Continuing a growing vibrant tradition, Jews from around the world, representing a multitude of Jewish communities, including many who traveled halfway around the globe, came to pray at the Ohel of the Rebbe’s saintly father Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson in honor of his yahrzeit.
As the sun set in the Kazakhstan republic on Tuesday evening, travelers and worshippers began making their way to the holy resting place of the Rebbe’s father.
Seventy one years after Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s passing, the respect and honor is palpable and heartfelt for the Torah giant and Jewish leader who fearlessly and courageously defied the communist regime of the Soviet Union.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s passing in Alma Ata Kazakhstan was on the 20th of Menachem-Av 1944.
Rabbi Levi Yitzchak was arrested on the ninth day of Nisan 1939 and sentenced to five years of exile in the far flung remote village of Chili Kazakhstan. Suffering in heartbreaking horrific conditions for his leadership , self-sacrifice and uncompromising dedication to strengthening Judaism and Torah observance in defiance of the communist regime.
Travelers came to pray, to honor and to ask for blessings on the holy day of his Yohrtzeit-Hillula.
A large tent in close proximity to the Ohel was built , filled with tables ladened with refreshing cold drinks and paper and pens to write a Pan.
The tent was illuminated by a truck- based generator which provided lighting fixtures.
Despite the summer heat , travelers criss-crossed the globe to be even just for a few short hours by the Ohel of the Rebbe’s father on this holy day.
Crowds of Chassidim rotated and joined in a Farbrenfen in the tent to give tribute and honor to the Rebbe’s father.
The heroic stories of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, the emotional account of the Rebbe’s mother Rebbetzin Chana in her heart wrenching memoirs which describe in great detail the trials and tribulations of her holy husband and his unconditional love for every Jew even in the most difficult moments.
The Russian communist authorities warned Rabbi Levi Yitzchak that it is his relentless activities to strengthen Judaism and Torah observance which is putting him in danger.
The communist told Rabbi Levi Yitzchak , that if he only remained in his synagogue and served his community then he would be safe.
But Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s steadfast commitment and unbending principles, faith and dedication to strengthening Torah Judaism, including facilitating proper Kosher Shmurah Matzoh for Pesach despite the communist regimes’ threats, is what ultimately brought about his arrest, persecution and exile which led to his suffering, illness and untimely passing.
Rotation shifts of young Rabbinical students of Yeshivas Oholei Levi Yitzchak of Alma Ata recited Tehilim-Psalms throughout the 24 hours of the Hillula inside Rabbi Levi Yitzchak’s Ohel.
The pioneers and sponsors of the yeshiva, Avi Shaulson from Florida and Shmuel Stern from Crown Heights , flew in to be at the Ohel on this special holy day.
Shluchim from around the world, led by the team of Shluchim of Kazakhstan , the locale Jewish community of Almaty and Chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen, who was joined by the President of the Jewish community Mr. Albert Shimoni, participated in a mid-day prayer ceremony and the reading of a communal Pan at the Ohel.
Amongst the Shluchim and the many guests were : Rabbi Berele Zaltzman, Rabbi Sholom Ber Wolpe, Rabbi Arik Raskin, Rabbi Shmaryahu Butman, Rabbi Sholli Leverton , Rabbi Velvl Butman.
Throughout the day, a continuous stream of worshippers came to pray and write a personal Pan which they read at the Ohel.
With modern advanced technology, a wireless fax , computer and printer were installed at the tent in close proximity to the Ohel, with a continuous flow of freshly printed messages and requests from around the world for names to be mentioned at the Ohel for blessing.
A grand cantorial concert filled with personal stories and memories by cantor Berele Zaltzman , was organized at the Chabad House Campus which is celebrating twenty one years since opening it’s doors.
Cantor Zaltzman who was born in the former Soviet Union and was raised during the dark days of communism , inspired the crowd with songs and tales of the self-sacrifice of Russian Jewry which he vividly remembers from the days he was growing up in Russia.
Following the concert, cantor Zaltzman joined the crowd at a fully catered elaborate cuisine meal which was prepared for the community and quickly became a Chassidic Farbrengen filled with heartwarming songs, stories and inspirational celebration.
As the hours of the night passed-by, one could feel the tangible sense of renewed commitment to strengthening the holy work of the Rebbe and his father Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson to welcome and embrace every Jew with unconditional love and Ahavas Yisroel and to prepare the world for Moshiach. This tangible reality expressed itself in the lively spirited Chassidic Farbrengen and dance of the participants.