After the stabbing of free speech champion Salman Rushdie in Chautauqua, NY, many people ran into the nearby Chabad House where they were hosted for a challa bake and Shabbos meals.
As he was about to give a lecture on the topic of safe places for persecuted authors, at the Chautauqua Institution in Chautauqua, NY, Salman Rushdie, the famed novelist and author of “Satanic Verses”, whose writing led to death threats from Iran in the 1980s, was attacked and brutally stabbed in the neck on Friday, August 12.
Rushdie has been a prominent spokesman for free expression and liberal causes. He is a former president of PEN America, which said it was “reeling from shock and horror” at the attack.
Rabbi Zalman and Esther Vilenkin, directors of the Zigdon Chabad Jewish House in Chautauqua Institution just blocks away from the attack say their entire community is in shock.
Many people came running to the Chabad House in distress after witnessing firsthand the tragedy at the amphitheater where Rushdie was about to speak. Shaken and in a state of shock they came to Chabad’s warm and safe environment to process, share and come together.
Chabad held their planned Challah Bake event less than two hours later with full attendance. Rabbi Vilenkin opened with a moment of silence and prayer for recovery, health, safety, peace and harmony. Joining together as a community and baking fresh warm challah bread to share with others in preparation for Shabbat, was extra meaningful and comforting.
Although the Chabad House was already set up and prepared to host dozens of guests for Shabbat dinner, said Rabbi Vilenkin, many people had nowhere to go and turned to Chabad. We try to accommodate everyone and thank G-d, in short notice we were able to prepare food and rearrange the entire Chabad House to accommodate everyone in time for Shabbat. Rabbi Vilenkin said that in challenging and dark times we add more light and increase in acts of goodness and kindness.
To add in spiritual light, women lit Shabbat candles at the Chabad House while many people put on tefillin, just prior to Shabbat’s arrival, including one person who put it on for the first time in his life, generating a spontaneous Bar Mitzva celebration!
A Holocaust survivor who joined the Shabbat dinner, delivered an inspirational message of hope, and faith, sharing her personal story. She implored everyone to search for the blessings in life and live with gratitude.
Shabbat dinner at Chabad was inspirational and meaningful, an oasis of support and comfort.
Chabad Jewish House at Chautauqua continues to spread love and light and offer support and comfort to the community.
To help in their efforts you can donate at www.cocweb.org/donate