Last week, Rabbi Hecht was one of over 5,600 rabbis from 90 countries that attended the annual International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, known as the Kinus Hashluchim. The spirit of the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson continues to play a significant role, as discussed by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, the chief rabbi of Great Britain.
“Rabbi Sacks said that the Rebbe did not make followers like many other rabbis usually do, but he made leaders,” said Hecht, who is a native of Australia. “Each one of us has that mission to emulate the Rebbe, and bring kindness, love, and peace into the world with Torah and mitzvot, one mitzvah at a time.”
The four-day event began at Leonard’s Palazzo in Great Neck on Thursday morning with workshops featuring speakers on diverse topics.
“Jewish educators come to teach us new ways to enhance our work, as well as deliver secular tools that are always needed,” said Hecht.
On Friday morning, attendees gathered at the Rebbe’s resting place in Queens. Workshops once again followed in Brooklyn. Shabbat featured a communal dinner, where rabbis came together with speakers in Crown Heights.
Morning prayers and a Kiddush followed. After Shabbat, the rabbis were bused to The Palace in Borough Park, assembling in a huge ballroom for dinner and guest speakers.
“Rabbi Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed, Israel, and son of the late Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Israel, spoke of his father’s deep love of the Rebbe,” said Hecht. “When they met, it was two holy people that spoke words we cannot relate to, as well as love that we will never really understand as simple people.”
Sunday morning began with a photo-op, followed by workshops and a resource fair for Chabad Houses. It culminated on Sunday evening with a grand banquet with over 6,000 participants in New Jersey. Inspirational speeches were followed by spontaneous dancing.
“The excitement was even stronger at this year's conference, which marked 40 years to the date that the Rebbe returned after a heart attack, but was able to miraculously recover and lead his followers for another 15 years,” said Hecht.
For the third year, “Chanukah On The Park” will take place in Yellowstone Park. On the sixth night of Chanukah on December 17, the event will be led by Chabad of Forest Hills North. A focal point will be the lighting of an 18-foot menorah symbolizing “Chai,” which translates as “life.”
Plans include live music, dancing, Chanukah clowns and dreidel mascots, a 30-foot Chanukah Gelt drop, and traditional jelly donuts.
“Last year, the FDNY made a grand entrance,” said Hecht, who also promised a fire juggler and kosher burger food truck.
Chabad of Forest Hills North is welcoming sponsorships. The public can visit chabadfhn.com to participate or learn more about programs.