17 Mancunians Relate Encounters with the Rebbe

A team from JEM’s My Encounter with the Rebbe project just returned from a 5-day trip to Manchester, England, where they interviewed 17 individuals.

While it might not be a hot vacation destination, Manchester was high on the My Encounter project’s list of places to visit. Manchester is an older Lubavitch community dating back to the late 1800s, when Lubavitcher chasidim first opened up its shul.

Rabbi Bentzion Shemtov, the Rebbe’s shliach to England, would often travel from London to Manchester to reach out to the Jews there. With the help of Reb Zalman Jaffe, in 1961, he chartered a plane full of passengers to New York to visit the Rebbe. Since then, many Mancunian Jews came to seek the Rebbe’s advice.

The My Encounter team has been planning a trip to the city for over eight years – and it was well worth the wait! JEM’s lead interviewer, Rabbi Mendy Mochkin, and cameraman Yankee Teitelbaum worked literally around the clock to squeeze in as many people as possible. “We started our day at 7 am and didn’t finish filming until midnight!” recalled Rabbi Mochkin. “Going into the trip, we planned for 8 interviews, but once we arrived, we realized there were so many more stories that we needed to record. When we left, we were shocked ourselves that we interviewed 17 people.”

Among the individuals who were interviewed was Dr. Efraim Jaffe, Reb Zalman’s brother, who began corresponding with the Rebbe as early as 1953, and Mr. Michael Tabor, an internationally acclaimed musician who spoke to the Rebbe in depth about music, the arts, and the danger and benefits of synthesizing the two with Torah.

A big thanks to Max and Leah Cohen and Harold and Judy Kahan for hosting the My Encounter team.

JEM’s editorial teams are now reviewing the interviews, hoping to include beautiful stories from the over 32 hours of interviews. Look out for them in upcoming Living Torah and Here’s My Story publications!

A signed Gemorah by all the members of the first charter flight to New York, with the Rebbe's signature on top.
A signed Gemorah by all the members of the first charter flight to New York, with the Rebbe’s signature on top.
Rabbi Mendy Mochkin, JEM's lead interviewer, scanning letters while Manchester Yeshiva students look on.
Rabbi Mendy Mochkin, JEM’s lead interviewer, scanning letters while Manchester Yeshiva students look on.
Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe talking about his father, Reb Zalman, and about the advice the Rebbe gave him about learning the laws of Mikvaos.
Rabbi Avrohom Jaffe talking about his father, Reb Zalman, and about the advice the Rebbe gave him about learning the laws of Mikvaos.
Rabbi Aharon Mordechai Vaisfiche reminiscning about his days learning in 770 from 1958-1963.
Rabbi Aharon Mordechai Vaisfiche reminiscning about his days learning in 770 from 1958-1963.
Mr. Pesach Hanson talking about the Rebbe's advice to put on Rabbeinu Tam's tefillin at the age of 50.
Mr. Pesach Hanson talking about the Rebbe’s advice to put on Rabbeinu Tam’s tefillin at the age of 50.
Mr. Michael Tabor talking about his memorable yechidus with the Rebbe about music and the fine arts.
Mr. Michael Tabor talking about his memorable yechidus with the Rebbe about music and the fine arts.
Mr. Laurance Gordon speaking about his father's yechidus in 1972 when the Rebbe gave him advice on how to raise his children.
Mr. Laurance Gordon speaking about his father’s yechidus in 1972 when the Rebbe gave him advice on how to raise his children.
Mr. Berel Perrin sharing over 20 stories of him and his father with the Rebbe.
Mr. Berel Perrin sharing over 20 stories of him and his father with the Rebbe.
List of names from the first charter flight to visit the Rebbe in 1961.
List of names from the first charter flight to visit the Rebbe in 1961.
Kehal Chassidism Lubavitch
Kehal Chassidism Lubavitch
Interview with Rabbi Dovber Klein.
Interview with Rabbi Dovber Klein.
Dr. Ephram Jaffe, the 94 year old brother of Reb Zalman, reading his letter from the Rebbe from 1960.
Dr. Ephram Jaffe, the 94 year old brother of Reb Zalman, reading his letter from the Rebbe from 1960.
Cameraman Yankee Teitelbaum setting up the room for an interview.
Cameraman Yankee Teitelbaum setting up the room for an interview.
Adas Israel Nusach Arizal
Adas Israel Nusach Arizal
A Tanya given to Reb Zalman Jaffe by the Rebbe as a memento in 1975.
A Tanya given to Reb Zalman Jaffe by the Rebbe as a memento in 1975.
A surprise interview with Rabbi Dovid Schurder who happened to be in town.
A surprise interview with Rabbi Dovid Schurder who happened to be in town.

One Comment

  • 1. Nice wrote:

    Great to see Manchester represented. Really looking forward to seeing the interviews when they come out.
    Just a couple things missing, the article neglected to thank R’ Sholom Weiss who facilitated the JEM team in many practical ways as well as hosting an interview and introducing the team to some of those new interviewees of whom they had no previous knowledge.
    Also the Khal Chasidim building is the current home of Yeshivas Lubavitch Manchester.
    It is also important to note that R’ Yitzchok Dubov was sent to Manchester as a shliach of the Frierdiker Rebbe. He was a magid shiur at the Manchester Yeshiva, which the Shemtovs attended and ran a clandestine Tanya shiur there.
    Also a very little known fact is that the Manchester Kehila, I think Machzikei Hadas, invited the Rebbe to serve as the Mora D’asra at some point. (see yemei breishis)

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