No Boys Allowed

Thursday, 15 November, 2007 - 6:00 am

Mendel, all of seven months, was the only gentleman to join the Shabbat Dinner at Chabad this past Friday night. Twenty young women joined Shterna for dinner, at an event that they claim included great food, fantastic atmosphere and more.

But what would I know? I was in New York, at a guys only Shabbat dinner, with 1500 in attendance!

An amazing weekend, despite the jetlag and overall exhaustion.

I heard Rabbi Gurevich of Lyon, France relate his story, of leaving his pregnant wife in NY as he laid the groundwork for Lubavitch of Lyon. He celebrated his daughter's birth 3500 miles away from mother and baby, returning to NY during the week, to accompany them back to Europe and their future as Shluchim to France.

Upon entering the Rebbe's office prior to departure, the Rebbe reprimanded him for having spent two of the weekends during the past months in locations other than Lyon. "I sent you to Lyon", the Rebbe charged. "If I were the emissary to Lyon, I'd do everything in my power to see to it that another Jewish child and another Jewish child and another Jewish child receives a Jewish education".

"Are you prepared to travel to Lyon, and to do so with joy?" challenged the Rebbe. After Rabbi Gurevich responded in the affirmative, the Rebbe advised him that the French do not appreciate a sour face. "It took three decades for me to understand what the Rebbe meant", but that is another story.

At a banquet with an attendance of 4500, held at Pier 94 on Manhattan’s west side, the atmosphere was electric. Billionaire Lev Leviav related how 100 years ago, the fifth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber, assigned a small group of emissaries to Samarkand, Uzbekistan. "The group were not very well received, and only managed to recruit ten young students for their fledgling Yeshiva", Leviav said. "It was the foresight of the Rebbe 100 years ago, that enabled me to be present here today talking to this tremendous gathering, and allowing me to impart our rich heritage to my children" he exclaimed, "because one of those ten boys in that Cheder in Samarkand 100 years ago, was my own grandfather".

Rabbi Nechemia Vogel, director of Chabad of Rochester, NY articulated what I consider to be our mission statement. “While other Jewish outreach groups love Jews who they are able to inspire to greater commitment to Torah and Mitzvos, Chabad’s philosophy, as taught to us by the Rebbe, is that we bring every Jew closer to Torah and Mitzvos, simply because we love them!”.

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