In my younger days, I worked in the field of special education for many years, mainly with teens with criminal backgrounds. Because of my work, I was invited in 1964 to participate in the first course in criminology offered by Bar Ilan University, where I studied with other criminal justice professionals, including juvenile court judges, police officers, probation officers, etc.
As part of my criminology studies, I won a scholarship for a year of advanced training in the United States. While there, I decided to use this opportunity to meet with a few leaders of American Jewry, in order to ask them questions which were on my mind as a young Israeli Jew.
I especially wanted to meet the Lubavitcher Rebbe because of my family connection. Like him, I am a descendant of the Alter Rebbe, the 18th century founder of the Chabad Movement, although unlike him, I trace my family tree through the Alter Rebbe’s granddaughter, Rebbetzin Menucha Rochel Slonim, who came to Israel in 1845 and settled in the city of Hebron.
When I called the Rebbe’s secretariat and asked for an appointment, I specified that I didn’t want to see the Rebbe as a chasid – just to introduce myself, ask for a blessing and leave; I wanted to have a proper conversation with him, without being pressed for time. (more…)