In need of a geshmake beis medrash, a shul and a mikvah, which no less than the Satmar Rebbe of Kiryas Joel, Reb Aharon Teitelbaum, shlita, found in Palm Springs, California, adopted long-time home and outreach post of Rabbi Yonason Denebeim.
(The same beis medrash and shul is where 90-something Herman Wouk, the legendary writer and Orthodox Jew, enjoys weekly mishnayos shiurim.)
In need of the kosher food, tefillin, or siddurim provided by America’s leading Jewish prisoner services organization, the Aleph Institute, founded and led by Rabbi Sholom Ber Lipskar of Bal Harbor, Florida. (Or in need of a “get out of jail card,” facilitated for one hapless—and now-formerly anti-religious—Israeli freed from Bangkok’s notoriously filthy and corrupt prison system by local outreach careerist Rabbi Nechemya Wilhelm.)
Or in need of a nice kosher sandwich, which Rabbi Eli Borenstein, who grew up in Montreal, distributes free of charge to Jewish business travelers in Bologna, Italy, of all places.
He is the visionary. They are the vision. He is the Lubavitcher Rebbe, zatzal. And they are his shluchim.
This Sunday marks Gimmel Tammuz, the 14th yahrzeit of Reb Menachem M. Schneersohn, zatzal, who was niftar in 1994. Yet 14 years later, his movement has doubled in size.
Hundred of those shluchim, and many of the thousands whose lives they’ve touched, will be paying their respects at the resting place of the Rebbe, Ohel Chabad Lubavitch in the Cambria Heights section of Queens. Commonly known as “the Ohel,” thousands of Jews who were first exposed to Torah-true Judaism by the bearded man in the black hat who had just moved into town will be streaming to the sacred shrine to recite special tefilos.
Joining these not-yet-frum Jews will be a sizable sprinkling of Chasidim, a strong showing of Modern Orthodox and not a few Litvaks. They are also the vision.
Fourteen years ago, a short time after the Rebbe’s petirah, a self-described “misnagid from a long line of misnagdim” described the Rebbe as the “Ohev Yisroel” of this generation.
Considering how many Jews his vision reached—and has explosively continued to reach in the fourteen years since his petirah—a more apt appellation would be nigh impossible to find.
This is today’s Chabad—a Jewish world united under the vision of one visionary leader, however long gone. It’s the vision of Ahavas Yisroel, a vision of a world in which one’s one Yiddishkeit is incomplete unless one gives it to another, a vision in which outreach is not a job but a hashkafah. As Chabad’s Rabbi Shmuel Lew once put it, “In the frum velt, there is the Torah camp and there is everyone else—and the Torah camp is getting bigger. In Lubavitch, we are one people.”
Chabad of Earth, indeed. One planet—and one Jewish People. Come to the Ohel this Sunday and see for yourself.
A giant leader letting himself down to anyone who approached him, below video is quite remarkable.