As thousands prepare to visit the Rebbe’s Ohel to mark 20 years since Gimmel Tammuz, amongst them hundreds of shluchim coming with their communities, a special day-long inspirational and educational event marking the date will take place on Sunday, June 29 at Queens College.
The day of lectures and learning will be capped off with a plenary session at the 2,500-seat Colden Auditorium, featuring keynote addresses, personal interviews, and a musical and visual tribute to the Rebbe.
The sweltering New York City heat doesn’t stop them from coming. Each year for almost two decades, just as summer gets off to its optimistic start, thousands of Jews from across the globe descend on the Rebbe’s Ohel in Queens. They come to daven and reflect, Jews of all stripes, young and old, each with their own private prayers. And despite the weather, and the long snaking line that takes them past video screens and water coolers, the crowds keep growing.
With this year marking 20 years since the Rebbe’s passing on Gimmel Tammuz, 5754, shluchim from Brooklyn to Bangkok are making a concerted effort to connect even more Jews to the Rebbe by bringing them to the Ohel on this special day.
Many shluchim in the Northeastern United States are even renting coach buses to travel together with their communities.
To help orient and educate some of the thousands of visitors expected this year, the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute has organized Soul Encounters, to take place on Rosh Chodesh Tammuz, Sunday, June 29, a full-day of inspirational programming which promises to elucidate the deep meaning of the day to Jewish visitors from all backgrounds.
To be held only a few minutes away at Queens College’s Kupferberg Center for the Arts, JLI is working closely with Rabbi Abba Refson of Ohel Chabad Lubavitch to provide buses that will shuttle visitors back-and-forth to the Ohel, where they will experience a smooth and meaningful guided entrance into the Ohel.
Open to men and women, Soul Encounters is designed to be a sort of one day version of the National Jewish Retreat focused solely on the Rebbe and his impact. Refreshments, gourmet meals, and continued in-depth study on all levels will await participants on their return to from the Ohel.
With renowned speakers, academics, and shluchim taking part in the programming throughout the day, speakers will include
Rabbi Adin Even-Yisroel, Rabbi Yoel Kahan, Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Rabbi Shmuel Lew, Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, Rabbi Nissen Mangel, Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Dr. Shmuel Klatzkin, Dr. David Luchins, Rabbi Sholom Moshe Paltiel, Rabbi Yossi Paltiel, Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, Rabbi Ari Shishler, Mrs. Rivkah Slonim and more.
Capping off the Ohel visits and all-day sessions will be a grand plenary event held at the massive Colden Auditorium, which can hold up to 2,500 people. The concluding session will feature keynote speeches, interviews, and musical and visual presentations on the Rebbe.
“We make many efforts to be mekarev our balle battim to Torah, Mitzvos, and Chassidus,” wrote one shliach recently, “yet perhaps the greatest thing we can do for them is bring them to the Rebbe.”
On a day filled with profound meaning, heartache, and hope, JLI hopes that Soul Encounters will help visitors to the Ohel experience Gimmel Tammuz in a truly impactful way, one with which they can return home and share the Rebbe’s vision for humanity to those around them.