In an amazing show of unity and solidarity more than 1300 people packed into a Skokie Hotel for the Chicago Jewish Community’s Memorial Evening of Tribute and Solidarity on Wednesday evening, 7 Kislev. The distinguished guest list included Rabbonim and Roshei Yeshiva, prominent politicians, and dignitaries from many organizations. Guest speakers included Harav Gedaliah Dov Schwartz, Av Beis Din of Chicago Rabbinical Council, Dr. Steven Nasitir President of the Jewish Federation and Gershon Kedar the Deputy Consul General of Israel to the Midwest.
Many wept openly at the incantation of the memorial prayer and as seven memorial candles were kindled by friends, local relatives of the victims and Government representatives.
Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, regional director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, read a letter from President–elect Barack Obama and then passionately encouraged the assembled to use the inspiration of the moment to add light to the world. Hundreds filled out Mitzvah pledge cards which Rabbi Moscowitz is bringing to Israel this weekend when he visits all the grieving families. He is also bringing 250 letters of comfort written by students in the Jewish day schools in Chicago. Close to a thousand Friday Light kits were distributed to be used the participants as part of citywide Mivtza Neshek campaign.
Through the sadness and the tears a great sense of renewed commitment and invigorated spirit prevailed. Each speaker declared the community’s resolve to fight hatred with love and banish the darkness with light. A highlight of the evening was the showing of the JEM video about the lives of Rabbi Gabi & Rivkie Holtzberg.
Before the formal program began a press conference was held with the participation of Rabbi Moscowitz, Mr. Ira Pilitz a traveler to Mumbai and Rabbi Yochanan Posner a classmate of Rabbi Holtzberg.
In an e-mail after the event a Chabad supporter wrote:
“Wow! An amazing tribute…class, emotion, dignity and inspiration. D. W. sat next to me crying his eyes out. The video was excellent. You assembled all the right people. Chabad was showcased in the spotlight and it made me proud to be associated with such a wonderful organization”.