Argentines celebrate 120th birthday of Lubavitcher Rebbe

More than 2,000 people gathered in Buenos Aires on Monday to celebrate the 120th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

THE CELEBRATION for the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Buenos Aires on Monday night. (photo credit: MICHELLE MENDELUK)
THE CELEBRATION for the Lubavitcher Rebbe in Buenos Aires on Monday night.
(photo credit: MICHELLE MENDELUK)

BUENOS AIRES – More than 2,000 people, including businessmen and politicians from across the political spectrum, gathered in Buenos Aires on Monday to celebrate the 120th birthday of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson.

Amid music and dancing, speakers at the event included Tzvi Grunblatt, the main Chabad rabbi in Argentina; US Ambassador to Argentina Marc Stanley; and Ariel Eichbaum, director of AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.

“One hundred and twenty years of the Rebbe’s life leads us to reflect on deep messages. We should do our best to bring light and give strength to our Jewish community through human values” Grunblatt told The Jerusalem Post.

“The people who are here want to celebrate the luck of having a Jewish leader who teaches them permanently,” he said.

Grunblatt announced during the event that the mayor of Buenos Aires proclaimed the day “The Day of Education and Human Development.”

MENACHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON, the beloved Lubavitcher Rebbe. (credit: ZEV MARKOWITZ/CHAIARTGALLERY.COM)MENACHEM MENDEL SCHNEERSON, the beloved Lubavitcher Rebbe. (credit: ZEV MARKOWITZ/CHAIARTGALLERY.COM)

He said that the gathering signifies that although antisemitism still exists in Argentina, the Jewish community keeps on growing with high levels of freedom.

Today, Chabad Lubavitch alone has almost 50 institutions in Argentina, with more people approaching Judaism every year.

“In previous years, the Argentinian Jew used to hide more. He went out to the streets only to demonstrate after an attack, but nowadays that Jew goes out to express himself freely as a Jew”, said Grunblatt.

Ambassador Stanley, in his speech, said, “It´s a privilege to be here tonight to remember the legacy of the Rebbe, who had such a profound influence not only in Jewish people but in the entire world. He was an inspiration, and these kind of values brought me where I am today, the first Jewish American ambassador to Argentina”.

Congressman Waldo Wolff was one of the special guests. He recognized Chabad Lubavitch as a key institution in charitable action.

“Day by day, the big effort of Lubavitch as a representative of Judaism accomplishes a transcendental mission,” he told the Post.

Wolff also talked about antisemitism and religious freedom, saying, “Being a political actor, I must say that we Jews in Argentina live very well nowadays. Although there is antisemitism, it is not an antisemitic country and, when civil society faces discrimination, it repudiates it more than before”.

Well-known Argentinian economist Matías Tombolini felt inspired during the event. He came closer to Judaism after reading the Rebbe’s biography, and said he thought Jewish values were constantly expanding through the country.

“The Lubavitch message is an opportunity for those who used to look at Jews with distrust, to look at us from a different and better point of view,” he said.

Eduardo Elsztain, one of the most prominent businessmen in Latin America, also attended the event, and recalled getting to know the Rebbe when the young businessman was 24 years old.

“The first time I visited him,” he said, “I remember waiting for an hour for the Rebbe to give me a dollar. But the experience was so inspiring that from then on I started visiting him every Sunday. He used to answer all of my questions from a spiritual and also material point of view.”