Heritage – Florida Jewish news

 September 7, 2018


After 26 years, popular Jewish email available in Hebrew and Spanish

It all started with 50 faxes. Yes, faxes. In 1992, after moving to South Florida, Rabbi Kalman Packouz was fascinated with the latest technology, a fax modem. So he found a way to put it to good use, by sending out a one-page “dot-matrix” fax about the weekly Torah portion to 50 people. Today, it’s still sent out by fax to tens of thousands and has grown to become one of the world’s most popular Jewish emails as well with hundreds of thousands of readers worldwide.
The goal of the Shabbat Shalom Weekly (originally called Shabbat Shalom Fax and referred to as “The Fax of Life”) is to excite and connect Jews of all ages and all different backgrounds to their heritage. With insights into life, personal growth and Torah, Rabbi Packouz’s caring for and connection to his readers, along with his delightful sense of humor and great story telling, have earned him a following across the English-speaking world.
Now, Rabbi Packouz is embarking on an expansion to reach an even wider audience. Starting this Rosh Hashanah, 26 years after sending that first fax, the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is launching Hebrew and Spanish editions.
“I am thrilled and humbled that I have been able to touch so many lives, and with the new Hebrew and Spanish emails, I look forward to the opportunity of connecting even more Jews to the Almighty, their heritage and Israel.” said Rabbi Packouz. “I am both touched and saddened when readers write that the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is their only connection to anything Jewish in their lives. “
What is the Shabbat Shalom Weekly? It’s a weekly uplift and inspiration in five short sections:
1. Insights into personal growth and life or an upcoming holiday, usually with a humorous story or joke.
2. A concise overview of the Torah portion of the week.
3. A short D’var Torah imparting a lesson for life-how to be happy, find the right spouse, make one’s marriage work, raise one’s children and have more joy in life, spring boarding from a verse in the weekly Torah portion.  4. Candlelighting times around the world.
5. Quote of the week. “Some people subscribe just for the quote-and many read it first!”
Rabbi Packouz has a thick folder of notes from his readers. Writes Abby, “Your Shabbat Shalom Weekly has helped me shape my Jewish identity.”  Rick shares, “The Shabbat Shalom Weekly has connected me to my Jewish heritage, faith and belief. You cannot image how much I value your weekly letters.”
For a taste of the Shabbat Shalom Weekly, here’s a timely excerpt from Rabbi Packouz’s Rosh Hashanah edition:
This time of year, many Jews all over the world are rushing to make sure that they have places reserved in their synagogues. I am reminded of the story of the person who had to deliver a very important message to a man in a synagogue on Rosh Hashanah. The usher wouldn’t let him in because he didn’t have a ticket. “Please, I just need a moment to tell him the message!” “No way!” says the usher, “No ticket, no entrance!” “Please,” begs the man, “I promise … I won’t pray!”
Rabbi Packouz was born in Portland, Oregon, where he attended Beth Israel, a reform temple that has given him a sensitivity to Jews from all backgrounds. After college, he found his way to Israel. Following a brief stay on a Kibbutz, he was introduced to Rabbi Noah Weinberg, the founder of both Yeshiva Ohr Somayach and the Aish HaTorah world-wide outreach movement.
Continuing his studies under Rabbi Weinberg for six years, he received his rabbinical ordination and for 45 years has helped build Aish HaTorah into a powerhouse and leader in the Jewish outreach movement.
Rabbi Packouz was the co-founder of Aish HaTorah’s first branch in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1980 Rabbi Packouz founded the Aish HaTorah Jewish Computer Dating Service, perhaps the world’s first Jewish digital dating service, leading to an appearance on the Today Show. He is the creator of TheWall.org, Aish HaTorah’s webcam on the Western Wall where you can see the Kotel live in real-time and even send a note to be placed in the Wall. To date it has received almost 37 million visitors. Of all of his accomplishments and creations, the Shabbat Shalom Weekly is his greatest love.
To sign up for the free weekly newsletter, in English, Spanish or Hebrew, visit http://www.ShabbatShalom.org.

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