By COLlive reporter
Photos by N&M Photos
Leading rabbis, Rosh Yeshivas and Mashpiim have traveled from around the world to the Catskill Mountains this week to participate in the annual Global Yarchei Kallah summit.
Held in the pastoral setting of Camp Gan Israel in Parksville, NY, it is the largest, ongoing gathering of Torah scholars of this generation brought together by Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, Chairman of Agudas Chassidei Chabad International.
41 years ago, on the occasion of the 30th yahrzeit of the gaon and kabbalist, Rav Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, of blessed memory, consideration was given to highlight his contributions to our spiritual heritage and to honor him as the father of the Rebbe, the foremost Jewish leader of our generation.
Our Sages emphasize that the greatest honor it is possible to pay to a person’s memory is to dedicate Torah study to his memory.
Spurred by that purpose, Rabbi Shemtov, head of Gan Israel, suggested to renew the age-old custom of Yarchei Kallah by gathering sages and scholars for a convention of study and inspiration overlapping the date of 20 Av, Rav Levi Yitzchak’s yahrzeit.
The plan was accepted and approved by the Rebbe and the Rebbe himself identified with this initiative. Once, in the midst of a farbengen held on the same Shabbos as Yarchei Kallah, he referred to the gathering and said: “This is my project.”
And when Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg, Chief Rabbi of Mexico, reported that he had participated in Yarchei Kallah, the Rebbe highlighted the connection to his father, explaining that the mitzvah of honoring one’s parents continues after their passing and that the most consummate honor that can be paid is the study of the Torah.
This year’s summit opened with a shiur in the teachings of Reb Levik given by Rabbi Yisroel Shimon Kalmenson, a member of Lahak publications. Similar talks were given by Rabbi Efraim Demichovsky of the Central Tomchei Tmimim Yeshiva in Kfar Chabad, Israel, and Rabbi Dovid Dubov, Shliach in New Jersey who is publishing books on Reb Levik’s Torah.
Young campers were seen gathered around the tent where the rabbis spent Thursday learning in between meals and sports. On Shabbos, they will be davening together in the camp’s main shul in a lively convergence of ages.
The Yarchei Kallah began on Wednesday evening with a chassidic farbrengen near the Ohel of the Rebbe in Cambria Heights, NY, to mark the yartzeit of Reb Levik. Rabbis traveled from there to the camp and will be hosted there until Sunday morning.
Here – in fact, not merely in theory – was proof of the continuity of our Jewish heritage. The campers with their youthful enthusiasm and energy and the sages with their knowledge and rapt absorption in Torah study, functioned, not as two separate groups located on the same setting, but as rather one integrated whole.
The gathering serves as a meeting of minds, an opportunity for the scholars – some of whom living far from the centers of Torah erudition – to bounce ideas of each other and sharpen their understanding through interaction with their peers.
Yarchei Kallah is sponsored by Mr. Ronald Perelman, a person whose efforts to preserve, perpetuate, and enhance our Jewish heritage led to the Lubavitcher Rebbe recognizing to him as “my partner.”
“Like a true partner, he has dedicated himself to advancing the Rebbe’s purposes, including the sponsorship of these Yarchei Kallah conventions,” Rabbi Shemtov notes.
The summit is hosted by the camp directed by Rabbi Yossi Futerfas with the assistance of his brother Rabbi Shlomo Futerfas. It is coordinated by Rabbi Yehuda Ceitlin, a Chabad Shliach in Tucson, AZ. Helping with the organization are Yaakov Yosef Raskin, Shloimy Ceitlin, Shmaya Goodman and Moishy Kot.
The Melava Malka of this year’s Yarchei Kallah will take place on Motzoei Shabbos Parhas Eikev 10:30pm at the main shul of Camp Gan Israel – 487 Parksville Rd. Parksville, NY 12768. The public is welcome. A special program will be held for women.