The International Conference of Chabad Lubavitch Emissaries opened in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, N.Y., Wednesday night. Thousands of emissaries are attending the five-day conference, which features intense learning opportunities, workshops and discussions where participants can share ideas new initiatives and the best ways to reach Jews in communities scattered across the globe.

Among the conferences offerings were two sessions on Thursday dealing with counseling to the mentally ill and comforting the sick.

The workshops span a variety of topics and are being presented in five different languages. Special programs are for emissaries from Israel, the former Soviet Union, France and those that cater specifically to travelers. Several discussions will take place on Sunday between emissaries who run college campus-based Chabad Houses.

In addition, senior emissaries will share instructions they received from the Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, who passed away in 1994.

"I feel the energy in the atmosphere," says Ronen Peled, an Israeli who is part of the staff directing the grand banquet on Sunday, when more than 3,500 people will convene on Pier 94 in Manhattan. "It's not just another job for me, I feel a sense of deep mission in what I am doing here.

"What I see here is very different from what I see in my hometown," continues Peled, explaining a newfound respect for the global reach of Chabad-Lubavitch. "They have their challenges, their questions, their needs, and they come all together as one family and work them out."