Next weekend, Shabbos Parshas Vayeira (November 2nd), over 800 students and 100 Shluchim and Shluchos will be coming to Crown Heights for the largest Pegisha of its kind.
As Shluchim on campus, many of my colleagues deal with great mesiras nefesh with a constant uphill battle, inspiring and serving hundreds of Jewish students every week. Around this time each year, though, we are reminded that we're not alone.
Seeing the unbelievable Hachnosas Orchim with which the residents of Crown Heights open their doors, take care of our students, and put up with all of the tumult that goes along with such an endeavor – especially knowing that this comes so closely on the heels of an already very taxing month of Tishrei – is the greatest reminder that 'Chassidim Ein Mishpocha,' that we are part of a family of Chassidim who are true partners in our work.
Indeed, the students who come, year after year, walk away inspired. They are touched by the exposure to a Chassidic community, by the festive meals and classes, by the visits to 770 and the Ohel. But more often than not, what they are most affected by are their hosts. By the thought that families would open their doors to complete strangers, show them such warmth and even lend them their keys!
So before we descend on your homes and lives for a couple of days, I wanted to take this opportunity – on behalf of Chabad on Campus International Foundation and on behalf of each and every one of the Shluchim and Shluchos – to thank you for your hospitality and for the impact you will have on our students' lives!
I have been asked to reiterate the following point. (Although it may seem superfluous - Ein mezarzin elah lemzurazin): The majority of students you will see on the streets have a long-standing developing relationship with Chabad on their campus. In almost every case, the Shliach and Shlucha have prepared the student, to the extent possible, gently highlighted behaviors that may be out of place in this neighborhood. What these students gain most from the people they meet is the simple and straightforward Ahavas Yisroel that Crown Heights is built upon.
If they are doing something Halachically inappropriate – smoking, taking a picture, or carrying an umbrella on Shabbos, to name but a few possibilities – please remember these people are still on a journey in their Yiddishkeit. Past experience has shown that positive and uplifting experiences help them grow in their Yiddishkeit, while well-intentioned instructions about Hilchos Shabbos or other matters don’t necessarily have the desired effect...
Along the same lines, times have changed drastically in the attitudes that most universities and parents have towards students drinking alcohol. We respectfully remind you to be very careful about serving mashke at all, and especially to anyone under the legal age of 21 (most of the students), to avoid any negative results and possible legal liabilities chas v’sholom.
Again, Thank You! May all of our efforts be met with Hatzlacha, may we achieve our goal of bringing Nachas to the Rebbe, and may we immediately all together celebrate the ultimate kibutz goliyos with the coming of Moshiach Now!
Rabbi Mendel & Henya Matusof
On behalf of the Chabad on Campus International Shabbaton Organizing Committee