by Karen Schwartz – chabad.org
When 16-year old Eitan Suss of Teaneck, N.J., first heard about the Ohel a few years ago, he told his parents that he wanted to go, and they were happy to oblige. Eitan first went with his father and then with friends from school. Late last week, he returned with his family ahead of Gimmel Tammuz, the anniversary of the Rebbe’s passing, when an estimated 50,000 people flocked to the site.
“Every single time, it just felt very peaceful and very holy there,” he says of the resting place of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, and his father-in-law, the Sixth Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory. “When I need something, it feels like the place I need to go. If I need to daven [‘pray’] for something or do something better, going there makes me feel like I’m going to accomplish it. I feel like I see Hashem [G‑d] in everything I do after that,” the student at Torah Academy of Bergen County, N.J., tells Chabad.org. “Everything’s clear.”
Eitan says he is intrigued by the power of the Rebbe’s blessings, and how much the Rebbe cared about people—all people, Jews and non-Jews alike. Being at the Ohel is an experience he says he is glad to get to share with his family. “I asked my siblings, and they said they would definitely want to go again,” he says. “Now it can be a family event.”
While the young man’s experience of the Ohel is new to him personally, the significance of visiting the Rebbe’s resting place is understood by the 50,000 people who were at Ohel over the past week, as well as for the millions who have visited there in the 25 years since the Rebbe’s passing.
Hundreds of thousands visit throughout the year, including tens of thousands of young people, when Jews and non-Jews alike seek blessings, spiritual guidance and inspiration. In addition to personal visits, the site annually receives more than 500,000 prayer requests via email and fax, and many visitors over the past week brought petitions for blessings from friends and family around the world.
‘A Really Spiritual Place’
Eitan’s father, Jason Suss, says his family finds the Ohel to be a “really spiritual place.” He and his wife, Pnina, and three of their four kids (the fourth was at camp) went to visit the Ohel ahead of the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit. Long familiar with the Chabad-Lubavitch movement since his kids went to Chabad schools when they were younger, Jason Suss says they’re inspired by the Rebbe’s work. “He changed the world,” says Suss. “I think he had a vision that was really not limited by space or time.”
As such, Chabad continues to flourish with centers opening in numerous countries since the Rebbe’s passing 25 years ago, notes Suss. “How many people have been turned on to Judaism? How many people have been inspired to do good things in the world? He really had a love for people, for the human race—it’s really something very unique and very special.”
Suss’s family has been especially engaged with Chabad in recent months, and upon their visit to the Ohel, discovered people from all walks of life visiting the site and connecting with those gathered there.
“One of the most impressive things we saw at the Ohel was that there were hundreds of people angling and jostling and squishing to get in there, but everybody was happy,” he says. They were all inspired by the same message, he says—a message of goodness, openness and kindness. “There were so many people in one small place. Everybody was there for the same reason and really there on the same side.”
Young People a Fixture at the Ohel
Throughout the year, thousands of young people like Eitan visit the Ohel, some with their families, some with their schools. The following are photos of children who commemorated the 25th anniversary of the Rebbe’s passing over the past week.