By Dovber Grunblatt & Levi Shemtov Meet Gabi, champion of…
This past Tuesday, four hundred bochurim about to head out on Merkos Shlichus packed into the Jewish Children’s Museum for a “Yom Iyun,” a day of inspiration and learning.
Through the program, founded by the Rebbe in 1943, pairs of Yehsivah students utilize their summer breaks to visit remote cities and villages throughout the world in the search of Jews, hoping to rekindle their Jewish spark, and connect them with the wider Jewish community.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and director of Merkos Shlichus, opened the session with remarks about the zechus the bochurim have in joining a 68 year old program the Rebbe himself founded and directed. Kotlarsky also thanked the staff of the Merkos Shlichus office, for their months of planning.
A strong lineup of speakers engaged the students with practical advice and suggestion, interspersed with personal experiences and humorous anecdotes. The combination served to better ready the volunteers for the tough road ahead.
After a brief welcome message from Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky of Merkos, a video of the Rebbewas presented by J.E.M. Rabbi Menachem Posner, editor of the Merkos Shlichus blog, RovingRabbis.com, and Merkos Shlichus veteran, provided words of wisdom and encouragement. “Never underestimate the power of a smile,” he says. “Try it. Even when speaking on the phone, a person will hear the smile, without even seeing you.”
“When you are out there, people do not see you as an individual; they see you as the Lubavitcher Rebbe,” said Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, of Bangkok, Thailand. “When we received reports that people were unsatisfied with the quality of our restaurant’s food,” he related, “we immediately hired a professional chef. We realized that we were not only being judged by our Shiurim, but also by our food. “Now, everyone knows: Chabad now has the best shnitzel in Thailand.”
Rabbi Mendel Lipsker, of Sherman Oaks, CA, discussed the Halachos of Tefillin, Mezuzas and Kashrus.
Questions on these topics arise daily for Shluchim. Rabbi Daniel Moscowitz, of Chicago, IL, relayed words from the Rebbe to impress upon the Bochurim the power and responsibility them posses.
Before brochures and materials were distributed, Rabbi Mendy Margolim presented a quick course on the workings of the Merkos Shlichus site, and other technical areas.
Rabbi Kotlarsky concluded the event with heartfelt recollections of the Rebbe’s instructions to Merkos Shlichus, and the affinity the Rebbe has to the program. “The Rebbe is mashgiach al kol tnuah utnuah,” he cried. “It is imperative that each and every moment of your day be conducted in a way that will make the Rebbe proud.”
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