Hundreds of shluchim from across New York and New England joined together for a regional kinus the newly minted Chabad House in Monroe under the leadership of Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston.
Orange County, NY, doesn’t usually see hundreds of Chabad shluchim in one day. But that’s exactly what happened last week, as shluchim from all over New York and New England convened at the newly minted Chabad House in Monroe under the leadership of Rabbi Pesach and Chana Burston. For an entire day, these tireless Jewish leaders had the opportunity to be inspired, share in camaraderie, and be energized anew.
As per the Rebbe‘s personal request, Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and the Vaad Hakinus, under the direction of Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, have been organizing such regional kinusim for many years. And each year, they bring welcome reprieve and refreshing spirit to the shluchim.
It’s not easy packing so much into one day, but that’s exactly what it was: a full schedule of sessions, a little bit of downtime in between for the Shluchim to catch up with one another, and a grand banquet to wrap up the day. Sessions covered topics such as chinuch and Halachah, as well as more intimate moments when shluchim shared personal stories of challenges, inspiration, and how they all help each other.
Beyond the specifics of the program, the overall feeling of “being as one” was simply uplifting. “There was something about this year being a shnas Hakhel and just days after Tisha Be’av, together with the beautiful setting in this brand-new Chabad House that just felt so right,” said Rabbi Yosef Wolowsky of Chabad of Glastonbury, Connecticut.
“After all, we just spent time reflecting on the churban and the lack of unity that brought about that destruction, and here we were: all together, during this special Hakhel year of heightened unity, in a gorgeous Mikdash me’at. In the big picture, it felt in a small way akin to the Gemara’s description of the ‘Holiest person, in the holiest place, during the holiest time.’ It was a special feeling.”
While the standardized panels of professional, personal, and spiritual development were all helpful and well received, the closer, more vulnerable moments of shluchim sharing their personal stories were particularly impactful. “I heard from other shluchim how in their own time of need, other fellow shluchim stepped in to help, sacrificing their own time and resources,” Rabbi Wolowsky relates. “It made me realize how we’re all part of a grander vision. We’re not isolated, each one doing his own thing; we’re working collectively to achieve the Rebbe’s vision on a global scale. We are not alone, not at all!
The guest address at the banquet was delivered by Professor Ari Goldman, a veteran reporter for the New York Times, who shared his many interactions with the Rebbe in that capacity. Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky delivered opening remarks, while Rabbi Yisroel Deren of Chabad of Stamford, CT, delivered the keynote address.
“While it’s always important to come together at these kinusim,” said Rabbi Kotlarsky, “the added emphasis of this Hakhel year made it all that more meaningful. To see everyone come together and connect with each other so quickly and deeply makes every moment of planning and organizing well worthwhile. It is this togetherness that the Rebbe so strongly wished for when requesting these kinusim!”