Browsing some of the galleries of the kinus Hashluchim gala banquet I saw many familiar, unexciting faces, but some of them jumped off the page! Like the two here. The first one is Rabbi Yankel Bleich, Chief Rabbi of Kiev and the Ukraine, who was a guest of his brother Moishe, seated next to him, as was the case last year. Moishe is my landsman, and maybe yours too if you grew up in Boro Park, and is today what you'd call a successful shliach himself in the feminist utopia of Wellesley, Massachusetts. Not exactly where his Stoliner principal expected him to be now, but nice, nevertheless. I think this cooperation - where Lubavitch brings people from the outside, and not just financial backers ("layleaders") - is a big step in the right direction, where all groups respect and work with each other. The 3rd man in the picture is R' Levi Gorelik, son of Reb Gershon Mendel of Milan. RLG is a son-in-law of the Rebbe's mazkir Reb Binyomin Klein, and is a top mashgiach for the OK and a known lecturer in Crown Heights and abroad. ( I hear now that he's no longer associated with the OK, and that he's involved with the RCE/Merkaz Rabbonei Europa I'm not sure if the three know each other or were just placed at the same table.
R Yankel Bleich
The next picture is what really surprised me, especially since the all-important Agudah convention is only a week away, when Reb Abish Brodt, pictured here on the left, is the feature entertainer, bringing Reb Chaim Dovid, Esq., into a frenzy on Motzoei Shabbos at Melava Malka. With him are (L-R) Meir Eichler of Eichler's in Flatbush, Lipa Brennan, who organizes the kinus but is the Administrator at Yeshivas Novominsk and the NR's right hand man, and Yerachmiel Benjaminson, Chief knakker at Tzivos Hashem and the Jewish Children's Museum. I would imagine that AB was the guest of either ME or LB, but I'm not sure where YB comes in here. Maybe he too was just a tablemate here. Why either one of them chose AB as their guest is not something I know; maybe one of you can enlighten us. I would think that he - being a staunch supporter of the Agudah and BMG - would not be very fond of Lubavitch, but I could be very wrong. Maybe the times they are a'changin' after all; maybe this is the dawn of a new era of mutual respect and cooperation after all, and maybe Meir Eichler will be prominently displayed in the picture galleries of this year's convention on Thanksgiving Weekend!