By COLlive reporter
Photos: Itzik Roytman/COLlive
Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz paid a visit to the Rebbe’s Ohel at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Cambria Heights, Queens on Monday night.
Gantz, who served as the 20th chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2011 to 2015, is in New York on an official visit.
Earlier in the day, he addressed the Jerusalem Post Conference and met with UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, warning about the threat of Iran gaining nuclear power.
Gantz is one of the most prominent politicians in Israel, seen as a possible candidate for prime minister if the incumbent Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid and opposition leader Benjamin Nentanyahu of the Likud don’t succeed in forming their own coalition.
While his visit to the Ohel was said to be his first, Gantz has been a regular at the Chabad center in his hometown of Rosh Haayin. The local Shliach Rabbi Nachum Cohen joined Gantz in New York for the Ohel visit.
Also greeting Gantz was Rabbi Shalom Ber Lipskar, Rabbi of The Shul of Bal Harbour in Surfside, Florida who founded the Aleph Institute which serves Jewish army personnel. Also present was Rabbi Yosef Carlebach and his son Rabbi Mendy Carlebach of New Jersey.
Before entering, Gantz sat down at the nearby Ohel Chabad Lubavitch Center to write the ‘pan’ note of request, as customary. He was also blessed by Rabbi Cohen for a happy and sweet new year.
Gantz was gifted a blessed dollar bill from the Rebbe and commented, “I know that the people of Chabad are dedicated to Judaism and Jewish people. The Rebbe established a really large organization – whenever Jews are, they come to Chabad. I have seen them in the army, when I visited China and when my children were in Nepal. You serve the Jewish nation.”
Gantz then went to the Ohel with his entourage, first lighting a yartzeit candle and then reciting a prayer there for his family and the people in the holy land of Israel.