Thousands at Chabad Center
Thousands at Chabad CenterPhotography: Dov Ber Hechtman

This year saw a record number of visitors on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) to the hasidic world headquarters, 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, New York, with the arrival of thousands of Chabad-Lubavitch hasidim from Israel and around the world.

Rosh Hashanah also ended the Hakhel year, when all Chabad hasidim usually visit the Rebbe's beit midrash (study hall). Many who did not manage to visit the Rebbe's beit midrash during the year, took advantage of the last opportunity this year. The central study hall was packed to the brim, and a huge tent was built around it to accommodate the thousands of additional worshippers.

"It is not easy to find a seat in the beit midrash, and many did not leave their seats even for a moment, from before the start of the holiday until after the Musaf prayer," a source in Chabad said, adding. "One of the highlights of the holiday was blowing of the shofar, which, as is customary in Chabad, is done after singing the Grand Rabbis' melodies, that have been customary throughout the generations."

It was exciting to see groups of Chabad hasidim gathering in exemplary order and dispersing in a pre-organized plan all over New York, to give Jews around the city a chance to hear the shofar-blowing. Some people walked for two to three hours to remote areas where Jews live.

The Eshel Hospitality Group, which takes care of the visitors to the 770 all year round, was entrusted with the hosting of the thousands of visitors to the beit midrash, especially on the holidays, when the masses come to stay near the court of their rebbe.

The organization manages three huge kitchens that serve thousands of meals every day and provides thousands of beds, mattresses, and sleeping equipment for the thousands of hasidim.

Record numbers were registered this year by the Eshel Hospitality Group: Over 500,000 meals will be distributed during the month of Tishrei, 4,500 beds and mattresses will be supplied, 150 staff members will be on duty, 15,000 study booklets will be distributed, and hundreds of gatherings (hitva’aduyot) will be held.

Many more followers will be arriving at 770 before the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), but numbers will be even higher on Simchat Torah, when tens of thousands of Chabad hasidim from around the world come to visit 770.