Contact Us

Jews Worldwide Mark Yahrtzeit of Soviet-Era Scholar

Jews Worldwide Mark Yahrtzeit of Soviet-Era Scholar

 Email

Dozens of rabbinical figures and Talmudic scholars gathered this weekend for a scholarly conference at Camp Gan Israel, the flagship Chabad-Lubavitch overnight camp in Parksville, N.Y.

The high-level study conference, known as Yarchei Kallah (literally "months of the bride," alluding to the marriage of the Jewish people to G‑d through the Torah) and held under the auspices of Agudas Chassidei Chabad, emulated Talmudic-era conferences, when Babylonian scholars and laymen would gather semi-annually for month-long learning.

The annual summer event, amid hundreds of camp children, celebrated the life and scholarship of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak Schneerson , who served as the chief rabbi of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, during some of its harshest Soviet-era conditions. He was equally known for being a fearless leader of the Jewish people and Judaism during that trying time, as well as an extraordinary Kabbalistic and Talmudic scholar.

This past Shabbat (July 26-27), Jewish communities worldwide marked the anniversary of his passing in 1944, on the 20th of the Jewish month of Menachem Av. Due to illness incurred during his Soviet incarceration and subsequent exile to the remote Kazakhstani village of Chi’li for spreading Judaism throughout the Soviet Union, Rabbi Levi Yitzchak, of righteous memory, passed away prematurely in Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he is interred.

The communal gatherings served as a time of increased learning and prayer to honor his teachings and leadership. At the same time, they aimed to increase individual observance and spiritual commitment.

The Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—regularly held a farbrengen on the anniversary of his father’s passing, which was also attended by many Gan Israel campers. He would show particular attention to the children, often connecting the meaning of the day to these youngsters as part of a special talk, and then ask them to sing a camp song.

In 1974, on the 30th anniversary of his father’s passing, the Rebbe welcomed the Yarchei Kallah initiative to be held at Gan Israel. Organizers point to the convergence of advanced Torah learning among the crowds of children as highlighting convergent key aspects of the life of the Rebbe’s father, beginning with his self-sacrifice on behalf of Jewish education for the young in the face of Soviet prohibition and persecution of such activities.

Rabbi Abraham Shemtov, chairman of Agudas Chasidei Chabad and director of Camp Gan Israel, who initiated the annual scholarly gathering, said: "The Rebbe considered Yarchei Kallah to also be an actual fulfillment for him of honoring his father on the day of his passing.” Shemtov pointed to the Rebbe’s words of appreciation to participant Rabbi Avraham Mordechai Hirschberg, chief Rabbi of Mexico, stating that this is related to the command to "honor your father."

In the bucolic setting, the group tackled Jewish texts on specifically chosen topics. The kids, too, received a firsthand look as friendly debates filled the air for a period of five days.

On Saturday night, following the completion of Shabbat, the wider community was invited to join as rabbis and heads of Talmudic seminaries presented talks on Jewish law, the Talmud, Chassidic teachings and more, specifically the teachings of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak.



© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with Chabad.org's copyright policy.
Start a Discussion
1000 characters remaining
Connect with us
RSS
In the Media
Find A Chabad Center Near You
Chabad-Lubavitch Directory