Our “Trip to the Shtetl” group, taken outside 770 Eastern Parkway, the Chabad Lubavitch International Headquarters.

Our “Trip to the Shtetl” group, taken outside 770 Eastern Parkway, the Chabad Lubavitch International Headquarters.

A collegial and enthusiastic busload of NCJW, West Morris members and non-members shared a beautiful autumn day exploring the Ohel at the Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, and the Hasidic community in Crown Heights. The outing was made all the more meaningful through the leadership, insights, community contacts and personal reminiscences of Rabbi Shalom Lubin, spiritual leader of Congregation Shaya Ahavat Torah in Parsippany and director of Chabad of Southeast Morris County in Madison. Rabbi Lubin also is one of NCJW, West Morris’s most popular lecturers.

The Ohel (meaning “tent”) is the resting place of the seventh Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, and his father-in-law, the sixth Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Y. Schneersohn. As is customary, many of the group members wrote a brief letter to the late Rebbes, requesting specific blessings. These notes were added to the thousands already left at the Rebbes’ graves.

Gaining further personal insight into the Rebbe, the group was captivated during a most cordial visit with Mrs. (Rebbetzin) Binyomin Klein at her home; the late Rabbi Klein was a longtime aide and member of Rebbe Schneerson’s secretariat, a high-profile secretary of state–like position. While hosting the NCJW members, Mrs. Klein shared personal stories and the kinds of work her husband did with and for Rebbe Schneerson.

A tour of the Chabad Lubavitch International Headquarters at 770 Eastern Parkway included the Rebbe’s book-filled study and the historic 250-square foot World Lubavitch Communications Center, used primarily in the 1950s and 1960s to broadcast Rebbe Schneerson’s talks to 118 sites around the world.

At HaSofer (meaning “The Scribe”), on Kingston Avenue, Crown Heights’ primary retail street, Rabbi Lubin and one of the HaSofer scribes—those calligraphers who hand-write the scrolls and prayers inserted in mezuzot and craft tefillin—described and demonstrated the intricate processes by which these holy items are made.

The final event of the day was an incredible herring tasting at Benz’s Gourmet Appetizing on Kingston Avenue, hosted by Benz himself. For all, this experience forever laid to rest any thought that herring came only in wine sauce or creamed.

—Ilene Dorf Manahan