Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Illumination Empowered by The Rebbe

Liberal Israelis, often radically so, curiously enough, break out of their shells and become amenable to spiritual input in far off places like India or Thailand. It's quite remarkable. In his very own back yard, where the Israeli stands on the holiest ground in the world and has access to a wealth of Torah knowledge, he remains impervious to inspirational osmosis. Yet in alien retreats of foreign lands, where idol worship abounds - just there his defenses crumble.

This is a well-known phenomenon among Chabadniks, who hear so many stories of Jews who returned to the warm fold of Torah - after being inspired in such far flung places where only a Chabad emissary dares to stake out a homestead.

These returnees themselves then may well, in turn, become emissaries of the Rebbe. And in fact, they often have better luck breaking through the shell of ignorance and repulsion many Israeli youth have for religion.

Such a personality is Rabbi Michael Kedlberg, whose own return-story I don't know, but who gets my donation every time he knocks on my door in Brooklyn to collect for his outreach programs in Israel. He maintains contact with me by sending me, periodically, pictures of his outreach campaigns. His forte is to "crash" the "festivals" that "happen" in Israel. These festivals draw large crowds of youth to "hang out" for a good few days, where Kedlberg sets up his own "booths" to do "his thing".

Sometimes he has competition from Christian missionaries.

He's been at this campaign now for years. And every Jew he brings around, our sages tell us, is a world of its own.

Last weekend they partook in the festival alongside the Kinneret, which drew 5,000 youth. He heads what he calls his "Light Festival Team". They set up tents to house prayer services, including Torah readings. They held multiple conferences, conversations, lectures and one-on-one lessons on various topics in Judaism. Their Sabbath meals attracted hundreds of participants. From Thursday, their compound remained active 24 hours a day! They distributed "Friday-night candle-lighting kits" to the women. On Friday they opened a tefillin-laying table for men. They attribute their success and energy to empowerment from the Rebbe. The team of 4 included a singer and guitarist. The temperature neared 40 degrees C (104 F) in the shade!

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