By Yosef Katzman, Crown Heights
First of all congratulations and a hearty Mazal Tov to the newly elected Vaad of Crown Heights, you were voted in by an election that was held with the participation of an overwhelming majority of the residents of the Rebbe’s Shchuna, and we all pray for you and for your success on behalf of the residents of Crown Heights.
Secondly, kudos to the entire Crown Heights community for coming out in such huge numbers to vote in these elections, having well over 2000 strong come to the original voting and close to 1800 come to vote in a runoff election, on a scorching hot day in middle of the summer, against all statistical predictions and against many odds, speaks volumes of the beauty of our community, it shows that you seriously care and that you are ready to step up to the plate when called upon.
Thirdly, my hat’s off to the young generation, some 1000 strong who heeded the call and participated fully and strongly in this process by voting in the election and by declaring yourselves as candidates for a seemingly not very popular job, and thanks to you, the majority of our new Vaad is new, young, and vibrant, which will bring new life and tremendous energy to a new Crown Heights.
After the psak, I opined about a vision of a new beginning for Crown Heights by getting the entire community involved. I appealed to the young to take the lead by jumping into the fray. I am proud to have been part of this vision and I’m glad that the community agreed.
And to those of you who feel that youth is some kind of deficiency, I must remind you that the Rebbe conquered the world with 25 year old Kolel graduates. They tried and failed, then got up again, learned from their mistakes and tried again, look at all the 5, 7, 12, million dollar Chabad Houses that Yungelait in their early 30’s have built around the world. Today the Rebbe rules the world with these young leaders who turned Lubavitch unto the mainstream and the center of Yidishkeit worldwide.
Now we gave ourselves the opportunity to apply this same energy and young spirit to help create a beautiful new Crown Heights, with great quality of life for all the residents and by extension for all of Lubavitch.
I foresee a Vaad that will work for the betterment of Crown Heights with renewed energy, led by young blood and guided by the advice of experienced elders, the fact that this Vaad was elected with such a majority participation in the election, gives them a mandate and the power to work on behalf of all of us, while it also puts a huge burden on their shoulders knowing that the community really cares and that they expect to see a lot of action with successful results. We all join in prayers, and shower them with blessings, for tremendous success.
Finally, on a personal note; over the last ten months I have personally taken a very high profile position in this Shchuna, from working on behalf of getting the Din Torah on track, to representing one side at the Din Torah culminating with a Psak that gave us this opportunity of electing a Vaad with such a strong mandate, to coordinating the election and running a campaign, being in this position I have been accused – rightly and wrongly – with all kinds of accusation and innuendo.
There is no question that in the process I have slighted some, angered others and berated certain individuals.
It is the American way that after an election (even if I personally was not a candidate in any way, shape or form for any office) the parties involved, who in the heat of a campaign, attack each other sometimes viciously, reach out to their former opponents, make up and forgive and forget.
This is also consistent of course with Torah and Halacha, as hinted to in the last Mishna in Shas where it is mentioned about the ways of Talmidei Chachomim who even though they get into very heated discussions, still they end by bringing more peace into the world by going in the ways of Torah.
I feel that it is important that I publicly ask Mechila from all those who feel that they were hurt by me or by my comments, the campaign is over and you won’t hear from me again. I ask for your forgiveness for my actions of the past, and I hope that you won’t be afraid to say hello to me when we cross paths, and that we should be able to enjoy each other at Simchas for many years to come.
May the Zchus of peace between us bring much blessings to Crown Heights and its elected leaders, and this will serve as the springboard to the real blessings of real peace which will be brought upon us by Moshiach Tzidkeinu, Now, Mamo”sh.