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A New European Revolution

It was indeed a historic event. Not too many years ago, there were hardly any shluchim in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Unlike most other countries in the free world, which have been conquered by Lubavitch and the Rebbe MH”M, these countries didn’t really have a Chabad presence. In recent years however, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland have become part of the worldwide Chabad empire, and, baruch Hashem, today there are shluchim and rabbanim who serve large communities there.

Chabad Chassidim around the world have grown accustomed to hearing about the accomplishments in these countries: the growing number of students in the schools; the expanding shuls; the level of identification in and involvement with Yiddishkeit, which continues to grow, along with a growing awareness of the relevance of practical Judaism in the daily life of the Jewish residents there - all this and more thrills and inspires us.

Finally, after a number of years of tremendous outreach work, and after making excellent government connections, which has enabled them to continue to grow and expand, the time was ripe for a convention. On 15 Tammuz there was a Kinus HaShluchim in Vienna, Austria for shluchim coming from fourteen large cities in three German-speaking countries. The shluchim met, discussed and shared experiences over the two day conference at the magnificent Chabad-Lauder campus in Vienna.

The topics they covered were many and varied. The basis for their meeting was the attempt to work together, considering the single language which unites the three countries, for the benefit of all. For example, pegishos with Chabad. Shabbatons for Jewish youth in Europe are an accepted practice. The shluchim discussed the idea of holding Chabad Shabbatons in resort areas for German-speaking Jewish youth with a cadre of shluchim at their disposal. Another idea that was seriously discussed was the establishment of an information center on all areas of Judaism. The center would include all sorts of necessary information in German for the study of Jewish thought and practice, and would be available to the shluchim, making it easy for them to get what they need without having to waste precious time. There will be two lines operating from the center: one providing the necessary information needed by the shluchim, which would basically fulfill the primary purpose of the center, i.e., to assist the shluchim, the other line would be for incoming reports and information that would keep the center apprised of upcoming events and developments. So as soon as s shaliach hears about something important, he can easily inform the others about it.

They discussed the organization of a mobile Jewish exhibit for children which will travel from city to city. It will be built along the lines of Tzivos Hashem’s Expo in the U.S. They also decided to jointly publish a newspaper of 40,000 copies. The editing and publishing of the paper will be done, aside from input from the shluchim themselves, by six professionals who will guarantee the quality of the paper.

In addition to the workshops and discussions which you would expect at a convention of this kind, each day began with mikva and Chassidus at seven in the morning. After the davening the shluchim used their free time to learn before getting into the day’s program. Rabbi Dovid Nussbaum, shaliach in Saltzburg, Austria and rav of the city, couldn’t make it to the convention because his wife gave birth to twins on the first day. Rabbi Nussbaum was supposed to have given the shiur on inyanei Moshiach and Geula, which he did in the end via telephone.

The lawyer Edward Feigen, an expert on reparations for Holocaust survivors and for mosdos that carry on the work of the mosdos which operated before the war, addressed the shluchim. He informed the shluchim of the rights of Chabad mosdos. According to Feigen, about 40% of the money designated to Jewish mosdos rightfully belongs to mosdos Chabad.

There was also a workshop on using the Internet.

The convention made headlines in Austria. The presence of the media was greatest, of course, when the shluchim were invited to meet with the President of Austria, Thomas Klastil, who hosted a special ceremony for the shluchim at his palace. The old and famous palace, which Kaiser Franz Josef once used, served as a source of honor for the Rebbe MH”M and the work of his shluchim.

The shluchim met with the President for an hour and also toured the palace. The President took an interest in their work and declared he would do all in his power in order to guarantee them the greatest possible government support.

The Austrian shluchim pointed out that Mr. Klastil is generally known as a cold person, who designates very short time slots even for important events, yet this time they could see how much he truly appreciates their work, as he gave them so much of his time.

Much was said at the Kinus about the immigration of Russian Jews to these countries. In Germany in particular, the numbers have grown greatly, with the number of Jews there having grown from 25,000 to 90,000, whereas in other places the numbers are shrinking due to assimilation. Those who addressed this issue were mainly those shluchim who work with Russian Jews.

The shluchim decided to publish a German translation of the Tanya by 18 Elul. The project has been worked on for over two years now.

The atmosphere at the Kinus was very special. There was a prominent sense that a spiritual revolution was in the making in these countries, where up until now there was only a spiritual wasteland. One of the shluchim said that in the time of the Maggid of Mezritch, when emissaries were sent to many locations in order to disseminate Chassidus, for some reason they did not go to these countries. Apparently, the sparks hidden there weren’t ready to be refined. The Rebbe didn’t send shluchim to these countries right away either. Many other places were cultivated by shluchim before things began moving here, but now the revolution is in full force, and now these final locations are also preparing to greet Moshiach.



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