“Approaching the burning bush,” Chief Rabbi Dr. Warren Goldstein began, “Moshe hears Hashem speaking to him from within the bush, saying ‘Remove your shoes for… this is a Holy ground.’”
The Rabbi continued, “This is what I feel coming in to this gathering of the Shluchim of the Lubavitcher Rebbe.”
With these opening words the Chief Rabbi gave an inspiring and uplifting message to the Regional Conference of the South African Shluchim, representatives of Chabad Lubavitch serving as Rabbis, Teachers, Directors and Leaders in over fifty percent of South African Shuls, Chabad Houses and institutions of learning across the country.
As per the Rebbe’s instructions that (in addition to the international Kinus HaShluchim) each region of Shlichus should host periodical Kinusim, the Lubavitch Foundation of South Africa under the leadership of Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, invited the Shluchim to a full day conference at the Blairgowrie Hebrew Congregation.
Rabbi Sholom Bacher, Rav of the Blairgowrie Shul – and eldest son of Rabbi Koppel Bacher, a founding member of the Hanholo of Lubavitch Foundation – worked with Rabbi Lipskar and the Vaad HaKinus to coordinate a full day of presentations on various elements and facets of Shlichus across South Africa.
Children, Teens, Young Adults, Singles, Families and Children, Seniors are each unique demographics of the community and the Shluchim discussed various models of outreach and personal development suited to the needs and opportunities with each of these subsets.
Rabbi Pini Pink gave a report back on his work with Children and Teens through CGI, CTeens, and CKids, Rabbi Levi Lipskar and Rabbi Yehuda Stern spoke of their successful programmes in the Young Adults community, and Rabbi Ari Kievman described some of his many activities with the seniors.
In the Adult Education panel there was Rabbi Mendel Popack who spoke about the recent success of a Shabbaton for the frum families in his community to begin a pre-Rosh Hashana learning programme, Rabbi Ari Shishler sharing his vision of the Sandton Jewish Learning Centre, Rabbi Yosef Hazdan explaining some of the thinking behind the incredible achievements at the Johannesburg Torah Institute and Rabbi Shloimy Raitport spoke about the Kollel Erev for people looking for more learning opportunities.
What all these speakers had in common was their desire to share and give these resources with others, and inviting the different communities to join in with them building a stronger infrastructure of Shlichus and the vision of the Rebbe that “it will be good in South Africa until Moshiach comes, and even better thereafter.”
Rabbi Dovid Masinter’s report on the work of Chabad House and the vision for the projects still coming up was mind blowing in the scope of numbers that Chabad House is touching each year, and new initiatives coming up including a global Moshiach Campaign to spread the Rebbe’s message that “Moshiach is on his way.”
Rabbi Dovid Hazdan and Rabbi Shabsy Chaiton’s detailed Torah Academy presentation on the astounding statistics and projections for the years ahead were a galvanizing call to the Shluchim to intensify their efforts to bring even more children to this world class institution of Torah and General studies. Of particular mention were the renovations which were done in partnership with members of the Torah Academy Youth Minyan for new classrooms, repaved parking lot, etc.
Rabbi Mendel Popack and Rabbi Asher Deren outlined an in-depth Cape Town report back combining a creative video presentation and an oral description from the historical context of Chabad of Cape Town, to the burgeoning activity of Chabad across the Mother City today.
Rabbi Levi Avtzon gave a well-researched perspective on the different models of outreach, community structures, and advantage of working within and alongside various communal institutions.
Rabbi Sholom Bacher, Rabbi Yossi Hecht and Rabbi Mordechai Rodal each touched on different challenges and strengths in bringing more people in to our communities and how to reverse the trends of sometimes declining numbers, following which Rabbi Hecht and Rabbi Alex Carlebach gave over some very interesting Chomer Lidrush for the upcoming Yomim Tovim.
The conclusion of the Kinus was at the Torah Academy where the Shluchim joined the Chai Elul Anash Farbrengen which was led by Rabbi Gidon Fox and Rabbi Asher Deren who spoke about the teachings of the Baal Shem Tov and the Alter Rebbe, Rabbi Mordechai Guth from Mayanot who announced the launch of a new programme welcoming post High School students, and Mendel Medalie who shared a beautiful story of his son, Leib Dovid ben Esther Bluma whose slow recovery from a terrible disease began as his friend was standing at the Ohel Davening for him– may he blessed with a complete and immediate recovery.
All in all it was a day of inspiration, encouragement, strategic planning, and sharing resources to further and strengthen the fulfilment of our Shlichus to spread the Wellsprings of Chassidus and prepare the world for the coming of Moshiach – may it be speedily in our days.