When talk begins about the Lag B'Omer parades in New York, some of the memorable moments with the Rebbe come to mind; the joy that radiated from the Rebbe's face, the keen interest he had in each and every child that marched by, the encouragement the Rebbe gave as the floats and marching bands passed in the parade's grand procession.
Yet, one cannot forget one iconic figure that was has been so part and parcel of these memorable moments: The event's MC, Rabbi J.J. Hecht.
With both gusto and energy, Rabbi Hecht would enthusiastically introduce each child - children from all corners of the world - as they would lead everyone in the recital of the 12 Pesukim; following each Sicha (talk) Rabbi Hecht would translate the Rebbe's words into an English that children of all ages could understand; and with excitement that was so contagious, he would introduce each float, band and school as they would pass before the Rebbe. This description barely scratches the surface of a man whose relationship with the Rebbe was one that few were privy of.
They say that the apple does not far from the tree. Rabbi Mendel Duchman, a son-in-law to Rabbi Hecht, is a stranger to no one, especially in Los Angeles. His selfless care and devotion to the community, and to the youth in particular, is unparalleled. It was 9 years ago that Rabbi Duchman founded, "Kol Yaakov Yehuda", a shul in LA, "For the Kids, by the Kids". The shul, named after Rabbi Hecht, is a full-fledged, weekly Shabbos morning minyan for the young boys and girls in the Jewish community. The shul is packed week in, week out, as children from all over come to take part in a proper davening yet with a youthful atmosphere. The energy and life that Rabbi Duchman brings to shul as he guides the children to daven the way Yidden and Chassidim should, has made it a flagship program which youth minyonim the world over have begun to emulate.
The Los Angeles Lag B'Omer Parade is thus proud to share, that following in his Father-in-Law's footsteps, Rabbi Duchman will MC the 12 Pesukim in this year's Lag B'Omer parade. With the addition of Rabbi Duchman as MC, the parade is sure to be one the Rebbe will be most proud to take part of.