A match was made by Rabbi Nachman Wilhelm, Director of OnlineSmicha.com, between two groups of soldiers – Chayolei Beis Dovid, the talmidim of Oholei Torah mesivta, and the other, Jewish U.S. soldiers stationed in Fort Bennings, Georgia.
Rabbi Moshe Lans, one of the ordained Rabbis from Online Smicha, is a chaplain who completed his Smicha, and a friend of Rabbi Wilhelm. An idea was developed to make a shabbaton for the Jewish community on base, and thus Rabbi Wilhelm contacted his brother, Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm, Dean of the Oholei Torah Mesivta, to assist him in making this Shabbaton into something unique.
Rabbi Moshe Silman, a maggid shiur for kitah gimmel, traveled with a group of his talmidim for the shabbaton weekend in Fort Bennings. Little did the bochurim know the impact that would be made by their presence, both for the soldiers as well as themselves.
The bochurim from Oholei Torah together with the young Jewish soldiers had a most inspiring Shabbos, with the special Chabad flavor that only young energetic bochurim know how to bring.
Many friendships were formed and bonds made. They made a positive impact on the lives of the soldiers, leaving them with a better appreciation and understanding of Yiddishkeit. For some, interacting with yeshiva bochurim was an experience for the very first time.
The event left such an impact on Rabbi Lans, that he joined a group of members of the Minneapolis community to Crown Heights for a shabbaton, saying it would be a perfect opportunity to visit the bochurim he got to know, and see them in their yeshiva environment.
The yeshiva on Troy Avenue prepared a most wonderful welcome, for Rabbi Lans during his visit to the school this past Sunday morning.
Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm introduced Rabbi Lans and spoke of the many lessons a chossid can learn from soldiers – as brought down in chassidus, including the concept of Kabolos Ol, and other interesting sources that the Rebbe spoke of over the years.
The bochurim, were left with much thought and appreciation for the duties that American soldiers fulfill, Rabbi Lans then related a story that showed his “Chabad” side. He recounted one of his highlights was when he lit the Menorah in the palace of Saddam Hussein – which brought about a round of applause from the bochurim.
Then the yeshiva presented Rabbi Lans with a group photo taken from the shabbaton, and a tefillah written by the Friedike Rebbe for American soldiers.
The bochurim who visted Fort Bennings presented Rabbi Lans with a personalized leather challa cover.
“Without a doubt,” said Rabbi Zushe Wilhelm, “the Ahavas Yisroel and the way our bochurim are raised had a major impact on the soldiers, and gave the bochurim chizzuk on how easily they make a Kiddush Hashem and a kiddush Lubavitch, as chassidim of the Rebbe.”