On June 28th, Under the auspices of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois, Central Avenue Synagogue in Highland Park hosted a tribute commemorating the Rebbe’s Yahrzeit with an engrossing evening of information and entertainment reflecting the genius of this modern day Jewish luminary. With the support and collaboration of the community, President and Rabbi of Central Avenue Synagogue – Mort Skolnik and Yosef Schanowitz, and local Chabad centers – the event produced great enthusiasm and audience engagement.
The evening was structured around three speakers, a video clip and music of the Rebbe’s Nigunim.
Les Lawrence, a member of the Central Avenue community, began by sharing a few thoughts about the extraordinary effectiveness of the outreach concepts embodied by the Rebbe. His vision facilitated the development of approaches to Jews along the entire breadth of the observance continuum that were compellingly relevant. His leadership resulted in unprecedented growth during the period of his tenure and continuing to the present day.
Binyomin Walters, a rabbi and teacher from Rogers Park, provided insights into the Rebbe’s teachings, highlighting the brilliance of his mind and the masterful manner in which he communicated both simple and complex concepts and ideas.
The special guest speaker was Rabbi Moshe Scheiner, was born and raised in Brooklyn. He is the founding and current Rabbi of the Palm Beach Synagogue. The Rabbi shared a great number of personal experiences and fascinating stories about the circumstances and people that the Rebbe impacted. They all shared a sense of dramatic relevance and deep significance that built a picture of the wisdom and skill to instruct and influence others that he had at his command. Rabbi Scheiner provided a perspective of the man at the core of this powerful religious leader.
The video clip was particularly effective in drawing attention to the high respect and influence the Rebbe commanded in the top tier of leaders both in the Jewish world and beyond. It included interchanges with Dershowitz, Steinsaltz, Giuliani and others.
Finally, interwoven between the presentations, Yitzchak Zirkind provided a musical rendition of Chassidic melodies and Nigunim. His selections contributed an effective backdrop to the details of his experiences because they fall into the category of Chassidic tradition that views them as deep, emotive elements of life. “The tongue is the pen of the heart,” noted the first Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, “but the melody is the pen of the soul.”
Each of these presentations contributed different perspectives of the Rebbe that together provided a forceful reminder of the unique spiritual leader whose Yahrzeit we commemorate. We are thankful for the profound impact he has had on each of us, and continues to have in Jewish communities throughout the world.