Close to four hundred members of the Jewish community of Curitiba, Paraná, in South Brazil, packed the “Buffet Du Batel” hall last Monday evening in celebration of an unprecedented and exciting event commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the liberation and reunification of the city of Jerusalem and the launching of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Tefillin Campaign.
The evening’s program, conducted in an efficient and pleasant manner by chairlady Joyce Krispin, was opened with the recital of chapter 122 of Tehilim by Rabbi Mendy Stolik and words of greeting by the President of the board of directors of Beit Chabad, Dr. Francisco Grupenmacher.
A moving video of the miraculous victory of the “six day war” was shown with subtitles prepared especially in Portuguese, vividly portraying the serious threat that Israel and the Jewish people faced at that time and the calming effect of the words of the great Jewish leader, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Speaking to thousands assembled at a Lag Baomer Parade at his headquarters in New York, the Rebbe assured the nation of G-d’s protection, and encouraged them to commit to good deeds– especially the donning of Tefilin – that would lead to great miracles that the people would witness shortly. And now, 50 years later, the audience at the event watched spellbound, many with tears in their eyes. Thunderous applause reverberated in the hall as the film showed Israel’s enemies fleeing in fear and soldiers recapturing the Temple Mount, accurately proving the Rebbe’s words.
A special highlight of the event that greatly impacted the public and made a kidush shem shamayim, was the presence of his excellency Dr. Luiz Fux, Minister of the Supreme Federal Court, who honored us with eloquent words about his personal connection with the Rebbe and the wisdom and inspiration he receives from him although they never actually met. He proudly declared how he puts on Tefilin daily and how he feels that this mitsvá illuminates his life, enabling him to pursue true justice, time honored values, and ethical decisions. Pulling out a photo from his pocket, he held up a picture of the Rebbe, admitting that he does not travel anywhere without it.
Rabbi Mendi Labkowski thanked the minister and presented him with a gold-plated engraving of Jerusalem.
“Adopt a Soldier” magnets were distributed to all who attended – each magnet bearing the name and picture of a soldier who was killed during the “six day war” with a request that the recipient either put on Tefilin or light Shabat Candles for the neshoma of that soldier. Rabbi Yosef Y. Dubrawsky, (Rabino Fitche – as he is affectionately called), head Shliach of Parana and S. Catarina, explained: “the Rebbe always demanded Maase Bepoel, and we have to make sure that everyone walks out with a hachloto to do something positive in a practical sense.”
The climax of the program was the awarding of a uniquely-designed medal to 100 individuals, residents of Curitiba, who served in the Israeli army since 1948. Rabbi Dubrawsky wanted each and every one of them, or their children (of those who have since passed on) or relatives and friends of those who are living or serving presently in Israel, to receive our sincere and warm appreciation and gratitude for their self sacrifice in defending our homeland and our people. Large screens displayed photographs, documents, and factual information about each soldier, In a true manifestation of unity, presidents or representatives of each of the Jewish entities and organizations personally handed the medals to the honorees as their names were called.
One of the honorees, Mr. Amnon Czerny, emotionally shared some of his memories serving in the special “Unit 101” together with Arik Sharon and Moshe Dayan in the early years of the IDF.
Rabbi Fitche and the young Rabbis of Chabad, Mendel Labkowski and Mendel Stolik mobilized a team of dedicated volunteers, Alexandre Distefano, Joyce Krispin, Lilian Zugman and Liora Gandelman, who ensured that this memorable program underscoring the profound connection that the Rebbe and Chabad have with our Holy Land, our deep respect and admiration for those who guarantee its’ safety and well being, and the special protection that the Mitzvah of Tefillin affords us, was accomplished with professionalism and care.