Saturday marked the 25th anniversary of the death of the holy Lubavitcher Rebbe. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s yahrtzeit is on the third day of Tammuz in the Hebrew calendar. The iconic leader passed away in 1994 at the age of 92, but clearly his legacy lives on.
People from all walks of life took the time to remember and paid tribute to “The Rebbe”, as he is still lovingly known. Over 50,000 visitors flocked from around the world to visit the Ohel, which is the Rebbe’s burial place, near his father-in-law, who preceded him as Lubavitcher Rebbe. In his lifetime, the Rebbe had been much more than the seventh and final leader of the Chabad Hasidic dynasty. His teachings fill more than 300 published volumes.
More importantly, he had offered an unparalleled love and attention to everyone who walked through the doors of 770 Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn. Every Sunday, beginning in 1986, thousands of people came to see the revered Rabbi. He would stand for up to seven hours at a time greeting men, women, children, orthodox, secular, non-Jews— and anyone who came got a smile, a blessing and a dollar. People who had the good fortune of meeting him and seeing his piercing eyes say the moment was life altering, in a way that defies logic.
The Rebbe pioneered a new level of Jewish outreach and love for every Jew. In 1994, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal for “outstanding and lasting contributions toward improvements in world education, morality and acts of charity”. He had influence on political leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Robert F. Kennedy, former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, just to name a few.
On Saturday, his praises came from unexpected celebrities. “I have personally learned so much from his wisdom and teachings, and while I never met him, I’ve visited his resting place in Queens to gain blessing and inspiration,’’ supermodel Naomi Campbell posted to Instagram. “An inspirational leader, scholar, and teacher, the Rebbe taught that we are all inherently good and we each have the potential to change the world for the better, one good deed at a time,” Campbell continued.
“Tonight is 25 years since #theRebbe’s passing. His teachings to better our world through unconditional love are more urgent now than ever!” tweeted singer and TV star Paula Abdul.
“Today marks 25 years of longing for Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson – the Lubavitcher Rebbe – who changed the world, and had a profound influence on me. I’ll always remember him,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted in Hebrew.
In Britain, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis praised Schneerson as “one of the great rebuilders of Jewish life after the tragedy of the Shoah,” whose “teachings and insights remain as fresh and relevant today as they have ever been.”
As reported by the NY Post, Schneerson’s biographer, Joseph Telushkin, said that the continued public outpouring of admiration for the Lubavitcher leader is testament to his timeless teachings. “It’s a powerful thing,’’ said the author. “Historically speaking, it’s highly unusual for a religious leader to inspire so many millions of new people, Jews and non-Jews, in a very real way a full quarter century after his passing.” May his memory be a blessing.
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