By COLlive reporter
Over 1,100 people attended the “One Rebbe, One Family, One Shabbos” inspiring Chabad retreat in Florida held in preparation for Gimmel Tammuz, the 20th yartzeit of the Rebbe.
Held at the Bonaventure Resort and Spa in Weston, the event attracted Lubavitchers from all over South Florida who turned out in such overwhelming numbers that the hotel was completely sold out.
From the very first class on Friday afternoon given by Georgia Shliach Rabbi Yossie Lew titled “20 Years; Revolution and Revelation” to the closing scene of the video shown at the Melave Malka banquet of the Rebbe at Kos Shel Brocha exuberantly leading the crowd to greater heights of joy, the entire program inspired and uplifted participants.
It was a rare and historic event, a Shabbos which focused solely on hiskashrus to the Rebbe, infused with Chassidic spirit, and enhanced by amazing speakers.
“Everyone there felt more prepared for Gimmel Tamuz and connected to the Rebbe by learning the Rebbe’s Torah and following the Rebbe’s directives,” said Rabbi Leib Schapiro, Rosh Yeshivah of Yeshivah Gedolah, Miami Beach.
“Words do not capture the ruach,” said Rabbi Yisroel Spalter, Shliach in Weston, Florida. “Imagine a thousand plus Chassidim living, learning, davening, and farbrenging together. It just shows that Lubavitch lives, even now, 20 years after Gimmel Tammuz.”
Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, Chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad International and Head Shliach of Philadelphia and Washington, DC, was the guest speaker and enthralled participants throughout Shabbos with words of inspiration about our generation being the ones who are “living the Rebbe’s legacy.”
“The highlight of the Shabbos was the emotional impromptu plea from the heart by Rabbi Avraham Shemtov, and his tone of reconciliation and outreach to all those that may have been alienated and disenfranchised for whatever reason over the past 20 years since Gimmel Tammuz,” remarked Shliach Rabbi Yosef Kahanov of Jacksonville.
Other speakers included Tzfas Shliach and Mashpia Rabbi Aron Leizer Ceitlin, Rabbi Mendel and Rebbetzin Mashi Lipskar from South Africa and Rabbi Leibel Schapiro, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshiva Gedolah of Miami.
The program included an in-depth review of the Rebbe’s Ma’amar by Rabbi Schapiro, seder niggunim after Mincha that retold the story behind each of the 10 songs taught by the Rebbe on Simchas Torah (1955-1963), and roundtable discussions that offered practical ideas and advice from the Rebbe on Chinuch and other subjects.
The Shabbaton, coordinated by Boruch Cohen of Sovereign Planning, catered not only to adults; there was programming for the 540 children as well run by Rabbi Shmuly Gutnick from Chabad Youth Network.
Staffed by 80 volunteers, they provided everything from farbrengens for teenagers, babysitting for infants, special youth minyanim, and concerts for kids including one by singer Chanale Fellig.
“To me the most beautiful part was the Chasidishe farbrengens that took place with the participation of men, women and children,” said Rabbi Avrohom Korf, Head Shliach to Florida. “It was a real Achdus event.”
The Shabbaton was heavily subsidized by a cadre of very generous Chassidim who substantially reduced the cost, so that the tremendous number of people were able to participate.
With all the inspiration, it was the atmosphere of unity that impressed participants the most.
“The weekend had a transcendent feeling that connected everyone like family,” said Rabbi Sholom Lipskar, Shliach of The Shul in Bal Harbor. “We were all children of the Rebbe, who was surely present. There was a unity that included all expressions. This type of event should be done more often, even in smaller regional groups,” he said.