Hundreds came to join in the main Yud Tes Kislev Farbrengen that was held in the center of Moscow under the auspices of the Chief Rabbi of Russia, Rabbi Berl Lazar.
Rabbis, lay leaders and distinguished guests, as well as everyday Jews of all stripes and colors, converged on the banquet hall for the impressive event that was organized by the Gabbays of the central Marina Roscha Shul.
Long before the actual farbrengen began, there was a Jewish book fair, where many used the opportunity to stock up on Judaica items as well as Jewish books that will help them progress in their Yiddishkeit, along with help from one of the thirty Chabad Houses scattered throughout the city.
The event formally began with a video of the Rebbe speaking about Yud Tes Kislev – The Chag HaGeulah, which had been translated into Russian. The Rebbe’s kapitel Tehillim, as well as kapitel 20 were then recited.
The keynote speaker was Rabbi Lazar who spoke so eloquently about the concept of Achdus Hashem as explained in Chassidus. He wove beautiful parables, the Rebbe’s sichos, and stories from Jewish life in Russia, into his talk, as the crowd listened enthralled.
The guest of honor this year was Rabbi Yitzchak Dovid Grossman, Rabbi of Migdal Haemek, and president of the Migdal Ohr educational system. In his talk, he praised the existence of such an upscale event in the heart of Moscow in which so many young and energetic Jews participated. Rabbi Grossman spoke of his meetings with the Rebbe, and the great encouragement that he draws from them. He reminisced about his previous visit to Russia together with the renowned musical producer, Moshe Mordechai (Mona) Rosenbloom, when, 25 years ago they sang together “utzu eitza” in the very same fortress in St. Petersburg where the Alter Rebbe had been imprisoned.
The two then began to sing that same song together once more, and were joined by the “Philharmoniya” and Chassidic singer Reb Moshe Tzi Wientraub. Throughout the evening they continued to delight the crowd as they sang various Chassidic songs and niggunim in honor of the Jewish renaissance taking place in Russia.
The next speaker was Chazzan Hershel Tzatzkes from the USA, who has merited to sing for the Rebbe during Kos Shel Bracha for many years. He shared how this came to happen, and then began the famous niggun in Russian of Who Knows One. The crowd eagerly joined him, and then emotionally burst into spontaneous dancing.
Reb Alexander Boroda, president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the FSU, spoke about miracles in our days. He sees them daily with the expansion of the Chabad institutions in all of Russia, and in Moscow specifically. Hashem’s hand is seen clearly in every step of the way.
Mr. David Aminov, longtime friend and supporter of the community was called up to give his greetings and to cast the winning ticket in a very special raffle. A dollar that the Rebbe had given to his secretary R’ Binyamin Klein O.B.M with blessings, was now donated by his loving family in his memory. The lucky winner of the dollar is a Jew who has begun discovering his Jewish heritage through the shliach in Smolensk, Rabbi Levi Mondshine. This man was standing at a crossroads in life, as he hesitated before making a crucial decision. When he heard that he won, he immediately decided in favor of his Yiddishkeit, and took the very first step in the right direction.
Then there was some more singing by a choir comprised of local shluchim, who pleasantly delighted the crowd.
Rabbi Lazar was then honored with the brachos and bestowing a Jewish name upon a student who had had a bris that afternoon, with Rabbi Grossman officiating as sandek.
Bentching was followed by Sheva Brachos for a chosson and kalla who are orphans, graduates of our school, and had their chuppa last week at the Bolshaya Bronaya shul by Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan.
As the formal part of the evening came to an end, many sat down to an informal farbrengen with Rabbi Berl Lazar which lasted deep into the night, thus starting a chain of farbrengens in honor of Yud Tes Kislev which would continue the next day throughout Moscow, and the entire world.
Photos by Levi Nazarov