Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

Former Israeli Chief Rabbi Recalls Memorable Visits With Lubavitcher Rebbe

November 14, 2012 12:20 am 0 comments

Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, speaks at the Nov. 11 Chabad emissary conference in New York. Photo: Maxine Dovere.

Forty-five hundred rabbinic emissaries, or “shluchim of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement gathered in New York City on Nov. 11 to celebrate their current accomplishments in Jewish outreach and gain strength from one another as they continue to work in virtually every country in the free world.

By bus, by plane or train, they came; by car or carriage, and a few even on foot, they came to share and encourage each other’s work.

The Kinus Hashluchim (International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries) is an annual event that has grown immensely since the initial gathering of 65 shluchim from the United States and Canada attended the first North American meeting, held at Chabad headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn in 1987 (informally known simply as “770”).                                                                                                                                                                                             Keynote speaker Rabbi Yisrael Meir Lau, former Ashkenazi chief rabbi of Israel, fondly recalled his first meeting with the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, in March 1974 after the “crushing blow of the Yom Kippur War,” and his next meeting with Schneerson eight years later. Lau calls Schneerson a “spiritual mentor.”

Upon first visiting “770” in 1974 as a district rabbi in Tel Aviv, Lau spent two hours and 20 minutes with Schneerson before the door was opened and he sensed it was time to leave. At that point, Lau recalled feeling the “very warm and soft hand of the Rebbe” on his hand, and the Rebbe told him “I take responsibility, don’t worry, we have what to talk [about].”

“Take responsibility. Be aware. But not only for the whole nation, or for the whole community, but for every individual,” Lau said, describing the Rebbe’s philosophy.

When Lau exited his meeting with the Rebbe at about 3:50 a.m., about 100 yeshiva students surrounded him and eagerly asked what the conversation entailed, the Rebbe came out before Lau could answer and informed him “This neighborhood is a little bit dangerous at night… Crown Heights, Brooklyn, at this time, four o’clock in the morning, you need a car to drive you to Manhattan.” Instead of letting Lau get in a “yellow cab,” the Rebbe insisted that his driver Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky personally take Lau to Manhattan. That story showed how the Rebbe took responsibility for every individual, Lau said.

In 1982, Lau—then chief rabbi of the city of Netanya—visited with Rebbe unannounced. The Rebbe, when he saw Lau, smiled widely and said “Eight years you didn’t visit me. Exactly eight years.” They again spent two hours and 20 minutes together, Lau said.

Lau, chairman of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial Council, addressed the Chabad shluchim while the annual tribute dinner of the American Friends of Yad Vashem was underway less than 300 feet away from the Hilton. That gathering paid tribute to those who survived the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people; the Chabad Kinus celebrated efforts to foster the continuum of Jewish life.

“Let’s sit down together, and let’s live together,” Lau said. “We always knew how to die together. The time has come for us to know also how to live together.”

Chabad shluchim travel to places around the world to establish Jewish communities. Their mission, according to the directive of the Rebbe, is to discover “the unique needs of their respective communities.” The shluchim and their families work in 75 countries doing Jewish outreach, teaching Torah and establishing bastions of Jewish culture.

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Book Reviews Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    Can ‘Islamic Reformation’ Work? (REVIEW)

    It is cocktail hour on an April afternoon in 2004. The sun is hot on Amsterdam’s canals, and I am sitting at Café den Leeuw on the Herengracht with Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Hirsi Ali is still a member of the Dutch Parliament, and we talk about Islam. Specifically, we talk about the concept of “moderate Islam,” or what she calls “liberal Islam.” And she has one word for it. “It’s absurd,” she says. “It’s complete nonsense. There is no ‘liberal […]

    Read more →
  • Food Jewish Identity A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    A Look at the Vilna Vegetarian Cookbook (REVIEW)

    Everybody knows that cooking varies from country to country. There are Italian restaurants, Chinese restaurants, etc. We associate different styles of cuisine with different languages. Do we also think of the association of different cuisines with different dialects? We should, because cooking also varies from region to region. Litvaks and Galitsyaners have their own traditions of preparing gefilte fish. Marvin I. Herzog, in his book The Yiddish Language in Northern Poland: Its Geography and History (Indiana University, Bloomington, and Mouton & Co., The […]

    Read more →
  • Relationships US & Canada Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    Analysis: Jewish Women Less Likely Than Catholics to Take Husband’s Name

    An analysis of New York Times wedding announcements showed that women married in Jewish ceremonies were less likely to take their husband’s last names than those married in Roman Catholic ceremonies, the Times reported on Saturday. The largest gap between the two groups was in 1995 when 66 percent of Catholic women took their husband’s names and 33 percent of Jewish women did the same. Nearly half of the women featured in the publication’s wedding pages since 1985 took their husband’s name after marriage, while about […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    Jerry Lewis, Legendary Jewish Comic and Humanitarian, Stays Relevant at 89

    JNS.org – Through appreciation of both his comedy and humanitarian work, legendary Jewish entertainer Jerry Lewis is staying relevant at age 89. The only comic to ever be nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize, Lewis added another award to his trophy case in April, when he received the 2015 Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB). Gordon Smith, NAB’s president and CEO, said the organization was “honored to recognize not only [Lewis’s] comedic innovation, but also his remarkable […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli Gymnasts Win Bronze, Silver Medals at 2015 European Games in Baku

    Israeli athletes marked a successful day on Sunday, as gymnasts won multiple bronze and silver medals in the 2015 European Games in Baku. The Gymnastics team won two silver medals and one bronze in group events, while Neta Rivkin, an Israeli Olympic gymnast, won bronze for the Solo Hoops event. Sunday’s gymnastics wins follow Sergey Richter’s bronze on June 16 for the Men’s 10 meter air-rifle, and Ilana Kratysh’s silver for women’s freestyle wrestling. The 2015 European Games in Baku are […]

    Read more →
  • Theater Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Report Highlights Success of Russian-Jewish-American Ballroom Dancers

    Russian-American Jews are some of the most successful ballroom dancing competitors in the U.S., South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) Radio reported on Thursday. Jonathan Sarna, a professor of Jewish history at Brandeis University, said their success can be traced back to Jewish discrimination in the former Soviet Union. Because of the prejudice they faced, Russian Jews had to perform better than their peers in every field, including dancing, in order to have a chance of getting ahead. “They knew that if they […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    Israeli Dancer With Shofar, Prayer Shawl Wows ‘So You Think You Can Dance’ Judges (VIDEO)

    An Israeli dancer made use of Jewish props in an extraordinary routine that left judges amazed when he auditioned for season 12 of TV dance competition So You Think You Can Dance on Monday. At first, the panel of judges appeared confused when Asaf Goren, 23, began his audition in Los Angeles with a tallit (prayer shawl) over his head and the blowing of a shofar, which he explained “opens the sky” for people’s prayers. However, as soon as he started his “Hebrew breaking” performance, […]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    Jewish Hoops Fairytale Falls Short as David Blatt’s Cavaliers Drop Game 6

    JNS.org – A fairytale ending to Jewish basketball coach David Blatt’s first season in the National Basketball Association (NBA) was not meant to be, as the Blatt-led Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night dropped Game 6 of the NBA Finals to the Golden State Warriors, 105-97, to lose the best-of-seven series 4-2. Blatt, who just last year coached Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv franchise to a European basketball championship, failed to finish a second straight hoops season on top. But after the Cavaliers began the NBA […]

    Read more →