In the largest Conference of International Chabad-Lubavitch representatives, 2,500 leaders from Jewish communities around the world convened at Lubavitch World Headquarters, in Brooklyn, New York this past weekend.
The conference ran the course of six days, during which the full gamut of communal, spiritual, educational, social and humanitarian issues concerning the Jewish community worldwide was addressed in a thoughtfully planned program. The sessions bridged concerns shared by Shluchim who traveled from places as remote as Tasmania, Siberia, China, Japan, Hawaii and Alaska as well as most of the states in the U.S. In addition to presentations by Shluchim who have developed outstandingly innovative programs, professionals in many of the areas that Shluchim and Chabad Houses are active presented workshops, seminars and lectures.
At a lay leadership session, some 300 constituents joined their Chabad Shluchim. Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of the social services and educational divisions of Chabad-Lubavitch, who addressed the session, observed a “genuine relationship of deep respect and mutual commitment between the lay leaders and their Chabad representatives. It was clear that Chabad Shluchim have touched these lay leaders in a deeply meaningful way.”
Rabbi Krinsky spoke to the Shluchim of the special blessings they hold as emissaries of the Rebbe. He referred to Shluchim as being empowered by the Rebbe to fulfill their mission as lamplighters to the Jewish and larger world, through their outreach work. Pointing to recent studies that placed 23% of all Orthodox synagogues in the United States in direct affiliation with Chabad-Lubavitch centers, and the same for 20% of Jewish day schools in the country, Rabbi Krinsky underscored the far-reaching impact of Chabad-Lubavitch on Jewish identity today.
At the conference Banquet Dinner—the largest event held in Brooklyn’s Marriott Hotel–Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, director of the Conference, announced the anticipated opening of new Chabad Houses in an additional 25 cities in the Former Soviet Union. Under the Rohr Campus Initiative, full time Chabad representatives are expected to set up Chabad Houses on an additional 20 campuses nationwide, bringing the total number of campuses served by a Chabad House to 87.
The focus of the conference was a “return to basics” explains Rabbi Kotlarsky. Shluchim resolved to rededicate their efforts to the specific 10 points or mitzvot, highlighted by the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, in the course of his leadership. Among these are the Shabbos candle-lighting campaign, tefillin awareness, charity giving, kashrut awareness, the laws of family purity, and too, the popular campaign to enlist every Jew in the participation of writing a Sefer Torah, or a Torah scroll, through the purchase of a letter in the Torah for him or herself, including children.
“This was by far, the most well-attended conference, yet,” observed Rabbi Krinsky. The increase in attendance—by several hundred Shluchim—is a reflection of the growth of the Chabad-Lubavitch enterprise known as Shlichus. “The desire to participate in the legacy of the Lubavitch Rebbe, by undertaking a life committed to Shlichus, grows and grows, in defiance of all predictions to the contrary,” says Rabbi Krinsky.