Their black fedoras and matching suits may stick out in Jakarta and Jacksonville, but the rabbis will blend in seamlessly as they return to home base this weekend.
The 25th annual International Conference of Shluchim, which will commence Wednesday, draws leaders representing Jewish communities in more than 70 countries worldwide, back to their source.
Approximately 2,800 rabbis will converge on the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York for five days of lectures, workshops, and networking. The much-touted conference will be based at Chabad Lubavitch World Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway.
They come here for the socializing and the solidarity, but above all, the thousands of rabbis traveling extreme distances come because of the guidance they will receive throughout the conference. Indeed, a 29-page schedule lists subjects so diverse, rabbis are sure to find topics of interest. Nearly all areas that relate to their leadership activities are covered, with lectures presented by fellow representatives who are experts in their respective fields, as well as a notable who’s who of professional authorities.
The program offers direction for the rookie and encouragement for the seasoned rabbi. Featured workshops cover technology, security, and fundraising—all timely subjects, and many lectures will focus on education for all demographics. For its part, Chabad’s educational division will be announcing new initiatives and launching additional programs.
Many Chabad representatives were raised in Crown Heights; for all, the neighborhood serves as a spiritual home-base. This year’s program will include a unique, behind-the-scenes looks at Headquarters, featuring a special tour of parts of 770 generally closed to the public.
In addition, the in-house library of Agudas Chassidei Chabad will launch an exclusive exhibit of previously hidden manuscripts and documents. As usual, the Rebbe’s private room will be accessible to the visiting representatives.
Appropriately enough, the conference’s closing gala banquet will be held at a local Brooklyn edifice, the Troop C Armory, in the hall once used for drill sessions. There, guests will participate in a memorable evening as they soak up the week’s final inspirations.
“With the arrival of the shluchim, the atmosphere in the community becomes highly energized,” says Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch.
“As modern-day Jewish heroes, their conference is a ‘congress of the righteous.’ The deliberations and resolutions of this conference have a palpable effect on Jewish communities around the world.”
This convention is the first since Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg were murdered last November. Since their tragic deaths, the couple’s colleagues have banded together in numerous ways, to honor and continue their memories.
On Thursday, a large parade will wend its way toward 770 for the dedication of a freshly-completed Torah scroll, in memory of the Holtzbergs. The Torah will eventually be dedicated to the Chabad center of Mumbai. In addition, Sunday’s banquet will feature a screening of a new film that highlights the Holtzbergs’ accomplishments and pays tribute to their legacy.
“The Rebbe frequently spoke about the importance of poratzta, breaking out of all barriers to spread across the globe,” says Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos, the educational division of Chabad-Lubavitch.
“The numerical value of poratza is 770 and its significance will be often referred to throughout the conference. “It is clear, with representatives trekking further and further away, that this directive is being followed.”
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