Thursday, June 29, 2006

Growing up with the Rebbe

Mrs Bassie (Posner) Garelik, wife of Rabbi Gershon Mendel Garelik of Milan, Italy, is interviewed by Dafna Chaim and talks about her relationship with the Previous Rebbe and, in particular, the Rebbe. The full interview appears here and contains some interesting reminiscences.

Some snippets:

Talking about her wedding:

The wedding meal was an extremely modest one. In those days, there was no catering, and my mother and aunts cooked the meal. At the yechidus before the wedding, my mother told the Rebbe that it would be a modest wedding so as not to go into debt. The Rebbe was very pleased by this and said, “If only others learned from you and did the same.”

On going on shlichus (in 1959):
A few weeks later, on Sunday the 11th of Kislev, after we finished all the arrangements, we left on shlichus. The day before we left – on Shabbos Parshas VaYeitzei – the Rebbe farbrenged, and spoke about the inyan of shlichus.

The idea of shlichus was new at that time, and our going created a great excitement among Anash. You could feel the excitement in the air. Whoever was present that Shabbos, felt that special atmosphere.

The next day, shortly before we took off, we had a yechidus and received instructions regarding the shlichus. Among other things, the Rebbe said that the purpose of shlichus is to be mekarev the coming of Moshiach. At the end of the yechidus, the Rebbe gave us volumes of Tanya to give to friends of Chabad in Milan, and another Tanya “because you never know who you will meet on the flight ...”

When they opened the first Gan Yisroel Camp in Europe the Rebbe said at a farbrengen:
What all the chassidim of Europe could not accomplish – along with the shpitz Chabad – they accomplished. A girl born in America and a boy born in Russia... Hashem makes matches and He had them meet in the U.S., and then sent them “wandering” to Italy. There they accomplished all the inyanim of the world, and they have yet more to do, in a way of “you shall break forth west and east and north and south.”

He didn’t have a penny with which to buy the camp, but it was bought with loans. There were no children [registered] for the camp, but with strength, with a strong hand, with a great hand, and with an uplifted hand, he gathered children, and now they are full of joy, along with their parents.

Thus, in the environs of Rome – “from the destruction of Yerushalayim was Tzor filled,” which refers to the Kingdom of Rome – a Gan Yisroel was opened on 13 Tammuz 5719, a Shmita Year, in order to spread the wellsprings, in such a way that through the children, the parents will be affected.