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14 Powerful Moments from High Holidays in the Rebbe's Court

14 Powerful Moments from High Holidays in the Rebbe's Court

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To any chassid, the moments spent with the Rebbe during the High Holidays are a powerful and visceral manifestation of the spirit of these holy days. Searching Jewish Educational Media’s video archives, we culled 14 moments that capture the awe, inspiration and joy of the High Holiday season in the court of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

1. Traveling to “Lubavitch


Chassidim from Israel dance with joy as they board a flight to New York, where they will spend the month of Tishrei with the Rebbe. Since the dawn of the chassidic movement several hundred years ago, chassidim have traveled from their hometowns—Warsaw, Dokshitz, Tel Aviv, Buenos Aires or beyond—to their rebbe’s town for the High Holiday season.

2. “Hear our voices”


Late Saturday night before Rosh Hashanah, Ashkenazi Jews begin to say Selichot, the preparatory prayers of repentance and return.

3. “ . . . And answer our prayers”


This moment, captured in 1965, shows the celebratory song “Rachamana” sung by the chassidim following the completion of Selichot.

4. May you be written and sealed for a good, sweet year


Jews of all backgrounds deliver letters, known as panim, to the Rebbe, requesting his blessing for the new year. This moment was captured the day before Rosh Hashanah, on 29 Elul, 5748—September 11, 1988.

5. “I will mention you”


The Rebbe (behind the plastic screen) reads prayer requests at the resting place of his father-in-law, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory. After reading petitions, he would leave them at the gravesite.

6. A year of joy


Despite the solemnity of Rosh Hashanah, the holiday is also imbued with the firm belief that G‑d will grant us a good, sweet year. In a moment captured in 5740 (1979), the Rebbe can be seen encouraging the crowd to sing joyously as he distributes wine from the post-Rosh Hashanah havdalah.

7. Gathered together


Chassidim sing and toast “l’chaim” at a farbrengen, a chassidic gathering held in honor of the Rebbe’s mother’s yahrtzeit on 6 Tishrei, 5743—September 23, 1982.

8. Let us be merciful to the children of the Merciful One


On the eve of Yom Kippur, before the onset of the Day of Atonement, the Rebbe would distribute coins to the dozens of tzedakah (charity) boxes placed in 770.

9. “May the L-rd bless and protect you”


The Rebbe, already dressed in white for Yom Kippur, delivers the traditional “blessing for children” to his spiritual children, the yeshivah students, in the final moments before the Day of Atonement.

10. “And you shall rejoice in your holidays”


The Rebbe and chassidim circle the bimah, lulav and etrog in hand, during Sukkot prayers. This particular moment was captured Hoshana Rabbah, 5745—October 17, 1984.

11. Arise, sing in the night


Chasidim say the entire book of Psalms after midnight on the last night of Sukkot, Hoshana Rabbah, 5741—October 1, 1980.

12. A sweet new year


The Rebbe distributes honey cake on Hoshana Rabbah for those who were unable to receive it before Yom Kippur.

13. "And Jacob went on his way.”


The month of Tishrei is compared to a bazaar, where we can choose the finest moments throughout the High Holidays and bring that inspiration with us throughout the year. Here chassidim dance as wine is distributed from the havdalah following Simchat Torah.

14. “Dear brothers, we will see each other again”


The Rebbe watches as holiday guests leave Crown Heights, returning to their communities around the world. As the traditional song goes, “Dear brothers, we’ll see each other again. G‑d will grant us good health and life, so that we can travel to our Rebbe, and there we will see each other again.”

Rabbi Mordechai Lightstone is a rabbi by training, but a blogger by choice. He is passionate about using new media to further Jewish identity and community building. Mordechai currently resides in Brooklyn, New York, with his wife and four sons, where he happily tweets between sips of espresso.
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