The Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine saw several wonderful “firsts” this year.
A unique second year seminary option for Lubavitch girls from around the world, the Beis Chana International Seminary for Women, was successfully inaugurated there earlier this year, under the leadership of Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezki, head Shliach of Dnepropetrovsk and Rabbi Moshe Weber, seminary director.
The seminary combines high level academics and student teaching with hands on experiences of life on shlichus and opportunities to visit holy sites and various shluchim all over Ukraine. The students have enjoyed an outstanding first semester including spending an unforgettable Shabbos in Haditch on Yud-Tes Kislev.
In the past week the seminary girls have excitedly inaugurated another “first” for Ukraine. They had initiated, planned, and executed an exciting winter camp in Crimea, Ukraine for the young daughters of shluchim from all over Ukraine.
The innovative endeavor, under the guidance of Rabbi Moshe Weber, was quite an undertaking but the results can only be called a smashing success.
30 young shluchos from around Ukraine, many of whom happen to be the only frum girls in their respective cities, arrived for a week of fun and regeneration in both gashmiyus and ruchniyus in Sudak, Crimea.
Rivka Axelrod, age 11 from Chirkasi expressed the feeling of many when she exclaimed, “It is really special to be around so many other Lubavitch girls and the counselors here are the best!”
This first ever winter Gan Yisroel Camp for Tzeiri Hashluchos of Ukraine, headed by Rena Greenberg of Cleveland, Ohio, will surely play a central role in imbuing the young shluchos with a joy and responsibility towards their holy mission.
The camp, titled “Nishmor Al Kesher – Let’s Keep in Touch,” focused on kesher and hiskashrus – various connections. In preparation for Yud Shvat, the campers engaged in active connection forging, between the campers themselves as well as connecting to the Rebbe.
The girls were constantly reminded and encouraged in their task of being mekushar to the meshalech, the nasi hador, as the theme song of camp proudly declared – “Chassidim af pa’am lo levad, ki hem zochrim tamid lishmor al kesher-ad, (Chassidim are never alone because they always remember to keep an eternal bond).”
The camp was conducted in three languages and at any given moment counselors and campers could be heard conversing and cheering in English, Hebrew and/or Russian. The counselors, who hail from England, Brazil, Ukraine, Argentina and the USA, infused each camper with chayus and love for chassidus and pride in being a chosen shlucha of the Rebbe.
The campers’ feedback reflected their renewed and reinvigorated feeling of “ashreinu ma tov chelkeinu.”
The week long camp was packed with numerous fun activities, trips and more, but the undisputed highlight for many of the campers was the opportunity to be surrounded by so much ruchniyus and chassidishkeit which literally filled their every moment.
It was a pleasure to observe campers intently perusing the extensive Tzivos Hashem learning booklet which was prepared for the program, not only in order to succeed in the grand chidon that took place on Motzei Shabbos but for the pure joy of learning. As Rochel Ostrovsky, age 12 from Dnepropetrovsk aptly said, “I really loved everything but the best part was all the ruchniyus – the shiurim, sichos, Rebbe time etc.”
The consensus among camp parents is that every single girl wants to return to camp! But until the girls have a chance to reconnect in another camp experience, they will surely carry the camp spirit and camp lessons of connection back home with them.
The parents, who had an opportunity to keep up with their daughters’ camp adventures through the daily updated camp blog, wintercamp5771.blogspot.com, reported the tremendous effect of the camp experience on their girls.
One proud parent described how his ten year old daughter, immediately upon returning home, began giving a shiur about machshava, dibbur and ma’aseh to her younger siblings, while another mother related that the only thing her eight year old daughter was concerned about on the way home was the exact location of her special book about hiskashrus to the Rebbe.
The successful camp session would not have been a reality without the generous support of Rabbi Fulli and Mrs. Devorah Rutman of Kiev. Their generosity enabled many young shluchos from around Ukraine to be enveloped in a chassidishe atmosphere and participate in an experience that no one, neither campers nor counselors, will ever forget, and the effects of which will ripple and create bonds and connections forever.