Hong Kong is a battle zone now, with violent clashes and political protests crippling the colony. But Rabbi Mordechai and Goldie Avtzon at Chabad of Hong Kong are maintaining steady calm and focus. Last month, they recruited Rabbi Chaim and Menuchy Birnhack to help them serve the younger demographic of Asia’s World City.
The couple, originally from Israel, have taken up Chabad’s programming for children, teens and young professionals, aiming to bring it to the next level. “Thank G-d the work of the local and regional centers have grown to the point where a larger workforce is necessary,” says Rabbi Avtzon, who established Chabad in Hong Kong in 1986 and directs the regional activities there and in China. “We felt that we needed some younger people to help us cater to the ever-growing crowd of young Jews engaging with Chabad.”
The programming the Birnhacks now co-direct include the popular JUDA Hebrew School of the Arts and the local branch of Chabad Young Professionals that see up to 100-200 otherwise unaffiliated twenty- and thirty-year-olds at their events.
Avtzon says that while the instability in the region isn’t aimed at the 4-5,000 Jewish residents and countless Jewish visitors, its still affecting them. Hong Kong’s shaky future is leading many to turn to Chabad for hope, inspiration and meaning. “We aren’t folding. We’re here to help our community find that hope in this turbulent time.”