By COLlive reporter
Photos by Moshe Zusman Photography
Israel’s Chief Rabbi David Lau has spent 3 days in the nation’s capital of Washington, DC, where he addressed and interacted with a variety of local Jewish communities and Hebrew speaking participants of a national conference.
But he was itching to return home.
“The first thing I did after Shabbos ended was take my phone and check what is happening in Israel,” he said after spending an unplugged Shabbos at Lubavitch Center of Washington.
Rabbi Lau arrived as the guest of the Israeli American Council (IAC) and spent Friday touring the Torah School of Greater Washington and the Jewish Primary Day School (JPDS), addressing an assembly of students and stopping in the 4th, 5th and 6th grade classes.
Speaking in English, he shared with them his concern for the growing terror in the streets of Israel and recited with them chapters of Tehillim. He emphasized that it was the duty of the children to attend to their studies and show kindness to one another.
Upon receiving the book “Jewish Washington: Scrapbook of an American Community,” Rabbi Lau told the children, “I hope that one day they will add a page to this book about you, because you are Jewish life in this city.”
His sermon at the Chabad-Lubavitch Center on Shabbos morning was more pointed, where he told a packed crowd of people of diverse backgrounds, that “hate often brings us together –as can be seen now in Israel and in the Diaspora– yet it is love that should be keeping us together.”
Such unity was on full display on Friday night at Lubavitch Center, which houses The Shul, when the prayer room was quickly transformed into a dining hall to host the monthly Shabbos meal for over 100 young Jewish professionals.
“The warmth found at Chabad centers is a blessed thing and it delights me every time anew,” Chief Rabbi Lau said about the care and hospitality of the Shluchim of Washington, DC, Rabbi Levi Shemtov, and his wife, Nechama.
He reiterated that message after Shabbos when he sat down for a Melave Malka with a group of Shluchim from Washington, Maryland and No. Virginia, thanking them for their selfless work on behalf of the Jewish nation.
“I know that Shlichus sends to not so common places,” he said to the group of 14 Shluchim gathered around a full spread and 2 flickering candles. “You know very well that we can’t hesitate with our work. Assimilation doesn’t wait for us to act. We must do more and greater things.”
Rabbi Sholom Raichik, Director of Chabad of Upper Montgomery County, commented how the Rebbe implored a group of educators in the 1950s to maximize their work to provide more availability and possibility for Jewish education.
The meeting was a pleasant conclusion to an inspiring Shabbos at the (Chabad) Lubavitch Center – Washington, which included heartfelt davening led by renowned chazzan Mordechay Zigelbaum and a special Mi Sheberach at the Torah for the recent victims of terror in Eretz Yisroel.
On Sunday the Chief Rabbi visited synagogues in the area to share words of inspiration and reinforce the congregants’ support of Israel. During a brief visit to Chabad of Silver Spring, directed by Shliach Rabbi Berel Wolvovsky, Rabbi Lau affixed a Mezuza to the door of the sanctuary.
But after all was said and done, Rabbi Lau said he was looking forward to returning to Israel – if only to be with his family during these trying times. He said his daughter called sharing her fear of traveling to another Israeli city.
“I told her she has nothing to worry about and she must continue her life as usual,” Rabbi Lau said. “After I hung-up, I told myself, ‘that is what I told her because that’s what needed to be said.’ The truth is I am very concerned as well.”
Seeing the widespread support for Israel, and the impactful work of Chabad-Lubavitch, the Chief Rabbi said he has the hope and confidence that peace will indeed come to the Holy Land – in the near future and then permanently with the coming of Moshiach.