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After more than a week in Los Angeles, the Skvere Rebbe’s entourage left town today, having bested Hollywood on its home turf.

A well-made movie can make imagination come alive. The Rebbe, on his first visit to LA, made us all part of the script.

In the days before Shabbos, Chassidim converged on the city, turning it into a large set abuzz with literally hundreds of “extras.” They turned a vacant warehouse into a massive stage, complete with grandstand seating and banks of portable floodlights usually reserved for opening night. (A friend quipped that if he has to go to Gehinom, he wants to get assigned to the Chassidic section, because they will figure out a way to bring in some air-conditioning.) Huge banners and strings of lights proudly marked the house chosen to house the Rebbe, who received visitors, it seemed, a full twenty-four hours a day, always with a smile, and warmth, and enthusiasm. Streets that were often closed off for an action shoot were sealed by squad cars to accommodate a regal processional from the shul to the Rebbe’s house.

On Shabbos, though, we ceased to be an audience, and became actors in the main production. People streamed to the Friday night tish from every sub-group of Orthodox life in the city. Joining the hundreds of mostly young visitors from New Square were frum Angelenos of every stripe and every head-covering, all listening with rapt attention to the words of Torah, all swaying and singing songs of praise to Hashem.

We didn’t watch, we experienced. Shabbos was already a central pillar of our lives, but we came to understand its kedusha (holiness) in yet a different way. Standing shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of other Jews, eyes fixed upon the shining face of a wise Torah leader, we knew we were the richest, most fortunate people in all of LA. It suddenly became so clear how Jews had put up with the poverty and oppression of the worst that Europe had doled out to them for hundreds of years. The kedusha of Shabbos – potent on its own, immeasurably more so experienced through hundreds of hearts linked together in a bond of devotion to Hashem – took them to a higher place, far out of the reach of the coarseness of their earthly surroundings.

How beautiful a gift, this Shabbos that enabled our survival in the worst of time, and that still is the antidote today to the pedestrian and uninspired!

In my temperament and life-style I am about as far removed from the Chassidic model as a frum Jew can get. I was skeptical about what a visit from a chassidishe group could possibly offer a large, seasoned community like LA. The Rebbe’s visit – for which I join all other Angelenos in expressing thanks – didn’t turn me into a chassid, but it did turn me into more of a believer in the awesome power of mitzvos done together, with heart and soul.

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Binyomin Lerner
9 years 7 months ago

I just wanted to add: I was also one of the many participants in this unbelievable uplifting Shabbos, and I can just say that I felt like I’m in a different world, or maybe I should describe it as in Gan Eden… and so did I hear from a few friends of mine that attended together with me the Friday night Tish.

gail weiss
9 years 7 months ago

One of the most impressive parts of the Rebbe coming (and there were many!)was his will to include all the community- the rebbe visited with not only city schools but with ohr eliyahu, ula and various rabbanim and people from beverly hills, pico-robertson, the valley and even laguna nigel. Furthermore, they did an unbelievable job of making the rebbe accesible to everyone. upon visiting the home where he was staying, I saw jews from all walks of jewish life-frum and non frum included, ashkenazi and sephardi and most definitely not limited to hancock is my understanding that so many people showed up to speak with the rebbe that he saw people until 2 AM in the morning as not to have to turn anyone away.furthermore there were signs, posters, advertisements and e-mails all announcing the Rebbes visit. I am sorry to hear that anyone had missed out on this truly remarkable experience but it is no fault of our visitors who went to great lengths to make the rebbes visit the smashing success it was.

Shmuel Lerner
9 years 7 months ago

As one of the participants in the Shabbos with the Rebbe Shlita in LA, I would like to commend Rabbi Adlerstein for his wonderful article, I heard from many in LA who shared the same feelings. As one of the local Rabbonim, Rabbi Sholom Ginsburg of Cong. Kehilath Yitzchok commented at the Melave Malka hosted in honor of the Rebbe..”Each one of us felt as if he was transported back to his routes, be it where it may, to the way life was in Europe”.

With regard to “JO’s” comment “v’hamevin yovin”
I myself am not a born Skvere Chossid. Son of a true Chaim Berliner I’ve “been there done that”. True today I consider myself a Skvere Chosid but I still maintain close ties to many other Chassidic & non Chassidic sectors. I can tell you that Skver especially the shtetel where anyone can come visit & see first hand that it is the closest thing today to the true chasidic model. v’hamevin yovin.

With regard to “eastsiders” comment “remember though, that the rebbe and his minions were parked in the middle of haredi Hancock Pk. on the other side of town, they didn’t even know he was here….”

As one of the coordinators of the Shabbos I can tell you with certanty that the “other side of town definitely did know he was here. Aside from posters, & mailings, there were personal meetings with many of the Rabbonim & lay leaders of the Pico Roberts & Valley communities prior to the rebbes arival. We also had many guests coming from those areas to be with us for Shabbos as well as seeking the Rebbes counsel during the following week. The Rebbe also visited some of the Mosdos in “the other side of town”

9 years 7 months ago

When the Skverrer Rebbe spent Shabos in KGH at the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim, the Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Henoch Leibowitz participated in the tish. After the tish he turned to the Rebbe and said ” A misnaged bin ich shon nisht, ober a chosid bin ich shon tzu alt tzu veren” ( I am no longer a misnaged anymore (opposed to chassidism), but to become a chosid, I am too old)

Jewish Observer
9 years 7 months ago

To Reb YA-

“…petty official”

I believe you misspelled pretty, per YF’s wife of bath note …