Billionaire philanthropist Lev Leviev addressed the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Shluchim.
Speaking in Hebrew before some 4,500 Chabad rabbis and their supporters in New York Sunday evening, Leviev, a Chabad benefactor, celebrated the shluchim, or emissaries, who he said work “behind enemy lines” building Jewish communities in the farthest reaches of the globe. The six-day conference concluded Monday.
The annual gathering brought together nearly 3,000 Chabad emissaries from 72 countries for a series of workshops and seminars, where they shared their collective knowledge and experience and offered mutual encouragement to emissaries who often work in isolated communities with little or no Jewish infrastructure.
The international roll call, a high-point of the Sunday evening banquet, highlighted the extent of the organization’s reach. Rabbis stood as the names of the countries where they operate were announced, a globe-spanning catalog from New Zealand to the Congo to Alaska. Good wishes were offered to rabbis opening new Chabad outposts this year in South Korea, northern Cyprus, Serbia and the Dominican Republic.
Inspired by the teachings of the late rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, Chabad emissaries have made lifetime commitments to open Chabad centers in areas where often they are the only established Jewish presence for hundreds of miles. In recent years they have made increasing inroads onto American college campuses and are the leading force for the revitalization of Jewish life in the former Soviet Union.