HONG KONG [CHI] — Hundreds of members, admirers, and supporters of the combined Jewish communities of Asia joined together to celebrate Chabad of Asia’s silver anniversary this past Tu B’shavat. The event was held in Hong Kong, where Chabad first planted its seeds in the Orient 25 years ago with the arrival of Rabbi Mordechai and Goldie Avtzon. Today, over 26 Chabad Houses comprise the fabric of Jewish life in the Far-East.
Thursday’s dinner at Hong Kong’s exclusive Aberdeen Marina Club was the second of four celebrations planned to mark the milestone. Recently, the Jewish community of Hong Kong completed Chabad of China/Aisia’s roving Torah. The new scroll will be loaned to new Chabad Houses as they open throughout the region, and was dedicated by the Kehila in honor of Rabbi Avtzon’s 50th birthday. In mid Febuary, Chabad will hold a Gala fundraiser in New York City, and a select Chinese auction will be held in Hong Kong by year’s end.
Mr. Ari Mervis, a new member of the Hong Kong Jewish community charmed attendees as Master of Ceremonies. Rabbi Yosef Chaim Kantor, Head Shliach to Thailand, delivered greetings and communicated the span of Chabad’s reach and affect in the region to an applauding crowd that honored Asia’s 30+ Shluchim, many of whom attended the Gala. Rabbi Kantor made special mention of the Shluchos who he credited for being the force of Chabad’s expansion in Asia.
Headlining the evening was Rabbi Shmuli and Eli Marcus of 8th Day. As they played “Kol Haolam Kulo,” 8th day led the crowd in an inspired role call. “If anyone here has been to Chabad of Cambodia please rise and remain standing,” began Shmuli Marcus, the bands lead singer. He then continued naming countries and cities in Asia which have a permanent Chabad presence, motivating thunderous applause. Concluding with Hong Kong’s three centers in “Lantau, Kowloon, and Hong Kong Island,” the band carried their hundreds of listeners into joyous singing and dancing.
Before he could deliver his keynote speech, Rabbi Avtzon was recognized with an extended standing ovation which gave introduction to his deliverance of standing orders. During his passionate speech, Rabbi Avtzon announced that Chabad philanthropist Rabbi Yosef Y. Gutnick, who was seated next to the Rabbi at the dinner, would be dedicating a Mikvah at Chabad of Japan’s new community center in Tokyo in honor of the milestone.
Concluding his remarks, Rabbi Avtzon invited everyone to meet some of the “Faces of Chabad,” referring to the name of a new film edited by video master Moshe Raskin, which highlights Chabad of Asia’s motto: For every Jew. Everywhere.
Guests at Thursday’s dinner took home napkins rings that were specially crafted with Chabad of Asia’s new logo. Additionally, a colorful journal written by Rabbi Getzy Markowitz chronicling the amazing story of Chabad’s development in Asia, was distributed.
Following the dinner, the Shluchim gathered for a Farbrengen at Chabad of Asia’s regional headquarters in Hong Kong’s Mid-Levels. The Shluchim Farbrenged until boarding early Friday morning flight to their respective communities where they continue the Rebbe’s work of bringing Jews in the “Far” East, closer.