The shluchim who lead emerging Jewish communities across Mexico and the Caribbean region traveled to Cancun, Mexico for a Kinus Hashluchim. Whole story
For many, the city of Cancun evokes an image of sand, sea and good weather. What is not as well known is that Cancún is home to a thriving Chabad center headed by Rabbi Mendel and Rochel Drukserving local Jews and tourists who frequent the Mexican resort.
But earlier this month, the center welcomed a whole new group of visitors, when a Kinus HaShluchim stood within its walls.
The Shluchim, who lead emerging Jewish communities across Mexico and the Caribbean region, have traveled great distances to inspire and be inspired, to share and learn, and to spend time with their fellow Shluchim.
The Shluchim were joined by Rabbi Moshe Kotlarskyvice-president of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch, rabbi Mendy Kotlarski of Merkos 302, and Rabbi Mordechai FarkashShliach and Rav in Bellevue, WA, and mentor to many Shluchim.
For two and a half days, the Shluchim davened and learned together, enjoyed shiurim and workshops, and mostly spent time farbrenging with each other, gathering strength for their shlichous over the coming year. .
The central theme of the Kinus was inspired by a 1984 letter from the Rebbe responding to an individual who had written describing himself as “a little Jew from Curacao.” Reminding the writer that every Jew has a “Nefesh Elokis”, the Rebbe writes that “…there is no ‘little Jew’ and a Jew should never underestimate his enormous potential”.
For the Shluchim serving the Caribbean islands, these words are a powerful expression of their mission. They traveled to these islands, many of which previously had no Jewish infrastructure, to bring Yiddishkeit to all Jews, however isolated. They set out to build Chabad houses, schools and Mikvaos at each location, recognizing that while the local Jewish population may be limited, the potential of every Jew is limitless.
The growth and success of Shluchim in the Caribbean is unprecedented. Rabbi Mendel and Rochi Zarchi founded the first permanent Caribbean Chabad Center in Puerto Rico in 1999, and today is witnessing an incredible Jewish revival and rebirth in the region with a thriving Jewish community infrastructure serving the growing Jewish population and many visitors to this area historical.
The islands of Aruba, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Bahamas, S. Barths, US Virgin Islands, from Saint Lucia, Saint Martin, the Turks and Caicos Islands were represented at the Kinus. and the country of Mexico.
“Just seeing the places the Shluchim were coming from was already inspiring,” the rabbi said. Moshe Chanowitzshliach to S. Maarten, “ensuring that every Jew is accounted for”.
The Kinus began Tuesday with a welcome and check-in, followed by a joint study of the Rebbe’s teachings regarding shlichus. The rest of the afternoon was used for sessions on successful management and safety.
As night fell, the Shluchim gathered for dinner and a panel discussion, sharing details about themselves and their shlichous, each with their unique opportunities and challenges. The night ended with a farbrengen with Rabbi Farkash, which continued until the wee hours of the morning.
The next day began with Chassidus shiur, shacharis and breakfast. The official opening of the kinus then took place, addressed by Rabbi Kotlarsky and Rabbi Mendel Zarchi. A shiur by Rabbi Farkash followed, addressing critical issues facing contemporary rabbis and the Rebbe’s approach to making Yiddishkeit more accessible and welcoming to every Jew.
After the usual group photo and lunch, the Shluchim went back to sharing their personal experiences in a roundtable-style conversation, which quickly turned into an hour-long chat that lasted all afternoon. Each shliach had the chance to speak and share what one participant called “a continuous farbrengen”.
The evening brought the gala banquet, hosted by Rabbi Berel Pewzner and addressed by Rabbi Mendel Druk, the host Shliach. Members of the local Jewish community in Cancun and Playa Del Carmen joined in and spoke to the Chluchim, sharing the impact of the Rebbe’s Chluchim on their personal lives.
The banquet was again followed by a farbrengen, which continued smoothly from the afternoon. With their singular experiences, but with so much in common, the Shluchim told stories, anecdotes, vertelach and inspiration from their shlichus, sharing their challenges and triumphs, with the ever-present theme of “Ashreinu mah tov Chelkeinu “, how lucky we are to be the Rebbe’s Shluchim in the final frontier to bring Mashiach.
The Kinus ended the next morning after Chassidus, shacharis and a visit from the local mosdos, after which each shliach returned to their makom hashlichus, returning encouraged and energized to continue their holy mission of proclaiming that there is no “Nothing like a little Jew!”