By COLlive reporter
Photos: Itzik Roytman
A group of journalists from Denmark recently came to the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights to learn about the chassidic way of life and the Chabad-Lubavitch movement.
They toured Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway and the Jewish Children’s Museum before continuing down Kingston Avenue, stopping at shops and speaking with residents.
One member of the group was Michael Breum, a news editor at the regional Danish TV 2 / STJYLLAND network, who looked particularly at ease while roaming the neighborhood.
“I’m not Jewish,” he says, “but way back in 1991 when I was a student at Columbia University, I was as a journalist assigned to do a story about Lubavitch in New York.”
It turned out to be more than just a story.
“I became really fascinated with Lubavitch philosophy and Chabad as a movement and specifically the thinking of Rabbi Schneerson,” says Breum, who developed friendships in the community and was even invited to a Pesach seder.
“Almost every time I visit New York, often with groups of Danish colleagues, I walk the streets of Crown Heights and tell what I know,” Breum says, noting “how uplifting it is to experience a culture, who in the midst of the western capital of hustle and bustle, strictly adheres to thoughts and beliefs which emphasize completely different values.”
Two weeks ago, the visiting group of 12 journalists who had no prior knowledge of Chabad or Jewish life in America were welcomed by Mrs. Batya Lisker, executive assistant to Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and Machne Israel, the educational and social services arm of the worldwide Chabad-Lubavitch organization.
“Rabbi Krinsky, obviously an extremely busy man with so much on his shoulders, patiently took the time to explain the workings of Lubavitch and Shluchim worldwide,” Breum said. “But in some way I guess that is the Lubavitch way in a nutshell – having time and reaching out and valuing each and every individual.”
“Every person is important, as every person is a whole world,” Mrs. Lisker replied to them.
The visitors mentioned how impressed they were with the leadership of women in Lubavitch, having met Mrs. Batya Lisker, Mrs. Devora Halberstam, Director of Foundations and Government Services of the Jewish Children’s Museum and Mrs. Baila Olidort, Director of Communications at Lubavitch World Headquarters.
“I found it very interesting to meet people that live a religious life while functioning so well in a modern world,” commented TV photojournalist Line Strand, adding that Batya Lisker “gave us an inside glimpse into the life of a religious Lubavitch woman.”
In her remarks, Halberstam brought the group back to 1994 when her son Ari Halberstam was murdered by an Arab terrorist on the Brooklyn Bridge, and told how she continued on to help build the museum for the purpose of teaching tolerance.
Heading back to Manhattan, Breum said: “I still have so many questions I need to get answered – but I look forward to visiting again and asking more questions next time. Thank you once again for a truly wonderful fantastic and unique experience.”