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Tales of War Captivate Regional Kinus
The Kinus Hashluchim of the New England and New York region, took place this past week at Chabad of Briarcliff-Ossining, New York, with Shluchim sharing Chizuk and advice. The Kinus culminated with a keynote address by Rabbi Yosef Wolf, Shliach to Kherson, Ukraine, who inspired the Shluchim with personal stories from the war.
“I was on the ground as the soldier several meters away shot in the air, ordering me not to move,” described Rabbi Wolf to the spell-bound room of Shluchim.
Wolf was on his way to deliver vital supplies to his community in Russian-controlled Kherson. While approaching a fork in the road, he paused to find the correct directions, not realizing that the soldiers were hidden nearby. He was ordered out of his car and onto the ground.
Rabbi Wolf later understood that several miles down the road, the Russian Military was shooting at any car that passed. “You would have been shot and killed without question,” he was told.
“While lying there on the ground, I felt a buzz in my pocket. After I showed the soldiers my permission documents and got cleared to continue, I saw that a Shliach had sent me a Tefillin Selfie. The Shliach had reached out a day earlier, asking how he could help. I responded that he should find an extra Yid to put on tefillin in our merit. I feel that the Tefillin helped save my life.”
Hosted in the Chabad of Briarcliff-Ossining, New York, by Rabbi and Mrs. Dovid Labkowsky, the one-day Kinus brought together Shluchim from across the North-Eastern region of the United States, the workshops and sessions tackled discussions such as Chinuch, Halacha, and post-covid related difficulties.
For many, a highlight was the session on Chinuch, moderated by Rabbi Yosef Wolvovsky of Glastonbury, CT. The panel featured Rabbi Shloimy Sternberg, Menahel of the Tomchei Temimim division of Chovevei Torah, Rabbi Shaya Gopin of Hartford, CT, and Rabbi Levi Shemtov of Riverdale, NY. They discussed pressing issues such as smartphones and technology, as well as ‘when and how to say no to our children’. The panelists also talked about the importance of sharing our Hiskashrus with our kids.
“For every story of the Rebbe we tell our kids from before Gimmel Tammuz, we must tell them two stories from after Gimmel Tammuz,” shared Rabbi Sternberg. “Hiskashrus needs to be something relevant and present, not Ch”V in the past tense, disconnected from our children.
A fascinating session on Shluchim working together and helping one another was moderated by Rabbi Efraim Mintz of JLI and featured Rabbi Yossi Deren of Greenwich, CT, and Rabbi Sholom Moshe Paltiel of Port Washington, NY.
Discussions on welcoming people back into Chabad Houses after the Covid absence was led by Rabbi Yisroel Friedman of Sudbury, MA. Many other Shluchim joined in the conversation, sharing what worked for them and where they would like to focus next, leading to a beautiful exchange of ideas.
The Kinus concluded with a gala banquet, where the crowd was addressed by Rabbi Wolf, and the Shliach, Rabbi Dovid Labkowski. A local community member shared his thoughts after recently learning the Maamar V’Ata Teztave. He described the role of the Shluchim as extensions of Moshe Rabbeinu, bringing to all Jewish people the light they so desperately crave and need. He expressed appreciation to the Shluchim for all that they do, and conveyed the idea of the maamar that those on the receiving end add to the illumination of the giver.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice-Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, spoke passionately to the Shluchim, reflecting on previous accomplishments and plans for the future.
“The energy gathered in this room is tremendous,” said Rabbi Kotlarsky. “Some 80 years ago, the Frierdiker Rebbe visited America. He commented on the state of American Jewry saying they are “deaf and blind to Yiddishkeit.” Boruch Hashem, since then, American Jewry has widely become open and receptive to Yiddishkeit. Undoubtedly, your work as Shluchim has turned the tide greatly.”
Post-banquet, the farbrengen continued with Rabbi Shlomo Zarchi, Mashpia in 770, inspiring the Shluchim until the wee hours of the morning.