By a student in JETS
It all started as a crazy idea, a shot in the dark. It was going to be the craziest trip ever – we wanted to take the whole JETS to Crown Heights for Yud Shvat. After all where does a Chossid belong Yud Shvat, if not by the Rebbe?
The Shluchim sat down, for meeting after meeting, brainstorming how the Mivtza leading up to the trip would work, how we would get the money for the trip and how we would convince the students that it was worth all the effort involved. You could feel the excitement – the belief that this was going to be the most spiritually uplifting trip that any of us has ever experienced – quickly growing.
After more than ten hours of meetings, discussions with the school, fundraising and a lot of sweat and tears (well, just a few tears!), the Mivtza and trip were ready to be announced. Motzei Shabbos, the 19th of Teves, the Mivtza was announced at a grand Farbrengen led by Rabbi Shmuel Schneerson. You could actually feel the excitement in the air – this was for JETS, not just a small group, not everyone on their own, but for all of us together, as brothers.
The next morning, the students were woken up bright and early for an extra hour of Chassidus as a group. With Chassidus, cake and coffee, the Mivtza was on its way.
Over the next nineteen days the students woke up extra early every morning. They attended Farbrengens, and learned and were tested on Basi Legani and Beis Rabbeinu Shebebovel. They took on personal Hachlotos and made sure to write in to the Rebbe and give him nachas.
At the next Farbrengen, the school’s founder and director, Rabbi Schmukler, spoke about the importance of connecting to and being inspired by the Rebbe today.
The school was on fire, with crazy energy and the feeling of unity was acknowledged by everyone. Walking through the halls, you could see that everyone was truly preparing to visit the Rebbe.
Finally, it was the last night before takeoff and we had one last surprise. Rabbi Moshe Bleich, Shliach in Boston, flew down to give everyone that last burst of inspiration and what a burst it was! Speaking about how the Rebbe still affects and inspires people today really touched many students’ hearts. We were finally ready to go to the Rebbe.
Thursday morning, the 9th of Shvat, the students were woken up and headed to the final early Chassidus. With the morning started on the right foot, we were ready to get going. The feeling of excitement, we finally made it, we worked and toiled and it paid off, that’s what was going through each and every bochur’s mind. The plane ride was one big Minyan of Yidden, all with the same destination and goal; there was no better way to start off the trip.
As the plane landed in JFK everyone started to clap, we made it! Walking out of the airport there was a bus waiting for us and we headed for the Ohel. Before we could even start moving, the bus was on fire! We were singing and screaming Niggunim, we all knew exactly where we were going. As all 43 of us exited the bus, we continued singing and dancing. We then headed for the Mikva and students took time to write Panim and go speak their hearts out to the Rebbe. Following Maariv we headed out to 770, the place we had learned about for the past three weeks, the place where the Rebbe taught us and guided us, the place that still inspires us today, the Mikdash Ma’at of our times. As we piled into 770, the dancing was ecstatic, no one knew what hit them, but everyone was taken in by the amazing energy and excitement as the dancing went on for over an hour. Following the dancing, everyone sat down for a Farbrengen with Rabbi Noam Wagner. He spoke about how we are the Rebbe’s children and the Rebbe is our father. We really felt like the Rebbe was Farbrenging there with us. A quick glance at the clock showed that it was already FIVE AM – WOW!!
The next morning we met up by the Rubashkin residence for Chassidus – every single bochur shared their shock and amazement at the previous night’s experience. No one had expected it to be so insane. Following this, we had davening in 770 and breakfast by the Muchnick’s residence. Then students went home for a bit to spend some time with family and prepare for Shabbos.
Five o’clock and 770 started filling up with people coming to daven Maariv and we packed in with them. Lecha Dodi started and the singing and dancing was vibrant; it was obvious that JETS was in the house. As we answered Borchu, we head out to the front of 770 for a favorite JETS tradition. Over 70 people gathered in a massive circle outside 770 singing arm in arm “ואהבת לרעך כמוך – to love a fellow Jew”. The feeling was amazing, words do not suffice – you really had to be there! Following davening, we headed to the Chanin’s residence for the Friday night meal. While we filled our stomachs with delicious food, Rabbi Yankel Meizlen gave us some food for thought as he spoke about his experiences on his path back to yiddishkeit.
To finish off Shabbos, and kick off the next week on the right note, we had another Farbrengen, this time with Rabbi Leibel Kaplan. He inspired the students as he spoke about the struggles we all go through and taught us how to see solutions clearly.
As the trip came to a close, we made one last stop, as we took a group photo outside 770 and ended off this once-in-a-lifetime trip on the right foot.
We would like to thank the founder and director of JETS, Rabbi Schmukler, who was so instrumental in making this trip a reality. We would also like to thank the Principal of Judaic Studies, Rabbi Seewald, for all his work and support in making this trip the inspiring time it was. From the bottom of our hearts, we’d like to thank and acknowledge “Chavaya” and R’ Yoske Levin for making this trip happen – financially and spiritually. Thank you to all the staff and parents who hosted and gave their time and energy. Last, but definitely not least, a huge shout out to the all the amazingly dedicated Shluchim of JETS that gave their souls to make this a reality.