By Chani M.
was a real busy month, with camp making a beeline for us it was really packed!
On Rosh Chodesh Rabbi P. Ash spoke about his memories of 770 and the Rebbe in the
time of the Rebbes heart attack. His vivid descriptions and fascinating stories
really gave us a taste of what it must have been like actually being in 770
during those years.
evening Mrs. Broh, our Mamor teacher, Farbrenged with us on the concept of
Bitachon and Emunah. It was really nice to have a woman for a change because we
spent a lot of time singing Niggunim and it was beautiful.
the Kinus Hashluchim going on in Crown Heights we filled in the classes with
pre camp training sessions and highlight classes. Mrs. Tenenbaum gave us a
Parshah class and no one in the classroom wanted to move when she finished. We
could’ve sat there for another hour, her knowledge is amazing and it was an
amazing class. All of our teachers came back to Aussie sharing us beautiful
stories from the Kinus. Rabbi Mendy Groner from Chabad of Glen Eira gave us an
inspiring recap of farbrengen, speeches etc. at the Kinus.
got off class one evening to see the song and dance put on by the high school.
It was an incredible performance and the girls were so excited that we came to
Tes-Yud Kislev before camp we had a homey IN Shabbos and Rabbi Wolf joined us.
We Farbrenged about being role models even if we don't feel like we reach the
standards we are giving over. We also farbrengened about what it means to be a
chossid and how we can truly be the most impactful over the summer. The
farbrengen really helped girls feel confident in the spiritual department and
giving over good values to the girls and continued weel into the early hours of
day we had a big meal with all of the staff going up to camp. There was
delicious food and we all talked about what we wanted to accomplish over the
summer. The meal was led by Rabbi and Rebbetzin Moshe and Dina Kahn
Tenenbaum gave the last Farbrengen on Yud Daled Kislev as an end to the
semester. We heard stories and dwelled on what it means to internalize. As
always it was a night of inspiration with actionalization.
is seriously a highlight of the year and a lot of credit is due to the
wonderful courses and knowledge gained. Being an overnight counselor may seem
daunting but with all the prep we really felt prepared. We had courses on
dealing with emotional physical and spiritual matters. We all got certified
with first aid and felt very ready for any emergency. The courses were full of
creative approaches and really applicable information. A new vibe washed
over us as camp approached, everyone started packing supplies and making
had a final meeting after our last class, where we were congratulated on an
amazing first half of learning and growing. We got delicious doughnuts as a pre
Chanukah treat. The girls who had never missed a class were announced and given
a choice of a Sefer that they get to keep. We had a Pre- Chanukah party before
camp at Mrs. Groner's house. She made latkes and we had a DELISH barby. It was
Etty's final program because she was our activity director only first half.
There was a super cute photo booth and then we all got a shock when we watched
a video of our parents wishing us a happy Chanukah. The room was filled with
mixed emotions of embarrassment, love, laughter and tears. We got Chanukah Gelt
from Rabbi T. and played a fun dreidel game with a spin.
after Shabbos we left to camp early in the morning. Arriving in camp we set up
and decorated the camp site. We ended the night in an uplifting farbrengen
focused on our power and on what Yud Kislev means to us as Chabad girls.
campers arrived the next day and we greeted them with excitement and energy. Yud
tes Kislev was the perfect day to start camp, being a Chabad camp yud tes
Kislev is the day we revisit our appreciation for Chassidus. Our theme was
Blast from the Past, focusing on amazing things people in our rich past have
given to us and how powerful this Era is!
school camp is smaller and has this heimesh, special vibe. The second the girls
got off the bus we became role models, mommy’s, friends and caregivers. The
experience of working with high school girls is one of a kind. Every day we
gave shuir, ran activities, made sure the girls were happy in every area. The
food was super good and we got free canteen! There's nothing better than going
to sleep and knowing that all the kids under your care went to bed with a smile
on their face. Being in camp, and being thrown into these intense role model
positions helped us realize how much we know, and how much we have. We spent
nights talking and farbrengening with the girls, laughing and singing with
Chanukah came around a week into to camp we all thought it would be super
weird. Chanukah in camp was so cool and so warm. We really felt like a little
family up in high school camp and sang the Chanukah songs with passion and
vigor. Every night of Chanukah we danced around the Menorah and had special
Chanukah activities. We had a latke MasterChef, a Chanukah staff play and much
much more. Every second of camp was packed beyond words! As fun as it was
it was also inspiring and uplifting. To see girls with such a quench for
Judaism is miraculous and seriously fascinating. We went on fun trips and felt
taken care of and appreciated. The director was always there for us and we
ended every day with meetings and support. Every day we got little thing and a
cute note with a little gift as a thank you. In truth it was a solid two weeks,
with strong feelings of pride and strength in Judaism and maturity. Everyone
says it's the highlight of seminary and it seriously is. High school camp
didn't just change campers but it changed every counselor there. Although
short, it was a bitter farewell.
camp we had time off and most girls went to Sydney. We stayed at wonderful
families and got to see the views and the beauty Sydney has to offer. Hashem
truly created an incredible world. Coming back to Seminary was such a great
feeling. It felt a like coming home. We had a Farbrengen the night we got back
with Rabbi Eli Feldman from Sydney. We talked about the Rebbe and how Hey Teves
really is a significant part of the growth of Lubavitch, how it really was a
fight for the movement we are so happily a part of. The Rebbe fought for the
books not to have them but for us to learn them. So we do!
By Chani M.
Hanging Rock this Rosh Chodesh was the perfect start to the busy
month of Cheshvan. We took a bus early in the morning, we came to Hanging rock
prepared with our sneakers and our walking sticks we trudged up the mountain
only to discover that the path involved some serious climbing on massive rocks.
The views where breath taking and everyone enjoyed climbing up the rocks
profusely. It was a real moment just sitting on top of the rocks and looking at
Hashem’s beautiful handiwork.
We went to the Beth Rivkah graduation to support our future OC
members. It was exciting to watch them graduate and we are all looking forward to
them joining us in January.
Classes this month where exceptional! We ended off our 5 week
session with Mrs. Lisker. We enjoyed her sessions very much and ended off on
the importance of being strong in our feminine Chassidishe values and this will
help our futures, she also stressed the importance of having good direction for
big and small decisions. We then picked up on Bayis Yehudi classes with Mrs
Blesofsky. We started learning about the actions of a Chabad Jewish woman.
While some of our teachers were at the Kinus Hashluchim we
had some very interesting substitutes. We had a 2 session class with Rabbi Jedwab on Inyonim in Chumash. He expounded on
the topic of Yosef and Potifars wife. Both sessions gave us a great insight on
how to learn torah. Rabbi Lang also gave 2 sessions on a Chanukah Maamer that
we profusely enjoyed. The Mammaer was eye opening and full of incredible
insights on Chanukah. Rabbi DL Shmerling gave a 3 session course on creativity.
His classes where both interactive and packed with useful tips for us to use.
We split up into groups and had a gained real tools to use on how to get
creative juices flowing.
Rabbi Winner gave an enthusiastic Farbrengen, He took a real
interest in each girl and spoke about the power we each have in ourselves to
make the decision to learn and really internalize. He suggested all write
inspirational journals to help us remember the things that inspire us. He spoke
about the great Mashpia Rabbi Zweibel Z”L and we got a real insight on the
intelligence he had. Everyone gained and enjoyed the Farbrengen.
Mrs. Ben Shabbat Farbrenged with us and as always we enjoy having
woman Farbrengen because singing niggunim is always nice. She told us about her
life story, which is truly an eventful tale. Full of twists, Mrs. Ben Shabbats
story is a reminder that Hashem runs everything, that the Rebbe is involved in
every step of our life and wants us to reach out and connect. We always enjoy
speaking to Mrs. Shabbat whether it be her house for a Shabbos meal or by a
Farbrengen, she is a real source of inspiration.
Rabbi Blesofsky Farbrenged Sunday night, Chof Cheshvan. He was
leaving to the Kinus the following day. We Farbrenged about the concept of
Chassidim going to see their Rebbe and what it means to be Mekusher. It was an
awesome Farbrengen. Rabbi Blesofsky was as always super great, with stories and
jokes to keep us alert and interested.
We had wonderful guest speakers this month. Mrs. S Althaus from
Sydney taught about Hiskashrus with the Rebbe. She is super passionate and she
gave over helpful tips for us to increase and build our connection with the
Rebbe. She gave hints from the word Hiskashrus that can help us remember the
best way to connect to our Rebbe. She said stories that where mind blowing and
really showed the power of being connected.
Rabbi D. Rahmani is the founder of Back To Basics Sichos. Everyone
was looking forward to having a session with the rabbi who created the
magnificent books that we learn from during Chavrusa. We got a history of how
the idea came about and how it turned from a program made just for Yeshiva
school to sending it out to schools all over the world. Eventually they
realized the power of the idea and the pamphlets turned into a book. Rabbi Rahmani
showed us how to use the books to their fullest potential. Since his class
Chavrusa has really been a time where girls have been using the book to learn
real skills to learn Sichos on their own.
Mr. David Werdiger gave a class on public speaking. He was a great
role model and showed us how tone, words, eye contact, presence, and body
language are all key roles in public speaking. He prepared us for any public
venture we might find ourselves in throughout our lives.
The theme of this month In Shabbos my essence. The whole dining
hall was set up as a boat with blue walls and fish, totally transformed into a
Teivah for Parshas Noach. We played a
super fun games and enjoyed Dvar Torahs prepared by our seminary mates. Rabbi Jacks
spoke about the Parsha and how Noachs story really relates to us. Emunah
and Bitachn are both things that we can truly have in our day to day life.
Rabbi Jacks spoke very practically and we enjoyed him late into Shabbos night.
Shabbaton at Flinders was awesome! We stayed in beautiful cabins.
It was super special because there was 35 beds in the room so Achdus was truly
felt the whole Shabbos. The camp site had wild kangaroos and the lookout was an
image of mountains that seemed endless. On Friday we went swimming and jumped
on a super fun trampoline. We got ready for Shabbos and enjoyed delicious
catered food. The Devreis family joined us as well as Rabbi Tenenbaum and his
family. We played games all Shabbos and enjoyed the warm weather. Rabbi Y
Devreis Farbrenged till very late Friday night, he was full of energy and
inspiration. He talked about how everything we do has an effect whether we see
it or not. Being that he worked in Mayanot for many years he told us mind
blowing stories from his experiences and he was super entertaining!
Rabbi Tenenbaum gave a Chassidus shiur early Shabbos morning about
chitzonios and penimios. It was a great start to Shabbos day. Mrs. Devries
Farbrenged Shabbos day. She told us about her unbelievable life story and the
events that led her up to where she is now. She was extremely pleasant to
Farbrengen with and girls sat with her all Shabbos day and enjoyed speaking to
her about everything under the sun.
Mrs. Tenenbaum gave a shiur on Midrash Shabbos afternoon. We learnt
about all the different types of Midrash and about how the goal for us is to
look at them and take lessons from them. She gave a great Shuir and we gladly
listened to her wisdom. We ended Shabbos with uplifting Seder Nigunim and
stories of the Rabbaim.
Motzei Shabbos we had a game of pass the parcel and following that
a grand Hachlata auction. It was a great way to internalize all the things we
Farbrenged about all Shabbos. It was a fabulous night packed with fun and
Sunday morning we enjoyed a breakfast buffet with fresh doughnuts
and fruit as well as many other foods. It was an uplifting, inspiring weekend
and we thank both families for adding so much to the experience.
The teen challah baker was a real highlight this month. We all got
t-shirts and set out to help the event happen! There was hundreds of teens in
the town hall all excited to make challah for Shabbos. There was an incredible
sense of unity and the dancing topped off the event, making it a truly
CGI Summer Camp is coming up and all month we’ve been having
intense training sessions. Each one being packed with information that is
incredibly helpful. We started off our sessions with an 8 hour CPR course.
Though long, it was full of knowledge and it was a great day of life skill
learning. We had a session of emergency plans, emotional health, spiritual
health and physical health. We feel prepared for any obstacles that may be
thrown at us over camp. We has sessions on how to lift up a camper to be a
leader, how to deal and prevent bullying. We role played and spent time
listening to real life stories and situations, all the session help us feel
like we can truly give each child a most memorable camp experience. Thank you
to all the incredible people from different organizations, showing us how it is
so possible for us to make a change.
The Jewish Task force against family violence came and gave an eye
opening performance about family abuse. It was incredibly heart wrenching and
shook many to the core. We were very eager to talk about the red flags when
dating and the way to help someone close to you, if ever needed Chas Vesholom.
We also had a course on how to identify a child might be in a not
such positive situation. A great woman came and did a workshop on disclosure,
bullying and creating growing, happy, safe environments for children in camp.
We had constant CONNECT sessions with Etty in the dorm following
night classes . Each one started off with inspiring information on a relevant
topic and ended off with a Rebbe video. It’s always nice to end off a long day
with a treat and extra learning. Thank you Etty! We ended off the month with a
Rosh Chodesh Kislev Hachana program and everyone is excited to complete the
entire booklet in the weeks
By Lyba P.
Here we are at the end of another month at Ohel Chana! This
month of Tishrei has been unlike any experienced by our group in the past.
Chodesh Tishrei is unique in the fact that it is begun with the holiest of
atmospheres; that of the Yom Tov, Rosh Hashanah. Rosh Hashanah, a usually
special day in its own right, was only made that much more beautiful by the
superb davening services of the multitude of Shuls available, the amount of
programs we were able to be involved with in various Chabad Houses, and the
inspiring afternoons meeting with high school girls to walk to neighbourhood
nursing homes on mivtzoim. On Thursday, we were treated to a Farbrengen with
Leah Groner, who shattered any illusions we might have had about the term
“Bittul” and through a sicha of the Rebbe helped us see what exactly this
highest of Avodos really means for us.
Then, at the end of the already packed week, we were invited
to Dina and Moshe Kahn’s home for a special Friday night Vov Tishrei Dinner where
they not only made us feel welcome, but really helped us understand our roles
better in the community, and filled us with excitement for the rest of the year
with them. As the meal progressed, we Farbrenged with them on the power we have
as role models and on not only the impact we can have, but all there is to be
gained. Then Shabbos Day was another much awaited In-Shabbos with Aishes Chayil
as the theme, in honour of Vov Tishrei, and the whole of Beth Rivkah’s Year 12
as our Shabbos guests. It was a meal that was unforgettable in nature. The
outpouring of spiritual inspiration didn’t end there, for we were not only
involved in a high school wide program highlighting the importance of Vov
Tishrei and Rebbetzin Chana, but we were treated to Mrs. Paltiel, a cousin with
a personal connection to the Rebbetzin, coming to speak to us about her
relationship and Rebbetzin Chana as both a figure in the history of Chabad and
an amazing woman, using her own personal letters and pictures from the
Rebbetzin to illustrate her point. The sight of so many never before seen
treasures really left a mark on us. I doubt the date of Vov Tishrei has ever
been as significant to any girl in the seminary, especially with the
culmination of our Vov Tishrei Hachana in honour of the Rebbetzin’s Yahrzeit, a
truly and meaningful and memorable to personally celebrate the date, and how
appropriate, as it is Ohel Chana after all.
This led us straight into Yom Kippur, a day automatically
elevated beyond any other, but the experience of it in the dorm with all of
your classmates and friends around you, encouraging each other and supporting
each other, attending shul from all hours of the day, was an experience that
truly connected helped you connect to the importance and significance of the
day. Later that week we had another inspirational Farbrengen with our dorm
counsellors, Perel and Rochel Leah, and
our program director, Etty, in honour of Yud Gimmel Tishrei, the Yahrzeit of
the Rebbe Maharash, where we discussed practically the topic of Lehatchila
Ariber, To jump over our obstacles. Next Shabbos found us all invited to the
Ben-Shabbat household, where we were astounded by their amazing life’s journey
to Melbourne, Australia, all the way from the heart of secular Texas. Theirs is
a story of faith, of understanding, and of trust in the Rebbe and in Hashem. It
touched us all.
Finally came the Chag of Succos, where the rain did nothing
to dampen the spirit of the community of Melbourne throwing open their doors to
hold girls, some for multiple meals! Their warmth and kindness helped us truly
feel the atmosphere of Succos, and though our families were missed, I doubt any
would have traded the experience for anything. The first day of Chol Hamoed was
marked with a community wide afternoon at Luna Park, where with Chabad Youth we
ran the booths, played games, did Mivtza Lulav and still had time to go over
the park ourselves afterwards. To see the whole of the community, so many
people whom we have come to know over the past two and a half months, coming
together to celebrate the simcha of Yomtov was really something special. The
second day of Chol Hamoed was the day of our specially organised paintball
trip! Every girl in the seminary was outfitted with protective gear, a gun and
hundreds of paintballs and unleashed on the terrain. Though returning battered
and bruised, we quickly ran to our Simchas Beis Hashueva programs: Silent Disco
for Beth Rivka Primary and a Fabulous Foam Extravaganza for High School. The
pure simcha radiating off both seminary girls and the girls of the community
was palpable, and the dancing went on well into the night.
On Shabbos of Chol Hamoed, every year of Bnos, Sukkah hopped
around the community, once again enjoying the hospitality of the community and
getting the chance to experience as many different types of Succos as possible.
On Motzei Shabbos, we were instructed on the art of sushi making and enjoying
our own creativity has never tasted so good J
Then after the instruction we all moved to the Tenenbaum’s for delicious
dessert and an amazing speaker in the form of Mrs. Althaus from Sydney who told
us various stories ranging from those about amazing Hashgacha Protis to the
importance and beauty of the mitzvah of Shaitel.
The second days of Yom Tov had us preparing our own meals
and the achdus of the dorm was a lovely thing to witness. On Simchas Torah we
went on Tahalucha to various Shuls, some up to an hour away, with our Bnos
girls, to run their children’s programs and to generally add in the simcha of
the occasion. Then we all returned to the Kahn’s home for a beautifully
prepared Yom Tov meal together before all going to Shul to witness the event of
a pure joy of the Torah itself expressed so clearly until at one point, it
spilled over to have the whole of the shul dancing with the Torahs in the
street, in a beautiful display of Hakafos. The next day had us holding a high
school wide Simchas Torah Symposium where a girl from every year, an Ohel Chana
student, and a shlucha who all came together to speak of their love and appreciation
of Torah and to offer their ideas and tips for us all on our own personal
avodahs. Their sincerity was touching in itself.
After Yomtov we enjoyed a meaningful Farbrengen pre Shabbos Beraishis
with Mrs Miri Lipskier, where discussed boundaries both between each other and
for ourselves. It was an enlightening evening with the give and take of the
room expressing everyone’s involvement and appreciation of the topic. We ended
month of inspiration with Shabbos Beraishis and as they say, how one acts on
Shabbos Beraishis determines how a person acts the rest of the year. I think as
the culmination of the whole of Tishrei, Shabbos Beraishis allowed us to linger
on our thoughts of personal introspection and growth and connection before
finally admitting that “Yaakov Halach Ledarko” and as wonderful as Tishrei was,
with every event both inspiring and moving us, and every Tefillah furthering
our feelings for Hashem into the realm of the practicality, with the end of it
all, it is time to take those feelings and really move them into the realm of
practical action. Although the New Year began a month ago, in many ways, it is
only now the year will truly begin, but with as beautiful of a “forward” as the
Tishrei we just experienced was, I can have nothing but the highest of hopes
for the rest. On our way we do go, but only up from here on in!
By Rosie S.
The month of Elul
has been chock-full of learning, inspiration, excitement and fun. Shortly after
our arrival in Australia we had the opportunity to meet some of its locals. We
took a trip to the Melbourne Zoo, making friends with the koalas and kangaroos.
The enjoyable outing gave us the energy and spirit to jump right back into the
amazing classes that evening.
In our first farbrengen of the month, Rabbi Y Lever relayed to us how judgement is a
good thing. It helps us realize the right from wrong and helps us use others
strengths and weaknesses for good. To pick up Yidishkeit we must tap into the
Rebbe. The human condition is logic, the Jewish condition is
Neshama. Don’t give me a God I can prove, give me a God I can Believe
in. All of the heavy things in Elul and Yemai Ratzon leads us to simcha.
We were all really
excited to start our much anticipated jobs and involvement in Chabad Youth, to
be able to contribute to the community as much as possible. We started on
Wednesday, becoming Tzivos Hashem leaders, leading cheers and songs with our
lively and energetic soldiers. Everyone calculated up their points, and were
pleasantly surprised by how far they’d moved up in rank. We continued with our
loaded week on Thursday with the beginning of Mishmor. Every week we teach the
Beth Rivka students a new mitzvah and finish each session with an engaging
activity relating to what we learned. Fridays are a busy day for everyone, but
we all made an effort to go on Mivtzoim and visit various nursing homes spread
around the neighbourhood. We were greeted with warm smiles and fascinating
stories from both the residents and staff. We conclude each week with a
smashing Bnos program on Shabbos afternoon, with the goal of leaving each child
motivated, knowledgeable and excited to return the following week.
In addition to the
commencement of our Chabad youth activities, we were also introduced to Connect
and Create It programs. On Monday nights, we end off our day with the most
amazing Connect program, during which we strengthen our hiskashrus to the Rebbe
through watching Rebbe videos and by the various things we learn. Create It
programs, on Wednesday nights, are filled with thrilling activities, such as
mug decorating, calligraphy lessons, apple decor crafting and much, much more.
On the next
Wednesday afternoon, Mrs Lederberger strode into the classroom dressed
beautifully with an infectious smile. She shared with us her story of how she
came close to death and survived by a miracle. On her journey to survival she
couldn’t move any of her limbs and came to appreciate her mobility and
everything she can do much more. Her legs were amputated and she returned home
after 6 months of illness she recovered. She shared with us how she lives her
life with Ratzon Moments. Everything that happens that is seemingly just a
coincidence is actually Hashem giving us a moment to ask for brochos. Mrs.
Lederberger left everyone with a renewed look on life and coincidences and a
much stronger view on Hashem running the world.
following farbrengen, Mrs. SB Lesches spoke about all the segulos we get from
keeping mitzvos behidor. Wearing a sheital and running a Yiddishe home brings
amazing brochos into our lives. The power of our Tefillos on Rosh Hashana is
beyond our comprehensions.
We were privileged
to have the most amazing and fascinating interactive performance by Alon
Margalut. He addressed the topic of marriage with a new and insightful view.
The presentation gave us a different perspective and understanding on
relationships and the manner in which to go about them.
of the establishment of Yeshivas Tomchei Tmimim, we dressed up as bochurim to
sit down and enjoy the special anniversary seudah. When watching a Rebbe video
in honor of the momentous occasion, we were completely enthralled by the
powerful words and influential message.
We celebrated Chai
Elul with fervour and joy. The whole day was filled with speical lessons on
Chassidus and what it means to us. We had quite a few guest speakers including
Rosh Kolel Rabbi Y Johnson and Rabbi D Lisker. Included in the special schedule
was a Chassidus Cafe, where we had the chance to enjoy insightful articles on
the special day, to adding some light into our life through candle making, the
day was brimming with enthusiasm and holiness. The fabulous high school Bnos
program, Soup & Spirit, featured various impressive workshops that we were
able to enjoy while dining on delicious soups and garlic breads. In honor of the
auspicious day, Mrs. Dina Kahn Farbrenged about the power that we have in our
age and environment. We are in a place that is pouring down Tochein and giving
us tools to become more in touch with our Yiddishkeit. We have to open
ourselves up to everything we are being taught.
Our pre Slichos
inspiration late on Motsei Shabbos came in the form of Rabbi Broh’s farbrengen.
He gave us insight into the reasons behind Slichos, why we say it and where it
came from, so we’d understand and appreciate Slichos that much more. When we
were later at shul, each moment of Slichos was special and memorable.
We were granted
the honor of having a farbrengen pre Rosh Hashana with Mr K Rubin, a local
psychologist who shared his wisdom and experience with us. He delivered an
understanding and knowledge on the topic of relationships that we’d be able to
benefit from in a multitude of ways.
In preparation for
Vov Tishrei, we were given a brilliant and conducive hachana program. Readying
ourselves for Rebbetzin Chana’s Yartzheit in this way truly enhanced the
atmosphere and experience, by enabling us to set attainable goals and focusing
our minds on the importance of the upcoming day, which we will IY”H be able to
commemorate with that much more gusto and zealousness.
On the Motzei Shabbos before Rosh Hashana, we had a grand
melave malka full of food and inspiration.
We had the opportunity to feel as if
we were experiencing Tishrei with the Rebbe through his teachings and videos.
This uplifting event really prepared us for the upcoming month and will IY”H
enhance and beautify our Tishrei in Melbourne.
By Ziessa S.
It feels surreal, being in Australia. It feels like only
yesterday that we were in America, drinking good coffee and day-dreaming about
being in Seminary. And now, now we’ve travelled some 14,000 miles to the other
side of the world where the water goes down the drain differently, and it will
never snow. But here we are. In Seminary.
We arrived in Australia tired and dusty from our arduous journey. We were put
through the immense stress of customs (no, we are not bringing over illegal
fruits, we promise), finding lost luggage, and then finally, we had made it.
There were a few confusing moments wherein we had no idea what to do or where
to go. But that’s the great thing about being Jewish. You’re never lost. Just
walk up to the first chossid with a beard that you see and ask him where to go,
and suddenly you are found.
After the initial settling in of dragging luggage up stairs,
unpacking, and learning where we were, everything began to happen in fairly
quick succession. There was an orientation where we discovered that Carlisle
street was where everything was well and truly happening. Struck by midnight
cravings for pizza? Just walk up to Pizza O’ Clock. Need candy? Just walk up to
Pri-Cut. Need nosh for class? 7/11 is the be here and end all of Melbourne. Schedules
and classes were explained, it was revealed that we would be taught by no less
than an 20 outstanding teachers. We discovered that our learning centre would
be just a two minute walk away, and that we need not fear having to wake up too
Suddenly, it was Shabbos. Shabbos of course, is the best day
of the week. The Melbourne community stepped up, taking in these strange
Americans. They made us feel more welcomed than we thought possible. Despite
our nervous behaviours and apprehensions, it turned out to be wonderful. Then
suddenly, Shabbos was over. What better way to say goodbye to Shabbos and greet
the new week, then by having a Melava Malka? What better way to get to know
each other? After a beautiful event hosted by our very own director of events,
Etty Raskin, we started feeling that yes, we truly belonged here in Australia.
School began, with its variety of classes and myriad of
wonderful teachers. Our eyes were well and truly opened to the incredible opportunities
that were being afforded each of us. Think you’ve learned properly before? Well
then, you’ve never been enrolled in Ohel Chana where your mind can be opened,
and theories can be turned on their head in but a matter of minutes.
Speaking of concepts being turned on their heads—welcome to kashrus in
Australia. It’s not the OU on the package that tells you it’s kosher, it’s the
app inside your pocket, the diamond hidden on the wrapper, or the Australia
shaped K. Thank you for this enlightenment, Rabbi Wasjbort.
Who knew that you can’t eat the some of the pringles or slurpees here? Well,
now I suppose that we do. But never mind all that, there’s still an abundance
of nosh, candy, (lollies, as the Australians say) and other various snacks to
satiate our voracious appetites at Farbrengens. Larger than our appetite for
nosh, is our hunger for learning. After that we had our first incredible
Farbrengen on Chof Av, given over by none other than our very own Rabbi T. If
you don’t believe that Sem has begun, guess again. It’s time to get your head
in the game, to take advantage of all that we can in this one precious year
away from home. Strengthen in all which you are lacking, form a stronger kesher
to the Rebbe, get a Mashpia, take the inspiration being given you and transform
it into momentum which will propel you forward throughout the year.
Follwing that it was time to sprint back to the dorm to pack for our first
Shabbaton. Goodbye Week 1, Hello Week 2.
Merely a hop, skip, and a dash away was Phillip Island, home
to fuzzy little penguins and multi-coloured kangaroos. Ice blue waters framed
by ebony coloured rocky shores awaited us, along with rolling lawns of blue green grasses with tiny
warrens where the penguins lived. We arrived at our hotel to begin prepping for
Shabbos right away. Move a room there, a billiard table here, squeeze in a
chair in over there. Should we expand to the patio and have a meal with a view?
I think we can manage just fine without. Welcome to first Shabbaton in Ohel
Chana! There’s food for thought and stories for the heart and songs for the
soul, here at the makeshift home of Miri and Menachem Lipskier. Shell out those
Rebbe stories, and open those songbooks, who said anything about an
introduction to Chabad Youth? We just came to Farbreng.
After a soul-stirring Shabbos Night, we progressed into Shabbos Day where we
were introduced to our roles as future Madrichot (Muds), future Tzivos Hashem
Commanders, and future Mishmor Directors. We could hardly wait. All these
wonderful opportunities to give lay just in front of us, and we were more than
ready to contribute as best we could.
We returned from Phillip Island on a high, which only
continued with various welcome events throughout the week. First was the high
school’s met-and-greet where after sufficient time to mingle and say hello, we
were asked to stand up and say a fun fact about ourselves and play Jewish
geography. Following our first welcome it was time to meet our other halves,
the Year 12’s. Strangers no longer! What was your most embarrassing moment?
Er……. Who from history would you like to eat with? The….uh….Moshe? Definitely
Moshe Rabeinu. He’s so cool, you know?
Anyone joining us second half? Yes, it looks as though our numbers will be
But back to the learning. We are here to learn Chabad
Chassidus, yes? So then what’s the Secret of Chabad? Good thing that we have
Rabbi Eliezre Shliach in Yorba Lina, CA and his best-selling book to elaborate.
After frank conversation and chapter evaluation, we know just about all the
answers to the secrets of the universe. Want to find out more? Purchase of the
book can be made at your local Judaica. J
Between classes, Mivtzoyim, Chavrusa, Primary Chavrusa
(they.are.so.cute.), Bnos, Mishmor, Tzivos Hashem, Chassidishe Yomim Tovim,
Farbys, and many, many wonderful C-O-N-N-E-C-T activities, you may think that we had forgotten about
each other. How could we ever? These 31 strangers are our hand-selected family
for the rest of the year! If you haven’t bonded already, welcome to the first
IN SHABBOS of the year! The King is in the Field, and our homemade food is
Time to get in gear for Elul. It’s Shabbos Mevorchim and none other than Rabbi
Kransnjanski will be Farbrenging. Get in that coffee, it’s going to be a long
night of extraordinary story-telling, self-discovering, and truth-uncovering. Everyone
share a tale, and learn from one another, lets focus on how Hashem is so close
to us and we have the power.
Did you get any sleep? I didn’t think so, time for the theme
of In-Shabbos: “Dirshu Hashem B’himatzo” All we must do is raise our voice and
exclaim, we have the power to bring about change!
To follow our high of Shabbos, we had shlichus class with Rabbi Cooper. Shlichus
is hard, as we all know, but it’s the most beautiful thing there is. Go find those
who don’t know, or don’t know much and spread Yiddishkeit to them. You are a
flame, so give off sparks to all those around you.
It’s been a whirlwind of a first few weeks. Somehow in this
short space of time we’ve become leaders, teachers, students—wait I think
there’s a term for it. Ah yes. We’re OC Girls. We are in the best Seminary in
the world, and if you think that all of the above sounds amazing, then hold on
to your seats. We are only just beginning.