Main Events

Dov Zakheim (right) with
Chaplain Col. Jacob Goldstein and
Larry Spiewak.

Rabbi Israel Lau (center),
Rabbi Tuvia Teldon and Larry Spiewak.

Rabbi Tuvia Teldon and
Stanley Shuckman.

Lubavitch assembly on Pentagon lawn.

Rebbe Didn’t Leave Legacy,
He left Marching Orders

Story and Photos By Tim Boxer

N a recent flight to Los Angeles, Larry Spiewak of Brooklyn found himself next to Bill Cosby.  “What do you do?” the actor asked. “I manufacture those annoying little T-shaped plastic tags you find on merchandise,” Spiewak said.

“From that you make a living?”

“I’m sitting with you in first class, aren’t I?”

Spiewak, who sports a stubble, found himself last week in the thick of black beards and black hats on the lawn of the Pentagon. He joined some 500 Chabad Lubavitch shluchim (emissaries) from 40 countries who gathered to commemorate the terrorist attack six months ago.

Actually they were in Washington to commemorate the centennial of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s birth with two days of lectures and a bit of sightseeing, hosted by American Friends of Lubavitch under the direction of Rabbi Levi Shemtov.

Under Secretary of Defense Dov Zakheim, who’d been briefly in the running as Yeshiva University president Norman Lamm’s successor, was one of the speakers at the Pentagon gathering.

Calling America “the greatest country in the world,” Zakheim delivered a dvar Torah (sermon), expounding on the halachic (Jewish law) requirements of a poor man bringing a meal offering in the Temple.

Chaplain Jacob Goldstein, who’s been on duty at New York’s Ground Zero since day one, said he joined the Army 26 years ago at the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s insistence.

Many of the Hasidim scrambled to have their picture with Israeli Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau. When his escort said it was time to get back to the car, Lau sighed, “If they will let me – I’m here as a hostage.”

At lunch in the Capital Hilton, Max Kampelman, chairman of the American Academy of Diplomacy, said the essence of the Mideast problem is “political ignorance.”

“To call the West Bank ‘occupied territory’ is an outrage,” he said. “No one refers to Kashmir or Cyprus as occupied territory. These are areas in dispute.

“There is no legitimate excuse to call Israel’s presence on the West Bank as ‘occupied.’ Both Arabs and Jews have historic claims to the area. Our task is to educate.”

Hadassah Lieberman said her husband, Senator Joe Lieberman, could well appreciate the Lubavitch global presence.

“My husband was in Tashkent and went out to look for a minyan so he could say Kaddish. There was a minyan there – thanks to Lubavitch.”

In a lecture in the Library of Congress, Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz called upon the Jewish world to cast away petty interests and prepare for “the big change, the coming of Moshiach.”

“I’m talking about changing your life,” he said.

“The Rebbe did not leave a legacy. He left marching orders.”

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