With the end-of-summer national political conventions just days away, Chabad-Lubavitch centers at each of the host cities are gearing up to provide for the physical and spiritual needs of the thousands of guests intended to arrive.
With the Democratic National Convention scheduled to start this coming Monday in Denver, Rabbi Yisroel Engel, co-director of Chabad-Lubavitch of Colorado, has been working to line up kosher food for the Jewish delegates, party activists and members of the media who will call the Mile High City home for four days.
“Twenty people have contacted me so far asking about Shabbat, the community and kosher food in Denver,” Engel said earlier this week. “We want to make kosher food available to every Jew who comes here.”
The Republican National Convention, meanwhile, which is set to run from Sept. 1 to 4 in Minneapolis-S. Paul, Minn., has had Rabbi Moshe Feller busy setting up accommodations for his city’s expected guests. Feller, the director of the Upper Midwest headquarters of Chabad-Lubavitch, reported that his Chabad House’s 13 multiple-occupancy guest rooms are already booked for the convention week by people who want readily available kosher food. The rabbi added that he and his fellow emissaries intend to distribute information about the various responsibilities of Jews and non-Jews – in addition to the services available at the Chabad House – during the convention.
“Wherever Jews are to be found, it’s an opportunity to bring them closer to Torah and mitzvahs,” said Feller, using the Hebrew word for Divine commandments. “We don't have a political statement to make, just a Torah statement to make.”
Denver has unfurled its banners for the Democratic National Convention, which begins Monday. (Photo: Andy Bosselman)
The rabbi added that he will be distributing information about the Seven Noahide Laws, which G‑d gave to all mankind.
“The Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, stressed the importance of teaching non-Jews their responsibility to uphold the Noahide Laws,” explained Feller. “The eyes of the nation will be here, and it’s an opportunity for Jews and non-Jews to learn how to perfect themselves and the world.”
Back in Denver, Engel said that he made arrangements with local families and hotels for convention guests needing Shabbat accommodations. His staff and fellow emissaries in Denver are also hoping to set up a table or a small room near the convention venue to make prepared kosher foods and Jewish books readily available to attendees.
According to Engel, a political convention can be a time when many are particularly interested in exploring Jewish concepts.
“People will be more open to connecting to their Jewish roots, because everyone wants to make a difference,” he said. “It’s a golden opportunity to bring out Jewish pride. We’ll be ready to meet up with them.”