Lubavitch Rabbis Descend On Brooklyn and Queens


Some 4,900 Rabbis from around the world gathered in the rain yesterday for a photograph to commemorate this year’s International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries, which also marked 25 years since the passing of the Rebbe and leader of the modern Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson.

The annual event to spread the Chabad message of acceptance and Jewish strength comes during a year when New York City has seen a 63% spike in anti-Semitic hate crimes.

Photo by Owen Maldonado.

While the photo was being staged, the Rabbis took some time to speak to and learn from each other, read Psalms out of books and on smartphones, and reflect on their shared work around the globe. Though uniform in appearance, the crowd was a diverse sea of people from different countries, cultures, and backgrounds. 

Inside and out of the group, many Rabbis and local onlookers took personal photos of themselves, and of those around them, to record their own place within the movement. The main focus of the day, however, was what Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum of Livingston, New Jersey described as the “family picture.”

Rabbi Zalman wants this year’s conference and the memories it creates to energize the Jewish community around the world. “When they look at their family picture, that gives them the energy to realize they are part of the world’s greatest army in combating anti-Semitism, hatred, and bigotry, but even more so, indifference. That’s what the Rebbe always taught us — to educate people.”

Photo by Owen Maldonado.

A Rabbi from Morocco hoped the event would spread a message of hope to a younger generation and encourage them in their work of spreading acceptance during a time when hate is widespread.

But even through the rain, the challenges caused by hate were far from the minds of onlookers, who shared in the joy of watching thousands of Rabbis close their umbrellas in unison and sing while waiting for the camera to pass over every face in the group. 

Rabbi Zalman believes that “Every challenge can be seen as an opportunity. There’s no question that the challenge the world is facing today is an opportunity to teach people about goodness and kindness. We have to focus our energy and efforts on making this world a better place. On educating and including people, and making them feel welcome.”