By Mendy Hecht for COLlive.com
Members of Agudas Chassidei Chabad and leading international shluchim gathered on Friday in Crown Heights for a kick-off planning meeting of a massive worldwide Jewish unity and identity building drive.
The drive, which will tap into the power of the international Chabad network, will consist of at least two stages over the next ten months of the current Hakhel year.
The first stage, to launch in Kislev, will focus on invigorating Anash and Chabad communities with inspiring speakers and Mashpi’im.
Meeting attendees in were each asked to submit 10 names of qualified speakers and mashpiim, creating a pool of several hundred available speakers who in turn will inspire communities at special small-scale Hakhel farbrengens, rallies and other community events.
“The entire Jewish world, including Chabad, needs something like this,” said Aguch Chairman Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov.
“The situation in the world and in Israel lends itself to such gatherings. It’s about Jewish identity, Jewish unity and Jewish community. That’s something every Jewish group and individual can agree with. They don’t need to join anything. They just need to be there and come together.”
The first stage of grassroots inspiration will last until Pesach, accompanied by a large-scale, Internet-driven media and publicity campaign. The second stage, to roll out after Pesach, will take the international grassroots buzz to the next level.
Hundreds of Chabad communities, enthused by the first stage, will reach out to the Jewish community at large to organize large-scale Jewish identity rallies with the participation of thousands.
“People are aching for inspiration,” said Rabbi Shabsi Alperin, head shliach of Brazil. “We have an opportunity now to truly bring the Jewish world together.”
Participants were Rabbi Yisroel Shmotkin of Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff of Houston, Texas; Rabbi Gershon Mendel Garelik of Milan, Italy; Rabbi Shmuel Azimov of Paris, France; Rabbis Nachman Sudak and Shmuel Lew of London, England; Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt of Buenos Aires, Argentina; Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar; Rabbi Eliezer Shemtov of Montevideo, Uruguay; Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon of Hong Kong; Rabbi Mendel Lipskar of Johannesburg, South Africa; Rabbi Menachem Tzvi Groner of Melbourne, Australia.
The program will be directed by Rabbi Chaim Greenberg of Beitar, Israel.