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Today is a particularly challenging day for optimism.  The Jewish world is mourning the death of three Israeli teenagers abducted 18 days ago and found yesterday buried in the West Bank.  The response was swift and decisive.  Israel launched air strikes targeting Hamas suspects and the Hamas dominated Gaza Strip.  In return, Gaza militants fired a barrage of rockets toward Southern Israel.

Today marks the 20th anniversary of the death of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (who died in the Jewish calendar on the 3rd day of Tammuz, July 1, 2014).  Known as the The Lubavitcher Rebbe, he was the most influential rabbi in modern history and served as the seventh and last Hasidic leader of the Chabad Lubavitch movement.

The Rebbe had escaped Europe in 1941 and made it his mission to rebuild Jewish life after the great loss of millions of lives in the Holocaust.  He was a pioneer of Jewish outreach and inspired his followers to act with love and without fear to all people, one person at a time.  As a result, he created a network of religious and social institutions worldwide including schools, drug rehabilitation centers and homes for the disabled, spreading an ethical and moral message of divine awareness.

How do we connect the anniversary of a leader who preached non judgmental love for all mankind with the grief, mourning and retaliation of today’s headlines?  How do we, each of us, transform loss to growth, despair to hope, grief to love?

Perhaps its one prayer, one good deed, one person at a time.

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