Lesley Sank was somewhat of a hero in his hometown of Vancouver, British Colombia, after his last visit to Brooklyn, N.Y. It's not like he was the first to have left the Canadian West Coast and see the great United States of America.

It's just that in June 2006, the 47 year-old family physician had the rare privilege to materialize a longtime dream and meet, in person, with one of the world's most influential and loved rabbis: Itche Kadoozy.

Kadoozy has well earned the public's admiration, leading his Ira Bronstein Jewish congregation through troubled times, bravely standing up to cruel government agencies and remaining sane while dealing with restless Jewish youngsters. Most importantly, he's broadcast his weekly popular "Itche Kadoozy Show" for the past few years.

Sank again met Kadoozy this week during a stop to Chabad.org's crammed offices at the Lubavitch World Headquarters located in Brooklyn's Crown Heights section.

"This is very nifty," Sank said, sounding a bit more enthusiastic then his 17 year-old son Liran. "This rabbi has got G‑d-given talents."

Kadoozy, just for the record, is a puppet.

"And I don't even know how to use the Internet," stated Kadoozy in his rusty voice. Sank met with other favorite characters of the Web-based "Itchy Kadoozy Show," or at least hear their voices mimicked by David Taub, the show's producer, creator and puppeteer.

Sank is part of a growing group of Jewish activists and lay leaders attending the International Conference of Shluchim, the annual get together of Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries and their supporters.

People like Sank fly or drive along-side their own shliach and see for themselves how large and influential the Chabad-Lubavitch network of emissaries has become.

Sank came with Rabbi Falik Schtroks, co-director of the Center for Judaism of the Lower Fraser Valley, serving the communities of White Rock and South Surrey. Coming from a small Jewish community, comprised of some 200 families, the pair enjoyed the many benefits the Chasidic enclave of Crown Heights has to offer.

On Nov. 7, they stopped at a matzah bakery, a tefillin lab and the offices of the OK Kosher supervision group.

At Chabad.org, Sank sat down with writers and programmers of the immensely popular family of Jewish Web sites.

"Web sites don't have a face, so it's nice to see Chasidim using technology," Sank told the staff. "I depend a lot on your content.

"On the way to work I listen to the Torah lessons you have on your site," he added. "I download audio files to my pocket pc. I think it's a great way for an average businessman to utilize time totally wasted otherwise."

Jewish Pride

Since moving from Cape Town, South Africa, 18 years ago, Sank and his family have taken a very active role in Surrey's Jewish community.

They didn't know what to expect when they arrived, but then "Rabbi Schtroks moved with the advice of the Rebbe," Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory.

"West coast Judaism is hard to crack. He needs all the support we can give. We are like the cool California lifestyle and you need imaginative ways to involve Jewish families," added Sank. "The rabbi's warmth, friendliness and sincerity is what seals the deal for whoever is skeptical. He reached out to the homeless, alcoholics and businessmen. For him, we are the same diamonds."

According to the physician and the rabbi, some people in Sank's hometown tend to view outward displays of Judaism with a critical eye. Coming to Crown Heights represented a chance to breathe a little easier, said Sank. He was thrilled to be able to attend Shabbat meals at the home of noted orator Rabbi Yosef Jacobson and participate in a Chasidic gathering known as a farbrengen.

It's been since he decided to permanently wear a kippah on his whitening silver hair, he revealed. Wearing it is "an act of acknowledgement of G‑d's presence. [It] opened up my eyes. People stop me in the corridor to tell about a parent that survived the Holocaust and was raised Catholic; others [talk] about their renewed interest in Judaism."

His teenage son, Liran, was less visibly enthralled with the Kadoozy show then his dad or younger sister Cordelia, 14, but proclaimed an episode titled "Rabbi for a Day" episode as his favorite clip.

The thoughtful looking Liran said that he explains his Jewish heritage to fellow pupils in his 1,200-strong public school.

"I wish there would be more Jewish kids at my school," he said. "I do get along with everyone, but most of them are pretty ignorant" about Judaism.

For his part, Sank said that he hopes to take some inspiration and knowledge back with him when he returns home.

"When we leave here, it's hard to keep the momentum. We need to add into our lives something more tangible," he said. "My son has Jewish features on his Facebook page, and I downloaded the [Chabad.org] Jewish calendar on my" computer.

He added that he's looking forward to participating in the conference's concluding banquet Sunday night: "You can just feel the love, and there is nothing nicer then knowing that."