By COLlive reporter
The Global Hakhel Event that united Jews from around the world this week has carried with it the aura of the verse often recited during the High Holidays: “Restore us to You, Hashem, so that we may be restored; renew our days like those of old.”
Communities and individuals gathered on Sunday, September 20, 2015 – 7 Tishrei 5776, in an unprecedented showing of Jewish unity to strengthen their connection with Hashem and love for their fellow brethren and to pray for the final redemption.
Over 16,500 men, women and children attended public screenings at gatherings in over 35 locations around the world, among them dozens of schools, with another 35,000 joining in at homes and offices via the online broadcast on Chabad.org and COLlive.com, organizers said.
The program streamed live from cities such as Kfar Chabad, Moscow, London, Paris, Johannesburg, S. Paulo, Brazil, Buenos Aires, Argentina, Crown Heights, Chicago, New York and Toronto, and included live broadcasts from the Rebbe’s room in 770 Eastern Parkway and the Ohel in Cambria Heights, Queens.
Organized by Vaad Or Vchom Hahiskashrus and the respective communities and schools, the event was held in accordance with the Rebbe’s instruction to gather Jewish people of all ages during the year of Hakhel, as it was done in the times of the Beis Hamikdash.
Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Director of Chabad at Flamingo in Thornhill, Ontario, served as the emcee and pointed out that this event is serving as the launch pad for others to arrange similar gatherings with colleagues, friends, neighbors and family.
The first location to participate with Tefillah was the Chabad community in Chicago, where Rabbi Boruch Hertz and Rabbi Meir Shimon Moscowitz led participants in reading Tehillim.
Seen next was the Chabad community in Moscow where many gathered at the Marina Roscha Synagogue and Jewish Community Center. Russia’s Chief Rabbi Berel Lazar lauded the efforts to bring the Rebbe’s campaign of Hakhel to great heights.
The event followed with the singing of the niggun of Atah Vechartanu with the Rebbe and a short video of the Rebbe saying a sicha about how the message of Hakhel plays out in one’s personal life as well.
Continuing with the Torah portion of the event was Rabbi Mendel Gordon, Mashpia of Yeshiva Lubavitch in London, England, where the local community gathered in a tent erected for the event. Children were invited to recite the first 3 of the 12 Pesukim.
The next verses collected by the Rebbe were said by boys and girls standing in the Rebbe’s room in 770 Eastern Parkway. They were joined by a boys choir in Paris, France, singing “Am Yisroel…”
A large crowd of Lubavitchers sat outside the replica of 770 located in the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad. They heard from Rabbi Mendel Gluckowsky about how important it was that everyone get involved in the year-long Hakhel campaign.
Children were a big part of the event, enjoying a specially produced skit of the popular and entertaining Itche Kadoozie Show. Organizers also provided public screening locations with specially designed activity sheets with educational material about the Hakhel year that many children utilized.
Joining from South Africa was Head Shliach Rabbi Mendel Lipskar who brought greetings from the Chabad community in Johannesburg, followed by senior Shliach Rabbi Shmuel Lew from England appearing in Paris with words of inspiration.
Participants were then brought to the Ohel, where children sang the niggun of Tzoma Lecha Nafshi and read a general “pan” letter to the Rebbe written on behalf of children in Tzivos Hashem around the world. Then, all viewers joined in giving Tzedakah simultaneously.
The global event was closed by Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt and the community in Buenos Aires, Argentina and suggestions by the emcee on how to get involved and utilize the many resources available to make Hakhel happen in each location.
Participants commented that they were left with a tremendous feeling of interconnection with fellow Chassidim around the world.
“It was an amazing and emotional event,” said Rabbi Dovid Goldberg, Shliach in Morumbi, Brazil. “The entire community – anash and Mikuravim – were packed together. The Rebbe’s presence was felt in the room!”
“It was so inspirational, the feeling of joining with tens of thousands of chassidim around the world united in connecting with each other and implementing the Rebbe’s call of Hakhel,” said Asi Speigel, of Tzfat, Israel. “The fact that the year just began, and thousands of chassidim around the world are already ‘shtureming’ about Hakhel, was very moving,” he said.
Participants also voiced a strong resolve to strengthen their hiskashrus to the Rebbe, particularly by getting involved in coordinating Hakhel gatherings over Sukkos and throughout the year.
“For our family, on shlichus thousands of miles from 770, last night was like an instant trip to hear our Melech bringing the Torah to life!” shared Rabbi Pini Hecht, who joined close to 100 others at the Chabad House of Cape Town’s Hakhel Event.
“I would encourage all my fellow Shluchim and Anash to utilize the resources being provided to really make the ‘shturem’ of Hakhel that the Rebbe asks so strongly that we do,” he said.
For many resources – both practical and inspirational – on organizing Hakhel gatherings visit chabad.org/HakhelResources For the Hakhel card regsitration (committing to host a Hakhel gathering) visit chabad.org/HakhelCards .