Special Events & Activities

Student reports about our recent extra curricular activities and programs.

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Chodesh Elul
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. 

 

For the 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.

In commemoration 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 the

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.




Chodesh Av
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 early.

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 doubling.

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 oh-so-good.


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.




New Group Arrival Chai Av 5776
By Esther R and Lyba P


Wednesday morning, bright and early... Oh wait, maybe it's Thursday... I will never get used to this! Whatever morning it is, I'm landing in Melbourne, Australia, turning on my phone to 753 texts and 140 missed calls from my parents to see if I've landed, if I have my passport, making sure I kept my purse within eyesight the entire flight, and of course the 17,000,000 whatsapp's just pictures from the family chats. The stewardess makes an announcement about not getting up until the seatbelt sign turns off, meanwhile the entire plane has departed and is by baggage claim. I turn to get my bags, and I'm amazed by how much of a mess one can make in 14 hrs, bottles, wrappers, gum, sandwiches, 1/2 eaten chicken from the DELICIOUS kosher airplane meals!

I quietly grab my bags and run off before the stewardess yells at me for the mess! I get to baggage claim and my heart stops, I realize I haven't quadruple checked for my passport. Frantically dumping out the contents of my bag by carousel 4, thinking the whole time how I'm possibly going to make that phone call to my parents. I sift through my toothbrush, wallet, face wipes, pancakes, headphones, charger, until my hand brushes something leather and my heart starts beating at a normal pace again. I start putting all my necessities back into my purse, when I hear the loudspeaker go on, "Attention passengas frum fleight Q ninety fuw, yuw carousel has changed frum numba fuw to numba sivin. Surry fuw the inconvinience."  Oh gosh! I frantically stuff the last few things into my bag and venture off to find carousel "sivin" by the time I get there most of the people have already gotten their bags. I stand on my tipee toes looking over people's heads, walking the length of the carousel trying to squeeze between people. Then I spot one of my 5 oversized suitcases! I start chasing it up the carousel and finally I get a grip on it, I tug and the handle rips... Only me!!! I find the other handle and give another tug, this time I fly backwards and the suitcase falls on top of me! So embarrassing!! There's other girls here who look like they are going to seminary too, oh no now I've made a fool of myself...

Finally with all my luggage on the carts, which by the way are free to use.. Take notes America! I head into line for customs, I’m about to take a selfie with my luggage to send to the family so they know I've got everything, when a huge woman come up next to me and in a mean raspy voice yells, "NO PHONES BY CUSTOMS" I jump 10 feet in the air and my phone flies out of my hand, the screen shattering into a million pieces. Shaking, I pick it up and put it away! No time to cry about it now. As I'm waiting, I still haven't recovered from that traumatic experience, I realize the line is moving so slowly! This line is longer than the flight itself... 

2,000 year later....

Finally I get closer to the front and give a silent prayer to Hashem that the dogs won't smell the 30lbs of American meat I have in one of the suitcases,  I walk by security, give my cutest smile and hand in my passport, the officer gives me a smile and lets me through. Baruch Hashem, somethings going right for me today. After about 30 minutes of looking around the airport we all gather together and finally find Rabbi T. The taxi pulls up and I get into the front seat, for a second I didn't understand why the steering wheel was in front of me... until the taxi driver comes and yells at me to get out of the driver’s seat! Understanding that this is going to be an upside down year I climb into the wrong side of the car and we drive off to the Ohel Chana dormitory, preparing for the best year of our lives!

Much emphasis during  these first few weeks of school have been focused on the month of Elul, and appropriately so, for in my experience, one often begins learning about Elul just as it is nearing its end. We have learnt about how Elul can be considered a place of refuge from the dark coarseness of the rest of the year, and how that refuge can be used for optimum levels of Teshuva. We have learnt how our Tefillos can be reached in the Depths of the Depths of Hashem when we reach that optimum level of Teshuva where my depths call out for Hashem’s. But above all else, we have learnt about how “the King is in the field”.

Now I understand that perhaps this is not a great Chidush. That this is something we all have been lucky to grow up knowing, but how often do we get the opportunity to truly KNOW it? How often do we take advantage of what we are saying?

The King is in the field. He is not in His throne room. He is not in His royal gardens. He is not in the market. He is in the field.

This is a special type of accessibility – one that still requires giving of self, albeit a minor one in comparison of that of other months. If the king were in the Market, where everyone would find themselves already, perhaps this availability of the King could be unappreciated or abused. The King goes to the field, where the common man still must go out in order to find Him, but once he makes that easy trip, the King is completely accessible for any and all of his needs.

All of this has been understood many times over, but the fact that the King is in the field means nothing if WE, the people, do not reach out to Him. That is what we must take advantage of for as long as possible! To make The King’s accessibility personal to us and mean something so when we daven, or learn, or attempt any type of teshuva, we understand that THIS is the time when we are really reaching the ears of Hashem, and THIS is me going out to the field to find the King!

All of this becomes much more meaningful when I think about it in the context of my beginning seminary. This is a time, where we are being presented with a plethora of knowledge and wisdom and self- understanding on a silver platter. But I still have to be the one to go out and take it for myself! I can’t just sit and wait for all of it to fall into place and subsequently affect my actions. If I want this year to be real, I have to make it so! That is when maximum impact will occur. That is when I can truly “meet the King”.

Wishing you all a Ksiva Vachasima Tova and Gut Gebencht Yor!

(Here’s hoping I figure out this whole walking upside down thing before Yom Tov….)




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