With the approach of the 20th anniversary of the passing of the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory, on the third day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz—which this year will be commemorated on Tuesday, July 1—Jewish circles everywhere are marking its significance in ways large and small.

Large can be construed as the event that just took place Friday in Tel Aviv, where an estimated 10,000 people, including children, gathered in the Yad Eliyahu Stadium for a Gimmel Tammuz program in an Israeli city not known for its religious observance. Still, the Mediterranean metropolis stopped to pay tribute to one of the great Jewish leaders of the 20th century, who propelled Chabad well into the 21st.

Thousands of visitors from around the world are arriving in New York to commemorate the yahrtzeit (anniversary of passing) at the Ohel, the resting place of the Rebbe, in Queens, N.Y.

Many are expected to attend an all-encompassing symposium on Sunday, June 29, titled “Soul Encounters,” which will take place at the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College in New York City. Five individual sessions, musical interludes and videos, and a final plenary talk will incorporate rabbis, educators and speakers across the board, including Chief Ashkenazic Rabbi of Israel David Lau, who with Sephardic Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzchak Yosef has publicly called for worldwide commemoration of Gimmel Tammuz with increased mitzvah observance. Other principal representatives include Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, the educational arm of Chabad-Lubavitch; and Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, its vice chairman. Information and registration are available on the event’s web site, www.soulencounters.org.

And as part of the program, Chabad emissary Chaya Teldon plans to discuss a subject affecting all Chabad families: being “A Mother in the Rebbe’s Army.”

Online Opportunities and Information

For those commemorating the Rebbe’s yahrtzeit online, and for more information about the day, readers can consult "What To Do On 3 Tammuz: Six simple suggestions for the Anniversary of the Rebbe" and its counterpart "The Insiders Guide to the Third of Tammuz" on the newly redesigned TheRebbe.org. These guides offer a quick six-step instruction manual and a more detailed program for Gimmel Tammuz, respectively, including the opportunity to send in prayer petitions that will be placed at the Ohel, as is customary.

An event in Boston featured Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
An event in Boston featured Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.

Chabad.org writer and editor Rabbi Tzvi Freeman will be teaching a live class “The Truth Doesn’t Die: Jacob, Moses and Eternal Life” on Tuesday at 8 p.m. on Chabad.org. Presented in cooperation with JNET, the Jewish Learning Network, viewers can submit questions and comments using a live chat option.

There is also a wealth of new content available on the redesigned TheRebbe.org, including the first section of an upcoming monograph, The Lubavitcher Rebbe’s Philosophy of Torah by Chabad.org editor Rabbi Yanki Tauber; Scholar, Visionary and Leader: A Chronological Overview of the Rebbe’s Life and Ideas by Chabad.org research writer and editor Rabbi Eli Rubin; and "Unconventional Wisdom," an infographic sampling of the Rebbe’s teachings and leadership.

A series of three “farbrengens” in honor of Gimmel Tammuz that were webcast last week on Jewish.tv include “How to Bring the Rebbe’s Message into Our Daily Lives” with Rabbi Mendel Lipskier; “Marching Orders from the Rebbe for Each of Us” with Mrs. Mashi Lipskar; and “The Challenge of Our Times” with Rabbi Manis Friedman.

Women emissaries will also be connecting on June 29 at 5 p.m. (New York time) for a virtual farbrengen. The event features a packed program that includes talks from emissaries in Brooklyn, N.Y.; Los Angeles, Calif.; Johannesburg, South Africa; Shanghai, China; and beyond. It is being coordinated by shlucha Yehudis Bluming of the Rohr Chabad of Durham/Chapel Hill and Duke University in North Carolina; Goldie Plotkin of Chabad Lubavitch of Markham in Toronto, Canada; Channa Hecht of Chabad of Brentwood in Los Angeles, Calif.; and Leah Namdar of Chabad Lubavitch Sweden.

On the evening of July 1, a farbrengen for women is scheduled to take place in the Crown Heights neighborhood of Brooklyn, N.Y., with Rivkah Slonim, education director at the Chabad Center for Jewish Student Life at Binghamton University in upstate New York.

‘Intriguing Truths’

Not too far away in the New England area, Rabbi Alter Bukiet, co-director of Beit Chaim Meir Chabad Center of Lexington, Mass., joined with 25 Chabad centers in the Greater Boston area for a June 25 program at the Taj Boston luxury hotel in Boston.

Preparations were underway last week for visitors from around the world who will commemorate the yahrtzeit at the Ohel, the Rebbe's resting place in Queens, N.Y. (Photo: Chaim Perl)
Preparations were underway last week for visitors from around the world who will commemorate the yahrtzeit at the Ohel, the Rebbe's resting place in Queens, N.Y. (Photo: Chaim Perl)

Like Chabad Houses in the United States, Canada and around the world, he was participating in a commemorative event—one of many globally—celebrating the life and leadership of the Rebbe. Rabbi Shlomo Riskin, founding rabbi of Lincoln Square Synagogue in Manhattan and now chief rabbi of Efrat, was keynote speaker for “An Evening of Inspiration Commemorating Gimmel Tammuz.” Hundreds gathered to hear his personal story of the Rebbe, and how the Rebbe guided him in his earlier years establishing Lincoln Square and then fortified his move to Efrat.

“It’s one of the most intriguing truths that has developed in the Jewish world, to watch how the Rebbe’s influence is just growing,” says Bukiet. “The appreciation of what the Rebbe stood for hasn’t diminished—it’s taken on an unbelievable life.”

Riskin’s talk was preceded by an hour-long reception for the lay leaders sponsoring the event. Participants also watched a new video from Jewish Educational Media (JEM) about the Rebbe.

His vision is more than alive, stresses Bukiet, citing how his message and approach to Judaism are flourishing: “Major Jewish personalities standing up and speaking to that ends up influencing people to how real the Rebbe’s message is.”

In New York, Manhattan’s Park East Synagogue joined with Chabad on June 25 for a commemoration event including a film, songs and a string quartet. A cocktail hour and hors d’oeuvres was followed by stories of personal encounters with the Rebbe, songs and a keynote speech by Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Jacobson.

Keeping the Momentum

Also in New York, Rabbi Pesach Burston, co-director of the Chabad of Orange County in Chester, N.Y., made a very important drive on Thursday night. He and a group of some 25 community members spent nearly an hour on the road each way to take part in a June 26 mega-event with other area Chabad centers.

They heard from Rabbi Yehuda Krinsky, who served as personal secretary to the Rebbe, at the Doubletree Tarrytown in Tarrytown, N.Y., during an evening dubbed “The Rebbe Up Close and Personal.”

“I believe the Rebbe is a big part of our Chabad House,” says Burston, explaining that everybody—from adults who come to study and children participating in Hebrew school or summer camp to those who stop in for the occasional service or a Kiddish lunch—is being touched by the Rebbe’s reach.

Though not headlined as part of social media or even generic email, informal programs at Chabad centers everywhere include children, who are also considered emissaries of the Rebbe and who represent the future of the movement. They celebrate in age-appropriate ways, with the encouragement of mitzvot and acts of kindness a given.

Burston’s Chabad center is also holding a tribute event on Tuesday evening at 7:30 p.m., which is expected to draw some 50 people, and will feature a light dinner and a special presentation. “I’ll be talking about my personal connection with the Rebbe and the influence the Rebbe has on the community, even if they haven’t met the Rebbe,” explains Burston. “His teachings influence the way we learn, and the mere fact that we get together is because of the Rebbe. How could we not celebrate that?”

The rabbi, who was 16 at the time of the Rebbe’s passing, emphasizes that it’s significant and important to mark the day.

“The mere fact that 20 years after Gimmel Tammuz we’re so enthusiastic about the Rebbe … it’s just keeping the momentum going—the momentum that’s been going for the past 20 years.”