Special Events & Activities

Student reports about our recent extra curricular activities and programs.

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RC Adar Guest Speaker
By Tamar S.

This week we were privileged to have Rabbi New Shliach in Atlanta speak for us. He enlightened us about the concept of Simcha.

Simcha is a popular topic, touched on by many. There are various valid definitions of this word, “Simcha”, some would say it is bearing a grin from ear to ear or having fun, while many will tell you it comes from a state of relaxation, sitting on the couch at home, calmly, reading the daily news with a cup of cocoa, although with Obama in office I’m not sure that would be the most beneficial way to reach even the most minor state of relaxation.

But what is Simcha in truth? Rabbi New taught us that to Non-Jews, Simcha is the latter example from above. This is seen in the fact that after their wedding ceremony the man and his bride go on an extravagant, antisocial runaway also known as “the honeymoon”, where they chose to be alone and secluded from the rest of the community. This is not so for Jews, on the contrary, Jews see Simcha as “togetherness”, which is why after the chuppah ceremony, there is a party to which everyone is invited to attend, where we all celebrate and dance with one another to share in the joy of the new couple. We believe that true Simcha is when we can share it with others. It is even a halacha in the Torah to invite and share that joy, not only with friends and family, but with new people, therefore it is commanded to invite a new person to every sheva bracha.

When one is feeling depressed after a negative incident that occurs in their lives, they feel as if the world around them is irrelevant, all they want is to be locked up in their quiet, dark, empty rooms, to be alone in order to think. But what will thinking bring them? This self-imposed seclusion will only lead to further melancholic emotions and a deeper sense of sadness. Therefore the Torah assures that we do the exact opposite. The Torah commands us to “Ivdu et Hashem b’simcha”, to always be happy and serve Hashem with joy, and like it says in Tanya to choose only a shaas hakosher a specific time to think of sadness, but on condition that it is to fix whatever it is that is bothering you, otherwise this sadness is only from the yetzer hara.

Rabbi New told us that the commandment of always serving Hashem with joy even applies to a mourner, to whom it is not only commanded to be visited, but to be the initiator of conversation with the visitors. The Torah does not do this to discomfort the mourner, but rather to get him out of the lonely pit he is falling into. He may find this command quite painful and extremely hard because of his lack of motivation and interest in speaking with others, but by doing so he will find that the outcomes are only positive in the long-run, because with the company of others he will find an inner support and peace of mind.

We learned that the word Sameach itself has the gematria of 348, this gematria is shared with the word shaliach.  A shaliach is known to be someone who doesn’t only serve G-d but is there to serve others and by doing so finds real happiness as it states in Torah “True joy is to see yourself as an eved”.

Ego, on the other hand, is the source of all human problems, the cause of all disaster such as thievery, where the human wants something and sees fit to take it because of his egotistical desire, and murder, where one grants himself the right to take away the life of another because of his evil hatred.

On a personal note, I have come across times when I’ve been a bit sad and people have always told me to go out and help someone else, I learned that when one is upset, being alone or thinking about it will make them dwell on all their misfortune, and get stuck and trapped in the deep well of their emotions, whereas one who goes out of themselves, sublimating their ego and helping someone else, stops drowning in their puddle of sorrow. Just as Rabbi New explained, this is exactly why when we wake up we say “Modeh ani lefanecha” as opposed to “Ani modeh lefanecha”, “grateful am I” and not “I am grateful”, I being the main focus, this teaches us to go about our lives in the opposite way, to be humble and sublimate our ego, and this is the path to happiness.

It’s known that the only consistent form of truth, non- changing is Hashem, like it says “Ani Hashem lo shaniti” I Hashem have not changed. We cannot rely on anything or anyone aside from Him. This is not so when it comes to emotions, for emotions are inconsistent, driven by our ever growing or diminishing, bipolar egos. Kabalat ol and bittul is what we need, to tell ourselves that regardless of our feelings we must be b’simvha, as our G-d commanded. This bittul will bring about a constant joy, a joy that is ultimate.

I heard that being stressed or sad comes from a lack of emunah, since we are saying that what we feel is bad or good is bad and good full stop. This is a very egocentric state of mind because in truth whatever Hashem does is good no matter what it seems to be to us.

Advice from the Tanya: One can only think of one thing at a time, therefore if one focuses on something else they will automatically be unable to think of their previous thought, this is a great way to get rid of negative thoughts.

Hashem should bless us with the strength to think positive thoughts, to have a complete stable, unwavering emunah, to believe that everything is for the good and we should only experience revealed good from now on. Amen!

We all really enjoyed and appreciated Rabbi News speech on Simcha. It was relatable, and interesting, and we gained so much!




The Busy Life of an OC Student
By Dina W.


The Busy Life of an Ohel Chana Seminary Girl

Ohel Chana’s schedule is extremely busy, as one would rightly assume. From morning Chassidus classes with our learning director, Leah Groner, to the Thursday night Farbrengens with inspiring guest speakers from around the globe and the rewarding volunteer work each Ohel Chana girl does for Chabad Youth, it’s a miracle any of us have time to sleep! What many people don’t realise is that not only are Ohel Chana girl vigorous students, but they also live an extracurricular life as well! Sunday nights we have either Zumba classes or Boot-Camp sessions with amazing instructors, Ricky  and Devorah. The Sunday night sessions are designed to keep us fit and healthy while we are in Ohel Chana, but as you can imagine they simply help us make room in our stomachs for the next zebra cookie or brownie cake that someone is baking in our amazing kitchen that is open 24/7 for our personal use. Monday nights are filled with the sound of wheezing, bouncing balls and squeaking runners as the Ohel Chana Basketball Crew play an intense game in the Werdiger Hall. Later on Monday nights, the Ohel Chana girls have the pleasure of attending Rebbe Time with Leah Groner. Tuesday nights are filled with more learning as Rabbi Tenenbaum gives his weekly shiurim based on a variety of stimulating subjects, not to mention Wednesdays with DIY workshops run by the beautiful and dedicated Leah Groner! Thursday nights are Farbrengen time with a variety of guest speakers and topics discussed which are so informative and inspiring! Even out of all the allocated extracurricular activities that Ohel Chana girls have the opportunity of attending, there are many more spontaneous things for Ohel Chana girls to undertake, such as baking, cooking, jogging, volunteering, learning and much much more!

Shabbaton in Ohel Chana is an amazing experience. It's a time to relax with friends and really get to know girls on a more personal level. Every Shabbaton we've had this year was in beautiful scenic area with different actives on the sites. The special speakers and families that have come a long added so much to the atmosphere and you come out of Shabbos with such an inspiring feeling and mindset.




Great Ocean Road Trip
By Mina G.

Last Wednesday Roshe Chodesh Adar I, at 9am, Ohel Chana boarded the bus, to go on a trip which we had greatly anticipated. It took us a while to get settled, and many back and forth trips were made to retrieve forgotten items such as phones and towels. Finally, we made our departure from Balaclava Road, only 1 hour behind schedule, OC style. The weather was gorgeous, and we were all in high spirits. Despite us having cleared out most of Coles Kosher section, Mrs Groner organised an (almost) excessive amount of food.  We were very grateful, since the trip involved a lot of exercise and physical exertion, so we were in dire need of replenishment. After a couple of hours on the bus, chauffeured by Preston, we still had not gotten bored of the stunning sights from our bus window. We stopped off some time later to go on a ‘5 minute’ hike.  So we were told. Yet, an impressive 45 minutes later, we were still walking. A few girls made excellent use of this time, singing words of Torah to elevate the sparks along the Great Ocean Road. As we reached the end of the hike, we were greeted by yet another hike, but nonetheless, we did not despair. As true Chassidim of the Rebbe, we were happy to go that extra mile, and we embraced the opportunity to go ‘101’ rather than the standard ‘100’.
Countless of steps later, we arrived at the waterfall, and were taken aback by the sheer beauty. We stayed there a while, admiring the view and enjoying the scenery. Yet the peace and tranquillity was shattered when one of the girls was confronted by the world’s 8th
most dangerous snake; the Mainland Tiger Snake. While most of the girls made sure to keep their distance, others were eager to observe the snake up close, unaware at the time that it could have killed them in mere minutes. After all, it’s not every day that you encounter a wild snake.

Following the waterfall, we headed to the beach. We had an incredible time there, swimming, relaxing, and appreciating the perfect weather, the soft sand, and the vibrant colors of the ocean. We enjoyed ourselves so much, that we didn’t want to leave. However our final destination was beckoning so we once again boarded the bus (albeit reluctantly) and headed on our way. We arrived at the Twelve Apostles and immediately agreed that the five hour bus ride was definitely worth it. The view was absolutely magnificent. We all took the time to truly admire and appreciate the spectacular sights, and to marvel at Hashem’s creations.
By the time we were on our way home, all our phones were dead, so we were forced to entertain ourselves and actually communicate with one another. The sun had already set and inside the bus it was dark. A few girls started to sing, and slowly but surely, everyone joined in. It was a beautiful experience which filled us with a sense of unity and love for one another. Throughout the day we took thousands of pictures to keep as memories of a day we will never forget.




Chodesh Kislev Report
By Raizel C.


Between all of the encouragement and lessons for the “chassidishe month” of kislev, and every week packed with fun programs, it was definitely a happening month in OC. We began with a Rosh Chodesh farbrengen with Rabbi Ash which was both fascinating and entertaining. He vividly recalled so many of his experiences in 770 at the time of the Rebbe’s heart attack. We were riveted, listening to his account of Simchas Torah dancing, the energy of the Rebbe. One year the Rebbe had a table in his way because he walked in a different direction than usual through the crowds of people, so he balanced on a milk carton, jumped up onto the table, and walked to the other side. When Rabbi Ash, as a young bochur, tried to do the exact same thing he was unable to! He also described in Lamed Ches 770 clearing out as they asked everyone to leave because the Rebbe needed space and air, and how he was able to be among the only one hundred or so people left behind. He had been at the front during hakafos, and felt the weight of the crowd behind pushing against him as he took in every detail.

 


During our in-shabbos the following night Mrs. Blesofsky came to farbreng with us, and it was so nice to transfer from our meal over to the dorm couches and sing niggunim together. She discussed how these days in the Chassidishe calendar really connect to us even today, and brought beautiful stories to illustrate how the power of the Rebbe is still shown today through the strength, pride, and dedication of his messengers. She also spoke about how touched the Rebbetzin was at the excitement of the Chassidim when the Rebbe was feeling better and returned to 770. The Rebbetzin was so blown away at the care the Chassidim had for their Rebbe.

 

We had another program arranged by our fellow sem girls on the Kislev committee. Through the food, laughter, games, and learning booklets they prepared, we were educated about the power of this month. To celebrate this special month we got to go on a trip to the zoo and see all of the animals you can’t leave Australia and not spot, like koala bears, tasmanian devil, and kangaroos!

There were so many special days this month, one of the being Yud Daled Kislev, which was celebrated on all fronts. We had a unique mock wedding in the dorm that went on for most of the night, and all sorts of “characters” from our dorm were invited. Beyond all of the fun and dancing, we made a mock wedding at Beth Rivkah the next day, and spoke with them about the importance of the day. Yud Daled Kislev is the day that connected us with our Rebbe, and the beginning of the process of him becoming Rebbe as he married into the Frierdiker Rebbe’s family. We concluded the day with a Farbrengen with Rabbi Winner, whose humor and sincerity had us involved and amused. At first, he told us endearing stories of the Rebbe’s thoughtfulness and attention to the feelings of everyone, even small children or details we wouldn’t even consider. He then encouraged us to write down what inspires us in seminary, as we want to hold onto these feelings and lessons so that they won’t be fleeting. He requested that we not “lose the plot” while we are here, and with a great mashal illustrated that one can lose sight of what’s important, and then won’t be able to discern between what is besides the point and what really matters.

 

This message was strengthened even further when Rabbi Feller Head shliach in Minnesota came to speak to us. There are Jewish souls everywhere thirsting for the truth, and we have to make sure that it’s filled with what they are truly looking for. As Chassidim, we know that every encounter we have is an opportunity to ignite the fire in someone’s Neshama. He also relayed his journey to becoming Lubavitch which was different than what we are used to hearing. He was frum and had a vast knowledge of Torah, but when he started learning Chassidus it was like a whole new light had been shined on what he already knew. At a Farbrengen he decided he wanted to do what the Rebbe was speaking about and go on Merkoz Shlichus but didn’t think he had the ability because he wasn’t a Lubavitcher at the time. The Rebbe sensed this as Rabbi Feller was at Yechidus and assigned him to a group, which was his first time being able to go out there and give over what he had found.

 

Leading up to the momentous day of Yud Tes Kislev, our dorm counselor introduced us to the Hachana booklet she worked hard to create. The feeling in the air of the approaching day was palpable, as girls sat together and learned the daily quota. Walking around the dorm you could hear groups of girls watching a Rebbe video in one room; yet another girl memorizing Tanya out loud somewhere else, with everyone involved in the preparation. Monday night our Chassidus teacher, Rabbi Krasnjansky, always takes concepts we thought we knew and expands on them with so much knowledge and clarity. The night of Yud Tes Kislev he taught us about the bond of a limited chossid with his unlimited Rebbe, and how much more we can accomplish when we are connected to him. He told us how much Hashem appreciates this Yom Tov as it is a celebration for Him, whereas other Yomim Tovim celebrate the Torah or us. He concludes each class with a story that makes us think and uplifts us, that sometimes can be more powerful to us than any brilliant thought.

 

On the actual day of Yud Tes Kislev, each of our teachers incorporated incredible messages about Chassidus that renewed our sense of pride and appreciation for what Chassidus has to offer. We clearly felt how lucky we were to be raised the way we were, and how we wouldn’t be where we are today without the Alter Rebbe spelling out for us in the Tanya what we can work on every day and what level we can be trying to attain. That night we had our third farbrengen with Rabbi Wilhelm, and he highlighted not only the unique aspects of Chassidus, but how it compares and stands out to other ways of thinking. Everyone walked out of that farbrengen worked up about what he spoke about, and really excited to discuss the concepts. He was followed by Mrs. Kahn, who used examples from her own year in seminary to show us how we all have the ability to be role models and inspire others, it’s all in how we view ourselves.

 

This past month was also a wrap up of the first half of our year. We get to be involved with in a lot of projects and outreach/inreach here, and it’s always nice to be appreciated. Chabad Youth took us out to dinner at Milk and Honey, and along with all of the types of pizza we got to eat, thanked us personally for all of our help. Also, a parent and Shlucha from the community thanked us for the care and attention her daughter received from her OC chavrusa. In addition, Miri put together an end of the year Chanuka party at the Chabad Youth building, where food, gifts, games, and words of thanks left us feeling really valued and excited to continue second half of the year.

 

We weren’t lacking in the Chanuka party department, as another night Mrs. Groner graciously hosted us for a Chanuka BBQ at her house. She always takes such good care of us and looks after for our needs, and we were so grateful that we were able to feel at home in her house. There was no end to the delicious food, and the games arranged by the Kislev committee left us rolling with laughter.

Usually, the Melbourne Chanuka party is held in the park, but this year they transformed a racecourse into a Chanuka circus! It was really incredible to see the unity of the whole Jewish community, with all types of people coming to celebrate together. One of the days of Chanuka we took over Beth Rivkah High, and the girls left their books and classrooms to participate in an awesome Chanuka carnival! It isn’t every day that you get cotton candy machines coming to your school! Every night of Chanuka in the dorm we put our arms around each other in the lounge room of OC and lit the candles, singing Haneiros Halalu together. We may have been so far from home and lighting later than usual for us because it’s summer here, but we still felt the sense of belonging and family that we feel at home.

 

Although we were sad about finishing some of our classes, a lot of our teachers will continue to teach us and there is so much more to gain from them. For our last Bayis Yehudi class of the term were taken to the local Melbourne mivkah with our teacher Mrs. Althaus, and she gave us a tour accompanied by many beautiful explanations to introduce us to how everything works which was a unique opportunity along with an inspiring talk by Mrs Rubin. Our last mishmor, bnos, and chavrusah sessions were this month. It was bittersweet to say goodbye to them, yet look back on how much we were able to learn over the weeks.The mishmor girls went on a bowling trip with their madrichot, as a end of the term party. Next half we will start fresh with new groups and activities.

 

The Beth Rivkah 12th graders finished off their year and we attended their graduation, and it was nice to witness them reach a milestone that signifies their merging with us soon. We joined up with them at the Spirit grow shul for camp training, so we would all be comfortable with one another when working together. It was a great day for team building, and learning how to work well with each other. We got to get a little more personal with each other than usual, and it felt nice to let people see the real you. We are all looking forward to support each other as much as possible and give our campers an incredible summer. Many professionals had sessions with us on how to best look out for our campers physical needs and safety to ensure that they are taken care of in the best way possible including a full day first aid course in which we all were certified. Our real staff bonding time was at a Shabbos lunch with our camp directors and head staff. Each of us got up and spoke about what we hope to achieve this summer with over our packed two weeks with our campers, as well as what we remember gaining most from our camp experiences. Then late afternoon Mrs. S. Gutnick hosted us with a delicious spread of food and beautiful words of Torah and Chizuk for our year. It was so nice to be given the special attention and advice for our year from women (her mother, daughter, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law) that had attended our seminary.

This whole week has been full of busy camp planning, with supplies being packed away and endless poster decorating. Counselors sit in the computer room putting the finishing touches on their shiurim and rebbe times. We know that no matter how much we try to give the campers, we are sure we will gain from them as well. The next two weeks are bound to be phenomenal!




Chodesh Cheshvan Report
By Raizel C.

Although it’s never easy to go back to routine, we had so many unique programs in Cheshvan that it helped ease us back into the swing of things. We were finally used to the schedule and got to really delve deeper into the topics we were learning in class and tried to learn as much as possible, as Kislev would be the wrap up to an incredible first half of the year.

 

We began the month with a relaxing morning in the park to celebrate Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan. We sang songs accompanied by our in house guitar player (we have a lot of talented girls in this seminary!) and ate great food. We got to feed some massive Australia-sized animals, but had to run away when they all started chasing us! We concluded with an action game in which we got to release a lot of energy which was exhausting yet exhilarating.

 

Our daily chavrusa sessions were majorly upgraded by a new program that was introduced to us by Rabbi Rahmani, who had been on Shlichus in Australia as a bochur and developed a program while he was here. He brought in our colorful and professionally created books that we would learn from called Back to Basics, which was designed to build up Yiddish and Sicha learning skills in students. We were so excited to begin utilizing them and could really see a difference in our understanding and approach to learning Sichos.

 

This month’s in shabbos guests were our local Rabbi and Rebbetzin, Rabbi and Mrs. Telsner. We were honored to have them at our table, and they elevated the discussion by adding insights and dvar torahs as each delish dish was served. Our Shabbos experiences here were also enhanced by the outreach programs we were privileged to be involved in. We were volunteers at the community Challah Bake that attracted over two thousand women! All of those Jewish women spent their evening celebrating this special Mitzvah and gaining a deeper appreciation for it. There was also a feeling of kinship with all of the women in their community who also take part in this Mitzvah, and a realization of what we are a part of; something so much greater than ourselves. The energy was amazing, and by the end everyone was swept into the dancing and singing and left in high spirits. It’s quite a sight to see that many women raise their hands in the air like the just don’t care for something so meaningful :).

Another worldwide initiative we took part in was the Shabbos Project. People that otherwise wouldn’t join a Friday night meal came together and ate out with friends and family. Shabbos afternoon we ate with Beth Rivkah high school and got to energize our Shabbos meal with discussion and singing. A member of the community spoke about his personal account of what it means to be a proud Jew and how he shows it to the world.

 

A person who truly embodies this is Rabbi Rodal who is on Shlichus for Chabad of Rara. He spoke to us about his experiences of a unique shlichus. He literally acts as a lamplighter, driving across rural and regional Australia in his mobile Chabad House for hours to find lost Jewish souls and igniting the spark within them. The Mesiras Nefesh he displays on a daily basis left us with a real sense of awe and pride. To help us apply this to our own lives, Mrs. Goldberg discussed with us on Chof Cheshvan about what it means to influence others. She made us think about our surroundings and our standards for our future Shlichus opportunities.

 

We have numerous guest speakers throughout the year, one of them being Rabbi Ruvi New from Florida. He brought out a unique point found in the Hakhel year about the importance of proper hospitality. The Rebbe was so appreciative of this, as demonstrated by a stirring story he told over about his parents. Our next guest speakers were a duo, Rabbi and Mrs. Deren from Stamford, Connecticut. Both of them inspired us on a practical level on the power of inwardness. They advised us on how to be prepared to experience a year of Hakhel by gathering ourselves on the inside, and the power of Chassidishe women based on their specific role. We felt ready to live in line with our inner selves and were empowered to do so.

 

The month drew to a close with a farbrengen with each girl making her own personal reflections in our farbrengen with Rabbi Tenenbaum. We took lessons from the upcoming week’s Hayom Yom that would help us achieve our goals during seminary. It was a great time to refocus on what we wanted to accomplish this year, as soon this half of the year will end. Together with the Australian girls that are a going to be joining us, we are sure that we will reach all that we are aiming for.

 

Shabbaton:

A major highlight of our month can’t be limited by words, as it was a weekend so packed with feeling. We were joined by our teacher Rabbi M Wolf and his family. It was so nice to take a little break from all of the our usual sem activities and spent a Shabbos in nature; it felt like camp! Shrieks could be heard all across the campgrounds as girls soared through the air on the flying fox! It was like bungee jumping through the trees. Once we were assigned our “bunkhouse” rooms and got into Shabbos prep, everyone was excited to see what the weekend would hold.

 

Friday night began immediately with our first session with Rabbi Wolf, and every spare moment following that we spent soaking in as much information and words of encouragement as we could. He encouraged us to challenge ourselves and reflect upon what we do as Chassidim, if we are really living on par with the name we give ourselves. We were taught different ways of appreciating the depth of Chassidus, something we were lucky enough to be exposed to our entire lives but sometimes don’t contemplate how precious it is. He stressed the importance of being invested in what you learn, and not just going along for the ride. Learning Torah should leave you feeling humbled; with goals of what to work on and a focus on your mission. Besides for the positivity and spirit, we all felt united in our sense of pride, responsibility, and aspirations for growth. Our Davening that weekend was unbelievable, as we were brought to new understandings of Tefillos, and a renewed awareness. We thought about the energy of Hashem in everything, how vast he is yet still connected to us and one with us, and about many different aspects of our lives and existence. We had multiple meditation sessions which affected our Davening because we were conscious and applying thought into how we truly think and feel. At the Shabbos afternoon farbrengen we felt a mixture of passion at trying to understand what we were being taught and internalize it, as well as tranquility from the concepts we focused on such as Bitachon. Even though we know the concept, how many times do we think that we could’ve planned things out better than Hashem, or that if we would have done things differently how much better the outcome would be? Being enveloped in the serenity of the chirping birds and endless greenery is what really made everything hit home.

 

Our Motzei Shabbos night activity was just good fun and hyper girl time, those sem nights that you always imagine you’d have. We couldn’t finish off our night without one last farbrengen with Rabbi Wolf which took all of the inspiration we got from that weekend and drilled it into us so that we would make it a part of us. He did it in a way that was direct, clear, and didn’t beat around the bush. He spoke to us about choosing to really live in line with what we believe, and how important it is to make it real to us now and take that leap before we get lost in plans for our future and daily living. There wasn’t any room for the excuses we usually give ourselves, so once he left we continued on our own to try to come up with what we would implement from then on in the dorm to get it to where we wanted it to be. We brainstormed ways that we could be supportive of each other and create an environment that was conducive to growth. Sunday came whether we wanted it to or not, and it was time to part from the beautiful landscape we had gotten to know. We had one last nature hike just to see some more sights and extend the mood of spirituality and oneness. Moments from this weekend were definitely highlights for me that I know are shaping my seminary year and my whole view and appreciation for it. Looking back at the end of the year, I’m sure I’ll be able to pinpoint that weekend as a prime example of when I reached a moment where what I wanted seemed attainable.




  
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