In what might have been the largest Jewish women-only gathering in the world, some some 4,000 shluchos, Chabad women emissaries from more than 100 countries, gathered in and around Crown Heights last weekend for the annual Kinus HaShluchos.
The women posed for a classic picture in front of Chabad-Lubavitch heaquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway during the event, whose agenda included workshops, speeches and Shabbat gatherings.
Israeli journalist Sivan Rahav-Meir, a keynote speaker at the event’s banquet, said that the venue was “the most influential room in the world.”
Rahav-Meir cited an emissary who hosted a Passover seder in Nepal for 2,500 people, and a Ukrainian emissary who continued to serve amid war.
But most Chabad women leaders make a difference to their communities under the radar without visible impact, Rahav-Meir said. “Believe in the power of every Jew,” she told those assembled.
The kinus (Hebrew for “gathering” or “conference”) for women marks the anniversary of the 1988 passing, at age 86, of Chaya Mushka Schneerson, wife of the Lubavitcher rebbe. The gathering follows her yahrzeit on the 22nd of Shevat.
Miriam Moskovitz, who co-founded a Chabad in Kharkov, Ukraine, with husband Moshe, spoke at the banquet about coming to the country’s second-largest city when it was still behind the iron curtain.
There is no handbook for what to do when war ravages your community, she said.
All of a sudden, she was helping run a humanitarian mission for those seeking safety in the synagogue from bombs. Chabad provided food and medicine.
“There was no time to think or feel. We were in action mode,” she told the shluchos.
Attendees told JNS about how much the gathering impacts them as Jews and leaders.
Behind each woman attending is a community, Dalia Sanoff, an emissary in Poughkeepsie, NY, said. She grew up secular in Tel Aviv, but now is “part of the impact of the Rebbe’s army.”
For Brochie Altabe, in town from Nice, France, kinus affords the opportunity to visit with her sisters, who are also emissaries. “I feel like I am a part of this, that we are all here for the same goal,” she told JNS.
Being a part of a gathering with so many other women, who are also working to further the rebbe’s goal of preparing the world for the messianic era, Altabe felt that realization must be close.
“It can’t be too far away,” she said.
“It’s happening. Let’s go. Let’s push a little more.”
Beyond the banquet, the gathering for women also included programming for daughters of emissaries, who are themselves young shluchos.
Attendees from remote communities, including Ivory Coast and Tasmania, report that programming is particularly helpful to them.
Italian native Zeldi Fradkin, who is now an emissary in Coronado, Calif., put it succinctly, explaining that attending kinus “revamps my soul.”
Chabad also hosts a Kinus HaShluchim, for male emissaries, in the late fall.