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Monday, September 27, 2021
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LifeTown dedicates an interactive exhibit about the Lubavitcher Rebbe.

(Courtesy of LifeTown) Friendship Circle in Livingston marked the 27th anniversary of the passing of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson of blessed memory, with the installation of an interactive exhibit that includes photos and videos showing the Rebbe’s love and care for every individual.

The video and photo exhibit is prominently featured in the new welcome area inside LifeTown, a recreational, social and educational center that houses Friendship Circle programs. The exhibit was dedicated by Livingston residents Larry and Barbara Ellberger, who credit the Rebbe for so many blessings in their lives, including their children.

“I like to think of the Rebbe as Hashem’s gift to the world,” Larry Ellberger said during the dedication. “Like he gifted manna that sustained the Jewish people in the physical desert of the Sinai, the Rebbe sustained the Jewish people in the spiritual desert that exists in this generation.

“I think Hashem’s gift of the Rebbe is even better than the gift of the manna, because, as we know, the manna stopped after 40 years, but the Rebbe is the gift that keeps on giving.”

The exhibit contains a collection of images of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, showing him interacting with children and with injured Israel Defense Forces soldiers. It also includes an interactive video kiosk where visitors can watch videos.

According to Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum, CEO of Friendship Circle and LifeTown in New Jersey, the timing of the dedication could not be better. “The Rebbe continues to inspire everything we do at Friendship Circle and LifeTown, so it is especially meaningful that we dedicated the exhibit on Gimmel Tammuz.”

Gimmel Tammuz is the Hebrew date marking the passing of the Rebbe on June 12, 1994.

The display was created in partnership with JEM, Jewish Educational Media, and the video kiosk features all of JEM’s ‘70 Years’ videos. The documentary-style videos capture a wide array of subjects that appeal both to those who know about the Rebbe and to the many who may not be familiar with the Rebbe’s teachings.

“It’s very exciting to us to help create this installation,” said Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, executive director of JEM. “Working with everyone at LifeTown was a great experience because they were focused and worked collaboratively with our team. It’s especially meaningful that the exhibit focuses on individuals with special needs, because that’s an area that is so near and dear to the Rebbe.”

In numerous letters and conversations, the Lubavitcher Rebbe stressed that every soul has a unique mission on earth and that every person has unlimited potential. He urged community leaders to ensure that individuals with special abilities are included in every aspect of the community and have educational and lifelong opportunities to contribute to society.

It is the Rebbe’s work and teachings that guide the Friendship Circle’s mission to ensure that every child, regardless of their unique abilities, enjoys the benefit of friendship in the Jewish community.

Rabbi Levi Grossbaum, director of operations at LifeTown, worked extensively with the team at JEM to create the exhibit and says it is already a hit with visitors to the center.

“We are so appreciative to everyone at JEM for their commitment to this project and for going above and beyond to create this exhibit,” he said. “The curators and programmers worked hard to find the appropriate photos and videos to bring the Rebbe’s message of inclusion and love to everyone who visits LifeTown. These messages resonate now more than ever.”

While all Chabad houses have a photo of the Rebbe prominently displayed, the interactive video kiosk that was created for LifeTown will be available for Chabad centers around the world to replicate. Each kiosk can be adapted to the specific needs or interests of individual Chabad houses and can utilize the amazing collection of videos that JEM produced as part of the ‘70 Years’ project.

“The Rebbe taught that as the world evolves, we need to embrace technological advancements and to explore new opportunities that they present,” said Yaakov Rozenblat, director of technology at JEM. “These interactive exhibits have been requested many times by shluchim, but this is the first time it’s been put into practice. This project brought together the creativity and expertise of the team at LifeTown and great content on our end. We were thrilled to do this with LifeTown, and we are sure it will spur others as well.”

Added Rabbi Zalman Grossbaum: “Every day people are being inspired by Chabad rabbis and rebbitzens sharing the Rebbe’s message. Having this video kiosk will bring the Rebbe’s message directly to people on their own level and in a setting they feel comfortable in, making it all the more accessible and personal.”

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