Tens of thousands of people from all walks of life visited the gravesite (Ohel) of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, zt”l, at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, commemorating his 25nd yahrtzeit (anniversary of death) on Shabbat (Sabbath).
In preparation for the yahrtzeit, a special event titled “A Meeting of Souls” was organized by the Lubavitch Youth Organization near the Ohel, bringing together an overflow crowd of Jews from around the New York Metropolitan area.
Rabbi Yisroel Goldstein, whose life was miraculously saved in the anti-Semitic shooting attack on his Chabad center of Poway, California, was the guest speaker. Rabbi Goldstein related in detail what happened in his synagogue on the eighth day of Pesach, the shooting, and the life-saving rescue effort.
Rabbi Goldstein also told about the call he received from US President Donald Trump, the visit to White House, his talks in the White House and his recent speech at the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Rabbi Goldstein told about his surreal feeling when he was invited to the White House after his phone conversation with President Donald Trump after the shooting. “Here’s I’m in my Chabad House facing a terrorist and now I am being escorted to the Oval Office by President Trump,” he marveled.
Rabbi Goldstein said he used the private meeting with the president to press forth three points: That the president has a purpose to fulfill in protecting the Jews and the need for a “moment of silence” in American public schools to reflect each morning on G-d and morality.
His third request was the most unique one. “I took out a photo of the Rebbe and told the president, ‘This is my inspiration. This is the one who sent me to Poway and sent thousands of emissaries around the world,” he said.
Rabbi Goldstein then continued, “Mr. President, I need one favor from you: Can you please call President Putin from Russia and ask him to release the Schneerson Library that is sitting there since the Holocaust? What better gift can you do for me, my community and all Chabad chassidim if you were to pick up the phone and call him?”
The library is an estimated 10,000 volumes of rare Jewish books and manuscripts that were collected by Chabad Rebbes and held in the Russian State Library after World War II. Russia has claimed it to be a national treasure, despite a US federal judge ruling in favor of its return to the Chabad movement.
Rabbi Goldstein said President Trump listened to his unique request and responded: “Rabbi, give me the information and I’ll do what I can do.”
Rabbi Goldstein said that at the White House encounter he was also able to speak with Ivanka Trump, the President’s daughter and senior adviser. “I shared with her my feeling of how she is there for her purpose to keep the president’s compass in line,” he said.
The crowd gathered at the Ohel last week was treated by a performance by internationally acclaimed star Dudu Fisher. During the evening famous Chazzan Rabbi Schneur Zalman Baumgarten led in singing some of the Rebbe’s melodies.
The MC was Rabbi Tuvia Teldon, Director of Chabad of Long Island. The first speaker was Rabbi Moishe New, Director of Montreal Torah Center, explained how Jews can gain inspiration from the Rebbe today by learning his teachings and observing a life of Torah and mitzvot (Torah commandments).
New York City Councilman Chaim Deutsch, Chairman of the Jewish Caucus of the New York City Council, spoke about the inspiration he draws from the Rebbe’s teachings that helps him in his work in New York City.
He related that “when my rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Butman asked me to light the large Menorah on Fifth Avenue, he said that I was the chairman of the Jewish Caucus. I told Rabbi Butman that I was not the chairman and didn’t even think that it is possible. A year later I was elected as the chairman of the Jewish Caucus.”
The Ohel has seen a steady slew of visitors over the last few days as Jews and even non-Jews have been visiting the holy gravesite to pray for their families and personal needs.
Watch Rabbi Goldstein's speech here: