WellesleyWeston Magazine

FALL 2016

Launched in 2005, WellesleyWeston Magazine is a quarterly publication tailored to Wellesley and Weston residents and edited to enrich the experience of living in two of Massachusetts' most desirable communities.

Issue link: http://wellesleywestonmagazine.epubxp.com/i/713244

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Page 77 of 211

"We're not missionaries," he says about another misconception. "We don't proselytize. If people come to us with religious questions, we teach them about Jewish tradition as it's been done for thousands of years. But often what my wife and I do has nothing to do with reli- gion. The driving force is to help as many people as possible in any way, shape or form, especially the downtrodden. Being a religious leader is a means to an end." Raised in Brooklyn, Rabbi Bleich was ordained in Jerusalem after studying for two years in London and the Ukraine where his brother is also a rabbi. After the fall of communism, 18-year-old Moshe Bleich founded the Jewish community of Kremenchuk, Ukraine. He returns periodically to bring books, clothing, and supplies funded by the Wellesley Weston Chabad community. Whether to lead similar mis- sions to Cuba, Israel, and beyond; to further his studies, or simply because he loves to travel and learn about different cultures, he has vis- ited 60 countries, to date. "My wife is my partner in everything," he says. "I lead the services, both of us teach here, and she does a tremendous amount behind the scenes." Not least are her homemade meals on Fridays when Babson and Wellesley College students join the family at home in Chabad House for Shabbat dinner. For Passover this year, she cooked for 95 people who attended their two seders. Geni Bleich also teaches at New England Hebrew Academy. She and her husband have seven children, ages 2 to 17. At home, the family speaks Yiddish. "It is my children's first language, but they also speak Hebrew and English fluently," says Rabbi Bleich who, like his wife, speaks several other languages. An avid sports fan, he follows all of New York's major league teams but nonetheless has developed relationships with Jewish players on the Red Sox. He'll proudly tell you that Wellesley Weston Chabad is one of six founding teams in a 50-team synagogue-affiliated men's softball league and that on Sunday mornings he also enjoys playing football, basketball, or baseball with congregants and local college students. It's a great way for people to connect, he says. His conversations are frequently laced with humor, from the play- 76 W e l l e s l e y W e s t o n M a g a z i n e | f a l l 2 0 1 6

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