180 shluchim from the New York-New England region gathered Sunday at Chabad of Port Washington, NY for a day of learning, inspiration, and camaraderie. The program included helpful sessions on halacha, chinuch, and other shlichus concerns, and it concluded with a grand banquet and lively farbrengen.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, who was appointed by the Rebbe to set up and direct the regional kinusim, said such events serve to rejuvenate the shluchim. “They don’t just come to hear helpful workshops; the presiding brotherly spirit gives shluchim that extra push to overcome the many challenges in the months ahead.
The Kinus, hosted by Rabbis Sholom Moshe Paltiel and Ilan Weinberg, offered numerous workshops delivered by fellow shluchim and experts, including a moving discussion by Rabbi Yaakov Horowitz on child safety and the importance of spending quality time with one’s children despite a busy schedule.
Rabbi Avrohom Sternberg joined Rabbi Paltiel to launch an initiative encouraging shluchim to learn Chassidus over the phone together. “It’s not just to add limud haTorah,” said Paltiel. “It is also about adding that inspiration, ensuring we are plugged in to the Rebbe’s message and fulfilling our shlichus with a chayus.”
The goal is to have 110 daily chavrusas set up, in honor of the Rebbe’s 110th year. “We all can get into a rut, perhaps feel down or begin doing things by rote,” said a participating shliach. “Learning Chassidus, especially as part of such an incredible program, will make a world of difference to each of us individually, and to our communities.”
The banquet featured a video presentation of the Rebbe speaking of the importance of Torah learning, which bolstered enthusiasm toward the newly launched campaign. Rabbi Kotlarsky later shared numerous stories of the Rebbe, showing his care and attention toward Shluchim. Local resident and renowned lawyer, Mr. Arney Herz, addressed the crowd saying, “I am very nervous to speak in a room full of beinonis.” He told the story of his journey to Yiddishkeit after decades searching for meaning the Far East. “I’ve put on tefilin almost every day for six years now,” he said.
In his keynote address, Rabbi Velvel Butman, of Scarsdale, NY spoke of the Rebbe’s availability in every place and every time zone and related the story of a tearful phone call he received one evening from a man who was distraught at having missed saying kaddish for his father’s yartzeit. “Hold one,” said Butman, “you didn’t miss it yet.”
He immediately called Rabbi Itchel Krasnjansky in Honolulu, only to be told by the secretary, “The rabbi is unavailable; he is in the middle of the afternoon prayers.” After a little coaxing, Rabbi Krasnjansky, Rabbi Butman, and an emotional Yid were on a conference call saying kaddish.
Following the banquet, Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov of Philadelphia, PA was welcomed by Rabbi Kotlarsky and farbrenged with the shluchim late into the night. “It was a tremendous honor and zechus hosting so many shluchim in our home, so many people who have dedicated their lives to such a vital mission.”