By COLlive reporter
Rabbi Aaron Eliezer Ceitlin, one of the Shluchim the Rebbe personally sent to Israel who is currently battling an illness, spent this past Shabbos in New York’s beautiful Catskills mountains.
But that wasn’t the reason why the known Shliach and Mashpia came on Friday afternoon to Camp Gan Israel, an overnight Chabad boys camp in Parksville.
“I wanted to be in the ‘daled amos’ of the Rebbe,” he told the camp’s directors, Rabbi Avraham Shemtov and Rabbi Yossi Futerfas, who gladly extended an invitation.
Rabbi Ceitlin, Director of the Chabad kindergarten network in Tzfas which educates close to 2,000 children, has been diagnosed with a very rare type of malignant growth before Pesach 5775. A group of colleagues, with the public’s financial support, have sent him for treatment in the USA.
After months of daily treatment and before an important medical procedure, a little change of scenery was needed. He thought of Camp Gan Israel, a location which the Rebbe visited on 3 rare occasions.
He was joined by his wife Ruty Ceitlin, son Heshy Ceitlin, family friends Rabbi Yisroel Shimon and Chani Kalmenson of Crown Heights, and relative Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, a Chabad Shliach in Tucson, AZ
Over Shabbos, Rabbi Aaron Eliezer Ceitlin davened in the main camp shul with the spirited campers and staff members. Following the Shabbos day meal, he sat with Rabbi Shemtov for an hours-long farbrengen in preparation for Chof Av, yartzeit of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson OBM, father of the Rebbe.
One of the stories Rabbi Ceitlin told was of an elderly Jewish man named Itkin who told him the following story about Reb Levik that happened in the Ukrainian city of Ekaterinoslav (today Dnepropetrovsk).
This Jew once came to Reb Levik’s shul and was shocked to see the people to his right immediately rise from their chairs. He turned to his left and see the same honor being given to him as well. He was even more shocked to discover that the entire congregation had stood up upon his entrance.
It was only after he took a few steps into the Shul that he saw Reb Levik himself walking over to him to hand a siddur to the guest. Out of respect to the legendary rabbi and scholar, the entire congregation had stood up.
Rabbi Ceitlin concluded, “Reb Levik led the first Chabad House. He certainly had people that could have welcomed the guest or passed along a siddur. But he saw a Jewish person enter and wanted to greet the Yiddishe neshama himself.”
“Reb Levik was an example of spreading Yiddishkeit with self-sacrifice,” he added. “We can learn from him to have self-sacrifice for our own Yiddishkeit and have self-sacrifice to help others with their Yiddishkeit.”
From there, Rabbi Ceitlin traveled to the Raleigh Hotel in South Fallsburg as the guest of Rabbi Avrohom Leider the Ahavas Chesed medical assistance and humanitarian organization, where he met up with family.
A surprise awaited him there when a group of musicians volunteered their time to hold a live concert for the longtime Shliach. On the keyboard was Yossi Cohen accompanied by singers Zevi Steiger, Choni Zucker and Itche Tevel. Together, they sang heartfelt and joyous Lubavitcher niggunim.
Rabbi Ceitlin will be having a critical visit to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City this Thursday. The public is asked to say Tehillim in merit of Aaron Eliezer ben Rivkah for a full and speedy recovery.
To donate to the medical costs, note “Rabbi Ceitlin” at chesedcenter.org/donate.