From massive public concerts that are expected to draw more than 10,000 participants in New York and Jerusalem to Chassidic farbrengens in homes, synagogues and Chabad-Lubavitch centers around the world, 19th of Kislev is a time to celebrate Jewish life and redemption.

The festival, which this year falls on Saturday, Dec. 2, is called the “Rosh Hashanah of Chassidism,” marking the day when the founder of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, was released from a Czarist prison, and the start of a new era of spreading the wellsprings of Chassidic thought and teachings that transformed the Jewish world.

After an imprisonment rife with insufferable challenge to which he responded with an extraordinary show of courage and indefatigable faith—the same way he lived his whole life as the leader of the Chassidic movement—the Alter Rebbe, as he was known, or alternatively, the Baal HaTanya, was released on the Hebrew date of 19 Kislev, corresponding to Nov. 27, 1798. The celebration is extended to the 20th of Kislev, the day the Alter Rebbe was actually allowed to leave his imprisonment.

“‘[On] the day that G‑d made for us,’ 19 Kislev … ,” the Alter Rebbe later wrote, “when I read the verse in the Book of Tehillim, ‘He redeemed my soul in peace,’ and before I began the next verse, I emerged in peace [thanks to] the G‑d of peace.”

This year, as more than 60 hostages emerge from the dark tunnels of Gaza and experience their own liberation and more than 160 are still held hostage, celebrating together on 19 Kislev is more important than ever, says Rabbi Mendel Kaplan, co-director of Chabad Flamingo in Thornhill, Ontario, and an acclaimed writer and teacher on

Chabad Flamingo will host a talk by one of its members, Canadian-Israeli Ohad Lapidot, who will share the heartbreaking story of how his daughter, Tiferet, was killed by Hamas terrorists at the Supernova Music Festival in Kibbutz Re'im on Oct. 7.

“We invited the Lapidot family not because we want to bring forward more stories of doom and gloom,” Kaplan said of the event. “Just the opposite, in keeping with the tradition of optimism on this blessed day, we want our community to understand what it feels like to have love, care and empathy for Israel. To feel together and to be connected as one nation. The family yearns for a communal embrace, and we’re here to give that to them.”

The event, he notes, emphasizes the concept of ahavat Yisrael so frequently spoken of by the RebbeRabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—that every Jew is responsible for every other Jew, wherever in the world he or she may live.

Events Being Held Worldwide

Chabad of Baka will host a special Shabbat dinner in honor of 19 Kislev.
Chabad of Baka will host a special Shabbat dinner in honor of 19 Kislev.

Events across the world are numerous and varied, and many centers of Jewish life are inviting out-of-town guests to inspire their audiences.

In Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday, more than 10,000 participants are expected to gather at the Binyanei Hauma convention center for a gathering sponsored by the Chabad-Lubavitch Youth Organization in Israel. On Wednesday, the women’s event will be dedicated to a discussion on faith and womanhood, while on Thursday, the men’s event will center around the themes of strength and light. The gala celebration will again coincide with the world’s largest Chassidic book fair, where hundreds of thousands of texts will be on sale. On hand to entertain the audience will be singers Avraham Fried and Yonatan Razel.

Also in Jerusalem, Chabad of Baka will be hosting a 19 Kislev Unity Shabbat Dinner on Friday night. The festive dinner will be held in honor of Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who is currently in Hamas captivity, in addition to all the other Israelis kidnapped and held in Gaza.

The dinner was inspired by the courage of Rachel Goldberg and Jon Polin who have traveled the world advocating for their son Hersh’s release, said Nechama Dina Hendel, co-director of Chabad of Baka and the Friendship Circle of South Jerusalem. The couple, who live in the Talpiot neighborhood of Jerusalem, have grown especially close with Chabad of Baka since Oct. 7.

“We hope the community absorbs Rachel’s strength and resilience,” said Hendel. “Her composure talking about the horrors her son has been through is striking. Our support for her is the least we can do.”

“We pray that all of our dear hostages, including Hersh Ben Perel Chana, should experience their personal release and redemption,” Hendel continued. “Like the Alter Rebbe, they were innocent people taken simply for being Jewish and because of their connection to the Holy Land. May the entire world recognize good over evil, and may light and truth prevail, with the return of our precious sisters and brothers who are still in captivity.”

19 Kislev From Haditch, Ukraine, to Brooklyn, N.Y.

Typically, the Ukrainian town of Haditch, where the resting place of Rabbi Schneur Zalman is located, welcomes many visitors on 19 Kislev, especially from Israel. This year, in part because of the dangers of travel during the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Israel, the turnout is expected to be lighter, but no less enthusiastic.

“We will have Jews from neighboring towns visiting for Shabbat and on Sunday,” said Rabbi Schneur Zalman Deutsh, who directs Chabad’s educational and hospitality center at the holy burial site in Haditch. “We are expecting about 150-200 people in total this year.”

Meanwhile, Jewish communities in Ukraine are planning local celebrations again this year. Jews in Cherkassy will mark 19 Kislev on Shabbat with a big celebration and farbrengen for men and women. The gathering is sure to mark the start of two weeks of celebrating as the community has already started preparing for Chanukah.

Among the attendees at the celebration in Kharkov will be 11-year-old Paulina Solomko, who entered the Chabad’s Choral Synagogue for the first time in August when she and her younger sister, Arina, attended the Chabad summer camp.

“I had a great time there and told my mother that I want to join the school in the synagogue basement. I knew it was a safe place and where I could be with all my new friends and learn more about the Jewish things I heard about in camp,” Paulina told “I’m now in the Jewish school in the synagogue’s shelter every day and am so excited because this week we are invited to spend a whole Shabbat together.”

There are separate hours for women at the book fair. (File photo: ICC)
There are separate hours for women at the book fair. (File photo: ICC)

In Brooklyn, N. Y., Colel Chabad, the oldest continuously operating charitable organization in the Holy Land, founded by the Alter Rebbe in 1788. will host a star-studded lineup for its Nafshi event at the Kings Theatre in Brooklyn on Sunday, Dec. 3, as part of its 19 Kislev celebration. The event, which the organization promises to be an “unforgettable blend of niggunim and inspiration,” will feature prominent musicians like Fried, Eitan Katz, Beri Weber and Alex Clare.

Each artist will regale audiences with their own take on the sacred niggunim to uplift spirits in a time when we need that the most and to honor the Alter Rebbe. Interspersed with these musical performances will also be insights and teachings shared by speakers from across the Jewish world, including Rabbi Eli Mansour, Rabbi Judah Mischel, Rabbi Shais Taub and Rabbi Moshe Weinberger.

Common to all these events are the ground-breaking mystical teachings contained in the Alter Rebbe’s foundational Chassidic tract, the Tanya, and the practical guide for daily practice found in his well-known code of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch Harav.

“On this day, that light is called forth … for the entire year,” the fifth Rebbe, Rabbi Sholom Dovber of Lubavitch wrote of the holiness of the 19th of Kislev, “It is our duty … to awaken our hearts with an innermost, elemental desire and will, in the very core of our heart, that G‑d illuminate our souls with the light of His Inner Torah.”

Find a 19 Kislev event at a Chabad center near you.