Last month, the 28 Chabad shluchim from across Georgia trekked to the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort for a packed two day kinus. Rabbi Efraim Mintz of JLI met with the shluchim to discuss the upcoming National Jewish Retreat in Atlanta.
By Chana Kornfeld – Atlanta Jewish Times
Last month, the 28 Chabad shluchim from across Georgia trekked to the Atlanta Evergreen Marriott Conference Resort in Stone Mountain for a packed two days of inspiration, study, strategizing and collaboration.
Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn, N.Y., organizes two mega kinusim every year: one in November for the thousands of Chabad rabbis from around the world and one in February for the Chabad rebbitzens. In addition to the global kinus, each state or region hosts their own kinus that focuses on the needs, growth and camaraderie in that particular area. For the first time, Chabad of Georgia hosted two regional kinus conferences for the shluchim and shluchot of Georgia. The women’s kinus took place at the Chabad at Emory in February and was followed by the men’s kinus in June.
“A kinus is a time for the shluchim and shluchos to fill up their tanks,” said Rabbi Yossi New, regional director of Chabad of Georgia. “I’m traveling now and just heard the flight attendant’s cautionary reminder: Put your own mask on before assisting others. To inspire, one must be inspired. To teach, one must learn. The kinus is when the shluchim take note of their own oxygen, so they can go out and help others effectively.”
The inaugural regional conference in Stone Mountain was sponsored by community leaders and philanthropists Ian and Carol Ratner and boasted an array of workshops, furthering education classes, collaborative brainstorming, and gourmet meals.
Ian Ratner participated in the event and addressed those gathered. “What a powerful group of professionals. I felt very optimistic about the future of Judaism in Atlanta seeing all this talent in one place.”
The program last month focused on the exchange of ideas, inspiration on the Chabad mission and the learning of Torah. Rabbi Eli Nosson Silberberg, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Chabad rabbinical seminary of Chicago, Ill., was a guest speaker and led the farbrengen, a Chassidic gathering of friends with the purpose of inspiring and uplifting those in attendance.
Upon arrival, attendees were gifted with sleek hat boxes decorated with the Georgia kinus emblem, a nod to the traditional and trademark fedora that all Chabad rabbis don when dressed formally. The workshops opened with a panel of 10 local shluchim who shared ideas to strengthen the commitment to the mission of shlichus. As an agent of the Lubavitcher rebbe, of blessed memory, their mission is to fulfill his vision of bringing the light of G-dliness to the world. The rebbe set up an organized system of shlichus divided by regions and sub-regions with a corresponding hierarchy of management. A designated shliach was given the latitude to designate another shliach and so decades after the rebbe’s passing, he is still sending out shluchim by proxy, in greater numbers than ever before.
The sessions June 20 were a mix of philosophical inspiration, practical Jewish law and business strategies interspersed with scrumptious meals, a professional picture and daily prayers. “It was inspiring to learn with and from my colleagues,” said Rabbi Shlomo Sharfstein of Chabad of Downtown Universities. “I’m looking forward to the next kinus.”
This year, Atlanta will be the home of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute’s annual National Jewish Retreat, a five-day stimulating experience of lectures, hands-on workshops, comedy shows, film screenings and more that promise to have attendees learning and laughing from dawn to dusk. Rabbi Efraim Mintz, executive director of JLI met with the Georgia shluchim during the conference to present this year’s retreat and the impact it can have on the Atlanta Jewish community.
There were four new attendees at the conference this year as Chabad of Georgia has expanded its reach with four new centers opening last year. Chabad of Smyrna, Chabad of Buckhead and Brookhaven, Chabad of Rural Georgia and Chabad of Hall County have opened their doors with fresh, determined, and energetic new shluchim at their helms. Rabbi Chaim Markowitz of Chabad of Rural Georgia says he left the kinus “enthused and ready to strengthen and grow my shlichus.”
“We’re not done hiring. Next year’s kinus will have additional new shluchim as Chabad continues to transform the Jewish landscape here in Georgia,” said Rabbi Isser New, Chabad of Georgia associate director and Kinus organizer.
Recently, the Pew Research Center report has given statistical data to the impact that Chabad has on Jewish life in America. Thirty eight percent of U.S. Jews have been to a Chabad program and that number is growing. In Georgia, after two days of strategizing and inspiration, the Peach State shluchim are re-energized and ready to fulfill Chabad’s mission of reaching more Jews.
Chana Kornfeld is the daughter of Chabad Regional Director Rabbi Yossi New and former women’s education director at Chabad of Sandy Springs.