72 countries, 47 states, 5 days and 3,000 black hats. One word comes to mind: Adjectives.
That’s right; every adjective used to describe an event of this magnitude can be used, but will never accurately capture the experience.
I am referring to the 25th International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, held last week in New York City.
Five days with nearly 3,000 colleagues from around the globe. Five days spent learning, sharing, “Farbrenging,” and praying together.
Walking the streets of the Chabad neighborhood in Brooklyn, NY, last week, one can easily encounter an acquaintance from as nearby as Kentucky or Iowa, to as distant as Laos or Congo. We’ve all come together for an extended weekend to pay tribute to our revered leader, the Lubavitcher Rebbe, of righteous memory, and to gain inspiration from one another. On Friday morning we all visited the Rebbe’s burial place in Queens, NY, and petitioned that he intercede before G-d on behalf of our respective communities around the world.
Many resolutions and initiatives are announced throughout the conference, including a 40th year commemoration of the Rebbe’s Tefillin campaign, started during Israel’s Six-Day War in 1967, encouraging every Jewish male to don Tefillin.
But, the highlight of the entire week was on Sunday evening, at the concluding banquet held and New York’s Pier 94 on the Hudson River. No ballroom in the entire NY metro area was large enough to contain the 3,000 “Shluchim” and an additional 1,000 supporters and guests. The pier was transformed into an enormous yet lavish hall, and the energy in the room was self-evident.
The gathering was addressed by, among others, Mr. Lev Leviev, who is the wealthiest person in Israel, and a staunch financial supporter of Chabad activities in the former Soviet Union. He shared his experiences with Chabad as a child growing up in Uzbekistan, and his encounters with the Rebbe as a fledgling businessman in the early 1980’s.
Culminating the evening was the traditional roll-call. The chairman of the conference read the names of all the states and countries with a permanent Chabad presence, accompanied by video images of activities in each location. He also announced the opening of Chabad centers in Wyoming, South Korea, Serbia and the Dominican Republic. The roll-call was followed by music and spontaneous dancing throughout the ballroom; 4,000 people placing their arms on each other’s shoulders and dancing with joy!
Now, try describing all that, and more, in one word...