By a camper of YTT – Swerdlov
“How can I know where I’m going if I don’t know where I’m coming from?”
It looks like an ordinary empty forest. A passerby could easily miss it.
But to some the place still holds significant meaning.
Exactly 6 weeks ago we stood, 52 girls and 12 women, singing “Ani Maamin” in a field near a sanatorium in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine where the Rebbe’s brother DovBer is buried.
Most of the women and girls there didn’t even know the Rebbe has a brother DovBer and if they did they knew very little about him.
Standing at the Tziyon of the Rebbe’s brother who died Al Kiddush Hashem by the Nazis Yimach Shemom with a group such as ours was as powerful as it was mind boggling to see how the Nazis work truly failed and here we are today, high school girls from all over the world joined by women and Shluchos from multiple countries returning to learn, grow, inspire, see, and experience where it is that we all come from.
Not just a visit of tours and sights but more of a wake up call to each of its participants; a chance to realize how deep our roots are and what we are really made up of. To experience first hand the Mesiras Nefesh, to witness up close the Jewish pride still felt in the air, and to be able to so tangibly touch the Rabbeim’s Brachos still very much ingrained in the land.
All this, to better understand where we come from and from there to better understand what we each have the power to become.
Through the Alter Rebbe in Haditch, to the Mitteler Rebbe in Nyezhin, followed by a climatic Shabbos in Mezhibush by the Baal Shem Tov full of singing Niggunim, Farbrengens, and inspiring words from all, we left feeling truly truly in touch and aware of the endless power, depth, and Chassidishkeit each one of us is so lucky to be part of.
Pumped with inspiration there was no better way than to start our 4 week journey covering every inch of land of Eretz Yisroel- “Eretz Asher Einei Elokecha Ba M’Reishis HaShana V’ad Acharis HaShana.”
We started with the 9 days in Yerushalayim and seeing for ourselves up close where the Churban was and where the Beis HaMikdash will very soon be.
Nothing can be called more hands-on learning than hearing Mrs. Swerdlov teaching Hilchos Beis HaBchira in the mornings and then seeing with our own eyes the very spot where it will all take place. We were even lucky enough to visit a museum that has already prepared Keilim for the Beis HaMikdash!
Moving on to the south and eventually the north we hiked, climbed, had a blast, and learned through it all about the richness we come from and the power we all posses. Through rafting down the Yarden, camel riding in the desert, Jeeping in the Golan, and hilarious activities by our counselors, we literally did not stop for even one second! Not only was Eretz Yisroel a beautiful land that Hashem gave to us but it slowly transformed into a place where we saw history come alive and genuinely felt that it was ours!
Along the way we met some incredible people; people who choose day after day to LIVE their lives Al Mesiras Nefesh so the people who died Al Mesiras Nefesh would have done so for a reason.
One of those people are Rabbi Yigal Kirshenzaft and his family who were the Shluchim of the Rebbe to Gush Katif and now live with their community in Nitzan.
24/7 the Kirshenzafts work to revive the people of Gush Katif, to continue inspiring them, to encourage them, and even to help them physically and emotionally be able to stand on their feet again. These people are living a life of Mesiras Nefesh, totally given over to the other Yid’s needs, when they too experienced the same traumatic story. Despite all, they continue to give to their community endlessly being true examples of Chassidim who push on regardless of what it thrown their way and continue to show that Eretz Yisroel is a land that is forever ours.
A definite highlight for everyone in camp was Shabbos in Chevron. The singing, the dancing, the Simcha, the day to day Mesiras Nefesh of the families living there all made up to a most amazing last Shabbos in YTT.
Reflecting upon how much we learned and saw we realize the influence the Rebbe has had on the world, we realize the influence the Rebbe has had on the world, we realize just how much the Rebbe shaped Jewish life globally, we realize what incredible stock we come from and from all that, we realize and truly hope to internalize just how much each one of us has the Koiach to do.
YTT has given us what we need to be a proud Yid and Chossid of the Rebbe in todays day and age. Never again will I learn Tanya the same way after having been in Hadich by the Alter Rebbe. After Seder Niggunim in the Baal Shem Tov’s Shul never again will I hear a Baal Shem Tov story without picturing in my head exactly what the scene must have looked like. Now I know what living Al Mesiras Nefesh means. Now I know that while it was others who died Al Mesiras Nefesh we must be the ones to live by it. To live every day and every moment according to what’s true and by slowly changing details in my life to move closer in that direction.
Thank you to the following people for making this summer a journey to be remembered and treasured for a lifetime.
Our camp directors: Mrs. Shosh Rabinowitz, Rabbi Leibel and Mrs. Miryam Swerdlov, as well as, Rabbi and Mrs. Shmuel and Chani Kaminetsky, Rabbi Yaakov Eckhaus, Rabbi Mordechai Telsner, Rabbi Chanoch Chaskind, Mrs. Dina Hurwitz, Mrs. Sara Nachshon and our incredible counselors: Chana Friedman, Chaiky Lipsker, Shaina Chincholker and Mushka Percia.