Chassidim the world over are celebrating the Yom HaBohir Chof Ches Sivan, commemorating the Rebbe's arrival on the shores of the USA, "ish ubeiso", after escaping from Nazi- overrun Europe. This very auspicious day changed the course of Yiddishkeit in the USA, and indeed in the entire world.
A very brief time-line of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin's escape from Europe is taken from Chabad.org.
"The German invasion of France
On the 8th of Sivan, 5700, the armies of Nazi Germany conquered Paris. A French General offered the Rebbe a residence in the countryside; but the Rebbe, comprehending the true significance of the Nazi occupation, declined the offer and fled Paris on one of the last trains to leave the city. After a perilous passage over the front lines of the occupation, the Rebbe and his wife arrived in Vichy, France.
They remained in Vichy for a few months, then relocated to Nice in Southern France where they stayed until their final escape from Europe. Throughout this time, the Rebbe’s father-in-law -- who had survived the bombing and occupation of Warsaw and had arrived in New York in March of 1940 -- conducted a vigorous campaign to rescue them and bring them to the haven of America.
The Rebbetzin would later recount that throughout their flight from the advancing Germans, the Rebbe retained his characteristic devotion to helping others, and to the observance of even the most minute details of Jewish law and custom. Also characteristically, the Rebbe found a way to focus on the positive aspect of every experience -- even that of a refugee, uprooted from his home and fleeing for his life. Here is an excerpt from a letter the Rebbe wrote about those times:
"Your letter... awakened memories of the time we were together in Vichy and Nice, under conditions to which we were both unaccustomed.
When a person is uprooted from his habitual environment... there come to light certain traits of his inner character as they are in their purity, undistorted by the expectations of society. Often, these traits reveal the hidden good in this person, of which perhaps even he himself had been unaware, because they were hidden under the layers of “manners” and social conventions. Fortunate is the person who does not allow these traits to disappear when he subsequently settles down and finds tranquility..."
On the 17th of Sivan, 5701, the Rebbe and Rebbetzin boarded the Serpa Pinto in Lisbon, Portugal, the ship that would take them to the United States. On Monday, 28 Sivan, at 10:30 A.M., the Rebbe and Rebbetzin arrived in New York."
In honor of the 70th anniversary of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin arriving in the U.S., a special date in Chabad history, “Leben Mitten Rebben” a 12 page booklet has been released.
“Leben Mitten Rebben” was written by Tomim Mendel Jacobs from Cleveland, Ohio. It includes the story of their safe arrival, as well as the commemoration of the day with the Rebbe throughout the years. Shturem presents the kovetz once again for the benefit of Anash in honor of our great Yom Tov.
Click here for Living with the Rebbe
For a very special article on Chof Ches Sivan by Rabbi Shais Taub, click here
To view the Rebbe handing out the special kuntres marking 50 years since escaping war-torn Europe, click play