JLI Concludes Trip with Gala Banquet

On Sunday night, the Gala Banquet of JLI’s visit to the Holy Land took place in the main ballroom of the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem.

The evening opened with a speech by Knesset member Uzi Landau, who spoke about the importance of Jerusalem and its place in Jewish History. He then officially welcomed the over 200 participants from around the world and thanked them for their visit to Israel, while mentioning the blessed activities of Chabad around the world.

The next speaker was Knesset member Natan Sharansky, who opened his speech with the following story: “Years ago the Rabbi’s of the Reform community in Russia turned to me with a question:” How is it that you help Chabad and their emissaries? “. I turned to them and said: “When you do what Chabad is doing in Siberia and elsewhere around the world, with such devotion, dedication and self sacrifice for the Jewish nation, then maybe I will change my behavior”.

He added by saying: “I got to know the organization JLI closely in the past number of years, and it is important for me to inform you, that this organization is helping to preserve the character of the Jewish people in Israel and around the world.”

Invited to the stage to address the crowd was Israel’s Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger. Rabbi Metzger spoke about Chabad and its growing number of activities around the world. “Israel has ambassadors around the world, and people of Israel are privileged to have 3500 Lubavitch emissaries around the world who are there to preserve the flame of the Jewish people” said Rabbi Metzger.

Main course was then served as Shliach Rabbi David Flinknstein of Mahomet, Illinois introduced the Vice Chairman of Merkos Linyonei Chinuch, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky who flew in specially from New York to take part in the trip.

“People have the wrong idea about who they call, “the son who does not know how to ask”. Rabbi Kotlarsky said.” No man is not smart, and does not know to ask. These are smart people, lawyers, jurists etc. Only when they come to study the Torah, then they are not sure how to ask. This is where the organization of JLI has played, and continues to play, such an important and crucial role, causing a real revolution in the related study of Judaism.

JCC president in Memphis, Tennessee, Cara Bierman, gave a speech on behalf of the participants of this exciting trip. “My family and I have arrived in Israel on several occasions, though this is the first time we came to places of Jewish Historical significance and due to the JLI courses we had taken we got to see everything in a completely different angle. It really feels like we’re completely different people in a different place.

The lights in the Mosaic hall were then dimmed as a presentation was then projected onto a giant screen with video and images from the trip. The excited crowd were constantly wiping their eyes as they revisited the great times that they had.

Rabbi Ephraim Mintz, Director of JLI, then addressed the crowd offering words of thanks and gratitude to all whose who where involved in making the trip the success that it was, namely; Rabbi Shneur Weinberg, Mabat and Israel Maven touring services owned by Mr. Zeev Grenstein and Mr. Zeev Jacobson. He also gave special thanks to the Vice Chairman of Merkos Linyonei Chinuch, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky and main supporter of the organization Mr. George Rohr.

“The name of the trip is, “the Land and its Spirit”, Rabbi Mintz said, “You are leaving the holy land, but the spirit stays with you forever as your shluchim continue to guide you in your hometown”.

Rabbi Mintz then handed out certificates for the producers and organizers of this successful trip, with the audience applauding and cheering them on.

And as the participants broke into song and dance it was evident that the spirit will surely live on.

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