CFHN was founded in 2012 by Australian native Rabbi Mendy Hecht and Brooklyn native Rebbetzin Chaya Hecht.
On October 27, as Shabbat services were underway at Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Robert Gregory Bowers opened fire, killing 11 congregants and injuring seven. The mass shooting was the deadliest attack on the Jewish community in U.S. history.
“This is heartbreaking, and words cannot describe my feelings towards families of the Jewish nation, since we are a part of God,” said Rabbi Hecht. “A sister or brother killed for no reason hurts the entire nation, as these evildoers want to hate anyone.”
Memorials were held in communities large and small, as the Jewish population united in solidarity nationwide, even with non-Jews in synagogues as part of #ShowUpForShabbat.
“Many faiths came to together to grieve,” Rabbi Hecht said. “It is important for support from all, as it tells the world we won’t tolerate it and that everyone stands with the Jewish people. This week especially was a Shabbat to push away darkness, and we had a great turnout.”
For the upcoming Shabbat, Rabbi Hecht said there will be a Torah that was rescued from the ashes of Kristallnacht 80 years ago. Holocaust survivors and their children will be among the congregants.
“Anti-Semitism is on the rise and we have to physically secure our surroundings,” said Rabbi Hecht, who said he plans to meet with local law enforcement over security. “But let’s not forget who we are and what we stand for, so we can push away darkness. Our spiritual pursuits do not end, and we can change the world for the better.”
For greater than half a century, the Shluchim of the Chabad Lubavitcher Rebbe have worked passionately to create a rich Jewish life, and the spirit of the late Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson continues to play a highly influential role.
On Friday, Rabbi Hecht visited the Ohel in Cambria Heights, where the Rebbe was laid to rest alongside his father-in-law, Rabbi Yosef I. Schneerson. It has become a significant site to read prayers and meditate.
“This is where people see miracles every day,” he said. “I walk out of the Ohel with two things in mind: unconditional love towards another and to never be satisfied and take leaps.”
The recent attacks did not prevent nearly 6,000 Chabad rabbis, lay leaders, and guests from 101 countries and every state from gathering at the annual Kinus gala on Sunday evening at Rockland Community College in Suffern.
It was the culmination of the four-day 35th International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Emissaries.
It included uplifting speeches and festive dancing, and symbolized the cultivation and expansion of Jewish life internationally. An annual representation of unity, the first kinus took place in 1983 in a conference room attended by 65 Shluchim.
Rabbi Hecht called it a weekend of inspiration.
“There were amazing stories of emissaries and how effective they have been in various countries, bringing souls back in such beautiful ways,” he said. “It was very special and really brings out what our purpose is and how to be inspired to continue on and do more together with our community lay leaders.”
To learn more, visit chabadfhn.com.