Editor's note: This past weekend (November 19-24, 2003) the Crown Heights, Brooklyn chassidic community hosted the annual conference of Chabad-Lubavitch "Shluchim" (emissaries), with the participation of more than 2,000 emissaries, sent by the Lubavitcher Rebbe together with their families to virtually every corner of the globe to reach out to their fellow Jews and bring them closer to their Jewish heritage. We therefore felt it most fitting to share a letter by Chana Weisberg, a regular contributor to this magazine and herself a "shaliach", which conveys, better than any article or essay, how the Rebbe's emissaries and their families view their work and apply themselves to the task.

My Dear Esther,

I hope you are enjoying your summer. Though our home is still noisily busy, it feels so lonely and bereft with you so far away. I pass by your empty bedroom and eagerly await your return.

Even your little brother is counting down the days. (No doubt, he remembers the small presents that you’ve promised to bring him back...!)

But the summer is passing so swiftly and before long we’ll be standing at the same airport where we stood waving goodbye to you at the departing gate, just a few weeks ago-but this time, for your enthusiastically anticipated arrival.

I must tell you that I felt so proud when I put down the phone receiver after our last conversation. How is it that you have grown so quickly? Can sixteen years have passed in such a flash?!

In my mind’s eye, I picture you and your friends, and can imagine what a great job you're doing as counselors for your campers. I see the tenderness and sensitivity that you show to your siblings easily transferred to the youngsters under your charge. I can just imagine your creativity, put to such good use, in concocting all kinds of activities, games and drama programs.

I easily picture, too, your enthusiasm in inspiring your campers with the values of Torah and Chassidism, your warmth and sincerity. It must be a real treat for your campers, some so estranged from this way of life, to have an opportunity to learn so much about their heritage in the fun-filled environment of a summer day camp.

But what I especially feel pride over is the scene you described over the phone. You and your fellow counselors were given the opportunity to organize and lead a "Shabbaton" for the mothers of your campers. You were joined by other women from outlying communities, some who may have never tasted the spirit of an authentic Shabbat.

I envision you all sitting around a large dining room table, laden with Shabbat delicacies. I see you and your friends so articulately explaining the weekly Parshah and sharing stories with the participants — women who are two, three, or even four times your age!

I picture them joining you in spirited song, nodding in agreement to the lessons you convey, and listening intently, mesmerized by the stories you share of the heroism of your grandparents and great-grandparents, and our Rebbes, the great chassidic masters of Chabad.

But more than the words that you communicate, I can see them listening to you — you and your friends, girls only in their tender teens, speaking with such a sense a purpose, such a deep passion and pride about their heritage and history.

I am not sure if you realize this, but the power of your message lies in so much more than the articulation of your erudite words. More important than the most profound and brilliant ideas that you can communicate, and even more crucial than the excited enthusiasm in your voice, is a deeper gift that you have given them.

What you have imparted to these women, (as well as to the children in your care) is the essence of what you are, the core of what you represent.

And it is this message — a message that is brought home so much more powerfully by a girl your age than by any eloquent adult — that will leave them with such a powerful, lasting impression. Long after you have returned home to Toronto, and long after they have forgotten the contents of your speech or the episodes in your stories, the conviction of your words, and the sincerity of your message, will linger.

And knowing that you have planted such potent seeds in their hearts with your youthful and vibrant passion, makes me burst with pride — even as I wonder how in the world my little girl has grown up so quickly…

Looking forward to seeing you soon and wishing you a safe flight home,

Love always,


P.S. Make sure you take some snacks along in the plane — it's a long flight home...