The annual international convention of Chabad Lubavitch emissaries, Is the largest global convention of it's kind. With rabbis who represent more than eighty countries, spanning six continents and 4000 Jewish communities from the around the globe
Once a year they all travel to Chabad Lubavitch world headquarters, located at 770 Eastern Parkway in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn New York
Friends and classmates who have grown up together or spent years studying in Yeshiva together , embrace and celebrate in unity as one large family
The inspiration and strength which each of the rabbis draws from the convention defies description. For five consecutive days , from early morning to the late hours of the night, friends and colleagues inspire each other with friendship, advice community leadership workshops and seminars. All with the overarching goal of strengthening Jewish heritage and continuity
Amongst the countless encounters, stories, hugs and embraces, a unique experience took place this year in connection with Kazakhstan Jewish history
In the 1980s and 1990s it was common for pairs of young Chabad rabbis and rabbinical students to travel to far and remote Jewish communities around the globe , to strengthen and to foster Jewish heritage, tradition and identity
One such pair of rabbinic students was sent to the Republic of Kazakhstan in the early 1990's. Rabbi Yakov Kubetchik and Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen.
The goal of these two young energetic rabbis was to reinvigorate Jewish life in Kazakhstan. As part of the former Soviet Union, Kazakhstan was a place were many Jews were exiled by the ruthless communist regime for their "crime" of steadfast commitment to Jewish tradition and observance
Alma Ata Kazakhstan, has a special place in the heart of every Chabad rabbi. Tragically , in summer of 1944, the Rebbe's father, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson who was exiled to Kazakhstan for his heroic Jewish leadership , returned his holy soul to his maker and his resting place is in the central cemetery of Alma Ata
It was to this very same city of Alma Ata that these two young rabbinic students arrived some fifty years after the passing of the Rebbe's father, to help develop the seeds of Jewish life which have been planted 50 years earlier with the heroic self-sacrifice of the Rebbe's saintly father and mother
Upon the arrival of Rabbi Cohen and Rabbi Kubetchik , they encountered a young impressive looking man, a local Taxi driver who was wearing a cross on his neck chain. The young Taxi driver conducted himself with a unique graciousness and kindness. His gentle kind behavior Inspired the rabbis to hire him to help them with their work
When Rabbi Kubechik -who serves today as the chief Rabbi and emissary to the city of Saratov Russia- asked the young man for his name he responded:
My name is Slava
Slava , wearing the cross on his neck, shocked the young rabbis when he shared with them that his mother is Jewish!
Rabbi Yakov Kubetchik Immediately explained to Slava that according to Jewish law , Slava indeed is a Jew. Furthermore the rabbi explained, that it would be appropriate for Slava to have a proper Jewish circumcision in accordance with 4000 years of Jewish tradition
Slava eagerly agreed. His desire to be part of 4000 years of Jewish heritage , warmed his heart and inspired his soul
The famous expert Mohel from Moscow, Rabbi Yeshya Shpit, boarded an airplane for the four hour flight to Alma Ata Kazakhstan in order to perform the circumcision
Slava deeply appreciated what Rabbi Yakov Kubetchik has done for him, and Slava chose the name Yakov as his own Jewish name!
Fast forwarding 20 years, Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen Is today the Rebbe's emissary and chief Rabbi of Kazakhstan
This year is a year of "Hakhel" , which commemorates the times when the Jewish people would gather once in seven years in the holy city of Jerusalem, to unite as one nation and hear the king of Israel read the Torah to them and rededicate themselves and their commitment to Judaism and Torah life and observance
Rabbi Cohen and his dedicated staff and fellow colleagues, organized a grand "Sukkot Hakhel " celebration, with the grand prize being a raffle for a free airplane ticket to the international Chabad Lubavitch convention of the Rebbe's Shluchim-Emissaries
The raffle winner?
Exactly 20 years to the day of Yakov's circumcision, the seeming "random" raffle , by divine design produced Yakov as the legitimate winner to represent with Jewish pride , the Jewish community of Alma Ata Kazakhstan at the international convention!
In the course of these 20 years, the Rebbe's emissaries to Kazakhstan , Have successfully established vibrant Jewish communities and magnificent new beautiful synagogue centers in multiple cities of the Republic of Kazakhstan
From Alma Ata to Astana, from Karaganda to Pavlodar and Ust-Kamenogorsk, the garden of Jewish life in Kazakhstan has blossomed
Chief Rabbi Yeshaya Cohen expressed his gratitude for the miracle of Jewish life, Jewish revival and Jewish renaissance in Kazakhstan as follows:
" It is with the tears and self-sacrifice of the Rebbe's holy parent's, Rebbetzin Chana and Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson, that we, the emissaries of their eldest son, the Rebbe, continue to successfully bring the celebration of Jewish life to every corner of the Republic of Kazakhstan"
Yakov is a living testimony !
The footsteps of Moshiach are being heard across Kazakhstan !