Friday afternoon, Sivan 1 (June 5), at 3:00, was one of the highlights of our trip to Crown Heights, a visit to our charming and gracious Rebbetzin, the Rebbe’s wife, Chaya Mushka. It is something to which we always look forward and we always make certain that we are not one second late.

We were privileged and honored this year to be allowed to take with us Hindy, Shmuel and their five children. (Yossi and Mendy were very shy, Golda Rivka and Pinchas were good, but Yenta Chaya was terrific. She was singing niggunim for the Rebbetzin all the time). We had nice fruit juice, cream cake and so forth. After half an hour, Hindy and Shmuel left with the children. We stayed for two hours altogether.

We had a very good, enjoyable and happy afternoon, laughing and joking and occasionally being serious, too.

The Rebbetzin talked about Susan and Avrohom, who had visited her last Purim. She had “watched Susan waiting for Avrohom outside 770 for hours!” She adored their “lovely children.” We informed the Rebbetzin how impressed Susan had been with the friendliness and courtesy of the Rebbetzin, and how much “at home” one was made to feel.

We told her that we were thinking of attending the dinner on the occasion of the opening of the new Lubavitcher yeshiva. The Rebbetzin insisted that we go and that we come back the following Sunday and report to her what happened.

On Sunday, Sivan 3 (June 7), at three, we had the delightful pleasure of visiting with our beloved Rebbetzin again. We went alone this time; so we had tea instead of fruit juice.

We all agreed that it was a pity that the yeshiva boys and the men did not take an example from the Rebbe in cleanliness, tidiness, punctuality and doing everything with a “seder,” (orderly manner). Also, the Rebbe was the perfect gentleman. He still greeted Roselyn with “Good morning” or “Good afternoon” and touched his hat whenever he met her in the street. We had a jolly good time for two and a quarter hours and the Rebbetzin asked us to come again next year, please G‑d.

Here is an abridged version of the report I gave, and at which the Rebbetzin laughed uproariously!

We received the official invitation to the yeshiva dedication dinner. The following names were on the invitation: Rabbi S. Gurary, Chairman; then the Dinner Chairman, followed by twelve Honorary (or Honorable?) Chairmen, eight Co-Chairmen, fifty-nine Vice-Chairmen, one Toastmaster and forty-five Committee Men. In addition, there was a guest of honor and a guest speaker. A total of 129 men. If they all came with their wives, we were certain of at least 258 people at the dinner. A good nucleus. The building was supposed to have cost $3,000,000 (without the land). It had three floors, and every available space was being used (not as in Manchester and London). The building had already been in use for nine months (and looked it) and an opening dinner had already been held a few weeks previously. Today was the dedication dinner and in a few weeks time was to be the grand opening, which Governor Rockefeller was due to attend. We walked around the premises: fifteen dormitories on the top floor with four beds in each, for sixty students. Everything else was nice and modern.

After the inspection, we partook of the reception before the dinner. It was marvelous, wonderful, plenty to eat and drink, hot and cold meats and fish, desserts, and so forth. I did not want to eat too much as it would spoil my appetite for the dinner. If the reception was so elaborate, one could imagine what the dinner would be like!

We then sat down to dinner. 450 people were present. My mechutonim, Mr. and Mrs. David Lew, were also there. My wife and Mrs. Lew did not sit with us. They were at a women’s only table very far from us. David Lew and I were given seats at a very nice table, near the top, but we sat with other women and their husbands. Rather peculiar, to say the least.

Two nice jolly gentlemen approached me and asked me how I was and wished me well. I was taken aback! This was the first time I had met such friendliness from total strangers in New York in all the years I have been coming. I learnt afterwards that they were politicians and wanted me to vote for them. Then the Chief of Police arrived, a huge tough guy, a six-footer and broad-chested. (I thought to myself that I would not like to meet him in the dark). I suddenly realized that it was my old friend, Rabbi Gutnick, dressed up in his Australian army chaplain blue uniform.

Dinner was called for 6:30 and, when the Chairman introduced himself at 6:45, I remarked that it was very good timekeeping for Lubavitch. Unfortunately, we had a very long wait in prospect before we tasted food. It seemed from past experience that when dinner was served first, NO ONE stayed for the speeches or for the appeal. So we were to have the speeches first. At this function half of the people, knowing of the new arrangements, arrived two hours later, still missed the speeches and came in time for the dinner.

At only six tables plus the top one (out of forty-two tables), were the men and women seated separately. Bernard Deutch, the Dinner Chairman, dressed in a very light blue dinner suit with a vivid royal blue frilled shirt and a similar colored tie, spoke for twelve minutes. He introduced the Chairman, Rabbi Gurary, who introduced the guest of honor, who introduced the guest speaker - anyway, we will come to that later.

The Rebbe’s message was read by the Rashag, who added his own commentary for fifteen minutes. Mr. Gruss, the guest of honor, who had presented the land as a gift, and also furnished the kitchens, dining hall, science lab. etc., spoke for ten minutes.

Rabbi Lockstein, the guest speaker, addressed us for forty-five minutes. A little fellow and a wonderful speaker, with slow delivery like an actor, he would do well on stage. He was president of Bar Ilan University in Israel. He said Lubavitch attracts the youthful intellectuals as well as all types of people. Holding the microphone, which he barely topped, turning from left to right and then back again, he said, slowly, and through grated teeth:

I - offered - a - professor - aged 32 - a job - in - Bar Ilan. What - did - he - reply, - this - young - man? ——- very long pause. He - must ask the Rebbe! I met a hippy - in Israel - who had been round the world - looking - seeking - searching - frustrated - who was going back home - to study gemora. Why? - the Rebbe had told him so! Karl Marx said, “Religion is the opium of the masses.” Michelangelo was a sculptor and a painter. He made a picture of Moses holding the Ten Commandments. We hold - the Ten Commandments – (a great pause and then shriek) —— IN - OUR - HEARTS!! And we gave the Torah to the world!! In the sedra it says, “Va’yehee” (it was) when Moses finished the Mishkan, and “Va’yehee” always prefaces something bad. What can be bad about “finished the Mishkan?” There are various Midrashic explanations. But, [he says] it is bad because we are then left with the large mortgage to pay off! Once, the baalei battim used to have their own bench or seat, their own “bank” in the shul. [In Yiddish, a bench is called ‘bank’]. Today, we have the shul… in the Bank.”

Rabbi Weinberg then made the Appeal. Four people gave a total of $65,000. The grand total from forty people was $100,000. We were offered the opportunity to be made a Torah Ambassador for $10,000; no customers! A Life Time Governor for $5,000, no clients!

At last, at eight-thirty dinner was served. And what an anti-climax this was. Excluding fruit hors d’oeuvres, there were three courses; soup, meat and sweet. There was no choice of anything. Take it or leave it! In fact, the sweet course on our table was left out entirely.

Then we started a new theme. Presentations of plaques to guest of honor, guest speaker, guest this-and-that and so forth. Eight altogether.

At ten it was decided to bentch. The bentching was offered to a dozen rabbonim, who all refused as they had not washed for bread (had they eaten?). Then they even asked me but I wouldn’t accept. At last, someone volunteered. We heard him say the words introducing the bentching, “Rabboysie mir vellen bentchen, etc.” and then he had a relapse.

While he was presumably bentching, everything was so quiet that one Rabbi announced that whilst those people were bentching he would carry on with more speeches. Ridiculous! Incidentally, this Rabbi is prone to exaggeration. He introduced Rabbi Gutnick as the Chief Rabbi of Australia (Rabbi Gutnick denied this in his speech). He referred to Maurice, my brother in Israel, as Colonel Jaffe and, of course, I am Rabbi Jaffe. I have s’micha from 500 boys at 770 but not from one rov!

The next day I went as usual to Rabbi Dvorkin’s shiur but found no one there. They had all gone to a wedding. I met Rabbi Gutnick in the office. He said, “You look like a cheerful soul.”

I replied, “Wouldn’t you be, too, if your Rabbi had gone to a wedding and there was no shiur?”