Marking one year of MyShliach’s regional shabbatons, 18 yaldei hashluchim from eight cities across the Alpine countries came together for a shabbaton in Venice, Italy, hosted by Chabad of Venice and Rabbi and Mrs. Rami Banin. One week later and thousands of miles away, Rabbi and Mrs. Yitzchok Tiechtel, shluchim to Nashville, Tennessee, hosted 17 girls from eight nearby Middle-American states for a shabbaton of their own.
Together with bochurim who flew into Venice especially for the shabbaton, the boys enjoyed three packed days of inspiration and excitement. Highlights included mivtzoim in the old Venice Jewish Ghetto and a tour of the historic glass-blowing facility on the island of Murano, only to be followed by a Shabbos of singing, farbrenging and chayus together with Rabbi Pinchas Zaklas, shliach to Zagreb, Croatia.
The girls’ shabbaton began with road trips spanning 3-9 hours of laughter and song as madrichos Chaikie Weingarten, Mushky Rodal, Rivky Hartman and Mushky Gurary flew into three hub cities and picked up each of the girls from their respective hometowns and drove them to Nashville. The girls enjoyed going on mivtzoim in the local senior citizen’s center and a Shabbos full of games, stories, singing, and farbrengens.
A regional shabbaton uniting yaldei hashluchim living in isolated locations and offering them the opportunity to forge friendships and gain inspiration is an almost other-worldly experience. Each of these shabbatons, however, possessed an extra special dimension, with a surprise bar-mitzva celebration held for Aron Yaakov Banon and a surprise bas-mitzva celebration held for Esty Friedman of Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to spirited singing and farbrengens held in their honor, the boys presented Aron Yaakov with a video of their heartfelt brochos, while the girls presented Esty with a cake they had made.
The girls had a hard time parting from one another after the shabbaton. As one young shlucha put it, “It’s often hard to express feelings and emotions about growing up so isolated on shlichus. Here, the songs, inspiration and warmth just made us into one family. I felt I was with other girls who understood one hundred percent what it’s like.”
The boys, too, wished the shabbaton would last forever. “After a Shabbos of bonding and inspiration, it was quite something to hear these young boys, unfamiliar with the other’s language, take down their new friend’s contact information in very basic Hebrew,” said Zushi Rivkin, who coordinated the shabbaton along with Mendel Weingarten, Zash Itkin and Yisroel Gabay.
“We wish a hartzige mazal tov to the bar mitzva boy and bas mitzva girl,” expressed Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz, director of MyShliach. “May the inspiration they each gleaned from their fellow yaldei hashluchim stand them in good stead as they enter this new stage of shlichus.”
MyShliach is a division of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch’s Suite 302. Upcoming shabbatons are scheduled to take place over the next three weeks in Flagstaff, Arizona and Boulder, Colorado for boys and in Chandler, Arizona and Pleasanton, California for girls.