Chabad Women Visit Birthplace of Lubavitcher Rebbe's Father
On a rooftop in Dnipropetrovsk, Ukraine's fourth-largest city, a group of women and girls of different ages look out at the city below. They have come together from countries as distant as Venezuela and Australia, to experience a piece of their shared history. They are all followers of Chabad (also known as Lubavitch) - a Chassidic sect known for its distinctive brand of hospitality and outreach to Jews throughout the world.
They have come to visit the birthplace of Rabbi Levi Yitzchok Schneerson (also known fondly by his followers as "Reb Leivik"), father of the last Rebbe, or spiritual leader of Chabad, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.
During the tour, the women had a chance to visit the Menorah Center - a magnificent Jewish center built in the form of a golden menorah, which hosts many Jews from Israel and around the world. The center was built by Zvi Hirsch Bogoliubov, president of the Jewish community in the city.
Mrs. Miriam Swerdlov of New York, who personally knew the family of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, led the group, and spoke to Arutz Sheva about what the visit meant to her:
"We’re here with 70 people from all over the world: from South Africa, from Venezuela, from Australia, from Israel, from America, from Canada – to see the beginnings of Chabad.
"...This is where it happened: this is where the Rebbe lived, this is where Reb Leivik lived.
"We came to have pride in who we are, in what we are and in where we come from."
The large delegation also visited the office of the local rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetzky, who told the women about the city and its special relationship to Chabad. Rabbi Kaminetzky, the Israeli-born and Brooklyn-bred spiritual leader of the Ukrainian community, was sent on a personal mission by the Lubavitcher Rebbe to revitalise the Ukrainian Jewish community.