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5 out of 10

Rabbi Dovid Bashevkin

Top 5 Moments of the Kinus

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

I

was recently sent on my first assignment, to represent Mishpacha at Chabad’s annual Kinus Hashluchim. Whether you were listening online or were one of the nearly 6,000 people to attend in person, you surely couldn’t help but be impressed — it is truly an amazing experience to be in the company of thousands of people making Yiddishkeit possible in all corners of the world. Here are my Top 5 moments. (We’d love to hear yours too.)

 

 

1. Group Photo

Few moments demonstrate Jewish unity like arranging the annual picture of thousands of Chabad shluchim from around the world as they sit for a photograph in front of 770. Undoubtedly, much of the miracle of Chabad is their ability to pull off this picture every year. I wouldn’t want to be the photographer staring at thousands of rabbis and have to say, “Okay, everyone hold still — one more.” I’m thinking of my father’s stress as he tries to get everyone to sit down for a photograph, anxiously waving at the grandchildren to hold still for another 45 minutes. The unsung hero of Chabad shlichus is really the person behind that camera.

2. I was that boy

There was once a young boy. He was [insert: a gang member/hooligan/Jedi knight/graffiti artist/karate champion/tattoo artist/cowherd]. So where is this boy now, the well-groomed Chabad emissary asks the audience? (If you’ve never been to a Kinus you may want to skip the rest of this one — spoiler ahead.) You can always tell a first-time Kinus attendee as he wonders, Is the boy one of the waiters? No, the speaker informs the room to audible gasps from those who have never been to a Kinus, that boy was me! And where’s the Chabad shaliach who changed the life trajectory of that young boy? Spoiler alert: He’s in the room right now.

3. Spontaneous Dancing

Don’t be late. Spontaneous dancing begins at 9:45 sharp. Getting nearly 6,000 Jews to dance in a room together is not so simple. Are we doing hands on shoulders or hand-to-hand dancing? Okay, shoulders — got it, my mistake. But Chabad makes it look easy. Sure, the spontaneity may be scheduled, but the warmth and ruach is natural.

4. Big Jews

In 1984, a Jew wrote a letter to the Lubavitcher Rebbe thanking him for his support of the Jewish town on the island of Curacao. He admitted he was but a small Jew from Curacao, but he appreciated the efforts Chabad made to help the Jewish presence in this far-off island. The Rebbe’s response, retold by Rav Kotlarsky who was sent to Curacao as a teenager, was incredible. “I must, however take exception,” the Rebbe wrote in his response, “to your referring to yourself as a small Jew from Curacao… there is no such thing as a small Jew.” Indeed, at the Kinus every Jew is reminded of how big his impact can be. 

5. Roll Call

Chabad is truly everywhere, and the most moving part of the Kinus may be the moment where every geographic location of a shaliach is read off. It’s a great geography lesson for Jews who think out-of-town refers to Baltimore, and it’s an incredible testament to the dedication of Chabad to reach Jews in every corner and crevice in the world. Once the roll call is complete and the shluchim and their supporters are all standing, a final applause is requested —”A round of applause for the whole wide world.” Chabad makes the span of the worldwide globe feel like a small tight-knit community, and makes sure that every Jew in a small tight-knit community feels big. 

(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 735) 

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