At 6:00 p.m. on Friday, the first day of Shavuos, following mincha, the annual march to Boro Park took place.

Thousands of bochurim and men participated in this five-mile (in each direction) walk. Police always escort the procession with cars and motorcycles.

As usual, upon arrival at their destination, the marchers paired off and each group visited a different shul where someone addressed the congregants, and they sang a freilicher niggun or two and helped make the yom tov atmosphere more joyous.

It is well known that Lubavitch concentrates its efforts with Jewish people who are not yet observant. The question is often asked, for what purpose do we also visit orthodox communities – such as Boro Park – on yom tov?

An analogy illustrates this point wonderfully. Fish are completely submerged and surrounded by water, yet, when it rains, they will surface to catch and taste a few drops of fresh rainwater. Lubavitch, too, a few times yearly, will offer additional and welcome water (Torah is compared to water) even to other Orthodox communities.

For many years now I have suffered with a poor leg, I have therefore been unable to participate in this march. I did come along this year, as I have usually done, in order to watch the Rebbe cheering on and encouraging the marchers as they departed from 770. Thousands of women and children also came to watch the Rebbe sending off the troops.

This procession starts about 100 yards from 770, at the corner of Kingston Avenue and Eastern Parkway. The marchers, singing lustily, walked briskly and neatly past the Rebbe, who was standing on the front steps by the main entrance of 770. As they passed by in front of the Rebbe, they would “take the salute” and receive an overall brocha from the Rebbe.

There were so many people, ka”h, taking part this year that it became necessary to get into “formation” hundreds of yards from 770. In effect, many would pass by the Rebbe twice: the first time on the sidewalk when walking towards Kingston Avenue and the second time in the official procession along the road.

Louis Tiefenbrun met me on his way to join the procession. He cajoled, begged and appealed for me to accompany him. He maintained that it would give the Rebbe real nachas if I, too, became a “marcher.” When he added, “You could always drop off at the next block,” I allowed myself to be persuaded to join. My grandson Yossi (11) also joined in.

Here I was, for the first time ever, taking part in the march to Boro Park (it was – literally – a start, anyway). There I saw the Rebbe, on the steps outside 770, inspiring the walkers to sing and march on.

Suddenly, the Rebbe’s eyes alighted among the crowd surging towards Kingston Avenue. The Rebbe stared at me in amazement. It seemed to me that the Rebbe could just not believe what he saw. The Rebbe’s face then became transfixed by a glorious, beaming smile. This added impetus to my singing. I was already looking forward to catching the Rebbe’s eye on my way in the actual procession. Once more I was lucky, the Rebbe noticed me again and seemed to burst into a chortle.

I was feeling gratified, very pleased with myself, until I heard a whisper from a woman among the crowd of onlookers; it was Roselyn. Knowing the condition of my leg, she naturally suspected that I did not intend to walk very far. “You are a fraud,” she hissed.

This very much deflated my ego. I mentioned to my sponsor, Louis, what Roselyn had said. I pointed out that I felt a little dishonest; I was giving the wrong impression to the Rebbe.

Louis indicated that he had a simple solution. I was in a procession of people who were going to give the Rebbe’s yom tov message to various congregations. Boro Park was not the only neighborhood that needed our “fresh water.” There were many shuls in closer places, including some a mile from 770 and closer, at which a Lubavitcher would be speaking. By going there, I would be placed in the same category as all the other marchers.

This was a super suggestion and it relieved me of my guilt complex.

At an appropriate spot, Yossi and I left the main procession to find a local shul.

We very soon arrived at this synagogue. It was a large one, too. We had just entered into the doorway when we were nearly bowled over by scores of men rushing out to go home after maariv. I managed to stop someone and ask where the speaker was. He replied that he knew of no speaker, but, he continued, if I came tomorrow morning, I would enjoy a very good sermon from his rabbi. I was astonished, but now even more determined, to find a shul where one of our boys would be speaking.

Yossi and I walked about a hundred yards when, to our immense relief and delight, we met Rabbi Binyomin Klein (who was on his way home). I implored him to direct me to a shul where our boys would be addressing the congregation. He indicated that if we walked down that road for about a quarter of a mile we would discover the place we were seeking. We did find it. It was shut with no sign of life whatsoever. We asked various other people to direct us to another synagogue. At last, we received notification of a shul about half a mile further along the road.

In due course we arrived there. About half a dozen men were lounging about and sitting outside. They gave us a warm welcome, and informed us that we would only need to wait a little, as they were certain there would soon be a minyan (for maariv). They could make no sense at all of my inquiries regarding Lubavitcher speakers. They kept repeating that all I would have to do is wait a little and a minyan would definitely be forthcoming.

This shul was situated on a corner. When we turned this corner, we found ourselves…back on Kingston Avenue, a short distance from 770.

I had tried my best.

At least I have the consolation and satisfaction of having gained some little reward for marching, even if it was in the wrong direction!

The main marchers returned to Crown Heights at around midnight and – as usual – congregated outside the Rebbe’s private residence, singing and dancing with perspiration pouring out of them, until the Rebbe opened the door to greet them and sing with them.

Later, I heard of an odd incident that transpired during the march.

The procession was crossing a large intersection under police protection and supervision. The driver of a car could not wait for the entire procession to pass – he was in a big hurry – so he kept his finger pressed on the horn, which was blaring non-stop. A fellow approached him and asked him to cease this useless horn blowing. The driver asked him, “and who are you?”

“I am a police officer,” was the reply (he was not in uniform).

“Oh, are you?” retorted the driver. “Then take this!” “This” being a punch in the eye.

The driver must have been in a big hurry to get to the police station, because it really did not take him very long to get there.