36 Hours that can Change a Life (Perhaps Thousands)
By Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort
Can a life be changed in a mere 36 hours? In fact, we know from our Holy Torah that a life, indeed the world, can be changed in an instant. For 36 hours a remarkable convention, during which nearly 200 Rabbis of the Chabad-Lubavitch Movement, took place in Sacramento, California.
Although the Emissaries (in Hebrew Shluchim) of the Rebbe came from the far corners of California and Nevada, and represented dramatically different communities, a palpable atmosphere of unity permeated this vibrant and dynamic group. The job descriptions of the Shluchim were as varied as their respective communities, yet their common motivation and dreams drew them together in the bond of brotherhood.
This particular convention – known as a Kinus – marked 40 years of Chabad outreach activities on the West Coast. Rabbi B. Shlomo Cunin was sent to California to strengthen Judaism in this region by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson in 1965. The Rebbe’s vision of reaching out and helping Jews in a non-judgmental, loving fashion is the guiding principle of the Chabad Movement. When the Rebbe’s goals and directives are coupled with Rabbi Cunin’s boundless energy and dedication, miracles happen.
A state, that was in large part bereft of authentic Jewish tradition and was awash in assimilation, has been transformed into an oasis of Jewish life. Chabad Centers (known as Chabad Houses) have sprouted from Burbank to Bakersfield, from S. Francisco to S. Monica, to S. Diego. It is neither accident nor coincidence that Chabad- Lubavitch has blossomed into the largest Jewish Social Service organization in the world.
The Rabbis not only celebrated their immense successes, but more importantly planned for future growth. Satisfaction with past accomplishments is simply not in the vocabulary of the Chabad Movement. If there is even one Jew who does not know that his local Chabad Center is the place for him to nourish his soul, the Chabad Rabbi’s job has not yet been completed. This is why the convention was punctuated by numerous new programs planned and initiated.
Rabbi Cunin eloquently explained as he addressed California’s State Legislature (Senate?) in accepting the proclamation for “Chabad’s Goodness and Kindness Day,” that just a little bit of light dispels an infinite amount of darkness. Collectively, each of the Rabbis has illuminated literally millions of lights, as they have inspired and touched the lives of countless individuals, families, and indeed entire communities. These Rabbis embody the Rebbe’s dream, and turn that dream into reality.
The Shluchim found remarkable similarity in the challenges they face. The Kinus reinforced the notion of the eternal bond of their spiritual brotherhood. The Kinus emphasized the profound and manifest blessings of the Rebbe in their lives. The brief 36 hours of spirit and energy has demonstrably reinvigorated a couple of hundred, who will undoubtedly reinvigorate thousands and tens of thousands people all over the West Coast.
And just like that a limitless amount of light has been released into our midst. Thousands of lives will be changed, and for the better at that!
Rabbi Yeruchem Eilfort is director of Chabad at La Costa and a scholar on AskMoses.com. Rabbi Eilfort welcomes readers comments and questions and may be reached via e-mail at [email protected].