By COLive staff
Photos: Shalom Maatuf/COLlive
Hundreds of Shluchim recently gathered together for the sixteenth annual JLI Conference. Held this year on Beis Tammuz, the Conference is a day dedicated to sharing tips and ideas for adult education, learning new ways of expanding and improving the more than 350 JLI chapters around the world.
After Registration, tables laden with bagels and wraps, yogurts and muffins, hot coffee and cool smoothies greeted the participating Shluchim.
The day began with a morning orientation session for more than 20 new JLI affiliates, followed by two 1 hour and fifteen minute sessions with four class options each.
Dozens of Shluchim filled a wide auditorium on the campus to hear renowned marketing expert Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg. A Chassidishe Jew from Yerushalayim, Ginzberg has become famous for his endless supply of creative and original marketing ideas, speaking for Google, ABC, Fox, CNBC, The New York Times, USA Today, Inc., Entrepreneur, Yahoo, and AOL. He is also known for his weekly marketing column in The Jerusalem Post. Presenting for the first time for JLI, he shared his passion for marketing as he thrilled his audience with brilliant yet practical tips for raising attendance numbers.
Simultaneously, Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman, Shliach at the University of Delaware, led a seminar on pedagogy, challenging in surprising ways the teaching methods and stated goals of participants.
His unique approach to interactive learning presented a refreshing new outlook for these Shluchim seeking to captivate their students intellectually.
There were also previews of two of the much-anticipated JLI Courses for the upcoming year, led by Dr. David Pelcovitz along with JLI’s very own curriculum development team, Rabbi Mordechai Dinerman and Rabbi Naftali Silberberg.
A valuable workshop on networking was led by Rabbi Yossi Klein of the JLI Networking Department along veteran JLI Affiliate Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski of Chabad of Tampa. They introduced several ideas for helping Shluchim partner with the various other Mosdos in their Kehillos.
Rabbi Ari Shishler and Rabbi Aryeh Weinstein held a session on Best Practices from the field, drawing on years of experience in adult education.
The main session, held in the vast, wood-paneled LeFrak Concert Hall, was chaired by Rabbi Hesh Epstein, Shliach to Columbia, S.C., where the urgent necessity to add and do more was palpable. As the day of Gimmel Tammuz approached, this theme enveloped the Main Session, with a special emphasis of taking Hachlatos together as one, thus fulfilling in unprecedented ways the mandate the Rebbe charged us with of bringing Torah to the masses.
The session was kicked off with a message from Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, chairman of the Rohr Jewish Learning Institute and vice chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch, who, speaking on the heels of the tragic news off the brutal murders of three boys in Israel, called on Shluchim to continue what had been started with the groundbreaking Paradigm Shift course, and unabashedly bring the light and teachings of the Rebbe and his Torah to a world that desperately needs and thirsts for it.
Elaborating on this theme, Rabbi Yudi Shemtov, shliach in Bucks County, Penn., spoke of practical ways to move forward post-Paradigm Shift, and ensuring that the Rebbe and his message come through clearly in everything that shluchim are doing.
The afternoon continued with Shluchim sharing their experiences and ideas, including Rabbi Mendy Dubrowski who encouraged Shluchim to break out beyond their typical audiences by partnering with other local Mosdos, Rabbi Sholom Raichik who discussed this year’s upcoming Winter Course, and Rabbi Yisroel Hahn, who spoke about JLI’s specially tailored Marketing for Results Program, and his experiences with Marketing JLI in his relatively small Jewish Community of Spokane, Washington.
Also addressing the audience were Rabbi Berel Bell and Dr. David Pelcovitz, who introduced the upcoming Fall and Spring Courses, and Rabbi Issamar Ginzburg who encouraged Shluchim to invest their efforts in “marketing passionately.” Closing remarks were delivered by Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Head Shliach of Maryland.
After a long day the gathered shluchim sat down for a catered dinner, where they were addressed by Rabbi Ruvi New. Rabbi New spoke of Gimmel Tammuz, twenty years later, and what it meant for the group, as chassidim, and as shluchim. The world was ready, he said, to hear not only about the body and soul of chassidus, but about the head, the Rebbe.
As evening fell, thoughts turned to the next 24 hours, ones that would be filled with deep introspection over the past, and firm resolution for the future.