THE commemorative photo may look like the world’s most difficult “Where’s Wally” puzzle, but this month’s Kinus Hashluchim, or International Convention of Chabad Emissaries, in New York was much more than a snapshot.
Thousands of shluchim (emissaries) from around the world attended an educational and social conference designed to inspire rabbis and other leaders of the Lubavitch movement. Among participants were a handful of local Chabad representatives who travelled from Sydney and Melbourne.
As well as posing for a massive commemorative picture featuring thousands of black-hatted, black-bearded, black-coated delegates, attendees participated in more than 100 educational sessions.
Rabbi Moshe Gutnick was among the presenters of those sessions.
Other sessions considered sermon writing, making Shabbat and the holidays relevant, fundraising, financial issues and the importance of strong governance and transparency.
But the focus of the conference was on domestic bliss, with shluchim told they should not neglect their own families when contributing to community life.
One of the conference participants, Melbourne’s Rabbi Meir Shlomo Kluwgant, admitted the message was one he will heed.
“It is a problem and I have been guilty of it,” the father of five said.
Rabbi Kluwgant was sent to the conference by his employer Jewish Care Victoria. He said it had been a great opportunity to network and get some new ideas, including at an enormous resources fair.
Applicable to his own work among senior citizens, the infirm and disadvantaged families, he made a number of discoveries, including new Jewish mourners’ guides and electric Shabbat candles for use in hospitals or aged-care facilities.
The highlight of the conference, according to the Melbourne rabbi, was a banquet at Brooklyn’s cruise terminal.
Shluchim packed onto 100 buses in Crown Heights to travel to the venue, where 4000 men were wined and dined in a night of celebration.
“You get lost,” Rabbi Kluwgant said of the mammoth evening that lasted until 4am. “There is nothing I can compare to this experience.
“The whole hall was one big dance. It was unbridled joy and happiness and letting go.”