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Sunday, April 03, 2011
Million-Dollar Challenge Set to Expand Farbrengen Project



Federman at the Ohel, moments after naming his daughter 'Chaya Mushka'.

After the success of the Purim Farbrengen of 1973, which had over 100,000 viewers, a young Lubavitcher businessman was disturbed to learn that the Farbrengen release project, scheduled to last one year, was only several months away from ending.

“Why is it ending so quickly?” he demanded.

When he learned that the answer was limited finances, he proposed a challenge. “I will donate $1 toward the continued release of Farbrengens for every person that watches a Farbrengen between now and Gimmel Tammuz.”

And so began one of the more unique challenges in recent times: Between now and Gimmel Tammuz four Farbrengen are scheduled for release on DVD, beginning from Yud Alef Nissan. Each has subtitles in English, Hebrew, French, Spanish and Russian. If each Farbrengen will be watched by 250,000 individuals – a number that’s a stretch, but one that JEM feels is attainable considering the responses Shluchim, schools, and Chabad.org has been getting from the previous Farbrengens – Federman will donate $10,000 toward the release of each upcoming Farbrengen, as they come out. That’s ten Farbrengens – or $100,000 – per year, for the next ten years.

While JEM will still need to fundraise an additional $15-20,000 per Farbrengen, Federman’s commitment provides a solid financial foundation for the project, and will ensure its continuation for a long time to come.

For Federman, the motivation was simple: “I had the opportunity to watch the Purim Farbrengen, and I said, ‘How can we stop a project like this?’ The Rebbe has given us so much; I think it would be a shame not to share the inspiration with the wider public. The Sicha I recently watched from a Farbrengen is a great example – it inspired me for weeks! It’s time we stopped being so selfish to keep the Rebbe for ourselves. Shluchim around the world and Chabad.org have had tremendous responses from showing them – now we’re going to stop?!”

Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, JEM’s director, says that when Federman informed him of his challenge, he was thrilled, but not shocked: “Ben and Rochel are leaders in a growing new generation of young Lubavitch partners who adopt causes that are close to their hearts, are super-generous, results-oriented, and laser-focused. And they always challenge others to give, as well.”

Federman is also the primary donor of the Federman Video Collection, the effort to preserve the videos of the Rebbe.

JEM is in the midst of a number of other major initiatives. In addition to their weekly Living Torah videos, the current Farbrengen series, a massive preservation and access drive, and the My Encounter with the Rebbe interview project, they now have another major initiative on their hand. “We thought we were already working on all cylinders,” says Shmotkin. “Turns out, we’ll have to turn it up a notch. Time to go out and share the Rebbe with another million people!”

As this story goes to press, the Federmans are celebrating the birth of their first-born baby daughter, whom they named Chaya Mushka, after the Rebbetzin of righteous memory. Minutes after naming the baby – on the Rebbetzin’s birthday, no less – the Federmans decided to dedicate the initiative in her honor.

Special packages are being prepared which include invitations and materials for Shluchim, schools, and websites, to help arrange viewings for their crowds. As well, a special selection will be presented by Chabad.org. Stay tuned for further details.

Any member of Anash who wishes to set up a viewing can request a package at farbrengen@jemedia.org.


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