Viewers from across the globe joined rabbis and Jewish community leaders for a livestream event on Monday celebrating 80 years since the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—and his wife, Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, of righteous memory, arrived on American soil in 1941, on the 28th day of the Hebrew month of Sivan, after fleeing the onrushing Nazi juggernaut as it swept through France.

The program, “Chof Ches Sivan - 80 Years,” streamed for more than six hours and featured speakers from six continents who spoke of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin’s far-reaching and ongoing impact on the modern world and on each of the speakers personally.

Like millions of his generation, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were personally impacted by the tragedy of the Holocaust. The Rebbe’s younger brother, DovBer, was murdered by the Nazis, as were his beloved grandmother and other family members. The Rebbetzin lost her younger sister Sheina, who perished in Treblinka together with her husband and their son. The Rebbe and Rebbetzin themselves fled Paris, France just days ahead of the occupying Nazis, traveling to Vichy, Nice and Marseille before moving onward to the neutral port of Lisbon, Portugal, where they boarded the Portuguese liner Serpa Pinto for the transatlantic voyage, arriving in New York city 11 days later.

Despite the burden of their own personal grief, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin dedicated their lives to uplift Jewry worldwide and to create a brighter world, and with their arrival in the United States, they ushered in a new era of disseminating light and kindness to all.

Honing in on the Rebbe’s selfless devotion towards world Jewry, starting with his arrival in America, Chief Rabbi of Russia Berel Lazar said: “The 28th of Sivan is not merely a ‘holiday,’ it’s the start of a new era—an era of reaching out to a fellow Jew and caring for his or her well-being, physically or spiritually.”

“If there is one idea that is prevalent on this special day, it is the following: that each person should make an effort to connect with another Jew on a personal level. We can learn a lot from the manner in which the Rebbe personally cared for each individual throughout his leadership, and how he gave each person the feeling that he personally knew them and that he was looking out for them.”

Businessman and philanthropist Lev Leviev spoke about the genuine care and personal concern that the Rebbe displayed towards him, noting that “what’s incredible is to see that his shluchim [emissaries] are similar to him in this way.”

The event was coordinated by the Vaad Or Vechom Hiskashrus, a division of Igud Hashluchim dedicated to providing Chassidic inspiration and educational programming to Jewish communities around the world.

A Sense of Stability and Reassurance to Jews Worldwide

Speakers told of how the Rebbe made it his lifelong mission to provide a sense of stability and reassurance to Jews worldwide, encouraging them to do more and maximize their singular potential. Rabbi Menachem Schmidt, co-director of Lubavitch House of Philadelphia, described some of his encounters with the Rebbe: “The Rebbe was like a rock in the more tumultuous times of my life,” he said.

“I grew up in Dallas, Texas,” shared Rabbi Moishe Traxler, director of Chabad Outreach of Houston. “I never saw Chassidim in my life. I was in college, trying to figure out my life path when one day I saw a young man walking on campus with yarmulke and tzitzit. He introduced himself to me as Myron Friedman, and when I expressed my admiration for his public display of Judaism, he told me, ‘I recently took a trip to Israel. The last place we visited was called Kfar Chabad, and there, they encouraged us not to be afraid to look like a Jew.’ ”

That was my first “encounter” with the Rebbe,” says Traxler.

When he attended Friedman’s wedding in Houston, he met Rabbi Shimon Lazeroff, who spoke about how the Rebbe compared the emissaries to a spiritual “Peace Corps.”

“I was floored by the altruism of helping another Jew that you’ve never met,” said Traxler. “I thought to myself, ‘I wish one day I could be a shliach, too.’ ”

“The story of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin arriving in the ‘land of the free’ is a story about the Rebbe’s incredible vision,” said Rabbi Mendel Lipskier, executive director of Chabad of South Africa. “Imagine the visionary moments that the Rebbe and Rebbetzin must have had on that ship from Portugal. Behind them, a world was burning—in front of them was an opportunity to put into effect a tremendous vision, bringing G‑dliness into the world and touching the lives of Jews worldwide.”

Though the Rebbe shared his vision with us throughout the years, at that moment it was quite personal,” he continued. “Today, we see the incredible culmination of that incredible vision; we are the product of that vision.”

Also speaking during the six-hour program were:

Rabbi Pinchas Zekry, South Africa; Michael Bagraim, South Africa; Rabbi Yossi Chaikin, South Africa; Rabbi Asher Deren, South Africa; Sholom Ber Groner, South Africa; Rabbi Noach Majesky, Ghana; Rabbi Asi Spiegel, Israel; Rabbi Yosef Chitrik, Israel; Rabbi Mordechai Avtzon, China; Rabbi Pinchas Vishedski, Ukraine; Rabbi Yitzchak Kogan, Russia; Rabbi Levi Wolvovsky, Italy; Rabbi Binyamin Mergui, France; Rabbi Avrohom Hazan, Italy; Rabbi Yosef Pinson, France; Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, Canada; Rabbi Shalom Dovber Levine, United States; Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, United States; Rabbi Chaim Block, United States; Rabbi Chaim Oirechman, United States; Rabino Alfredo Goldschmidt, Colombia; Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt, Argentina; Rabbi Natan Grunblatt, Argentina; Rabbi Shabsi Alpern, Brazil; Rabbi Moshe Herson, United States; Rabbi Tzvi Arye Begun, Brazil; Rabbi Levi Wolff, Australia; Rabbi Motty Liberow, Australia; Rabbi Samuel Gurewicz, Australia; Rabbi Chaim Tzvi Groner, Australia; Rabbi Pinchas Feldman, Australia.

The full video of Chof Ches Sivan - 80 Years can be viewed here.