By N. Richard Greenfield ~
A farbrengen can be defined as “joyous gathering” and is particularly Hasidic, Chabad-Lubavitch Chasidism to be exact.
It is normally thought of as a coming together of people in Crown Heights in Brooklyn or other centers of Chasidic activity and, while a presentation of Chabad, it is open to the entire community. We had one here in Connecticut this week. Held in honor of the Rebbe’s (Rabbi Menachem Schneerson z”l) eighteenth yahrzeit (annual memorial of a death), this farbrengen – gathering — on Monday, June 18, brought together several hundred people from around the state to Hartford to commemorate the event.
Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman was listed as hosting the event, but she shared the podium with Governor Daniel Malloy who also presented his thoughts to the participants. They both had stories about the Rebbe and Chabad to contribute. A proclamation from the Governor is presented in its entirety on this page.
Attorney General Jepsen and a number of other luminaries from the state’s political structure were also in attendance, along with the leaders of many non-profit organizations, including the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), our Federations and a number of educational institutions from around the state. Dr. Martin Gavin of the Children’s Medical Center in Hartford was recognized from the podium as a partner of Chabad in some of its work.
The Chabad rabbis from 23 different communities around Connecticut were there, many with their families and members of the communities they are helping to build. In a state struggling to retain its Jewish organizational structure (see last week’s editorial, “Nine is Too Many”) it is refreshing to see a dynamic, vibrant group of communities coming together to celebrate a central event, reiterating their core message of study, prayer and charity.
David Chase who, we are told, was a backer of the Chabad movement in Connecticut during its early years, beginning in 1977, recorded a message that was played for the audience. Chase’s message echoed those consistent themes that drew him to Chabad so long ago. He also shared personal reminiscence of his time spent with Rabbi Schneerson over the years.
Other speakers at the June 18 event included Rabbis Yossie Hodakov of Westfield, Levi Mendelow of New Canaan, Avrohom Sternberg of New London, and Yisrael Deren, Chabad’s leader in Southeastern New England. Rabbis Joseph Gopin of Hartford and Yosef Yaffee of the Shoreline also shared their thoughts on the Rebbe’s yahrzeit. A beautiful d’var Torah was delivered by 8-year old Miriam Haston, a student at Southern CT Hebrew Academy. Rabbi Yosef and Yehudis Wolvovsky of Glastonbury initiated the idea and organized the evening. Rabbi Wolvovksy’s parents, Rabbi Mordechai and Razel Wolvovsky of Brooklyn, N.Y. were also in attendance.
Look for photos of this meaningful and joyous evening in the next issue of the Ledger.