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One Jew At a Time: How a Chabad Shaliach's focus on the small has led to huge success


Whenever I think of successful entrepreneurs I think of Rabbi Mordechai Shain. Except he is not your traditional entrepreneur because he is not a businessman, he is a rabbi. More specifically he is a 'shaliach' (messenger) of the Chabad/Lubavitch movement of Judaism. So why do I think of him as an entrepreneur? Just as they say an entrepreneur is like someone who jumps off a cliff and builds a plane on the way down, a shaliach also very often moves into an area with little or no funding and needs to build a Jewish community from the ground up that can sustain both the needs of the shaliach and the community.

Rabbi Shain came to Tenafly in 1993 with a vision to help Jews connect to their Judaism and almost nothing else. No money, very few connections, but in just a few years with God’s help, he built a thriving Jewish community. Now, he runs Lubavitch on the Palisades which is a multi-million dollar Jewish life center which includes a daily minyan, a Beit Midrash, a huge synagogue, weekly Torah classes, a mikvah, a nursery school, and a Jewish day school. Recently, Jewish life has grown even stronger and there is now a kosher restaurant at the center of town and a kosher mini-market. So what is Rabbi Shain’s secret to growth? One Jew at a time… 

“ A Shaliach is supposed to go to a city, to worry about every individual, what their need is.”

Podcast Highlights

1:10 - How did Rabbi Shain end up being the Chabad shaliach of Tenafly, NJ?

4:38 - Writing to the Rebbe for success

5:00 - How did Rabbi Shain get his first minyan and what is his philosophy for growth?  

“I don’t like big things, I like one Jew at a time… my goal was let’s just do one mitzvah at a time, one Jew at a time,, one good deed at a time, one minyan at a time… so my first thing was let’s start a minyan for Shabbos in Tenafly.” 

8:43 -  How did Rabbi Shain receive his first sefer Torah? 

9:34 -  How did Rabbi Shain pivot after getting kicked out of the Clinton Inn where he was holding services?

10:07 - What was Rabbi Shain davening (praying) for when he first started? 

11:08 -  How did Rabbi Shain generate the community support to build a multi-million dollar complex Jewish life complex? 

12:04 - What is a Shaliach supposed to do when they come to a new city? 

13:19 - The amazing story of building Tenefly’s mikvah.

14:53 -  Efforts at Torah based Jewish education to prevent assimilation  

16:10 - Rabbi Shain’s best advice for being a successful shaliach 

16:55 - Visiting the sick at Englewood hospital as part of his ‘one Jew at a time’ vision. 

18:30 - What role does emunah play in Rabbi Shain’s success? 

21:27 - “It’s all about the moment.”

23:40 - Inspirational story from the Lubavitcher Rebbe about ‘staying in the game’.

24:58 - What is the connection between being a shaliach and being a businessman?

27:44 - What's the connection between the beard and success according to Judaism?

29:22 - What is the ‘Aleph Male’? 

30:35 - What does it mean to be the best a Jewish man can be? (Some deep Kabbalah in this discussion including a discussion about masculine and feminine aspects of a person’s soul). 

34:14 - A blessing for harmony between husband and wife. 

35:08 - How to get in touch with Rabbi Shain.