Eight of 11 B.C. shluchim joined 5,200 other Chabad rabbis and guests in New York City Nov. 4-9 for the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries. (photo by Shneor Shif)
Eight local B.C. rabbis made their way to New York City Nov. 4-9, joining a group of 5,200 Chabad rabbis and guests from 86 countries for the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries (Kinus Hashluchim).
The conference, now in its 32nd year, offered a chance for the rabbis to recharge their batteries in an atmosphere of camaraderie and inspiration before returning to their communities. It also gave community members the opportunity to better appreciate the global impact of Chabad-Lubavitch and its underlying philosophy, and spend some quality time with fellow Jews from around the world.
Known as shluchim – the plural of shaliach, which means agent or emissary – these rabbis were dispatched by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt’l, to communities all over the globe to dedicate their lives to serving the Jewish people. They work to connect Jews to their heritage, raise Jewish awareness and mitzvah observance, and teach Torah. Yet their mission is not only a spiritual one; the Rebbe charged them to discover what the unique needs of their respective communities are and to meet those needs by opening their hearts and homes to help every Jew in any way they can.
The rabbis arrived on Nov. 4 for five jam-packed days, which included extensive Torah classes, prayer with thousands, a range of workshops and talks and, of course, a visit to the Ohel, the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his father-in-law, the previous Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, zt’l.
This year’s conference carried added significance, being a Hakhel year, a year focused on unity gatherings in rededication to Torah and mitzvot. The biblical Hakhel took place once every seven years at the conclusion of the Sabbatical (Shmitah) year, and brought Jewish men, women and children to the Temple in Jerusalem to be inspired by the Torah, which was read by the king. During Hakhel in years past, the Rebbe would regularly urge Jews worldwide to assemble and inspire one another to increase their Torah observance and study.
This unity and rededication was perhaps best exhibited at the gala dinner on Sunday night in the South Brooklyn Marine Terminal. Powerful presentations on Hakhel were given by a Chabad Hebrew school student, a CTeen participant, an active student leader in Chabad on Campus, a middle-aged professional who first met the Rebbe as a young man and is now a member of his local Chabad community, and a Holocaust survivor. They all mentioned increasing their observance as a result of interaction with Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries.
Moshe Holtzberg, who is nearly 9 years old, is the surviving child of Rabbi Gavriel and Rivka Holtzberg, shluchim who were murdered in a November 2008 terror attack on their Chabad House in Mumbai, India. Moshe led the crowd of thousands in the recitation of psalms during the banquet.
The eight B.C. shluchim who traveled to New York were Rabbi Yitzchak Wineberg, executive director of Chabad-Lubavitch BC, Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman of Chabad of Richmond, Rabbi Binyomin Bitton of Chabad of Downtown Vancouver, Rabbi Meir Kaplan of Chabad of Victoria, Rabbi Schneur Wineberg of Chabad of East Vancouver, Rabbi Chalom Loeub of Chabad of the University of British Columbia, Rabbi Dovid Rosenfeld of Chabad-Lubavitch BC and Rabbi Mendel Mochkin of Chabad of the North Shore. Rabbi Falik Schtroks of Chabad of Surrey, Rabbi Bentzi Shemtov of Chabad of Nanaimo, and Rabbi Shmuly Hecht of Chabad of Kelowna were unable to attend the conference this year.