The Shluchim Office Founders Committee—the international body of patrons and shluchim supporting The Shluchim Office—was inaugurated Thursday, Rosh Chodesh Kislev, November 11th at the Shluchim Center.
On this exact day 25 years ago, at the first International Shluchim Convention, the Lubavitcher Rebbe ob”m himself suggested and announced the founding of The Shluchim Office in the presence of all shluchim.
The actual establishment of The Shluchim Office began a short time afterwards by Rabbi C.M.E. Hodakov a”h, director of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and Machane Israel, through the Vaad Hashluchim, a group of ten senior shluchim (Rabbis Shabse Alpern, Shmuel Greisman, Yitzchok D. Groner a”h, Moshe Herson, Shimon Lazaroff, Sholom B. Levitin, Mendel Lipskar, Yisroel Shmotkin, Nachman Sudak and Yitzchok Raskin).
The event assembled 50 of the Committee’s 80 members from across the globe for a day of inspiration and long-term planning on the premises of the Global Chabad Lubavitch Resource Center. It coincided with the annual International Shluchim Convention (Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, Chairman) held this year 27th-30th of Marcheshvan (November 4th-7th) with many Founder Committee members in town for the grand annual gala (run by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman).
According to Rabbi Gedalya Shemtov, Director of The Shluchim Office (and Rabbis Moshe Shemtov and Moshe Pinson, associate and development directors), the concept and purpose of the Committee is to introduce fresh leadership, vision, innovation and partnership. “It’s an opportune moment to bring our best people together and pool our collective experience and skill,” said Rabbi Shemtov. “We will meet annually, discuss what we have accomplished in the prior years and look forward at our future activities.”
The event was led by co-Chairmen Mr. Motti Korf and Mr. Uri Laber, both of Miami, Florida, who had themselves been members of The Shluchim Office faculty in its early years and contributed greatly to its success. The exclusive private event was held in the Shluchim Center’s Shluchim Lounge, the facility’s on-site, state-of-the-art work center and cafeteria normally used by visiting shluchim (built by Uri Laber a few years ago).
Besides being the Committee’s innovative founding members, Korf and Laber had lent their counsel, and funding, to The Shluchim Office as longtime supporters—and wanted others to do the same.
The event began with a presentation of The Shluchim Office’s 10 flagship programs (including Shluchim Online School, Friendship Circle International, Chinuch Yaldei Hashluchim, Shluchim Gemach, Hebrew School Network, Kinus Tzeirei Hashluchim, CECE preschool network), as well as a moving video of the CGI Tzeirei Hashluchim initiative in Oracle, Arizona, another one of our major projects, which was represented by Menachem Levy, son of a major sponsor of the camp for many years, Rabbi Don Yoel Levy.
Attesting to the Founders Committee’s international reach and clout were the attendance of Brazilian magnate Guma Aguiar, who most recently endowed the Tefillin Bank, a project of The Shul of Bal Harbor in conjunction with The Shluchim Office. With the encouragement and advice of two shluchim friends and rabbis; Moshe Meir Lipszyc, shliach of metropolitan Ft. Lauderdale, FL and Sholom D. Lipskar, shliach and rabbi of The Shul of Bal Harbor and founder and initiator of the Tefillin Bank, the Tefillin Bank was reflagged to, “the Rebbe’s International Tefillin Bank”.
Also in attendance were Australian developer Eliezer Kornhauser representing Lubavitcher community sponsors and Sydney, Australia-based software and technology entrepreneur Kevin Bermeister standing in for The Shluchim Office’s broader community supporters who participated in the event along with his longtime friend Rabbi Shmuel Naparstek.
The event was addressed and inspired by Rabbi Avrohom Shemtov, chairman of the International Agudas Chassidei Chabad (Umbrella Organization of Chabad-Lubavitch), and was co-chaired by Rabbi Yossi Groner and Rabbi Yitzchok Wolf, senior members of The Shluchim Office Advisory Policy Committee.
Also in attendance were Mordechai Gutnick of Melbourne, Australia whose father built the Shluchim Center, Kasriel Shemtov of Brooklyn, NY who was one of the founders of The Shluchim Office (along with his father o”h), Moshe Weiss of Sherman Oaks, CA who is the founding sponsor of the Shluchim Online School. In addition were present Boruch Duchman of Bay Harbor, FL, Haysha Deitsch of Brooklyn, NY, Benny Federman of Brooklyn, NY, Yitzi Geisinsky of Long Beach, CA, Shmuel Goodman of Chicago, IL, Yossi Schneerson of Los Angeles, CA, Zalman Shochet of Brooklyn, NY and Dovid Smetana of Brooklyn, NY all long time donors of The Shluchim Office.
Vaad Misrad Hashluchim senior members participated including Rabbi Sholom B. Levitin of Seattle, Washington, and Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff of Houston, Texas and who offered greetings.
Advisory Policy Committee members participating are Rabbis Yosef Gopin of West Hartford, Connecticut; Yosef Greenberg of Anchorage, Alaska; Yossi Groner of Charlotte, North Carolina; Yossi Kessler of Montreal, Canada; Sholom Ber Lipskar of Bal Harbour, Florida; Yossi Shemtov of Tucson, Arizona; Hershel Spalter of S. Jose, Costa Rica and Yitzchok Wolf of Chicago, Illinois.
Representing the Development Committee were Rabbis Sholom Ber Lipskar of Bal Harbour, Florida, Moshe M. Lipszyc of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida; Yosef Posner of Skokie, Illinois; Yosef Schanowitz of Highland Park, Illinois; Yosef Schildkraut of S. Paulo, Brazil and Levi Shemtov of West Bloomfield, Michigan.