Tag Archives: Chabad

Jew of the Week: Aaron Rajman

In Memory of “the Matzah Brawler”

Aaron Rajman (1992-2017) was born in the Bronx to an observant Jewish family. When he was four years old, the family moved to Florida. In his teen years, Rajman got involved with a bad crowd and struggled in his personal life. However, he soon got back onto the right path by returning to his religious roots, and taking up mixed martial arts. Rajman joined the American Top Team gym, one of the premier MMA training facilities in the US. He started racking up amateur wins, and earned six different titles before turning pro. His overall record was an impressive 21 wins to 4 losses. Despite his success in the ring, Rajman did not abandon his faith, making sure to keep the Sabbath and stay kosher. He was nicknamed “the Matzah Brawler”. Rajman was also an avid cook, and regularly hosted friends and family for Shabbat meals. In his spare time, he taught self defense in his community, and instructed local police officers in Krav Maga. After his father passed away from cancer, Rajman fought a number of charity bouts, donating the proceeds to the American Cancer Society. Earlier this week, Rajman was recovering from a leg injury when a group of thugs broke in to his home and fatally shot him. It was just a week after his twenty-fifth birthday. His community in West Boca Raton remembers him as a “sensitive, caring and kindhearted soul.” Donations to his burial fund can be made here.

Words of the Week

Our mission on earth is to recognize the void – inside and outside of us – and fill it.
– Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher Rebbe

Jews of the Week: Joe and Ben Weider

Godfathers of Bodybuilding

Weider Brothers with Arnold Schwarznegger (Credit: ibffpro.com)

Weider Brothers with Arnold Schwarznegger (Credit: ibffpro.com)

Joseph (1920-2013) and Benjamin (1923-2008) Weider were born to a Polish-Jewish immigrant family in Montreal. Constantly bullied while growing up, they began exercising and lifting weights in their teenage years, making their own equipment out of old car wheels and axles. As their muscles grew, their adversaries disappeared, and the boys’ self-esteem shot up. They decided to share their new passion with others. At 18, Joe started a bodybuilding magazine called Your Physique. By 1943, the magazine had become popular across Canada. A few years later (following Ben’s return from World War II service) the brothers organized the first “Mr. Canada” contest. Ben then went on a mission around the world to spread the art of bodybuilding, after which the brothers established the International Federation of Bodybuilders. By 1952, their magazine had 25 million readers around the globe. Unfortunately, the sport slowly lost popularity, and by the 1960s, the Weiders were looking for a fresh start. They created a new competition, Mr. Olympia, but it initially didn’t bring the success they hoped for. The brothers moved to California, now with a new magazine, Muscle Builder. While in Europe, they met a young bodybuilder, and decided that he would be the image of their new brand. The brothers brought him to California, settled him in, trained him, taught him about business and media, and eventually turned him into one of Hollywood’s greatest: Arnold Schwarzenegger. (In 2006, then-Governor Schwarznegger presented the brothers with a Lifetime Achievement award, and in his speech thanked them for inspiring him, bringing him to America, and skyrocketing his career.) Ultimately, the Weiders would run several more magazines – including Men’s Fitness and a women’s health magazine called Shape – as well as produce their own health products, vitamins, and supplements (Weider Nutrition is considered the first sports nutrition company). From the start, they warned millions of their readers about the dangers of tobacco and alcohol, and refused to publish ads for these products in their magazines. Not surprisingly, the Weiders are credited with bringing greater awareness of healthy living and exercise to the masses. The brothers were also praised for breaking down barriers and allowing blacks, Hispanics, and women into their competitions at a time when it was still considered taboo. Surprisingly, Ben is also a noted historian, specializing in Napoleonic times, and co-writing several books on the subject. He has been awarded the Order of Canada, the French Legion of Honour, and was even nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. Meanwhile, Joe wrote a couple of books on bodybuilding, and was voted Publisher of the Year in 1983. Along the way, the brothers never abandoned their connection to Judaism, often corresponding with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and donating generously to Chabad organizations, among many others.

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Words of the Week

It is not enough to be busy; so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?
– Henry David Thoreau