Shluchim to British Columbia Gather for First Time in 50 Years

For the first time since Chabad arrived in British Columbia 50 years ago – all 17 Shluchim families, men women and children, gathered from across the province for a heartwarming Kinus Hakhel 

In a touching display of unity and camaraderie, seventeen families, each serving the Jewish population across British Columbia as Chabad Shluchim recently convened on the 29th and 30th of August, 2023 (12 and 13 of Elul, 5783) for a remarkable Kinus Hakhel. This gathering wasn’t just a coming together of families, it was a celebration of shared purpose and a heartfelt recommitment to serving the community with unwavering devotion.

Representatives from Chabad in Victoria, Nanaimo, Richmond, Surrey, Coquitlam, UBC, Downtown, Kitsilano, and Kelowna joined the central Chabad Lubavitch BC in this heartwarming event. The theme of “sheves achim gam yachad” echoed throughout the gathering, permeating the atmosphere with feelings of support for one another. It served as a reminder of the strength that arises from collaboration and left an indelible mark on all those present.

Chabad today is the largest Jewish organization in British Columbia, a presence in 10 cities across BC with 11 Synagogues, 17 permanent  Rabbis and Rebbetzins, 3 Mikvahs, 8 Supplementary Hebrew Schools, 4 Camp Gan Israel Summer Camps, dozens of weekly Torah classes, private counseling and social services, and thousands upon thousands of Jewish souls ignited every year thru positive and meaningful Jewish Experiences.

Rabbi Yitzchok Wineberg, the head Shliach of British Columbia, reflected on the past 50 years of Chabad’s presence in BC. He congratulated all the Shluchim for their dedication and hard work, acknowledging the efforts they have invested in reaching out to every Jew, no matter their affiliation or background, and establishing communities all over the province.

Rabbi Avraham Feigelstock, Av Beis Din, director of BCK and one of the senior Shluchim in BC, took the opportunity to encourage the establishment of a “Vaad Hapo’el,” a permanent action committee, to take the inspiration from this Kinus and use it as a positive force for expansion.

The Kinus featured an all-night farbrengen on Tuesday night, led by Rabbi Sholom B. Levitin, Regional Director of Chabad-Lubavitch in the Pacific Northwest, lasting from 9 pm until 6 am, where participants engaged in meaningful discussions and spiritual connection.

In the spirit of this Hakhel year, with the call of uniting men, women and children, a dedicated children’s program ran throughout the entire two days with over 60 young Shluchim participating. A special thanks goes to Mrs. Tamara Feigelstock, who ensured that the youngest members of the Shluchim had a memorable and enriching experience.

The Kinus wrapped up with a grand banquet. Featured speakers were Rabbi Yechiel Baitelman (Chabad of Richmond) and Rabbi Shmuly Hecht (Chabad of the Okanagan Valley), plus a special Zoom address by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad Lubavitch worldwide. An unexpected and heartwarming moment came at the banquet when Mr. Arnold Silber, a revered figure and Chabad’s first friend and supporter in British Columbia, took the stage. With great emotion, he shared his deep connection to Chabad and to the Jewish community in BC.

As a beautiful surprise, Mr. Silber announced to the crowd, “Don’t worry about paying for this gathering; I will cover the entire bill.” His generosity left everyone in awe and further underscored the sense of unity and support that defined the event.

Mr. Silber also reflected on the past 50 years and expressed immense pride in his association with Chabad. He spoke passionately about how he had planted a tree half a century ago and now sees a thriving forest. The growth and impact of Chabad in British Columbia fills him with joy and nachas.

Moreover, Mr. Silber pledged to continue and expand his support and partnership with Chabad’s incredible “army of light and kindness” in British Columbia. He shared his vision of building an even stronger, more vibrant Jewish community in the future. Everyone could appreciate how one individual’s dedication and support can affect an entire community’s growth and success. 

The Kinus Hakhel took place thanks to the dedicated efforts of Rabbi Dovid and Chaya Rosenfeld, Co-directors of the central Chabad in BC, and the various planning committees.  For the men’s program: Rabbi Meir Kaplan (Chabad of Vancouver Island), Rabbi Benzi Shemtov (Chabad of Nanaimo) and Rabbi Mottel Gurevitz (Chabad of Coquitlam). For the women’s events, Mrs. Blumie Shemtov (Chabad of Nanaimo) and Mrs. Rivki Yeshayahu (Shlucha to Kitsilano) coordinated the program, and the youth program was planned by Mrs. Esti Loeub (Chabad of UBC) and Mrs. Rivky Varnai (Shlucha in Richmond). Special thanks to Mrs. Henia Wineberg (Lubavitch BC) and Mrs. Chanie Baitelman (Chabad of Richmond) for the beautiful setup.

As the Shluchim of British Columbia left the gathering, they carried with them not only a renewed sense of unity but also a strengthened commitment to their shared mission. This gathering in Vancouver wasn’t just an event; it was a celebration of community, purpose, and the enduring spirit of Chabad.

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