Jul 9, 2014
What Shluchim's Kids Taught Me
David Nesenoff with the Feigelstock siblings in Asuncion, Paraguay

Returning from a trip to Paraguay, lecturer Dr. David Nesenoff reflects on the children of Shluchim he has met in his travels.

By Dr. David Nesenoff

It's easy to get there. I took American Airlines to Buenos Aires, a local TAM flight to Paraguay, a delayed plane back to Buenos Aires, a car to the river, a boat to Uruguay and then again down the river to Argentina. It's just another Chabad speaking tour. But there's never "just" when it comes to the world of Chabad.

I remember a couple of years ago when my wife and I drove up to Morristown, N.J. to see our son Adam for the yeshiva's parent Shabbos. My old college roommate called and asked what I was up to. I told him that I was heading up to my son's Chabad yeshiva. He then started yelling at me, "You got to get him out of there! They'll brainwash him! They have bars on the windows! Are you crazy?!"

I tried to switch the topic, so I asked him what he was doing. He said to me, "My wife and I are flying out to California to visit our son for parent visiting weekend." I asked him as to where his son was. And he replied, "He's in Los Angeles at a drug rehabilitation facility."

The irony, absurdity, and reality escaped him.

The Rebbe used to say, and I understand he said it only twice but it has been endlessly repeated, "Ker a velt heint." And he didn't say it softly. The Rebbe proclaimed it like a charge to his cavalry, "KER A VELT HEINT!" "TURN THE WORLD UPSIDE DOWN TODAY!"

I had initially wondered why such a peaceful man would demand such a thing. He didn't say it metaphorically; he was not a poet. When he said to go to Hong Kong or El Paso or Madrid or Dublin, he meant go. So when this Rebbe said to turn the world upside down today, he meant it and he meant "today!"

What could he have possibly been saying? If we turn the world upside down everything would fall out of its place. But as all of us look at this world of ours, we see mass hysteria over the child who wants to learn Torah and deep sympathy for the heroin user; our tender Jewish students are kidnapped and killed with a yawning world of apathy while the blood thirsty terrorists are exalted by the nations of the globe. Our world is not merely off kilter; it is not just a little unbalanced. No. Our world is totally upside down.

I think we have all come to realize that when the Rebbe said to turn the world upside down today, he wanted us to do so in order to turn this upside down world upside down ...in order to make it right side up. Many liberal movements talk about Tikun Olam, repairing the world, as if there is a gentle tear that needs stitching. The world is completely in an opposite mode and the Rebbe knew very well that it will need more than readjusting; he demanded, "KER A VELT HEINT!"

And so for Gimmel Tamuz commemorations I traveled in this world to Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay coordinated by the very talented and capable shluchim Rabbi Levi and Etti Silberstein. I was the keynote speaker for a joint gathering of 20 Chabad houses with an audience of 2,000 at the Sheraton in Buenos Aires. I was honored to do so. Last year the Rebbe's secretary Rabbi Yehuda Leib Groner spoke and the year before the presenter was Rabbi Avraham Shemtov. As a speaker, I endeavor to inspire and motivate my audiences. But I also personally need to be recharged; and I was re-zapped and re-jolted and refocused in a small shul in Paraguay.

I met 12 year old Chana Feigelstock in Asuncion, Paraguay, the daughter of the kind and calm Shaliach Rabbi Levi Feigelstock. Reb Levi is a man of patience with a generous smile and genuine humor. He explained with soft sarcasm, "The traffic signals here in Paraguay are just suggestions and recommendations." His multi-talented wife, Miriam, during my visit was under the weather, and G-d willing she is fully recovered and back to all her good Shlichus and family work.

But their remarkable daughter Chana prepared, baked and looked after her siblings and was host to me all the while setting up for my upcoming audience's buffet... AND substituted for her mother, almost single-handedly, running the community children's program. Chana attended my presentation in the evening and asked thoughtful questions... and then after the audience left and went home, she continued her work and put all the remaining food away and helped clean up with her younger siblings under her care.

Chana didn't need to be asked or told or instructed. She knew what to do. She speaks Hebrew and Spanish and English and some Yiddish and Portuguese thrown in as well. She smiles with such pure enjoyment while doing everything she does. She is aware, sharp and alert to all that is going on around her Chabad house and she breathes the mission of her parents.

Turning this upside down world around to make it right and correct certainly sounds like a huge undertaking, but the Rebbe's Chana does it with ease and grace and holiness. Indeed I try my very best to inspire my Shluchim and their communities, but the children of the Shluchim continue to allow me to meet the Rebbe and understand the world he wishes to create.

En masse, the secular semi-comatose youth of the world are glued to the headset, television, twitter, Facebook, movies and magazines, while the Chanas and Mendels and Devorahs are resuscitating neshamas. And as teenagers are chauffeured off to the mall and college students loiter at the bar, all the while leaving their dirty dish on the table and socks on the floor, Chaya, Saraleh and Mendel are creating, producing and designing an environment that changes the very direction of the universe.

Every psychologist, sociologist, survey and philosophy claims that we are the product of our environment. You are who you are because of your parents, school, town, community, government and peers. But the Rebbe said, "A chosid macht a svivah." "A Jew makes his environment." The chosid enters and it becomes a chosideshe place. Peer pressure is replaced with independent initiative. Shmutz and beer transform into Shma Yisroel and Birkat HaMazon.

For sure, it takes a little more nerve and chutzpah and forwardness for anyone to go against the flow, especially for a young one to do so. But the Rebbe said to turn the world upside down and the way to do that is by our young ones creating an environment that is contrary to that which is being detrimentally dished out and dangerously slopped into society. Transforming the environment and turning around the world does not take place by conformity and comfort ability; mitzvos and mivtzoyim are needed.

Because of 12 year old Chana in Paraguay, the Rebbe's hope for the world is in full force. During the Rebbe's Yahrtzeit there is a desire and extra push to connect with the Rebbe's life. We watch videos, read biographical books and gather together; we talk and listen to speakers like myself. But ultimately the children of Chabad are the holy conduits; they are the eternal living breathing kaddish that celebrates the Rebbe.

As the 20th year of the Rebbe's physical passing passes and a new decade begins, we can rediscover his sustaining soul when we give extra attention and praise and care to our children; they are literally the children of Israel. For them we must strengthen our efforts to turn the world upside down in the only way we know how... we must make sure there are extra tfillin wrapped; we must strongly encourage all our women of valor to light Shabbos candles; and for all to do mitzvos and mivtzoyim.

And may Chana of Paraguay and all our children be blessed with health, safety and sanctity as they bring the coming of the Moshiach... after they've helped us turn this world right side up.

May Hashem bless the children of Israel... and the children of Shluchim.

Most Read Most Comments

Opinions and Comments
thank you
A Beautiful, insightful and inspiring article and well written too.
(7/10/2014 12:03:51 AM)
As usual, a really good read.
Dr. Nesenoff has something special going on, and it's always a pleasure to hear the latest inspiration from him.
(7/10/2014 12:07:48 AM)
luv the windows with the bars in motown
cracked me up -
(7/10/2014 12:35:43 AM)
As always, moving!
Beautiful & perfect message!
(7/10/2014 12:47:51 AM)
so beautiful!
Wow truly special to read about children of shluchim! Chana keep up your great work!
(7/10/2014 12:54:26 AM)
I love you!
(7/10/2014 12:56:47 AM)
Chana you are always an inspiration!
Yisher koach to this amazing shluchim Levi and Miri, much naches always from all your kids!
con mucho carinio, los primos de Toronto.
(7/10/2014 1:06:48 AM)
May you continue being an inspiration
You always strike a cord in the Neshomah. Hashem has blessed you and you are sharing His blessings with us. Thank you!
P.S. Heard you in P.B. FL. and you were great. Do you write a weekly or monthly column? I would like to subscribe.
(7/10/2014 5:03:28 AM)
I have met Chanale before and she is definantly something special, she is the true example of a Shlucha's child.
(7/10/2014 6:48:22 AM)
Leah T.
Proud of you Chanaleh!
(7/10/2014 7:36:58 AM)
Giant strides - the Rebbe's silent footsteps....
The Rebbe's greatness was most expressed in his notice and appreciation of a small child, a simple act of kindness, the whistling of a lively Chossid at a farbrengen, a mother's happiness, a true spontaneous smile, two pennies dropped in a Tzedaka box, the light of a little girl's Shabbos candle, the unwritten, unconventional, sincere prayer of "We want Moshiach Now!"
Dr. Nesenoff reminds us to "open our eyes", (even through
the tears) to what a Chossid should "see"!
Thanks for "noticing" and defining the Rebbe's message and legacy so beautifully - Yishar Kochecha!
T. Hecht - Israel
(7/10/2014 7:59:39 AM)
You are the most amazing girl! So special and inspiring! May you keep giving your parents nachas and continue your amazing work! I love you and miss my Paraguay family! Chanale, mottul, devo, ,blumi, shaina, mendel and of course the amazing levi and miri! Miss you all!
(7/10/2014 9:09:17 AM)
Go Chanala!
A true Chayol and Shlucha of the Rebbe down in Paraguay.
We are so proud of you and honored that you are our cousin!
Hatzlocha to all the Shluchim and their wonderful children! You are bringing Moshiach here!
Balfour Cousins
(7/10/2014 9:21:28 AM)
Yasher Koach!
the apple doesn´t fall far from the tree, when you hear of the deeds u think who were the parents who raised her, may you all have abundance and reveal blessings, health, peace wealth and hatzlacha!
(7/10/2014 9:32:47 AM)
David Nesenoff in Paraguay
Wow, very powerful, inspirational article. Beautiful written as usual. We are so very proud of the work that you are doing for our Jews all over the US and the world.
Aunt Judy and Uncle Bernie
(7/10/2014 10:04:02 AM)
Chanale, you are amazing! Keep it up!
(7/10/2014 10:07:37 AM)
Thank you David and Chanale! Keep up your great work. Now I'm off to do my best with my new day.
(7/10/2014 10:48:00 AM)
If you want to get inspired...
Go spend a weekend with the shluchim in Paraguay.
I am talking from personal experience.
Eliezer Shemtov
(7/10/2014 11:48:00 AM)
Another way to get inspired...
Visit the Shemtov's Gen 2 and 3 in Uruguay..
From personal experience... :)
-Proud father, Shver and grandfather
(7/10/2014 11:50:42 AM)
Yasher Koach Chanale .
Thank you David for sharing this inspiring piece. So special to hear about our hard working , dedicated,niece Miri (Schtroks) Feigelstock and her very amazing Chanale. From your family in Surrey, British Columbia.
(7/10/2014 11:54:34 AM)
Old Jewish guy
Dr. Nessinoff good stuff. I traveled the world since I was 18 years old. Did lots of time out in the Southwest in the 50'. Never religious but New York Jewish. From than on it was difficult to be a "Jew" out of NYC or anywhere for that matter. I found the Chabad policy of welcome in many strange places in the world. Always welcoming, always friendly and comforting. My parents are buried at Old Montifiore with Rabbi Schneerson and it has become a shirine to his great work. Keep up the soft sell David, it's really a great cause for all of mankind.
Phyllis and Woody
(7/10/2014 11:56:51 AM)
thanks for the inspiration. kol hakavod to these shluchim, Levi and Miri, for raising their kids with such dedication and happiness without schools, family etc. etc.
(7/10/2014 12:20:35 PM)
Levy, if you're not gonna take the credit for a lot of the amazing programs in Argentina for the past two years, someone else will make sure the word gets our there !

(7/10/2014 12:39:18 PM)
Thank you David Nessenoff
Thank you for sharing this! So beautiful to hear about my dear family far away in Paraguay!
(7/10/2014 12:55:01 PM)
a proud classmate
chanale.. you are a example for everyone around you!
keep up the good work!
your classmate
(7/10/2014 12:55:28 PM)
You're all amazing!
So blessed to have such an amazing sister - Miri and niece! Kol hakavod Chanale!! I always knew you were so special as well as all your siblings - mottel, devorah, blumi, shaina, mendel! I miss you all and it was so great to read this article!
(7/10/2014 12:59:38 PM)
Long Island New York
Thank you David for sharing and Wow! Miri, Chanale and the whole family, so nice to read up about what we know is so true of you and all the shluchim. Continue your great shlichus.
(7/10/2014 4:00:02 PM)
proud of you
Feigelstocks!! Yasher koach.
(7/10/2014 5:10:59 PM)
miri you rock!
And so do your kids!
(7/10/2014 6:48:10 PM)
go chana!
go chana!
(7/10/2014 10:28:17 PM)
beautiful! :)
Beautiful essay, thank you so much! :)

Over the years I have found that often children are actually the best shluchim of all.

Can't help remembering the sweet song "It's gonna be the little kinderlakh...."

Keep up the good work. :)
(7/11/2014 3:20:48 PM)
Miri, I'm hardly surprised! like mother, like daughter
from ur former neighbor (white laffy taffys and more:)
(7/11/2014 7:15:13 PM)
GO CHANNNAAA!!!!!!!!!!!!
Your classmate :D
(7/11/2014 8:46:00 PM)
Your former classmate....I never knew much about you...but reading this article has really inspired me...maybe it's because I'm no longer on shlichus (directly) at home and am "sent off" to be a border at some far away school....but thanks...for inspiring this article....keep going...YOU GO GIRL!!

-Menucha, former classmate
(1/11/2015 12:21:27 AM)
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