“My Heart Swells with Joy” – At a gala banquet with 4000 Chabad ambassadors
Mr. Benny (Yechiel Benzion) Fishhof, a prominent New York businessman and a member of the Chassidic group of Ger, stood at the gala banquet of 4,000 Chabad shluchim (ambassadors) from across the world last Sunday evening, and chatted with Rabbis Mordechai Avtzon and Boruch Jacobson, the Chabad ambassadors to Hong Kong and New York’s Hunter Collage.
“You will never understand what I am feeling here tonight,” said Benny Fishhof, who as a youngster in the 1930’s still traveled to the Polish city of Ger, some 20 miles from Warsaw, where the Gerer Rebbe, Rabbi Abraham Mordechai Altar, presided over hundreds of thousands of followers, and saw most of them exterminated in the Holocaust. “I survived the death camps. I watched my closest kin marched into the gas chambers. In 1950 I lived on Montgomery St in Crown Heights and I walked into ‘770.’ It was a little shtibel with a few Chabad Chassidim present.
“Tonight I return to the international convention of Chabad emissaries from around the world. I listen to the words and watch the dancing, and my heart swells with indescribable gratitude. The joy has returned! Here in one room are assembled 4,000 individuals who created a Jewish renaissance around the globe.
“My friends and I saw only mounds and mounds of ashes, the remains of our six million brothers and sisters. Never had Judaism’s everlasting light come closer to being extinguished. The Shoah destroyed the core of Jewish life: men, women and children who were the most vibrant, animated elements of the Jewish people. An entire world went up in smoke.
“What happened next will one day be told as one of the great acts of reconstruction in the religious history of mankind. A handful of Holocaust survivors and refugees set about rebuilding on new soil the world they had seen go up in the smoke of Auschwitz and Treblinka. The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menahem Mendel Schneersohn, together with other Jewish leaders, refused to yield to despair. The Rebbe urged every person he could touch to bring the stick back to life: to marry and have lots of children. He built schools, communities and yeshivas and encouraged and inspired countless Jewish people to do the same. He sent ambassadors to the entire world to rekindle the Jewish spark.”
The gala banquet of the “Kinus Hashluchim” had 4500 people packing Pier 12 in Brooklyn for an evening of inspiration. There were few dry eyes when a Dvar Torah was delivered by ten-year-old Moshe Cohen of Manchester, son of Esty Cohen, a young Chabad shlucha who passed away earlier this month at the age of 33, shortly after giving birth to a new baby. “I know my mother is looking down at me from heaven and is proud of the fact that I am continuing her life’s story,” Mosheleh Cohen said.
And few faces could avoid a smile when billionaire Mr. Gennady Boglubov of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, told the shluchim: You just come and ask, and I will give…