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A Vision

Wednesday, 6 November, 2013 - 12:12 pm

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I watched the live feed of the Kinus banquet on Sunday, and to be honest, it would be difficult not to be blown away.

It was a room filled with over 5,000 people, 4,500 of them are Shluchim of the Rebbe, emissaries that the Lubavitcher Rebbe sent across the globe to establish and support Jewish communities in every corner. Literally every corner, names of some of the towns and cities I can’t pronounce and certainly can’t spell.

The banquet was a celebratory dinner, ending an annual four day conference for these Shluchim in New York. The first Kinus took place back in 1983, there were 45 Shluchim. Thirty years later and there are over 4,500 Shluchim.

Ponder for a moment that growth. Ponder for a moment the amount of Jewish people who have in some way connected with a Chabad Shliach and benefitted from the services provided by a Chabad House, and you may begin to understand the unparalled reach of the Rebbe.

Books have been written and studies have been conducted in an attempt to understand this phenomenon, but a touching story opens a window into the Rebbe’s vision.

In a letter, Nechama Cohen, who grew up in Crown Heights and had gotten to know the Rebbe through a chance meeting on the street, writes of an early childhood encounter with the Rebbe, who was known to her at the time as Mr. Menachem:

Mr. Menachem always asked me what books I was reading. When I was seven—spring of ’48, I think—I discovered Science Fiction in the library on Schenectady Avenue. I loved it. I gave him rave reviews of two authors, Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. (He was intrigued by the idea of teaching children science through fun-to-read novels. I always told him he should read them, that he would love them. He would respond that he only read Jewish books.) Then one day, a year or so later, I told him about Asimov’s book “Foundation.”

If you haven’t read Asimov’s Foundation Series, then I should tell you it’s about a secret foundation set up by a “psychohistorian” named Hari Seldon. The purpose of psychohistory and the Foundation was to perfect the Universe [by sending beacons of light to many locations], which is basically what I told him.

Anyway, Mr. Menachem later told me he read the book—which floored me. He then went on to tell me he’d written to Asimov and had gotten a reply. I was thrilled that Asimov thought enough of him to write back. (At that point I had no concept of who he truly was, much less who he would become.) He was corresponding with Asimov, and as far as I was concerned that was even better than writing to Jackie Robinson, which I think I told him.

Then he asked me what I thought of the idea of setting up a foundation [to perfect the world]. I thought it was better than Asimov and Robinson combined, and told him so. He then told me he was setting up [such] a foundation. I was so excited I started jumping up and down, telling him I wanted to join. He said I could.

Well, he did set it up, and I did join . . .

He was talking about Chabad and his worldwide network of devoted emissaries.

The Rebbe’s vision was fueled by his unending love for every individual Jew and so he sent Shluchim to every corner to find those individuals. To provide them with Jewish education, to increase Jewish observance, and to let the Jewish world know that Judaism is inspiring, enriching and a joy to behold.

Come celebrate with us!

~Nechama~ 

Picture of the week: 
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Penn representation at this year's Kinus Hashluchim.

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