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.
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
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
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….)