Staff at the Ohel are hard at work preparing for the tens of thousands that are expected to visit over this coming weekend to mark Gimmel Tammuz, the day of the Yohrtzeit of the Rebbe.
More than 50,000 people from around the world are expected to gather later this week at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y., to mark the 21st anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory.
The Rebbe’s yahrtzeit is observed annually on the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz on the Jewish calendar. This year, that date begins on the night of Friday, June 19, and lasts through Shabbat, so most people will be making the trip to the Ohel—the final resting place of both the Rebbe and his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory—on Friday or Sunday.
Located in the quiet, middle-class neighborhood of Cambria Heights, the Ohel draws hundreds of thousands of people annually in search of blessings and prayers. They come at all times of the day and night from throughout the world, and represent different religious backgrounds, affiliations and groups.
The number of visitors swells substantially during the 24-hour observance of the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit. This year, however, because people will be able to go on two different days, the crowds are expected to be more manageable.
Still, tens of thousands will line up throughout the day along the road that leads to the cemetery and even looping onto surrounding streets. Standing there, many will take time to recite Psalms, pray and prepare to deliver their handwritten requests for blessings, as well as to internalize the Rebbe’s devotion to G‑d, the Torah and the Jewish people.
Requests From Millions Around the World
In addition, millions of letters from around the world are being sent via email, fax and in person via those bringing packets from others, which will be delivered at the resting place. (Today, people continue to send letters to be placed at the Ohel for the Rebbe’s guidance and intervention On High, in the age-old tradition of written prayer petitions at our holiest sites. For those wishing to send a letter, click here.
Unlike previous years, the weather is expected to be quite pleasant, with partly sunny skies and temperatures near 80 degrees on Friday, making it easier for those who are waiting for their turn to pay their respects to the Rebbe. Those visiting on Sunday, however, may have to put up with occasional thunderstorms.
Because the physical space of the Ohel is quite limited, only small groups will be allowed in at time. Once there, visitors will light a candle in honor of the Rebbe, then enter the resting place itself.
While ordinarily people can come pray inside the actual Ohel walls without any time restrictions, because of the sheer number of visitors expected, each person will only be able to stay for a few moments—long enough to tear up the letter he or she wrote earlier and place it on the ground in the Ohel.