Over one hundred men, women and children from a variety of Jewish backgrounds gathered together for a Hakhel Shabbaton last Shabbos in Crown Heights.
Lubavitch Youth’s newest iteration of the “Pegisha” Shabbatons, lately very popular with Jewish singles, extended an invitation to families and couples from the USA and Canada in the spirit of unity.
Rabbi Manis Friedman headlined the Shabbaton, providing attendees with a fresh perspective on relationships, Moshiach and our relationship with G-d.
“The admonishments in this week’s parshah are Hashem’s way of telling us how much he needs us. If he didn’t care so much about us, he wouldn’t care so much about what we do. So really, the curses are in fact a compliment,” he informed participants.
Yankee Teitelbaum, a realtor from the Lower East Side, commented that “Rabbi Friedman has a way of making me think. He says things I have never heard anyone say before.”
Rabbi Yisroel Bernath, a Shliach in Montreal, took on the role of MC with his distinct, charismatic style. Over lunch, he coaxed participants into sharing something about the person they were sitting next to. Within minutes, the crowd broke out in laughter as a Mrs Konig was introduced. “She tells me her name means ‘king’ in Yiddish. That makes her son, Aryeh, the Lion King,” her table-mate explained, tongue-in-cheek.
Rabbi Bernath also led a popular afternoon session on “How to Break Through the Single’s Wall”. A successful matchmaker, Rabbi Bernath warned attendees that his advice was going to make people uncomfortable, “and if it doesn’t, I’m not doing my job right!”
Throughout the Shabbaton, actor Reuven Russell was on hand to provide comedic relief, explaining that “the organizers asked if I believe in free speech. ‘Yeah, sure,’ I replied. ‘Good, so that’s what you’ll be giving us at the Shabbaton.’ ”
Attendees also had the opportunity to visit 770, including the Rebbe’s office, and the Ohel in Queens. For many, these visits were a peak of prayerful emotion.
Rabbi Chaim Mendelsohn, Shliach in Ottawa, Ontario, spoke at the Shabbaton and led the largest single delegation – a true ‘Hakhel’ of families with children and teenagers.
Thanks must be extended to the organizers, headed by Rabbi Kasriel Kastel, Laya Klein, Shoshana Bander, Faigie Benjaminson and Nilly Gurevitch, who went to great lengths making sure that all participants had an inspiring and meaningful weekend. As attendee Hana Martinson said, “ I don’t know how you do it, but it’s wonderful. Everything is so special. It’s all done with so much love! Thank you!”