If only the walls can testify, what a story they could tell! This was my recurring thought as I participated this Shabbos and Sunday in the International Chabad High School Mega Hakhel hosted by Beth Rivkah High School.
The Shabbos began with a thought provoking activity, a debate on relevant topics, presided by Tzirel Goldman, as moderator and judge. It was followed by heartfelt davening as we all davened Kabbolas Shabbos together. Our tefillos definitely had an impact on high.
The meal was thoughtfully designed with royal centerpieces portraying the parshiyos that the king read in the Beis Hamikdosh at the hakhel gathering. We were served a delicious meal l’kovod Shabbos, and there was bountiful ruchnius too. The dvar Torah was delivered by Rivky Lifshitz from LGHS who spoke about the energy palpable in the room; two separate strong forces cannot compare to two united ones. It was followed by singing.
Just picture this, 32 schools from around the world gathered together and singing as one! As the meal came to a close, the night had only begun. Five inspirational and sought out rabbis were at our doorstep to enable us to maximize ourselves and to grow. To cater to varied interests and personalities, we had Rabbi Kahanov, Rabbi Ginsburg, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Rabbi Paltiel, and Rabbi Taub. The farbrengens strengthened us and assisted us in tapping into ourselves. It definitely accomplished what a farbrengen can and should accomplish. We learned how hakhel shows the vitality and necessity of every individual and that we are all interdependent.
Activity buzzed around the clock. Bright and early on Shabbos morning there was tehillim for Shabbos Mevorchim accompanied by scrumptious breakfast. We regrouped once again to receive answers to many questions that have been gnawing at our conscience at crossfire with Rabbi Shais Taub and Rabbi Garelik. Then, we sat together for Seder niggunim, stirring our souls and being inspired in a way only a niggun can.
Motzei Shabbos was dedicated to our beloved Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. We were addressed by the Rebbetzin’s doctor, Dr. Newmark, who infused us with an added appreciation for Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. Chaya Marrus of Rohr Bais Chaya of Florida shared the privilege and responsibility of bearing the Rebbetzin’s name.
A heartwarming video of many Chaya Mushka’s and a graceful dance showed the influence that the Rebbetzin had and still has worldwide. It imbued us with a sense of feeling and drive to take the Rebbetzin’s life to heart.
We were then met by a five star buffet of food followed by fun. We accessorized our hair with wreaths which we professionally made on our own with the guidance of Sara Mochkin. Simultaneously, there was an heart pumping, fast paced, exhilarating minute to win it game with unique challenges that had to be completed in a minute. After the intense game, we all joined in a circle for an empowering kumzitz with the famous singer, Esther Freeman. And then as we usually end a wonderful evening, we broke into spontaneous dancing as the chassidishe niggunim played by Rabbi Benshimon filled the air.
Sunday began with davening and then we heard about the significance of going to the Ohel and how to utiliize this special opportunity. Following panim, rotations took place. We explored various practical areas in life, such as relationships and being real, with professionals and experts in these fields who shared their insights and knowledge. The workshops broadened our horizon and helped us draw life topics into practicality.
We visited the ohel to share with our Tatte the events of this inspiration filled Shabbos and followed up on our ‘uvichen’– taking upon Hachlatos to ensure that we carry our inspiration of convention and bring it into practical and applicable action. We also had the privilege and fun filled experience of having top of the line food stores and clothing stores brought to us at our amazing Pop Up Shop event.
Chassidim never say goodbye. So to conclude this empowering weekend and to continue our mission of changing the world, we were welcomed to banquet with opening remarks from our emcee Mrs. Gitty Rapoport.
The decor of the room was an atmosphere of elegance, extravagance and infused with the powerful positive energy by the mere fact that there were 1,200 girls present! Rabbi Schochet of England enlightened us and empowered us with his eloquently expressed words demonstrating the significance of each individual and the ripple effect that every action that we do has. His words spoke to our hearts and motivated us to do what is right being that our actions have a lasting effect. Tonia Lazaroff of Beis Rivkah CH, recited a slam poetry depicting the soul stirring power of a niggun which was followed by a moving and heartfelt rendition of Ani Mamin led by Chaya Halperin. We were then encouraged to take on Hachlatos and internalize the inspiration we have collected so that it can be eternalized. Each of us received a picture of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka that was created by Chaim Perl out of portraits of each convention attendee– something we will all cherish.
To end off the evening there was a grand roll call which clearly highlighted the Rebbe’s impact on the world with all the chassidim, extensions of the Rebbe, dispersed all over the world. We broke into dance concluding the evening rejoicing with our fellow sisters and bidding farewell until we meet once again. So you see what I wish for, if only the walls can tell of the emotions of joy, sheer happiness, yearning, and unity that permeated and radiated throughout this weekend. The walls don’t have mouths, but we do. Each and every girl that attended this convention had the opportunity to taste the the feeling of strength and the essential reality of the water that rejuvenated our parched throats. We are all here together, we are all here for each other. May this grand hakhel gathering lead us to the ultimate hakhel gathering with Moshiach now!
Thank you to Rabbi Benzion Stock and Mrs. Tiechtel whom without them convention would not be. A special thank you to the heads of convention, Mrs. Sarale Blau, Malky Lerman, Manya Dubrawsky, and Chaya Mushka Abrahams for their countless hours and devotion they invested in this convention. Thank you to the Bais Rivkah principals and teachers who gave us the opportunity to work on this awesome Hakhel. Thank you to Rabbi Tzvi Fass for all your help in exhibits and much more. Thank you to our photographer, Devorah Yerushalmi.
And finally, thank you to the Bais Rivkah students for all your time, work, and effort. Without each individual’s help, convention would not have been the same!