By COLive Reporter
Photos by Yossi Percia
The historic Saban Theater in Beverly Hills, California was turned into a major venue with over 2,000 children from 21 southern California-based schools on Thursday.
The event was billed as a Lag B’Omer Hakel Community Concert and it turned out to be much more than that. Before the curtains opened, one of Hollywood’s top jugglers, Mr. David Cousin, entertained the attendees upon their arrival, putting them immediately in the spirit of this gala unity event. Once all the children and adults were seated in the historic and beautifully decorated theater, Chasidic superstar Benny Friedman came charging onto the stage pumping the audience with incredible energy.
Rabbi Meir Greene, Shliach of Chabad of Tarzana, who served as the MC, welcomed all with his special personal touch and introduced an inspiring video of the Rebbe about the importance of Hakhel. With the room in total silence, west coast head Shliach Rabbi Baruch Shlomo Cunin gave an energetic keynote address in a way that only Rabbi Cunin can since arriving to Los Angeles over 50 years ago. He empowered the children and adults with a clear message that it is up to them to bring Moshiach.
Rabbi Greene then introduced Rabbi Mendel Duchman, founder and director of the Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners, and quipped that by Mendel every day is Lag B’Omer, then thanked him for bringing children activities to new heights.
Duchman then led the Twelve Pesukim and Tzivos Hashem Rally following the footsteps of his legendary father-in-law, Rabbi Yakov Yehuda (J.J.) Hecht, who would lead all the rallies with the Rebbe. Children from across southern California were honored in leading the Pesukim.
This is when the entire crowd went into hysteria as the famed Twins from France entered the large auditorium in a manner that only they can, and continued to wow the crowd for close to an hour. The atmosphere at that time was electrifying, but it was topped off when Benny Friedman came out again with his top hit “Yesh Tikva,” bringing the audience to their feet with singing and dancing.
From such a high with joy, came immense emotions as Benny began to lead the crowd honoring Yitzy Hurwitz, the Shliach of Temecula, California, with the song and slide show entitled, “Shine a Light.” Hundreds of children circled around Yitzy and he in return acknowledged each one of them with the blinking of his eyes, his only way to communicate as he is battling ALS.
Video: Benny sings Shine a Little Light to Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz
No one wanted to go home but the celebration had to end, and indeed it did, with a phenomenal performance by Benny and the twins of France. This large community Hakhel gathering was produced by Chabad of California and Kol Yakov Yehuda – The Rebbe’s Diamond Daveners.
Spearheading the event, which took eight-months of planning, was a Vaad consisting of Reb Yossi Burston, a dedicated Anash member and coordinator of many Peulous in Los Angeles; Rabbi Tzemach Cunin, the dynamic Shaliach of Chabad of Century City; Rabbi Meir Greene and Rabbi Mendel Duchman.
In closing, the Vaad proudly proclaimed that next year Lag B’Omer falls on a Sunday and will happen only once during this next decade, hence the next parade will be called “One Parade, One Decade,” to encourage unity. Planning has begun!