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...

  • Book Reviews Personalities How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    How a Jewish Leader With 3 Months to Live Created a ‘Seminar’ on Life

    JNS.org – What would you do if you found out that you had only three more months to live? Gordon Zacks was a successful businessman, a leader of Jewish life, and a confidante and adviser to President George H.W. Bush. He knew that he had prostate cancer, but doctors advised him that it was very slow-growing and nothing to worry about. Then came the day when the doctors told him his cancer metastasized to his liver, and that he had [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Theater 10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    10 Things I Learned From My Play About Holocaust Denial

    Last month, my one-man show Hoaxocaust! Written and performed by Barry Levey with the generous assistance of the Institute for Political and International Studies, Tehran ran in the New York International Fringe Festival, where it won an Overall Excellence Award. The play has now been selected to run in the Fringe Encores Series at Baruch College’s Performing Arts Center, for four performances which started on Thursday, September 11. Getting the play to the stage was not easy, however. Here are [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Israel Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Israeli Music Producer Racks Up Over 535,000 YouTube Hits – in Two Days

    Phenomenon: Tel Aviv-based musician and “sampler” extraordinaire, Kutiman (aka Ophir Kutiel) has hit another one out of the park with “Give It Up,” a fully-functioning song in its own right, assembled from hundreds of ameteur and instructional music videos. The Jerusalem-born musical prodigy is best know for his diverse online musical projects. In the latest video, uploaded to YouTube on Sept. 12th, Kutiel thanked most of the musicians and individuals he chose to include in the meticulously-edited clip, which opens with [...]

    Read more →
  • Theater US & Canada Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    Behind-the-Scenes Reel of Ridley Scott’s Moses Epic Shows Scenes Using 4000 Extras (VIDEO)

    A recently released behind-the-scenes reel of Ridley Scott’s upcoming film Exodus: Gods and Kings shows just how far the director has gone to portray one of the Bible’s most famous narratives. In the clip, which shows scenes involving up to 4,000 extras, the visionary director discusses what drew him to the biblical tale of Moses. “The Moses story was a massive challenge, which I really love. I wanted to explore the complexity of his character and I was stunned by [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    Turner Classic Movies Showcases ‘Broad Sweep’ of the Jewish Experience on Film

    JNS.org – Since 2006, the Turner Classic Movies (TCM) cable and satellite TV network has hosted “The Projected Image,” a month-long showcase examining how different cultural and ethnic groups have been portrayed on the big screen. At last, after previously covering African Americans, Asians, the LGBT community, Latinos, Native Americans, Arabs, and people with disabilities, the annual series is delving into Jewish film this month. “The Projected Image: The Jewish Experience on Film,” whose first segment aired Sept. 2, runs [...]

    Read more →
  • Book Reviews Jewish Identity An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    An Inside Look at the Hasidim (REVIEW)

    The sight of young girls in pinafores and young boys wearing peyos – sidelocks – dangling over their ears is a sure sign that you have entered the enigmatic precincts of the Hasidim – the pious ones. Veteran New York Times journalist Joseph Berger’s new book, THE PIOUS ONES: The World of Hasidim and their Battles with America, takes the reader on a journey into the enclaves where various sects of Jews live a seemingly outmoded way of life in [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Jewish Identity How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    How Jewish Television Pioneer Milton Berle Inspired Modern Comedy Stars

    JNS.org – Today’s comedy superstars, especially those whose careers are driven by television, may very well owe their success to pioneering Jewish entertainer Milton Berle. Born Mendel Berlinger in Manhattan in 1908, Berle became America’s first small-screen star. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Television,” he influenced and helped promote the work of hundreds of younger comics. “Milton Berle was deceptively successful and very Jewish,” says Lawrence Epstein, author of The Haunted Smile: The Story of Jewish Comedians in America, published the year [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    Jewish ‘Hoops Whisperer’ a Secret Weapon for NBA Stars

    JNS.org – Idan Ravin’s friends chipped in to buy him a humble but life-changing bar mitzvah gift—a basketball hoop his father attached to the roof of his garage. Little did his friends know that years later, he would be the personal trainer of National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, and Stephen Curry. Ravin’s new book, “The Hoops Whisperer: On the Court and Inside the Head of Basketball’s Best Players,” details his rise from a Jewish upbringing [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.