Thousands of Chabad emissaries gather for Brooklyn banquet

Thousands attend the gala banquet of the international Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries conference at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York on Nov. 27, 2011. (Meir Alfasi/Chabad.org)

Thousands attend the gala banquet of the international Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries conference at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in New York on Nov. 27, 2011. (Meir Alfasi/Chabad.org)

NEW YORK (JTA) — Thousands of emissaries from the Chabad-Lubavitch movement gathered for their annual banquet in Brooklyn.

The almost all-male crowd of about 4,500 at Sunday night’s gala dinner included nearly 4,000 Chabad emissaries from around the world, according to a Chabad spokesman. The event was hosted at a massive port facility building in the Red Hook neighborhood.

Guest speaker Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Britain’s chief rabbi, talked about the influence of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, on his own life. Sacks credited meeting Schneerson with inspiring his own rabbinic career.

He called Schneerson “one of the greatest Jewish leaders not just of our time but of all time.”

“Throughout Jewish history there were great leaders, but I know of no precedent for one who transformed visibly and substantively every single Jewish community in the world, including many parts of the world that never had a Jewish community before,” Sacks said.

The banquet is a highlight of the annual international Chabad emissaries conference that brings the far-flung representatives back to the Chasidic movement’s home base in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn.

The banquet’s signature roll call of all the locations served by emissaries highlighted the diverse locations on all six regularly inhabited continents where the Chabad movement has a presence — from Bolivia to Laos to the Congo.

The movement’s female emissaries — spouses of the male emissaries — had a separate conference in January.

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