will rebuild the Temple for us again.

One way in which we can show our love for each other,  even for Jews half-way around the world, is by giving tzedaka ("charity," is the usual translation, however, according to the Jewish point of view, it is not really "our" money, rather we are simply serving as G-d's bankers, and returning the money where it is most needed.)

We, the Jews of Crimea, are going through an incredibly difficult time.  It is imperative for us to pay the teachers' back pay and do urgent repairs on our school building, in order to open the school (Bais Menachem Jewish School of Simferopol) September 1st.  We appeal to you to help us, both by donating whatever amount you can yourself, as well as by passing this on the others.  Your donation is completely tax-deductible, and every cent (or kopek) goes directly to the school. 

There are two more points which I would like to pass on.  For one, the Lubavitcher Rebbe said that aside from one's own town, it is crucial to help Jews both in Eretz Yisroel and in the FORMER SOVIET UNION.  (Crimea is in an all but forgotten corner of the FSU, and does not  receive funds from sources which sponsor more well known cities.)

The other amazing thing is this.  We learn the mitzvah of tzedaka from our forefather Yitzchok, and learn that G-d repays us ten-fold for the charity we give.  It is written however, that there was a year of famine (economic crisis,) and during that year Yitzchok pushed himself to give anyways, and G-d repaid him ONE HUNDRED TIMES MORE.  We asked rabbis, and they said that the same would apply today.  In our economic situation, when one pushed himself to give more, even though it is difficult, G-d will repay us ONE HUNDRED TIMES MORE.  We even saw this work in actuality recently -- someone really pushed himself to give $800, and a mere two weeks later, out of the blue, got $80,000!

So please, keep all of this in mind -- that your donation as "senseless love" for those Jews you don't even know, in the Former Soviet Union, and in these very difficult times, will help the Jews here in Crimea, yourself, and world Jewry!  

Thank you for your going the extra mile to keep open the doors of the only full Jewish day school in Crimea!

Tax deductible donations can be made online here

Or send checks to:
American Friends of Chabad of Crimea
1601 Union Street
Brooklyn, NY 11213


Leah-Mindle Lipszyc and R' Yitzchok Meyer Lipszyc, administrators

Elka Vasilievna Yarmolenko, director

Bais Menachem Jewish School of Simferopol

SOS - Save Our Shul!


Please view this short video and help us?


I've been kind of remiss about posting here.  Our internet provider, which was never great, called us a few months ago, and told us that they will be giving us faster service at no extra charge.  Since then, it has not only gotten slower, but it is frequently not working altogether.

This morning I got a post from my friend, Shmuel Greenbaum.  Shmuel's wife Shoshana a"h was murdered in the terrorist attack at Sbarro's in Yerushalayim.  In her memory, he started "A Tradition Of Kindness" and "Partners In Kindness," which encourage people around the world to do an act of kindness each day.  Today's post was entitled "An End to Kindness?"  Apparently, there is a dearth of stories, and he was asking for more.  While writing a number of stories for him to use, I realized that actually, I should post one of them right here. 

My laptop is very sensitive, its battery seems to have died, and it frequently says is about to close down (like now.)  So let's hope my laptop and internet stay on, and the website also cooperates while I write and post this...

We have a 12 year old boy, kind of an orphan, living with us.  He was brought up,  if one can call it that, under difficult circumstances.  He never met his father, and his mother is always away.  First he lived in a small, poor village, and later with a gentile "babushka" who took money for him, and used nearly all of it for herself.  Now, boruch Hashem, he lives with  us.  When he says Tehillim on the Shabbos preceding the new Jewish month, I offered to give him 5 grivni (under a dollar) for each of the 5 books he reads. 

When the tragedy in Mumbai occured, he quietly said to me "Leah, take the 25 grivni I have, and give it to the little boy, Moishie."  I was quite moved, as he has nothing else for himself.  But at least he feels secure in knowing that he has a home with us.
Chanukah, he got a griven or two each night for Chanukah gelt, and he played dreidle with the other students the entire week.  He was the school champion.  After Chanukah, he again came to me, saying "Leah, here is all of the money that I got on Chanukah.  Give this also to the boy from Mumbai!"
"How goodly are your tents, Oh Yaakov; your dwelling places, Oh Israel." 
Hashem -- reveal Moshiach already, and let the redemption begin!

Tragedy in Mumbai






By now I would imagine the entire world knows about the unspeakable tragedy that has befallen us in Mumbai, with the torture and murder of our beloved shluchim Rabbi Gavriel Noach and his wife Rivkah Holtzberg, H"YD

I would like to direct you to my photoblog about the tragedy, and to urge every single person, Jew and non-Jew, man, woman, and child, to commit themselves to observing at least one new mitzvah or good deed.  Please click here in order to enter your choice and comments, and join in unity with thousands of others who have done the same.

May the light generated by all these good deeds totally obliterate the darkness in the world, and swiftly lead to the revelation of Moshiach!


Are You New Here? Welcome!

Are you new here?  Then I would like to welcome you!  Sholom!  Who are we and where are we?  We are the Lubavitche Rebbe's emissaries to the all but forgotten corner of the world called Crimea.  In order to learn more about us, I invite you to read the letters I wrote detailing our zany adventures and misadventures in this peninsula, located below mainland Ukraine, in the Black and Azov Seas, a mere two hours north of Eretz Yisroel by plane, but practically in a different time warp! 

The letters can be found in the oldest archives on the right, or here.

I also invite you to view our photo albums and the brochure about our school.

Feel free to peruse the rest of the site, as well.  All the best of Chabad is here, including the comprehensive online magazine, multimedia including the popular Kabbala Toons and Itche Kadoozy Show and the newest addition Stick Figure Vignettes, as well as children's and women's sections, holiday information, information about Shabbos hospitality and kosher food in Crimea, candle-lighting times, and much much more.   A well stocked Judaica Store, and bargain filled Shop & Raise section are also here for you, and if you would like to help us in our vital work, you can securely donate online as well.

We are also happy to announce that very soon, G-d willing our site will have a new appearance.  splash screen inviting you to view either the English site, or a brand new full RUSSIAN LANGUAGE SITE!  Look out for it!

We hope you feel at home here, and will come back often to visit us!  Please let us know what you think of our site, and if you have any needs you would like to see addressed here.

Paka for now!  



Vote for Leah!

If you don't mind, please take a moment to click on the link below and vote for an amazing teenager, Leah Larson, the  granddaughter of a good friend of ours, Rus Krieger, who promotes Yiddishkeit in a fun and attractive way through her professional magazine "Yaldah" She started the magazine when she was only 13 years old (!) and it is put together totally by young girls. It will be a quick and easy mitzvah. Her magazine is a shlichus in and of itself - reaching out to so many young girls accross the globe. If you don't already subcribe and get it for your daughters, I highly recommend it! is the link to "Yaldah".

The voting really only takes a minute. Right now, the voting is quite close, but Leah is only in second place. Let's give her a boost! She already won $10,000 as one of 5 semi-finalists, but stands to win another $100,000 if she wins. She has signed a contract with Barnes and Nobel, and this will allow her to take the magazine to a new level.

"Please vote for me and my daughter. She has big plans for Yaldah Media. Thanks for your support, and please tell a friend!

Evelyn [Chava] Krieger"

Thank you!

Kesiva v'chasima tova! May you have a good and sweet year!



Get A Load of This!

Hi!  Sorry I haven't posted for awhile.  Three days after Pesach I mad a l'chaim / engagement party for Sarah Rivkah, who taught in our school, and since then I've been busy racking my feeble brains out trying to figure how to get the money to pay our teachers' back salary for the year.  We have to find another $30,000 by May 22nd "or else."  So, if you know anyone who can help, we'd REALLY appreciate hearing from you!  Itchie will go ANYWHERE to meet with potential sponsors!

Okay -- I'm going to show you a picture, and (if you don't live in or originate from the FSU) I'd like to see if you can guess what it is.  Here's the picture:










Have you guessed what it is?  No?  Okay -- here's a picture of the full item.  Now can you guess?















Have you guessed yet?  If not, here's another hint:










Did that help?

Here's the story.  First of all, our household help (otherwise known as she who helped herself to our household) finally retired.  There are pros and cons to that.  My husband has been begging me to fire her for several years, as he couldn't stand her cooking.  And I can finally be a little freer about leaving things around.  Not expensive things, mind you, but like I can now leave the extra rolls of toilet paper in the linen closet, and not under lock and key, and I can be pretty sure they'll still be there when they are needed.  On the other hand, I am now the household help, and in this country it's a bit more time consuming then back in the "old country" (meaning the United States, of course!) 

I tried sending the laundry out to be done, but about 3% loses its way back home, and another 5% or so becomes seriously damaged.  Since my old American washer and dryer have kicked the bucket, so to speak, and hand washing is both a bit rough on my carpal tunneled hands, and I didn't go in for the shriveled prune look on my hands either, I've resorted to a Soviet washing mashine, which is what is pictured above.  (The threads you see near the drain holes are from my formerly good guest towels, which it ate for a snack this week.)  One fills the machine with sink water, then adds a few items of clothing and soap.  The timer sets for about 5 minutes of roughing up in the machine.  The ensuing noise is kind of like a World War II jet bomber on a nose dive.  After this, the hose is put into a certain bathroom fixture, where most of the water can drain out.  The remaining few cups of water drain out from a spout onto the bathroom floor, and (hopefully) flow down the drain hole in the floor.  This must all be repeated at least four times, in order to remove the soap and about half of the dirt from the clothing.  Then comes the hand wringing, and hanging out on the line to dry.  Which is also difficult in this rainy season.  The third picture was of water dripping from my not too well wrung out laundry.  In the winter, all the garments  become frozen, and it can be dangerous to walk in dark yards at night, as they seem to attack you, hitting you in the face! 

I've just about given up hope of getting normal American machines, as each time I look, the price doubles.  And that's without shipping!  There are now (smaller) European washers and a dryer on the market, though they too are prohibitely expensive.

So count your blessings, and enjoy doing your laundry -- believe me, it could be worse!













Kindness and Tzedaka -- NOW!

There is a wonderful email I get daily, called "A Daily Dose of Kindness.  In response to his wife's tragic death in the Sbarro bombing, Shmuel Grenbaum has people report on positive acts of kindness they've done, to act as a catalyst to people doing further acts of kindness, as opposed to seeking revenge. For more information about it, you can contact Shmuel at [email protected].

The current quote of the week is the following: 

The best advice is for a person to give generously while they are alive and also do kindness.


Who knows when their time will end, and if their intentions will be fulfilled or not? 

          (Kav HaYashar, Chapter 30)*















Please help us help others, especially now, before Pesach, when the need is so great!


Click here to help.  








Kav HaYashar was written by Rabbi Tzvi Hirsch Kaidanover and published in 1705. The author was born in Vilna. His father was considered one of the greatest Torah scholars of his time, and his writings are still studied. Kav HaYashar was originally written in Hebrew, and has been translated into Yiddish, Ladino and English, and has been reprinted over 80 times since it was first written. Kav HaYashar was quoted often by the famous Chida and Yalkut Meam Loez.


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