Remembering the Pittsburgh 11 with a unity and pride dinner

Chana and Rabbi Mordechai Rubin await their guests prior to a recent Shabbat dinner held to mark the first anniversary of the massacre of the 11 Jews at a Pittsburgh synagogue, the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

By Rabbi Mordechai Rubin
“It was Rosh Hashanah day, as we walked back from services at the banquet hall of the Loudonville Firehouse, we turned to each other and asked, what can we do to properly to mark the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting? We dreamed of getting together with the community for a beautiful Shabbat dinner, but was such a thing feasible? We felt we couldn’t just let this day pass us by, so we asked you —our dear friends— can we do it? We received very positive feedback. So here we are today, with our beautiful Colonie Jewish community celebrating Shabbos.” With these words I, Rabbi Mordechai Rubin, the co-director of the Colonie Chabad Jewish Center, began the Shabbos community meal commemorating the Pittsburgh Synagogue shooting. The dinner program was held at the Loudonville Firehouse, Friday night Nov. 15 (Hebrew date of the shooting was 18 Cheshvan).

The evening began with the traditional Shabbat candle lighting. It continued with singing the Shalom Aleichem and kiddush.

“Wow! There are no words to describe the warm and uplifted atmosphere in the room as over 40 Jews gathered together to celebrate Shabbat in the most beautiful way. Truly a fitting tribute in memory of the 11 special souls our nation lost this time last year. It was incredible to see so many come join us in a evening of Jewish pride, inspiration and of course delicious Shabbat food,” said Chana Rubin co-director of Colonie Chabad.

Rabbi Mordechai Rubin spoke about the importance Jewish pride as anti-Semitism is on the rise. He encouraged those gathered to stay strong, proud and active. He told a tale of a Jewish soldier who rediscovered his Judaism in the U.S. Army. While fighting in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, he refused to remove the word Jewish from his army dog tag.

Arnold Proskin spoke next, describing the camaraderie that existed between the Jews and their Italian neighbors in his childhood. Throughout his career as Albany County district attorney and judge, NYS assemblyman and the attorney that he remains, he reported that he never once shied away or hid from his Jewish identity. He urged listeners to do the same, “Be a proud Jew,” he said.

Those attending shared their names, Hebrew names and place of origin.

A dinner buffet was followed and Chana Rubin spoke about a young girl on the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and her power in bringing in Shabbat to the last corner of the world. The traditional Shabbat meal ended with blessings after the meal (bentching). And then Washing hands for scrumptious Challa and then the feast began. On each plate an edible flower with salad awaited, with plenty of dips, great tasting gefilte fish and an assortment of salads to enjoy alongside.

“Wow! There are no words to describe the warm and uplifted atmosphere in the room as over 40 Jews gathered together to celebrate Shabbat in the most beautiful way.  Truly a fitting tribute in memory of this 11 special souls our nation lost this time last year. It was truly incredible to see so many come join us in a beautiful evening of Jewish pride, inspiration and of course delicious Shabbat food”, Said Chana Rubin Co-Director of Colonie Chabad Jewish Center.

Rabbi Mordechai Rubin spoke  powerful words on the importance Jewish pride  especially as Antisemitism is on the rise. He encouraged those gathered to stay strong, proud & active Jews. He told an interesting tale of a Jewish soldier who rediscovered his Judaism in the US Army. While fighting  in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War, he refused to remove the word Jewish from his army dog tag.

Mr. Arnold Proskin spoke next, describing the camaraderie that used to exist between the Jews and the Italian neighbors in his childhood. Throughout his illustrious career as Albany County District Attorney & Judge, NYS Assemblyman and respected attorney, he remains never once shied away or hid  from a his Jewish identity. He urged all to do the same – “Be a Proud Jew!”.

After going around the room everyone shared their name, Hebrew name and place of origin  (all 40!) present, it was time for the main course. Hot matza ball soup along with Dinner Buffet. Schnitzel (3 Styles), Kugel (2 types) & different side dishes were all set on the buffet. After filling up their plates the crowd enjoyed a story from Chana Rubin about a young girl on the Aleutian Islands, Alaska and her special power in bringing in Shabbat to the last corner of the world. The meal ended with Blessings after the meal (Bentching) and of course dessert! Cookies, Brownies, rugelach and assorted fruit were enjoyed by all as the evening came to a close.

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