The festive banquet that concludes each Kinus Hashluchim is always a highlight, but it seems the banquet that concluded the European Kinnus Hashluchim in Moscow this past Thursday night, was the highlight of all highlights! The special excitement could be felt by all.
When the band played the “Rosh Chodesh Kislev niggun”, the walls shook, by the French “Hoaderes vehoemuna” everyone got up on their feet to dance, and when the Gan Yisroel camp song was sung, even the last few stubborn ones were swept off their feet and couldn’t resist the singing and dancing. Old and young, new and more experienced, supporters and guests, along with 500 of the Rebbe’s shluchim in Europe all joined together in wonderful unity. This unity was felt throughout the entire kinnus, and even more so at the concluding banquet.
On a stage in the beautiful Europeisky Banquet Hall, which sits on the shore of the Moscow river, the speakers came up to speak one by one. They all had a difficult time summing up this amazingly packed, historical week, which included visits to three different countries over the course of five days.
The Master of Ceremonies, Rabbi Pinchos Vishedsky, called up Rabbi Menachem Mendel Rosenfeld, shiach to Zurich, Switzerland, and Rabbi Shimon Samama, shliach to Stassbourg, France to lead the crowd in the recital of Tehillim.
After the opening remarks from Rabbi Vishedsky and the recital of Tehillim, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Director of the Kinnus, was called up to speak and to share for the very first time, the Rebbe’s directives to him. Emotionally, he described the Rebbe’s blessings which he sees coming to fulfillment through the Shluchim all over the world. Rabbi Kotlarsky concluded by thanking the sponsors who help the shluchim in their holy work, the Rohr family, Levi Leviev, the Miralashvilli family, and Avraham Yisroel Shaulson, who sponsored the trip to Alma Ata along with his partner Shmuel Stern.
Philanthropist Avraham Yisroel Shaulson spoke about his connection to the holy tziyun of Reb Levi Yitzchok in Kazakhstan, and about the mesirus nefesh of Reb Levik there. The crowd listened spellbound as he told them about his work to honor Reb Levik’s memory.
Chief Rabbi of Russia, Berl Lazar, shared his personal feelings that surrounded the preparations for the kinnus as well as the kinnus itself. He quoted from the maamar of the Rebbe Rashab “Veyodato Moskva” and connected it to the Rebbe’s request that the shluchim travel to Liozna and Liadi, exactly twenty five years ago on the last day of the previous kinnus.
Rabbi Shmuel Lew, shliach in London, spoke as representative of the shluchim who merited to attend that historical kinnus twenty five years ago. He stressed the importance of following the Rebbe’s directives without any compromises whatsoever.
When the president of the Federation of Jewish Communities in the CIS, Levi Leviev was called up to speak, the entire crowd got up on its feet to applaud him in honor of his 60th birthday which he chose to celebrate together with the shluchim.
He was very emotional when presented with an original birthday gift, a new book which was printed in honor of his birthday “The Chabad Rebbeim and Bucharian Jewry”. As president of the World Congress for Bucharian Jewry, this gift touched him deeply.
Shliach Rabbi Leib Shapiro was called up together with Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky and Levi Leviev to give Jewish names to the three young men who had had a bris that day. They merited receiving their Jewish names at this momentous occasion after having undergone a bris earlier that day at the Bris Yosef Yitzchok Clinic, which is located in the Shaarey Tzedek Chessed Center in Moscow. They came to this decision after attending Camp Gan Yisroel this year. May they continue to “wear” their Jewish names proudly!
Then, in true kinnus tradition, Rabbi Kotlarsky began calling out the names of the forty-something countries in Europe from which the 500 shluchim at the kinnus arrived. Roll Call ended with the eruption of the entire crowd in Chassidic song and dance, which lasted for a long, long time.
Once the official part of the kinnus was over, as well as minyanim for Maariv, the entire crowd was invited to continue the Chassidishe farbrengen on a beautiful ferry which cruised along the Moscow river. And so, Thursday night, on the eve of Shabbos Mevorchim Elul one could find chassidim, shluchim, sitting all together in unity, singing niggunim, telling inspiring stories, and enthusiastically discussing what else they can do to bring Moshiach and the Geula NOW!
Photos by Yechezkel Itkin