Filling the largest convention hall in Brooklyn beyond capacity, the 2,000-plus Chabad-Lubavitch representatives from around the world paid moving tribute to the legacy of the Lubavitcher Rebbe at last night’s Banquet Dinner at the Brooklyn Marriott Hotel.
Culminating a four-day conference, the Shluchim—rabbinical leaders representing some 60 countries and hundreds of communities worldwide—generated an enthusiasm for their work in the service of Jewish life and Jewish continuity that was all but palpable during the five hours of the dinner session of the Conference.
Always the highlight of the Conference, the Banquet Dinner took the Rebbe’s 101st year since his birth as a metaphor for the idea of going that extra mile: one hundred years is a milestone, but 101 reflects a quantum leap. Zeroing in on the Rebbe’s relentless desire and push never to rest on past achievements, keynote speaker Rabbi Yossy Goldman of Johannesburg, South Africa, said: “He urged us always to take that quantum leap, make the impossible happen, go that extra mile, in all things related to Jewish outreach.”
A lay-leadership conference that convened prior to the Banquet gave hundreds of supporters of Chabad-Lubavitch concerns the chance to meet and mingle, and to speak with Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the Conference host. Rabbi Krinsky expressed appreciation for the lay leadership partnership with Chabad. “You are the fuel that powers our turbine,” he said, explaining that this is a partnership that allows everyone to fulfill their purpose.
The Banquet continued to develop this theme, featuring a video presentation by Jewish Educational Media of the Rebbe’s inspiration and mandate, “never to rest” as reflected in so many of his conversations, and in footage of Chabad activities around the world.
A roll call by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director of the Conference, underscored the vast global representation Chabad-Lubavitch enjoys today. A contingent of some 125 Chabad-Lubavitch leaders from the former Soviet Union were represented at the Conference, as well as more than 250 from Israel. The roll call, which included many remote and isolated locations, including the Congo, and various places in Siberia among others, was a reminder of the stamina unique to Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim who assume these posts—lifelong commitments—often involving tremendous personal sacrifice, for the love of Judaism and Jewish life.
Many of these Shluchim situated in distant outposts, look forward to the Conference as the one opportunity they have to touch base with all their colleagues working out in the field. A wide range of seminars, workshops and lectures addressed many of the issues faced by Shluchim in their communal and rabbinic capacities. “You cannot imagine how the Conference stimulates and inspires us through the hard times,” said one Chabad-Lubavitch representative.
The Banquet session was also well attended by representatives of various Jewish organizations.
The Conference continues today, Monday, with more lay-leadership sessions, and other programs geared to the specific and special interests of Shluchim in education, administration, and all areas of Jewish leadership. A parallel annual international conference for Chabad-Lubavitch women representatives will meet the week of January 25th.