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Rabbi Adin and Chabad at Brandeis

Twenty years ago today Chanie and I, with 4 month old Mendel, arrived in Waltham to establish a Chabad House. These two decades have been fabulously enriching, driven by our unwillingness to be satisfied with superficialities - our own and others.


A ‘chance’ conversation that I had with Rabbi Adin Even Adin-Yisrael (Steinzaltz) six years ago played a major role in our lives, and remains resonant with us today as it did then. I wrote about in an essay on the fifteenth anniversary of our arrival in Waltham five years ago.


The theme of the essay was to establish that Chabad (at Brandeis at least) is not here to serve but instead to have an impact.


Here is an excerpt:

This awareness [that Chabad is here… Read More »

Students and Giving; Our Responsibility

A summary of our podcast Students and Giving; Our Responsibility.

This past week we re-introduced our students to a concept we developed a few years back, inviting them to become Shareholders of Chabad at Brandeis at $10 a month. Becoming a Shareholder is a lot more than a financial gift, it’s a statement of value and partnership.

Judaism teaches that there are three parts to connecting. To understand (Torah), to feel (Tefillah), and to give (Tzedakah). It’s through the act of giving away something that belongs to and can be used for oneself, which achieves a connection that understanding and feeling alone cannot accomplish.

This is not about giving back though, which is the immediate knee… Read More »

The Antidote to Narcissism: Investment

When Chanie and I married, 19 years ago today, the 11th of Shevat, we were committed to living our lives together and raising our future family as Shluchim (emissaries) of the Rebbe. In simpler terms that meant to be wholly dedicated to positively impact the lives of individuals and the world. It also meant to do it on our own and without institutional support. In other words, alongside being fully focused on enriching people’s lives, we’d be fully dependent on the generosity of others to operate, live, and raise our family.

Needing to continuously ask people for financial support has been enlightening as it’s a window into their soul. In the immortal words of the 2nd century Talmudic sage Rabbi Ilai, “A… Read More »

Kosher v. Doing Good

Place eating an exclusively kosher diet – no buttered lamb for instance- alongside giving one’s resources – fiscal or talent – towards a worthwhile cause. Then ask, “What measurable impact and value does each, observing kosher and doing good, have on the world?”

Young people are asking this question and concluding that a kosher diet, just one example of observing Judaism, is insignificant compared to doing good. The typical talking points offered as a response are failing to resonate. “Because G-d said so or it connects you to G-d,” elicits a blank look. More importantly they don’t see how observing Judaism makes a difference to the world at large.

A more relatable answer offered is… Read More »

Reclaiming our Chabad Authenticity

Neither publicly, nor for that matter privately, have I ever shared this; after fifteen years of leading the Chabad House at Brandeis I was burnt out and ready to seek an alternative. Chanie, my wife, also shared some of these feelings. This was in the Spring of 2017, concluding our sixteenth year, though it developed over the previous few years. 

A convergence of various factors led to that point; tired of the constant departure of students from our lives as they graduate, financial instability, a noticeable change in the students over the years, and a frustration of raising a family in the isolation of Waltham.

At that time I met with my spiritual mentor (a mashpia in Chassidic terminology), and after a long conversation… Read More »

A Conversation I was Hesitant to Have

I am fortunate to engage with hundreds of students each year, meet many of their families and continue to nurture these relationships in the years following college as the Director of the Chabad House at Brandeis University.

What’s moving to me is experiencing the evolvement of a relationship as the student grows older, develops his or herself, and gets comfortable in their skin. When they maturely interact with life’s responsibilities, commit to a long term relationship, and even have their own children, their understanding of life deepens and our relationship can become more balanced as we share in life’s nuanced and enriching experiences.

When Ariella Morrow ‘06 shared her story of sexual assault on social… Read More »

Peretz, what are your thoughts on women becoming Orthodox rabbis?

Everyone loves a juicy headline. Usually that happens when something unusual occurs and highlighted if someone is squirming in the story. When a Chabad rabbi converses with a young woman preparing to become an Orthodox rabbi — that is unusual. If she asks him on record what his opinion of women becoming Orthodox rabbis, someone is going to squirm — either him, her, or both.

This happened in the recent podcast I had with a young woman studying to become a female Orthodox rabbi. Here is an outline of my response. It’s built on two principles.


The first is that Torah education of girls and women must be on the highest level. Sadly, it’s not. In traditional schools, where girls and boys are educated… Read More »

Impressed by an Upcoming Female Orthodox

Everyone loves a juicy headline. Usually that happens when something unusual occurs and highlighted if someone is squirming in the story. When a Chabad Rabbi converses with a young woman preparing to become a Rabbi-that is unusual. If she asks him on record what his opinion of women becoming Rabbis, someone is going to squirm, either her, him or both.

You squirmed? This happened in the recent podcast I had with a young woman studying to become a female Orthodox Rabbi. Here is an outline of my response.

It’s built on two principles. The first is that Torah education of young girls and women must be on the highest level. Sadly it’s not. In the traditional schools where the education of boys and girls is separated, the intensity… Read More »

Apathy or Fear; or Maybe a Bit of Both

There is no denying that on today’s college campuses there is a decrease in dialogue, especially group dialogues and particularly between those with diverging views. Certainly that is the case at Brandeis University where I’ve been living for seventeen years and observing this trend.

The consequences are dire. In an environment where young people do not engage with others whose ideas are outside of their comfort zone and are unwilling to respond to perspectives that are different than theirs, they are unlikely to develop into healthy adults. This is also decaying the strength of character of today’s college students, including those who’ve recently graduated.

In my and my wife Chanie’s attempt to address… Read More »

Lowest Denominator Connects | Leaving Orthodoxy | Proud Jew | Only Israel

 The world of podcasts is cluttered like my grandmother’s basement. Practically every item she comes across is stored there, from hair pins, to floppy disks, to vacuum cleaners. In the same way every idea, in any area, exists in the “basement” of podcasts. Nonetheless I noticed a void, if only in my small orbit of life, for a new podcast. One that provides authentic and deep conversations with individuals from all walks of Jewish life. After craving such public discourses for the longest of times I’ve decided to create a space for them to occur. For now, it’s called Podcast with Peretz.

To provide an environment for honest talk the guests will be anonymous and have their voices altered if they prefer.… Read More »

A Student’s Voice: You Can’t Buy Me a Jewish Identity


By Jordyn Seri, ‘18

My Jewish identity has been developed through many different experiences. This includes seven years of Hebrew school, six years of Jewish youth group, three summers of Jewish sleep-away camp, several trips to Israel with my family, as well as Birthright and Onward Israel.

These experiences have been wonderful. Learning over the past twenty one years what being Jewish means and does for me has shaped me into the woman I am today. All of these experiences however, were ones that I either had to do (i.e. hebrew school), or were offered in exchange for a free trip to Israel, an internship, or some sort of social experience.

This year, for the first time, I was offered to to have a Jewish experience solely… Read More »

Our World Is Changing and So Must We; Otherwise We Are Negligent


Since our arrival in Waltham in 2001, two drastic changes have occurred at Brandeis, though they are not exclusive to Brandeis. Firstly, tuition has gone up from the mid $30,000-a-year to close to $70,000 today. Fifteen years ago, that was approximately 20% below the median income, today it’s close to 20% above it.

When the cost of one’s education exceeds what an average person earns in a year, an underlying pressure exists to achieve a net return on this investment. Often that comes at the cost of excluding other valuable enriching opportunities. This is evident in the recent surge of business majors at Brandeis, now becoming one of the largest majors, contrasted with the sharp decline in Judaic studies majors. It is… Read More »

A Student’s Voice: Inclusivity Can Sometimes Be Judgmental


By Ruby:

Since arriving at Brandeis three years ago, I was reluctant to join a religious community on or off campus. I grew up in an inclusive Reconstructionist shul full of music, social justice, and community support. I knew what I wanted in a religious community, and I was very reluctant to venture outside of my type of Judaism. I found a home in the Reconstructionist services on campus and, although I was frequently invited to join a Chabad or Hillel dinner, I thought a Jew like me would never be welcome in that environment.

This fall, Chabad at Brandeis held Mega Shabbat, a community dinner for several hundreds of Brandeis students, Jews and non-Jews alike. I had not been to a Chabad dinner in two years, but since several of… Read More »

Chabad Is Not a Humanitarian Organization

Meet Richie Malone, his wife Misty, and his two boys, Brady and Liam. I met Richie outside his home in Houston, while he was removing debris from his now stripped bare first floor. All the homes on his block were deserted, the street silent, with piles of torn out sheet-rock, deformed furniture, and boxes of memories lining the sidewalks. I was going house to house, inviting residents to a Red Cross Disaster Relief Truck delivering free hot meals and cold drinks.

Earlier that day, together with four other rabbis, I was helping a woman whose home was devastated clear her garage and move furniture. At the same time other rabbis from across the US and Canada were helping homeowners clear the ruins from their homes, distribute food and… Read More »

Reflections from a Spontaneous Journey


It was quite remarkable when an alumnus visited and shared that he is quitting his job to spend six months out of the country learning a foreign language and volunteering. He had a good job, in the career of his preference, and was living amongst friends. Understandably I asked, “What happened?”

With full sincerity he felt that he was not providing value to the world through his marketing job. He felt what difference would it make if people purchased product A or product B? He went on to describe how his practice of Judaism has lapsed because as he put it, “It provided no meaning.” While his friends were satisfied with following the routine, for him the lack of… Read More »

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