Forty Years: Life, Love and L'Chaim!

by R. Wineberg - MINNEAPOLIS, MN

August 14, 2002

Any way you flip it, 40 years is a milestone.

"Light, Love and L'chaim" was the spirit and the theme of a gala dinner by Chabad-Lubavitch of Minnesota, celebrating four decades of remarkable achievements in the world of Jewish outreach and education.

Held at the Minneapolis Marriot City Center, the dinner hall swelled with guests who were visibly moved by the occasion. Sharing the moment with them were two United States senators: Joseph Lieberman and former senator Rudy Boschwitz. Lieberman, who ran with Al Gore in the last presidential campaign was the evening's keynote speaker. Senator Rudy Boschwitz, a prominent republican who served as state representative for Minnesota for many years, was honored at the dinner together with his wife.

At opposite ends of the political spectrum, the two senators share a love and reverence for Rebbe—whose hundredth year was also celebrated at the dinner, named "Celebration 100/40." Speaking of the individual behind the inspiration for the achievements of Chabad-Lubavitch in Minnesota, Lieberman said: "The Lubavitcher Rebbe was the most eminent Jewish leader of our time." The senator then went on to share personal anecdotes of his experiences with the Rebbe. Senator Boschwitz was recognized for his deep loyalty and support (he is the chief fundraiser for Chabad-Lubavitch of Minnesota) ever since he met Rabbi Moshe Feller some 37 years ago.

“A world-famous democrat presenting a prominent republican with an award for his support of Lubavitch is a sight you don’t see everyday,” Rabbi Moshe Feller, founder and director of Chabad activities in Minnesota, told the audience of over 400, who filled the ballroom to well beyond capacity. “It tells the world a great deal about their extraordinary love and dedication to Yiddishkeit.”

15 Chabad-Lubavitch couples currently serve the Jewish communities of Minneapolis and S. Paul, Duluth, New Hope, Rochester, and Minnetonka, providing a wide range of social and educational activities including the Lubavitch Cheder, Preschool, day camps, the Wexler Institute Yeshiva, and the Living Legacy holiday awareness programs.

The dinner also celebrated the establishment of the Akerberg Family Campus in West. S. Paul, a sprawling 5 acre property, the new home of Bais Chana, and the center of a young, growing community.

“Chabad of Minnesota’s scope of influence extends well beyond the state,” says Rabbi Feller, a native of Minneapolis, who returned to the city with his wife Mindel in 1962 to establish a Chabad presence that has since grown into a statewide network of institutions, “With programs like our Bais Chana Womens Institute (see archives: The Fifth Commandment), the Chabad Hospitality Center at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, and Inward Bound, an educational camping experience for Jewish businessmen, we have been successful in changing the lives of Jews from around the world.”

Rabbi Feller, ever the incurable optimist, looks ahead to the next 40 with fresh enthusiasm. True, forty years is a milestone. But in the spirit of traditional Jewish "L'chaim to 120 years"—Chabad-Lubavitch of Minnesota has only just begun . . .

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