Sippin' tea and studying the Torah in Hewlett


Rivkie Tenenboim of Chabad of Hewlett makes studying Torah enjoyable with weekly Torah and Tea meetings, she said.

“We do it from our home because, the concept of Chabad houses was really founded by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, who was our mentor, even though he passed away when I was three years old, he set up these teachings and hoped to pass it onto our children.” Tenenboim said of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, born in Nikolaev, Russia, who started Chabad Houses upon his arrival in New York.

“His most fundamental concept of when he expounded on the torah, because we know that we can’t change the Torah we can only point what’s important to learn now, and what’s important to do now, torah’s always existed exactly the way it was when god gave us the Torah, most important is the concept of love a fellow Jew and how do you show you love somebody more, than by teaching them the torah?” she added.

Tenenboim, who is married to Rabbi Nochem Tenenboim who leads the Chabad of Hewlett, brings in the tea component to assure that it is an enjoyable way to study Torah, which is a compilation of the first five books of the Hebrew bible.

“That was passed down through generation and generation to make sure Torah and mitzvahs were infused with joy,” Tenenboim said, a mitzvah is a good deed in Judaism.

Ten women gathered around Tenenboim’s large table set with teacups, brownies, other drinks and treats in her Hewlett home.

She started off the night by sharing a story about a Jewish woman in St. Louis,  who was disappointed by the mikvah, a pool of natural water, representative of purity in Judaism, being subpar and demanding an audience to help her improve the mikvah.

The group then revisited their former Torah portion, which addressed God giving of the Torah, Tenenboim said. They meet most weeks on Monday or Wednesday, whenever Tenenboim can fit this into her busy schedule, she said.

Then, the women began the discussion of 18th Torah portion, of 54 and attendees read, following Tenenboim’s instruction. Stemming from this portion, the group discussed how one becomes a Jewish slave, as the individual was in the reading, listing possibilities like, to pay back debt, to reconcile for stealing or to wrong a right.

“This concept is within our daily life,” Tenenboim said of righting regrets in her routine, including things like sending her daughter to school unhappy, and fixing it the next day, of forgetting to light Shabbat candles, which are lit on Friday evening in Jewish households. “What am I going to do tomorrow to make sure that doesn’t happen again?”

Group member Jan Henock said that she enjoys studying the Torah in this way, because she never had in Hebrew school.

“You can be raised Jewish, but you don’t have all of the knowledge because we have different levels of learning,” Henock said. “To me, learning is the most important thing because learning creates understanding and understanding is the first step in being able to care about other people.”

Ilana Kahan, another group member, said she was raised Orthodox, but constantly learns from Tenenboim every time she is at Tea and Torah.

“Rivkie will say something I’ve never heard before and relate it to everybody,” Kahan said.

Text Tenenboim at (917) 575-3917, to get involved or to learn more.