Thousands of guests at the annual banquet of the Chabad Lubavitch International Conference of Shluchim listened attentively as 12 year-old Motti Shochet of London, England addressed the crowd. Representing his peers—400 children attending the annual conference “camp” for sons of shluchim, a weekend long program running concurrent to the main conference—he thanked the shluchim not only for “inspiring millions of Jews,” but inspiring himself and his fellow campers to continue in their parents’ work, spreading Judaism to every corner of the world. Underscoring the point, eight young Shluchim repeated the message, each in their respective language of Spanish, Russian, French, Swedish, Hebrew, German, and Italian. “We are your future,” they told them.
Motti Schochet and his friends are only several of thousands of children born into the truly unique role of a Chabad emissary. Motti’s parents, Rabbi Yitzchok and Chani Schochet, are Chabad representatives in Mill Hill, a suburb of London. “We chose this life,” Chani concedes, “but our children were born into it, and they face all the unique challenges and privileges that come along with this position that they have never chosen.”
And yet these children were positively bursting with enthusiasm. Conference organizers of this year’s program—the largest ever, with over 400 children from hundreds of cities worldwide—say that the incredibly electric atmosphere at the conference comes from the kids themselves and their total commitment to spreading Judaism in their respective cities. “We have 400 dynamic, experienced, talented community activists spending the weekend together,” marvels Rabbi Moshe Pinson of the Shluchim Office, director of the program. “And they’re all under Bar Mitzvah!”
For kids like Motti, the “kinus” is the highlight of the year. Every moment of the three-day weekend is packed with various activities, trips and learning experiences. “It’s my best part of the year,” Motti says, “It makes me feel really proud about what I do, and you get to meet other kids and have a really good time with them.”
Bringing the kids together and having them share their experiences is a crucial part of the conference, says Mendel Teldon, one of several yeshiva students who served as “head counselors” of the program. “We started a program this year called phone buddies, where the kids are paired up and call each other twice a month,” he says. “For the kids who live in remote places, this works wonders.”
Motti, who lives an hour’s drive from the Chabad boy’s school he attends in Stamford Hill, London, has many more friends than other Chabad children living in far-flung Jewish communities, but he views their roles as similar. “We teach people in our communities by example,” he says. “Like, the way they see us act, that’s what they know of Judaism and Jewish families and kids.” On his own accord, say his parents, Motti and his brothers visit the local Jewish senior citizens home every Friday, and accompany their father religiously to the Mill Hill United Synagogue where he serves as Rabbi.
Such experiences are typical of the children who attend the annual conference, says Raleigh Resnick, who served as one of the head counselors in this year’s program. “They have totally absorbed their parents’ idealism,” he says, “Their passion for teaching and sharing Judaism, is very inspiring to see.”
At the banquet of the Shluchim conference, the speeches of Motti and his young fellow shluchim were met with thunderous applause and followed by spirited dancing.
The children’s conference is a project of the Shluchim office, the worldwide Chabad Lubavitch Resource Center, which is a division of the Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, sponsors of the Conference.