VIDEO: Thousands of Hasidic women come together to celebrate Rebbetzin legacy
January 28, 2019 By Liliana Bernal Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Roughly 3,000 Hasidic women leaders from around the world gathered at a gala on Sunday as part of the International Conference of Chabad-Lubavitch Women Emissaries that takes place annually in Brooklyn and Queens.
Women leaders from places as far as Thailand and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, flocked to the U.S. Armory in Williamsburg to gain inspiration from their peers’ achievements and improve strategies to assist their communities and bring Jews closer to Judaism.
“When I light up my own home, I’m able to illuminate the world,” said one of the speakers to the crowd of Orthodox Jewish women.
These women and their husbands represent the Chabad-Lubavitch, an Orthodox Jewish Hasidic movement known around the world for its outreach efforts. Currently, 4,700 couple emissaries operate Chabad Houses in 100 countries.
In the U.S. there are Chabad centers in all 50 states where these women run daily programs and preschools, counsel and mentor community members and direct and oversee institutions, correcting preconceived notions about the insular role of women in Hasidism.
“The idea of the shluchah [Chabad-Lubavitch women emissarie] just being in the kitchen is not very accurate,” said Malka Phillips, who works at the Chabad headquarters in Brooklyn. “[At] the Chabad, for the past 70 years … women have been on the top of the organization, because the Rebbe [Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson] understood that the women have an ability to create connections and to impact people and connect with people even greater than any man can do.”Although these women acknowledge themselves as skilled society members, they also take pride in their roles as wives and mothers and continue to be faithful to the duty to preserve family as the cornerstone of Jewish life.
Phillips, 32, for example, said the emissaries are change-makers, but that change starts in their homes, in the way they run their families and raise their children.Chanie Loschak, who runs a Chabad of young professionals in Brooklyn, agreed with Phillips and added that Chabad-Lubavitch emissaries are “the biggest feminists,” as they carry a central role in their homes even more than men.
“We believe that women are really at the top of everything, and we are treated that way; we’re respected and trusted that way,” Loschak said.
However, finding the balance between leadership and motherhood can be challenging, she added.
“Having so many responsibilities at home … growing a large family and at the same time we want to be our best for our community and to our members who walk into our home, and that can be a challenge — a beautiful challenge, one that only enhances and beautifies the work we do,” Loschak said.
The conference, which has been celebrated since 1991, honors the legacy of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the wife of Chabad-Lubavitch leader Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, known widely as the Rebbe. The five-day gathering covered a wide range of topics from fundraising and understanding troubled relationships to the opioid epidemic and mental health. The event ended on Monday with a visit to the Rebbe and Rebbetzin gravesite on the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens.