Song "Shliach" Chabad Telethon

A Shliach Through Song

When the Jewish people came out of Egypt and saw their salvation; they raised their voices in unity and sang a song of praise to G‑d. Beyond prayer, that song, Shira (in Hebrew), was a harmonious choir that at that moment brought together the Jewish people in recognition of their creator.

The modern redemption from the Soviet Egypt and the Russian prison of the iron curtain with its gulags and red banners, it too has a choir that raises its voices in song and brings the culture and melodies of the Jewish people to them.

If in Egypt no Jewish man or woman changed their Jewish clothing or their Jewish names, it was the adults who could raise their voices in song; from the Russian exodus whose generations of adults had Judaism snuffed out by successive persecutions and oppressions, it must be the children who sing their Shira.

M Generation represents that generation of children. The children that are returning to the Judaism so foreign to their parents and its name, M-Generation stands for Moshiach's Generation. The generation of the final exodus to come, and will leave all exiles behind forever.

In 1988 the Lubavitcher Rebbe told Rabbi Hershel Okonov of the overwhelming number of Russian Jewish immigrants that had no background in Judaism and were too ashamed to come to a Shul. They needed a place to turn, a spiritual center, the Rebbe said. That haven, a once declining shul, now serves as the primary Jewish center for Russian Jews in Brighton Beach. It later became the birthplace of M Generation.

Though in 1988 the group's members who range in age from 5 to 12 were as yet unborn, in 2003 they debuted as his youngest shluchim, messengers of the Rebbe spreading yiddishkeit in song. The group's song, Shliach, attests to that.

Rabbi Hershel Okonov, as the vice president of the FREE organization serves as the Rabbinical Director along with Baruch Rukiter, the art director who organizes and works tirelessly on the group. The original lyrics and musical compositions set M Generation apart from other children's choirs, resulting in M Generation's first place award at The Golden Menorah international competition.

Singing in Russian, English, Yiddish and Hebrew, M Generation went from Brighton Beach to Berlin and Dusseldorf and even Gracie Mansion represented by New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg. Their audiences vary; they performed at the Chabad Telethon along with top Hollywood stars as well as to ommunities of elderly Russian immigrants around the world. The old familiar folk songs such as Oyfen Pripichik sung by Jewish children, brought tears to their eyes as they wept. They rejoiced, seeing that despite centuries of Russian oppression Judaism is thriving, especially among the children. Blending original compositions with classic Jewish melodies, original lyrics with timeless words, M Generation can be summed up in their performance of Uvau HaOvdim, the return of those lost in the land of Assyria. It is symbolic of the return of those Jews who had lost their Jewish identity in the Soviet Exile.

Where words fail to make an impact on the intellect, it being so far removed from its Jewish roots, music reaches the heart, the heart of the exiled Jew returning home.

Thus the song itself becomes a shliach, a conduit. The harmonious and poignant melodies of children, the Rebbe's youngest shluchim reach out and touch the heart. They bear the Rebbe's message and carry it forward for all eternity.
Rabbinical Director Rabbi Hershel Okonov

Article by Nechamah Sarah Shwartz