Realizing that the International Kinus Hashluchim would be altogether different than usual this year, the 64 Shluchim to South Africa chose to develop a local program to lead into the global event.
What do Shluchim do at the Kinus? Many have grappled to adequately answer that question to intrigued community members. One Shliach summarized it on social media this week as: “We Connect. Inspire each other. Bare our souls. Strategise. Uplift. Commiserate. Rejuvenate.”.
Needless to say, many Shluchim are feeling the void of not having an in-person Kinus this year. No doubt, the online program will be powerful and uplifting, but you cannot replicate the open-heart surgery of that annual reunion farbrengen with a Zoom session.
Or can you?
This Wednesday, South Africa’s sixty four Shluchim spent the day, and well into the night on a local Kinus. Realizing that the International Kinus would be altogether different than usual, a group of Shluchim chose to develop a local program to lead into the global event. A unique style of Kinus would allow a chance for a unique interaction between chaverim. Albeit also online, they hoped that there would be something unique about having a Kinus against the energy of the larger Kinus- between themselves.
The kinus outdid all of their expectations.
The program kicked off with an hour of Chassidus, where Rabbi Mendel Lipskier of Sherman Oaks shared a powerful and timely ma’amer of the Rebbe.
Rabbi Mendel Lipskar, head Shliach of South Africa, formally opened the proceedings with a call to Shluchim to look out for each other and a charge to constantly look to improve on themselves and their avodas hashlichus.
Throughout the day, various mosdos shared brief updates on their activities, a healthy reminder of the Chabad impact on South Africa’s rabbinic leadership, Beis Din, kashrus, mainstream Shuls and major Jewish institutions- not to mention the beautiful successes of the many Chabad Houses.
Reaching further across the African landscape, the Kinus also featured sessions with Shluchim from Mauritius – Rabbi Laima Barber, Morocco Rabbi Levi Banon and Nigeria Rabbi Yisrael Uzan. Local Shluchim presented with world-class professionalism and insight on important topics like financial health, emotional wellbeing and pivoting to manage the Covid reality.
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein acclaimed the Chabad contribution to South African Jewry, noting how Shluchim serve with mesiras nefesh that never seems to feel like a sacrifice.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky addressed the main evening session, Rabbi Michoel Gourarie of Sydney shared insights from the Rebbe on emotional wellbeing and Rabbis Shmuel Lew and Avremi Kievman farbrengened with the Shluchim until the wee hours.
One of the most powerful elements of the Kinus included three presentations on the generational impact on South African Shlichus. This year marks 70 years since the Rebbe sent his first Shliach, Rabbi Michoel Lipsker to North Africa. It also launches the 50th year of Shlichus in South Africa, following the Rebbe sending his nephew, Rabbi Mendel Lipskar to this country. Rabbi Yossi Chaikin, a grandson of Reb Michoel provided an eye-opener historical sketch of that cross-continental impact. Following that, Rabbis Michoel and Mendi Katz and Rabbis Dovid and Yosef Hazdan shared the amazing three-generational histories of their respective families’ involvement in South Africa.
In an ordinary year, South African shluchim fly for at least fifteen hours to be able to attend the Kinus with their chaverim. This extraordinary year, had them flying together for fifteen hours of inspiration, connection and farbrengen that was beyond anything they could have imagined.