The 22nd of the Hebrew month of Shevat marks the yahrtzeit of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson of righteous memory, life-partner of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory. In her memory, it’s also the date of the Kinus HaShluchos, the annual gathering of female Chabad emissaries from around the world.

In honor of these extraordinary women, let's take a look at some of the many hats they wear:

1. Community leaders

Photo credit: Meir Dahan
Photo credit: Meir Dahan

As Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries, Shluchos serve in many communal leadership roles, including: counseling and mentoring community members, educating small and large student bodies, teaching and nurturing adult students, directing and overseeing large institutions and programs, planning and creating community, plus a whole lot more. And all with a uniquely feminine touch.

2. Scholars

Chabad Shluchos serve as educators, teachers and scholars in communities around the globe, bringing the timeless lessons of the Torah to those thirsty for knowledge.

3. Wives

Shliach and Shluchah are two halves of one whole. The decision to move to the farthest reaches of the world is made as a couple, and they support each other every step of the way.

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, the popular co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula Valley, Calif., was recently diagnosed with ALS, known also as Lou Gehrig’s disease. His wife, Dina, has come to the fore, spearheading an effort to help her husband, rallying the community around him.

4. Mothers

Photo credit: Merkos Suite 302
Photo credit: Merkos Suite 302

If the harried life of a Chabad emissary looks busy in the public sphere, it’s important to remember that it’s only part of her work. For a Shluchah, raising her children is not just another one of her many roles. The family is the cornerstone of Jewish life upon which everything else is built. In raising her children—sometimes far from Jewish schools—she also builds a paradigm of authentic Jewish life for others to experience and emulate.

5. Providers of sustenance

No Shabbat would be complete without special foods to honor the holy day. More often than not, the Shluchah prepares or oversees delicious homemade meals for the many guests—all in addition to providing counsel and teaching. Upholding the kosher standard of the home—symbolized by separating the challah dough—is one of the three mitzvahs entrusted to Jewish women. These meals, which seamlessly blend tradition and exotic dishes, are a particular feat in communities that have little in the way of kosher ingredients.

6. Masters of prayer

Photo credit: Merkos Suite 302
Photo credit: Merkos Suite 302

“Now Chana spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.” (I Samuel 1:13)

It is the quiet, soulful prayer of Chana from which the sages of the Talmud learned many important aspects of prayer. These quiet, personal conversations with the Creator are an inspiration to all those who wish to commune with the divine. Often, it is the whispered prayer of the Shluchah that provides spiritual fortification to the community.

7. Teachers

Photo credit: Chai Tots Preschool
Photo credit: Chai Tots Preschool

Studies repeatedly show that a Jewish education is one of the key deciding factors in the formation of Jewish identity. Chabad’s network of Hebrew schools, preschools and day schools forms a powerful force in the Jewish community. The majority of these schools are operated by Shluchos, who have succeeded in making Jewish learning both fun and meaningful.

8. Camp directors

Photo credit: Silver Gan Israel
Photo credit: Silver Gan Israel

Thousands of children—and their families—have had their first taste of Jewish life at a Gan Israel camp. Planning trips, coordinating counselors, and caring for every child, the Shluchah is the heart and soul of this powerful source of experiential education.

9. From hosting personal encounters . . .

Visiting the home of Chabad emissaries can be a moving experience for everyone from local community members to international celebrities. Shluchos around the world host guests at their Shabbat tables and during the week.

. . . to coordinating communal events

Photo credit:
Photo credit:

Many Shluchos regularly plan and direct events for hundreds of community members with the poise and effect of full-time event coordinators.

10. Global networkers:

The Shluchah keeps in touch with sister Shluchos from all over the word. Together they form part a network, creating Jewish engagement and building Jewish identity.

11. Pioneers

Many Shluchos have broadened the horizons of Jewish communal engagement, far, far from where they once called home.

Rivkie Holtzberg was a pioneering Chabad emissary in India. Together with her husband, Rabbi Gabi Holtzberg, and four of their guests, she was killed in the terrorist attacks in Mumbai in November of 2008. She serves as a shining example of the bold tenacity of the Shluchah to strike out with her husband and children and move to strange and foreign communities.

12. Friends

The Shluchah gives herself: she is a friend to laugh with, a shoulder to cry on, and a listening, caring ear.

13. Harbingers of peace

From: "Is It Shabbos Yet?" By Chabad Of West Pasco
From: "Is It Shabbos Yet?" By Chabad Of West Pasco

With Shabbat comes rest. Ushering in Shabbat with Jewish women around the world, Shluchos bring warmth and light into the home. Over the past 40 years, they have distributed millions of Shabbat candles, encouraging countless women and girls to bring the Shabbat and holiday light into their own homes.