More than 5,200 rabbis and communal leaders from 86 countries are sitting down to schmooze over dinner at the Big Apple’s biggest banquet as the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries gets underway Sunday evening.
Not only is the event New York City’s largest sit-down dinner, it is also North America’s largest Jewish event. It is also one of the only opportunities during the year that one can grasp the magnitude of the global phenomenon of today’s Chabad movement, and experience some of the spirit that is driving it.
As a courtesy to our readers, JewishPress.com is broadcasting the event live:
The hearing-impaired and deaf Jewish community is participating in the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries this year via simultaneous translation of the evening’s speeches in American Sign Language., organizers told JewishPress.com.
Translations for the hearing-impaired are also being projected in the banquet hall at the converted South Brooklyn Marine Terminal, and on the Chabad.org webcast.
The annual group photo of every Chabad emissary from around the world has become a mainstay of the four-day-long conference that culminates in the long-awaited banquet. The tradition began with a few dozen rabbis in the early 1980s, but it has long since grown to become a logistical feat with not a few acrobatics involved. The photo eventually makes its way around the world to places that many readers may not even have heard of — and some of the new emissaries may not even have known existed, until they were assigned to their posts!
Another strong mainstay of the annual gathering is the traditional pilgrimage to the final resting place in Queens, New York, of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson zt’l and that of the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe,Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Schneerson zt’l.
Visitors waited for hours in line, praying as they prepared to deliver their handwritten requests for blessings for themselves and their communities, beginning with their arrival last week.
At the banquet, Mumbai terror attack survivor Moshe Holtzberg, now age 9, was set to lead the crowd of thousands in the recitation of psalms.The world came to know little Moshe through grainy footage of his Indian nanny rushing him to safety during the terrorist attack that took his parent’s lives, and his cries for his mother during a memorial event held days later that pierced hearts everywhere.
Seven years later, Moshe now lives with his grandparents in Israel, and he has participated in events such as the international conference with confidence and aplomb, born to the environment and raised by Chabad emissaries, as were his parents before him.
Hana Levi Julian