Bennett meets with Chabad rabbis
Bennett meets with Chabad rabbisMeir Alfasi

Education Minister Naftali Bennett credited the Chabad movement for turning his family religiously observant, and then later bringing him closer to Jewish tradition when he and his wife lived in New York while Bennett was working in hi-tech.

Speaking with a delegation of Chabad emissaries who came to celebrate the Lubavitcher Rebbe's birthday on Wednesday, Bennett said that he "owed a great debt to Chabad", relating how the movement brought his family closer to religious observance.

"When my parents were away from Judaism, in Montreal, they sent us to a Chabad kindergarten. And from there began their gradual process of returning to Judaism," related Bennett.

Bennett added that the second time he was involved with Chabad was as a child engrossed in their coloring books.

"The third time I met Chabad was when we were in Manhattan," added Bennett, recounting how he and his wife were invited by a Chabad emissary to a beginners' prayer.

"I have a great love for the Rebbe," revealed the Education Minister. "I was born [on the 10th of Nissan] in 1972 when the Rebbe celebrated his seventieth birthday [11th of Nissan]. I was born one day before his birthday."

"The Rebbe," continued Bennett, "realized that Jewish education is the foundation of everything, and he symbolized a vision so powerful that it will illuminate and continue to illuminate forever, based on the Rebbe's vision and power of reason and performance. The center of the Jewish people in our generation. And I only have a request, that I do not know if you will be able to stand it: continue. Continue to grow, continue to reach every corner of the world, with the same smile to every Jew as a Jew. "

Bennett also praised what he said was Chabad's "open door policy" of accepting every Jew. "They never asked my mother how long the sleeves were. We always gave a sense of 'you are welcome' and always with a smile and love of the Jew as a Jew, and humor. Apparently, somewhere in the process, you are being trained in humor because every Lubavitcher you meet has humor and wisdom."