By Yair Hoffman

The 27th of October is when the three official flights of the Kinus HaShluchim land at JFK—El Al, Delta, and American Airlines. The shluchim are headed to the annual Kinus, which begins Wednesday evening. When the flights land, the El Al one breaks out in a Lubavitch song. The other two do not.

The first order of business for the arriving shluchim is to see the Rebbe, ob’m. Most of the shluchim will go to the Ohel. Then they go to 770.

The Kinus HaShluchim is an annual reunion that brings shluchim together. Many bring their children to meet their peers, and the Kinus has a camp for the children as well.

The first world Kinus took place in 1988, but the American Kinus took place earlier, in 1984. These days, over 5,500 members attend. The gathering lasts for five days.

Rabbi Mendy Beckerman is a shliach in Assaf HaRofeh Hospital in Central Israel. “There will be other hospital chaplains there. It will be very inspiring and I will most definitely gain much chizuk from it. We were at the hospital at the height of corona.”

Rabbi Menachem Hershkovitz, 27, is the shliach from Avnei Chein, a shechunah in the ever-growing city of Modi’in. He is young, affable, and extremely likeable. He was brought to Modi’in by Rabbi Boruch Slonim, the head shliach in Modi’in. It is Rabbi Menachem’s first time at the Kinus, and he is very excited. He is sitting next to me on the El Al flight to New York.

Where do they all stay? “Most make their own arrangements, but if one cannot, the organizers find spots,” answers Rabbi Menachem.

Is there a flight discount? “No. But perhaps they will make such an arrangement in the future.”

How long have you been a shliach? “I started Purim of last year.”

Before Rabbi Menachem became a shliach, he studied in Rav Moshe Veiner’s kollel in Ramot. He focused on Hilchos Shabbos and Yoreh Deah.

Shluchim begin their preparation for shlichus with “Charisha.” They start shiurim and begin chavrusa-shafts. One shiur Rabbi Menachem has is in Tanya. He has one chavrusa in Gemara Shabbos and another in hilchos Shabbos. They also kasher kitchens. Rabbi Menachem koshered some half-dozen kitchens already. On Rosh Hashanah he blew shofar for hundreds of people. He assisted hundreds in fulfilling daled minim as well. He teaches bar mitzvah lessons already, and he and his wife host at least one family each Shabbos. This is very effective in kiruv.

Rabbi Menachem runs a “Shifra v’Puah” program, delivering free breakfasts to mothers who have recently given birth. They also bring necessary items for the mothers and babies and hope to expand this service to provide Shabbos meals as well.

There is a new program called “Shevet Shlosh Esrei.” It’s is a type of game in which a 13-year-old lands on a desert island and discovers an entire tribe of Jews who know nothing about their heritage, so the 13-year-old must teach them. Reb Menachem finds this very effective. It was recently created by Tzeirei Chabad but it is not yet available in English, and American shluchim are still unaware of this dynamic program. The person in charge of this program, Pinni Martin, can be reached at 050-661-1768 (he speaks English). 

At the Kinus, shluchim choose from among sessions that are scheduled back-to-back. They cover a wide range of topics.

What is he most excited about at the Kinus? The choices are professional presentations on hi-tech solutions for maximizing Chabad House productivity, fundraising, and development. Rabbi Menachem was unaware of this part, but was very excited about sharing ideas. He very much looks forward to the chizuk and the camaraderie and looks forward to sharing ideas of how to break the ice.

Rabbi Menachem does not like the term “chiloni.” “That term comes from the word ‘chol,’ and every Jewish neshamah is holy.” He cites an example. There is one Yid in the area who is very distant, yet he is very proud of his son who was chozer b’teshuvah. People ask him, “Why are you proud of this?” Yet we see that he has a holy neshamah.

The flights themselves were filled with much excitement—a prelude to what lies ahead. 

The author can be reached at yairhoffman2@gmail.com.

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