By COLlive reporter
Photos: Chaim Perl
Holding handwritten notes in their hands, scores of men and women silently entered a stone structure in the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, New York, with yearning and hope in their eyes.
The thousands of people who came to pray at the Rebbe‘s Ohel gravesite on Monday night were the beginning of 24 hours of visitation to mark the Rebbe’s 20th yartzeit on the 3rd of Tammuz.
“His spirit is still alive and as strong as ever,” reported Mike Sheehan on WPIX TV. “The rabbi was one of the most influential religious figures of modern time and enjoyed an extraordinary legacy worldwide.”
Organizers expected about 50,000 visitors.
“That estimate has grown significantly and is expected to surpass 100,000 by Tuesday morning,” Sheehan said about the visits by Jews from all backgrounds and from states across the U.S. and countries around the world.
The early crowds at the Ohel and the tents for guests at the courtyard of Ohel Chabad-Lubavitch Center on Francis Lewis Blvd were a testament to the Rebbe’s broad and varied impact, 20 years later.
Wealthy Jews from Russia were seen alongside Yeshiva students studying intensely the Rebbe’s last discourse that was reviewed by the Rebbe in 1992. Modern orthodox Jews were seen not far from elders such as Bnei Brak’s Rabbi Moshe Landau.
“Everybody feels that the Rebbe (lives) with them,” commented Rabbi Shamai Ende, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim Lubavitch in S. Paulo, Brazil.