Nov 15, 2009
Banquet Enthralled 4000
Photos by Meir Dahan / COLlive

Banquet Roundup: Guma Aguiar, Nat Lewin and Lipa Schmeltzer alongside 4,000 Shluchim and supporters filled Brooklyn's Armory Sunday with rabbis tweeting, the 'Roll Call,' and a tribute to Mumbai. COLlive's Yehuda Ceitlin reports.

By Yehuda Ceitlin, Editor of
Photos by Meir Dahan for COLlive

Chabad's vast reach was in full display Sunday as 4,000 rabbis, Chassidim, supporters and avid fans filled the New York State National Guard Armory in Brooklyn.

The gala banquet - a highlight of the International Kinus Hashluchim convention - hosted an array of people that reflected the influence of the Shlichus outreach network.

They ranged from philanthropists George Rohr and Guma Aguiar, attorney Nat Lewin and popular Jewish music star Lipa Schmeltzer to senior and young scholars like rabbis Yosef Wineberg, Yisroel Friedman, Refael David Banon and Young Israel's Pesach Lerner.

They all gathered to salute the Shluchim families and mark 70 years since Chabad-Lubavitch relocated its headquarters in Brooklyn, where the banquet was held.

With the area under heavy security by the NYPD, special mention was made to the slain Shluchim to Mumbai, India, Rabbi Gabi and Rivky Holtzberg, HY"D.

"Chabad has always symbolized self-sacrifice," said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch and Director of the Kinus. "This was brought out so painfully last year during the Mumbai attacks."

Rabbi Kotlarsky mentioned the 500 children who were named after the Holtzberg couple, as reported this past week on

As a video of the Rebbe was shown, the gallery above was in full working mode: David Scharf of DS Productions, Ronen Peled and wife Nirit, Elkana Shmotkin and JEM staff, Yossi Rivkin and Innovision AV staff.

Thousands tuned in to's live feed via COLlive and others, with Bruce Backman conducting interviews with mesmerised and enthusiastic participants.

Before a course of salmon and spinach was served, Tehillim was said and a Dvar Torah was heard by British Shliach Rabbi Aryeh Sufrin, recently awarded an MBE by Queen Elizabeth II.

Guest speaker Dr. David Luchins of Touro College shared his family's relationship with Chabad Rebbes, coupling his Cantonist great-grandfather's rescue from "spiritual death" by Lubavitch with contemporary stories of Chabad-inspired kiruv.

He quoted U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan, whom he served as a member of his staff, as saying: "No man did more to help Soviet Jewry than the Lubavitcher Rebbe."

Several videos, including haunting interview footage of the Holtzbergs, and a live presentation by dozens of shluchim's children accented the evening.

An undeniable highlight was the Roll Call, during which Chabad representatives of 75 countries rose upon mention, culminating in the crowd erupting in triumphant dancing led by the Avremi G Orchestra and singer Yoni Shlomo.'s Mordechai Lightstone led a flow of updates on Twitter, and was joined by fellow tweeting rabbis Yisroel Pinson (@RecoveryRabbi), Yosef Kalmanson (@MasonRabbi), Hershey Novack (@rabbihershey) and Zvi Konikov (@JewishBrevard).

As the crown settled down from the Chassidic dancing and the main course was served, the keynote speaker, Rabbi Yudy Shemtov, was called to the podium.

In a fiery speech, the Director of Chabad of Bucks County, PA, called on participants to "go back to basics," saying his son thought an old fashioned hand-crank window car opener was a novelty.

"To break through barriers in the world, we must break through barriers within ourselves," Rabbi Shemtov said. "The small picture is the big picture."

He also spoke about Michael, an American Jewish friend who was killed while serving in the Israel Defense Force:

The dinner was the climax of the 26th annual convention, which has transformed over the years from a semi-formal get-together into the largest single event in the frum world.

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Opinions and Comments
six hours?
who can sit that long and eat and listen to speaches - they gotta cut it down to three.
(11/16/2009 12:14:13 AM)
Dr. Luchins
While Dr. luchins remembered many dates and names, I find it sad and reprehensible that he forgot who were his family friends and who was the first Shliach in Albany, New York.
Perhaps not as literate, indeed not computer savvy and definitely no fund-raising abilities, but Rabbi Iser Brikman deserved to be mentioned for his devotion, dedication and love for Chabad and the Rebbe.
(11/16/2009 12:40:27 AM)
ashreinu ma tov chalkeinu!
so amazing!! so proud to be a lubavitcher!
(11/16/2009 1:26:04 AM)
can you show the mumbai video
(11/16/2009 1:33:34 AM)
Thanks so much to the wonderful shluchim who are keeping all of us going.
Thanks to COL for giving us the opportunity to watch this kiddush hashem live with all of our families. and to Moshe , keep holding the door and you'll hold it and see the Rebbe walk right back in and once again give you a Yasher Koach for holding the door for the final preperation of the Coming of Moshiach Tzidkeinu.
Thanks so much and continue the great things you are all doing.

(11/16/2009 2:56:07 AM)
so many people who attended and those who watched were inpisred beyond words. lubavitchers and others. it was a real kiddush hashem where the holiness of the rebbes shlichus was tangible and envied by all
telchu meichayil el chayil
(11/16/2009 4:01:51 AM)
Can u put the last 5 mins. of Rabbi Shemtovs speech???
(11/16/2009 6:47:22 AM)
Thank you Yudy
That was the most inspiring speech I have heard from the keynote.
I have been living in Crown heights and not zoiche to go on shlichus. To know I can still make a difference and be part of the Rebbe's world and plug into that shlichus gene was really uplifting.
To hear a shliach lift us ALL up while still keeping the respect fo the Rebbe's shluchim is truly a dugmah chaya.
Thank you Yudy for breathing some life in to my life.
(11/16/2009 8:43:34 AM)
Dr Luchins responds to the second post
This is David Luchins. As soon as I finished I realized (and asked Rabbi Mintz for phone numbers so I could apologize) that I had indeed not mentioned the wonderful Brikman family that meant so much to my parents - but I will admit that I did not realize that Rabbi Iser Brikman was a shaliach of the Rebbe( I was away in Yeshiva and never lived in Albany for more than a few days at a time) . I would have listed the Brikmans as my parent's fellow "baal habatim" of the Rebbe.
(11/17/2009 1:40:50 AM)
go sosonkins
how did all of you get up there
(11/17/2009 11:37:12 AM)
lipa fan
where is lipa?!!?
(11/17/2009 1:41:41 PM)
Thank you
Dr Luchins, thanks for responding.
(11/17/2009 3:46:11 PM)
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