Tuesday, May 03, 2011

A Little Light Dispels Much Darkness

The "Festival of Light" team, led by the Chabad self-appointed emissary to festivals in Israel, Rabbi Michael Kedelberg, arrived at the southern city of Eilat to reach out among 10,000 youth who assembled for the yearly "Boom-Boomla Festival". It was scheduled on the latter days of Chol Hamoed Passover.

Israel has many festivals organized for youth as vacation breaks. The rabbi does his reach-out work by getting permission to set up a non-competitive, inner "sub-festival", including tents and banners, amid the highlighted yearly festival, thereby bringing religious thought, discussion and experience to a secular throng of Israeli youth who know practically nothing of religious custom. Israeli culture and its public school system have been deliberately secularized for much of the country's history. He sets up his operation by choosing a peripheral location where he includes his own "booths" and events for passers-by who show an interest.

The festival's attendees had been reduced 2-fold from its usual size because authorities had shifted the venue this year from its usual site, the city of Nitzanim, to the remote city of Eilat. This year's "Festival of Light" team, in contrast, doubled its activities from a year earlier.

There were many "farbrengens" (get-togethers), lectures on Chassidut, one-to-one conversations, writing to the Rebbe, minyans (quorums) for Torah-reading and prayers, distribution of Friday-night-candle kits for women to take back home with them, brochures and flyers with articles and explanations, Sabbath prayers and Sabbath meals - for hundreds that came in from the festival's crowd.

After a series of very encouraging letters drawn from the Rebbe's voluminous set of letters, the rabbi decided not to diminish activities this year, despite the increased difficulty involved in the move to Eilat from Nitzanim, such as new logistics, the handling of much equipment and the drafting of added manpower to the new site.

It took a chain of open miracles to transfer an enormous amount of equipment and to set up the operative compound.

On Wednesday night several new crew members arrived to run the complex.

On Thursday, even more men joined the work force and worked almost a 24-hour day!

Because of high demand, an additional booth to write the Rebbe had been set up, as was another compound on the opposite side of the festival's grounds, where hundreds of teenagers meandered in.

"The whole team was excited by the curiosity of the youth," said the rabbi. "There was a feeling of elation from all around". The youngsters expressed eagerness to know and discover the truth. Many made new resolutions. Many were remarkably open to listen and learn about chassidut.

Most of the food stalls in the festival were kosher for Passover.

The usual foreign, exploitative element, the missionaries, who try to misguide and infect the innocent youth with a form of idolatry, thank G-d were absent this year.

When it was all over, the Era of Redemption was more tangibly felt in the air.

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