In a usual year, the international conference of Chabad women representatives—known simply as the Kinus—draws over three thousand women from around the world to Brooklyn, New York, for four days of classes, symposia, and networking. But this isn’t a usual year, and with the 32nd annual conference, which begins Thursday morning, being held virtually, organizers are expecting a much higher turnout.
“The physical connection will be missed,” says conference committee member Sarah Alevsky. “But on the other hand, many more shluchos [female emissaries] can attend. People are much more onboard and willing to give strength to one another. They feel like everyone is in the same boat.” Several of the representatives have chosen to donate what would have been the cost of their airfare to charity.
Timed to coincide with the 22nd of Sh’vat, the day that marks the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, wife of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, this year’s conference is organized around the theme of overcoming challenge, using the Chasidic maxim “L’chatchila ariber,” an expression meaning that obstacles are best navigated by leaping over them rather than circumventing them. Chabad representatives have had to drastically change their mode of community outreach over the past year, many in isolated communities under lockdown. This weekend will serve as a boost, spiritually and emotionally, a chance to connect with their sister shluchos around the world.
The marquee event, a live, virtual gala banquet, will take place on Sunday. Speakers include Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsy, vice chairman of Chabad’s educational and social service divisions, Shternie Freedman of Bahia Blanca, Argentina, and Mrs. Chaya Chitrik of Istanbul, Turkey, who will deliver the keynote address.