By COLlive reporter
A new Shluchim couple arrived in Basel, a city on the Rhine River in northwest Switzerland, to bolster Chabad’s services for the Jewish population living close to the country’s borders with France and Germany.
Rabbi Motti and Sarah Gruzman will be working alongside Rabbi Zalman and Devorah Wishedski, co-directors of Chabad-Lubavitch of Basel.
While the Basel Jewish community maintains educational and social institutions and is engraved in Jewish history – most notably for hosting the first Zionist Congress in 1897 – the industrial city has witnessed a dwindling of its Jewish population in recent years.
The Wishedskis arrived there over 15 years ago and have brought an offbeat approach to Jewish outreach in Switzerland by targeting otherwise secular unaffiliated Jews with Shabbat gatherings, holiday awareness campaigns for children and adult-education classes.
In 2012, they inaugurated the first synagogue to open in Basel, Switzerland, since 1929. The Feldinger Chabad Jewish Center was donated by businessman Sami Rohr in memory of the couple that housed him in World War II.
Rabbi Wishedski hopes the new Shluchim will blend in well with the German-speaking community, as Rabbi Gruzman was born on Shlichus in Vienna, Austria. Mrs. Gruzman (nee Landa) was raised in London, England.
On the Shabbos before the Gruzmans left to Basel, a special Farbrengen was held in their honor at the Bais Lubavitch Shul in Stamford Hill, London, with congregants wishing them much success.
On Motzoei Shabbos, participants of the farbrengen sat down to watch the weekly Living Torah video by JEM. Shown was Rabbi Dr. Israel Meir Levinger, who led the Basel community in the 1980s. He asked the Rebbe for a blessing for the growth of Yiddishkeit in Basel.
Participants were shocked to hear the exchange and the Gruzmans saw the episode as a personal blessing from the Rebbe to their new Shlichus to spread Yiddishkeit in Basel.