There are some years that we just can’t wait to end, feeling as if the new year will bring renewal and better beginnings with it. There were some years when we’ve been through endless personal and communal challenges. I feel like this past year of 5783 was not one such year.
Of course, plenty of difficult times have occurred over the last 12 months. A quick review on COLlive.com reveals the painful loss of lives, the steady expected-yet-unaccepted slew of crimes in Crown Heights, and terror against Jews in the holy land of Israel.
But overshadowing that was the beautiful and unifying energy of the Hakhel year that was felt in almost every corner of Crown Heights and in Chabad communities worldwide. School projects, community shiurim, special gatherings, and specific farbrengens were all held in that spirit.
This year, Crown Heights was filled with visitors of all ages from Israel and around the world – more so than usual. We also had (in no particular order) overflow crowds at the Simchas Beis Hashoeva, an all-out Mitzvah Tank Parade, a Great Lag BaOmer Parade that was truly great, a huge Siyum Harambam on Eastern Parkway, and a grand event celebrating the groundbreaking for expansion of the United Lubavitcher Yeshiva on Crown Street, and more.
Hakhel, guided by the instructions of the Rebbe, was like an antidote to the darkness and craziness that is displayed in modern society. When we were painted as relics, dividers, and villains, Hakhel helped us see ourselves as heroes, unifying and shapers of the future.
And to wrap up the year, we saw the completion of the 8th Children’s Sefer Torah. The final few thousand letters were recruited by dedicated Chassidim – men and women of all ages. The Siyum at the Kosel in Yerushalayim was a rare and outstanding demonstration of Jewish unity.
Hakhel showed us how powerful we are when we’re energized and united. With the year ending, this is our chance to keep the momentum going and bring Moshiach now.
With blessings for a happy and sweet new year,
Publisher and editor of COLlive.com