Chabad's Children of Chernobyl
SAVE THE DATE Monday, November 24 2014

The Rebbe's Prophetic Vision.

Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson

It is more than 20 years since the Chernobyl reactor exploded and changed the world forever. It was a moment that cannot be forgotten, that will never be erased, a moment that has defined our work and our lives ever since.

Tonight, as we bestow much-deserved honor on three marvelously accomplished individuals who have shown unsurpassed dedication to the Chernobyl children, we are compelled to honor the person who originally created Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl (CCOC) … whose profound vision guided each of us… who recognized, when the rest of the world had not, the damage wrought by Chernobyl.

The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, known to the world simply as The Rebbe, imbued with exceptional insight and understanding. Before anyone else, he saw the need to rescue the children.

CCOC was the Rebbe’s farsighted and wise response to the anguished pleas of parents in the former Soviet Union, who saw their precious children becoming increasingly ill, (and in some cases even tragically dying) from the ghostly effects of radiation poisoning. They also saw an antiquated medical system that was completely unprepared to deal with the consequences of Chernobyl.

As heartbreaking as it was for them, these parents knew that the only hope their children had to survive was to escape permanently from the radiation that continued to poison their environment; they had to send their children away. They looked for help and found it in the Rebbe, to whom they entrusted the lives of their children.

With the Rebbe’s support and commitment behind them, the CCOC staff struggled against terrible odds to bring the first planeload of children out in 1990. 196 children from Gomel and Mozyr were on that inaugural airlift. They met countless obstacles along the way. Chartered planes that “disappeared” before they could pick up the children, airport officials in Minsk who told them to go home, that there would be no flight, new documents that had to be filled out, flight plans that were not in order…

But the Rebbe brought his worldwide influence to bear. It prevailed. And from that first planeload, which arrived just hours before Shabbat on August 3, 1990 until today, it has been the directive of the Lubavitcher Rebbe that has saved 2,428 Jewish children.

When each flight arrived, the Rebbe asked when the next would depart. He would not compromise in his fervor to save the lives of these children.

As a result of the Rebbe’s teachings and influence, the ongoing goal of CCOC has been to bring the children out of the endangered areas, not only restore them to good health but also to give them the lifelong tools they need for happy and successful lives.

It is the Rebbe’s inspiration that fuels every single flight that CCOC evacuates. It creates confidence and hope even when obstacles are placed in our way. And we must also ask ourselves the same question that the Rebbe posed to us: When will the next flight depart?


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