The Rebbe’s great affinity for those who visited the kevarim of his family members is well known. Although for most of the Rebbe’s nesius it was virtually impossible to travel to Alma Ata, once the Iron Curtain collapsed such visits became possible. In the summer of 5751 (1991), the shluchim in Europe gathered for a regional kinus during which they traveled to the ohalim of the Rebbeim in Russia and the Ukraine, which had been all but inaccessible until that point. When being told that the itinerary included a visit to Alma Ata on Chof Av, the Rebbe instructed that the group remain there for the entire day, to enable them to daven all three of the daily tefillos at his father’s resting place.
Similarly, the Rebbe thanked people who reported they had visited the kever of his brother, Reb Yisroel Aryeh Leib, in Tzefas, and on occasion the Rebbe even asked individuals to travel there and place a tzetel on his matzeivah.
In this light, in honor of Reb Levi Yitzchok’s seventy-fifth yahrtzeit, the needs and expenses of all visitors to Alma Ata for Chof Av will be covered, from their arrival until their departure. An entire hotel will be rented out to provide lodging for the many visitors; all food and transportation will be supplied; and a program replete with shiurim, tefillos, and farbrengens will be arranged. Additional amenities include a twenty-four-hour tea room.
Even when the Soviet regime was in full control of Kazakhstan, the Rebbe displayed his concern for the state of his father’s kever. In 5732 (1972) the Rebbe sent clandestine messages to the chassidim in Russia, asking them to visit the kever and replace the broken-down tombstone. In the era of glasnost, when two chassidim erected an ohel over Reb Levi Yitzchok’s kever (in 5749/1989), the Rebbe thanked them for their efforts and showered them with berachos.
In the winter of 5739 (1978–1979), when someone gave the Rebbe a photo of his father’s resting place, the Rebbe cherished the picture to such an extent that he wrote on the back in ksav yad kodsho, “Alma Ata – choref 5739.” A picture of this photo appears below.
During the difficult years in Russia, numerous chassidim would make the arduous trip to Alma Ata to daven at this special place, and many stories are told of the wondrous brachos they witnessed soon after (including brachos related to finally being able to leave Russia).
For more details about Chof Av 5779 in Alma Ata, please visit www.chofav.com or email [email protected]