I am a bochur learning at a Lubavitcher Yeshiva here in the U.S. (and no, you don’t know who I am. I have never written before and just not the type to do this kind of stuff).
A few weeks ago I, along with tens of fellow bochurim, was privileged to serve as a staff member at the Kinus Tzeirei Hashluchim that ran simultaneously to the international Kinus Hashluchim in Crown Heights.
I would like to share a few thoughts that crossed my mind repeatedly over the course of those three days.
Weeks and months of preparation by the dedicated and highly qualified head staff working alongside the Shluchim office paid off. From the first moment until the last the kids experienced an action packed, well planned program that they will surely remember, discuss, and discuss again in great detail until next year’s Kinus and afterward.
“Rebbe I know you are here now with me … You are the life inside of me” – we sang again and again as the impressionable young children slowly grasped the important message that the Kinus organizers wished to convey. The power and glory of children on Shlichus is extolled constantly throughout the Kinus, and the message is driven home.
I am in no way saying that the staff did not do a sufficiently good job or that other concepts should have been promoted – leave those decisions to the professionals and to those who actually put in hundreds of hours of blood sweat and tears to make the program happen.
I just want to share a different perspective of life on Shlichus that was stressed a little less. Indeed, maybe it is an aspect of Shlichus overlooked all too often, beyond the question of a camp theme.
Life on Shlichus is hard. There is a lot of work, no money and very little recognition. Perhaps the most challenging aspect is the sometimes excruciating loneliness, with no one in the city or even state with whom to share an honest moment of companionship.
And the Shliach’s child? He, by no fault of his own and not by consequence of his own decision, shares much of the same fate.
He grows up alone, spending his time reading or looking out the window whilst children his age across the country run the school halls and streets happily with their friends. Maybe he has a couple friends, children from irreligious homes to whom he is constantly on display as a religious child or, if he is lucky, he has virtual friends on the online school.
And of course, there are those children who at a young age leave the warmth of their homes to live by relatives or family friends, always well meaning but sometimes incapable of providing emotionally for their young charges, especially if they are getting on in age.
True, you are the crown jewel of the Jewish people and should be recognized as its most glorious sector, its pride and joy. But do you not deserved to be acknowledged as its most self sacrificing too?
And so, I and many other Bochurim/Shluchim/parents/Lubavitcher’s and members of Klal Yisroel have something to say to you (and yes, we are talking to you, Mendy, Levi and Zalman). We won’t call you brave or courageous or the Holiest of the Holy. We won’t tell you how much Nachas you give Hashem and the Rebbe (which is all true). We will tell you that we acknowledge your difficulties.
We salute you…
We salute every slight discomfort in your life. We salute your endless hours of loneliness as you count down the days and minutes until camp or the Kinus or your next trip home.
We salute every moment that you have to give up spending with your father and mother because they are busy with their community work. We salute the discomfort of constantly being on display as the city’s only religious Jews.
We salute the Shabbos and Yom Tov, the event and program that you have to work so hard to prepare. We salute the lack of Jewish education that may leave you a little behind your peers academically when you will arrive at Mesivta age. And we salute every tear that falls from your eyes as you sit homesick thousands of miles away from home.