For Jewish communities everywhere, this is the most highly charged time of year. The intensity is thick as hearts spill over with prayers for a New Year that is blessed and sweet. During these days, even those less inclined become more introspective, and a sense of purposefulness attends the ordinary.
At the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, New York, people from every stripe make their way quietly to the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schnerson. With respect to Jewish custom, they visit the burial place of the righteous in the hopes of earning the tzaddik’s intercession to elicit divine blessings on their behalf. Little children too—some mimicking their elders, others wise enough to appreciate the auspcious nature of these days—pronounce their entreaties with fervor.
In a longstanding tradition, Jews often traveled from far to be with their Rebbe, their spiritual leader, during the High Holy Days. The privilege to be part of his congregation was well worth the expense and the effort, and the month of Tishrei saw thousands arriving from all parts of the world to Lubavitch World Headquarters.
Today, thousands continue to descend upon this Brooklyn neighborhood at this time of year. The memory of Rosh Hashana with the Rebbe still lingers in the air, and many are content to come from as far away as Australia and South Africa for a whiff of what once was.
But what of those living far from the buzz of concentrated Jewish communities, where Jews are few and far between? In places like Honolulu, Hawaii, Westminster, Colorado or Carolina, Puerto Rico, Rosh Hashana might easily pass unnoticed. Many Western Jews would find it a stretch to imagine observing the High Holidays in Namibia, Nigeria, Kenya or Angola. Remeura, New Zealand or Birobidjan, Russia—on the border of China—and indeed, China itself, don’t seem like great choices for a Jew to be come Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur.
Yet Chabad-Lubavitch will be conducting Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services in all of these locations, and many, many, more. To date, the number of Chabad-Lubavitch High Holiday events and services posted on chabad.org, is at 4,574 in 371 cities worldwide, and growing. “Our Shluchim are determined to make it possible for Jewish people everywhere—literally everywhere—to join a minyan for Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur services this year,” says Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky.
It’s not just services that they are making available. A quick scan of the events posted indicates a generous offering of educational classes preparing Jews for the High Holidays. In many cities, Chabad Shluchim have set up tables at their local supermarket chains with literature and other Judaica, offering shoppers information on the holidays. Most Chabad-Lubavitch centers ran successful Shofar Factory workshops where thousands of Jewish children had a hands-on experience in preparing a ram’s horn for Shofar blowing.
Lubavitch has also published Rosh Hashana literature in scores of languages to facilitate observance of the holiday. In Florida, Spanish language services will be held in Club Chabad Miami Beach for Argentine and Latin American newcomers to the city. Russian language services will be held in many U.S. and European Chabad-Lubavitch centers serving Russian Jews.
In California alone, 73 cities thus far posted events and services reaching Jews along the entire state. In the Former Soviet Union, where thousands of Jews will join Chabad-Lubavitch services for the High Holidays, several cities, among them Moscow, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk and Birobidjan, celebrated the openings or restorations of synagogues in time for Rosh Hashana.
Coverage of Chabad-Lubavitch Rosh Hashana events in local newspapers across the country point to a robust level of activity. Saturday’s clippings included stories in The Toledo Blade, the Flint Journal, the Honolulu Star Bulletin, the Bonita Daily News, and several others reporting on the High Holiday services that Chabad-Lubavitch is making available to their local communities. “The momentum of our Shluchim is high—probably higher than ever before,” observes Rabbi Krinsky. “The Rebbe’s vision clearly continues to inspire our Shluchim to make sure that ultimately, no Jew will be left behind.”