Sunday, April 17, 2011

Chabad in Sweden

Talar du svenska? I don't, but if you do, be sure to check out Från Sverige till himlen ("From Sweden to Heaven"), a show dedicated to examining faith in overwhelmingly atheist Sweden. The second episode spotlights a Chabad shaliach (emissary) family in Sweden, Rabbi and Rebbetzin Alexander and Leah Namdar, and their 11 (!) kinderlach. Talk about an aishes chayil (a "woman of valor"). In Wisconsin, some of us unwed Jews in their mid to late twenties have a joke about chassidic families that large (even as we hope to one day break their records); that they're trying to singlehandedly repopulate the planet (and G-d bless them!). And who wouldn't want their own basketball team? Anyway, here's the scoop from the news arm of
By the hundreds of thousands, Swedes tuned into SVT2, a station on Sweden’s biggest TV network last Wednesday to watch a new TV series, From Sweden to Heaven. Its second installment turned the cameras on the Chabad family in Gothenburg, and gave viewers a close-up of life in the religiously observant, lively Chasidic home of Rabbi Alexander and Leah Namdar.

In a predominantly atheistic country—a 2005 Eurobarometer poll found that 77 percent of Swedish citizens do not believe G-d exists—the show aims to provide viewers with a better understanding of religious life. The Namdars, Chabad representatives to Sweden, settled in Gothenburg in 1991 and today offer the country’s Jews a range of social and educational programs.

“This was a groundbreaking step for Jewish life in Sweden. The show touched the consciousness of Jews here,” said Leah Namdar, 41, and a vibrant mother of 11. After the program aired, the Namdars were inundated with a flood of calls, emails and texts from viewers, who were “happy to be Jewish and proud of their identity. It was an incredible opportunity to reach thousands of people.” [...]

One viewer from a small, far-flung village who had never been to Chabad, called the Namdars after the show, to reserve a place at their Passover Seder.
Watch the entire show. You can pretty much get the gist of it, even without speaking Swedish.

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