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May 30, 2003 - Image 52

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-05-30

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

Cover Story

LIGHTS OF PEACE from page 51

the Greenbergs' daughter Mussie, 3,
who has just reached the age where
she has begun to say the blessing
over her own candles.

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For Amzalak, wife of Rabbi Yaacov
Aaron Amzalak, administrator of
Bais Chabad of North Oak Park,
encouraging Shabbat candlelighting
has been an ongoing mission. As a
young mother in search of a volun-
teer position, she called Batsheva
Shemtov, who, with her husband
Rabbi Berel Shemtov, directs the
Michigan Lubavitch Foundation in
Oak Park.
"I asked her if there was some-
thing I could do at the Lubavitch
Women's Organization that would
still allow me to be home with my
children," said the mother of Chana,
2, and Chaim, 11 months.
The next thing the organization's
leaders knew, Amzalak had become
not only the tireless promoter of
Shabbat candlelighting, but also the
group's president.
Her first assignment had been to
accumulate written messages from
women inspired by lighting Shabbat
candles. She then brought the mes-
sages to the Jewish News, requesting
and receiving weekly space to run
them alongside the weekly candle-
lighting times.
At first, Amzalak submitted a list
of messages given to her by friends,
family and those who contacted her
via her the e-mail address and phone
number printed in the paper. Then
she began to incorporate collecting
messages into her Jewish congrega-
tional schools program.
For the past three years, she has
gone to visit kindergarteners through
fourth-graders at religious schools at
Congregations Beth Shalom, B'nai
Moshe, Beth Ahm and Beit Kodesh
and Temples Israel and Shir Shalom.
"The girls from the ninth and
10th grades at Beis Chaya Mushka
came with me each time and per-
formed a play about how Shabbat
candles helped a lost girl find her
way home," Amzalak said. "While
we are at the schools, we also talk
about how to light the candles; we
do an arts-and-crafts project; and we
ask the boys and girls to give us
their own messages to run in the
paper."
As the end of the school year
approached and with it the end of
collecting students' messages,
Amzalak took out her telephone

book and resorted to calling women
she didn't know but who had Jewish-
sounding names,
asking them for
their feelings on
lighting candles on
Shabbat.

Newly Lit

On behalf of the
Lubavitch Women's
Rabbi Nevins
Organization,
Amzalak also offers
complimentary candles, candlesticks
and instructions to anyone request-
ing them for Shabbat use. In addi-
tion to those who approach her, she
also peruses the weekly b'nai mitz-
vah announcements in the Jewish
News and sends kits
to girls whose
addresses she can
locate.
"I try to call
them up to wish
them congratula-
tions and ask if they
have candlesticks for
lighting candles on
Rabbi Yedwab
Shabbat," Amzalak
said.
"Some of them already received
candlesticks from friends or family
or from their synagogues as a gift.
But if they don't already have them,
or if they don't have the blessing or
instructions on how to light them, I
send those, too. Sometimes, I'm not
able to reach them first, so I just
send the kits."
That's how Sarah Tarnowsky of
West Bloomfield received hers.
"About a month after Sarah's bat
mitzvah last summer at Temple Beth
El, they arrived as a gift in the
mail," said Sarah's mother Carol.
"We weren't expecting them, but
they were a pleasant and meaningful
surprise.
"After receiving the candles and
candlestick, Sarah's been lighting
them more," she said. "In our home
we've emphasized that since she
became a bat mitzvah, she should
take on more of the woman's role."
Deborah Richmond of Okemos
began to light Shabbat candles last
October after hearing about
Amzalak's offer.
"When I was growing up, my
family did not observe Shabbat,"
Richmond said. "Getting married
recently and preparing to start a
family of my own has prompted me
to re-evaluate the role Judaism plays
in my life."

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