Over 80 boys and 90 girls from nine European countries including Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Northern Cyprus, Sweden, Turkey, Hungary and Poland, traveled to Zhytomyr and Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine for a week full of friends, activities, chassidishe chayus and inspiration at “Shluchim Shtetl”, a winter camp geared specifically for Hebrew speaking Shluchim all over Europe, currently in it’s 6th year.
While outside was blustery and cold, inside the camps were full of the warmth of friendship and chassidishkeit, made possible by the executive directors of the camps, Rabbi Moshe and Shoshi Weber, shluchim to Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, and MyShliach of Merkos 302.
In a city known as less than hospitable to Yidden and Yiddishkeit when the Rebbe lived there as a young child during communist rule, the children of the Rebbe’s army now gathered to draw inspiration and build lasting friendships before they returned to help their parents spread Yiddishkeit in their hometowns across Europe and the former Soviet Union.
“The fact that there is a camp in Ukraine for Shluchim’s kids is truly a nes,” shared Rabbi Yisroel Silberstein, Shliach to Chernigov, Ukraine. “We have no words to say in appreciation that just a few hours from our house we have a chassidishe camp for Shluchim kids!”
At both locations, a tremendous amount of planning and energy went into creating a schedule full of exciting and inspiring experiences for the young Shluchim.
In the boys camp, a dedicated staff of bochurim was led by Mendy Eisenbach and Avraham Gerlitsky.
The girls camp was staffed by an amazing group of skilled and experienced girls currently working for Shluchim around Europe led by Miri Bartov and Pnini Sosover.
Rabbi Shneur Shneerson, Shliach to Rovna, Ukraine, thanked the staff for their dedication. “As a father I want to give a big yasher koach for the choice of staff and madrichim. The feeling I got from my boys was that besides for the ‘tararam’ and excitement, the staff was very dedicated to even the smallest details to make sure camp was enjoyable for everyone.”
Campers in both camps enjoyed exciting trips and activities including skiing, ice skating, swimming and paintball. Delicious meals with ingredients specially ordered from the US and Israel were prepared for campers by Rabbi Avrohom Deitsch, a special treat for kids who came from hometowns with limited kosher food options.
As in past years, much planning and forethought went not only into the gashmiyus but also the ruchniyus of the camp, with an exclusive curriculum designed to boost chassidishe knowledge and hiskashrus. Used in both the boys and girls divisions, this year’s curriculum focused on the 30th anniversary of the victory of Hey Teves with in depth study and specially designed activities relating to the events that led up to and culminated with Didan Notzach. The curriculum left the campers with a real feeling of chayus for the upcoming chassidishe yom tov. “To see my son dancing with friends to the niggun of Hey Teves is like a dream,” said Rabbi Yossi Wolf, Shliach to Kherson, Ukraine.
“The Shluchim Shtetl camp offers a wonderful opportunity for the children of Shluchim to meet and befriend other children who are also on the Rebbe’s shlichus in an atmosphere of chassidishe warmth and chayus.” said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky of Merkos Suite 302
As parents received updates of camp activities via whatsapp throughout the week Chani Segal, Shlucha to Kharkov, Ukraine wrote, “You can see how much the children are enjoying themselves. Thank you so much to all of the organizers!” And many more parents shared her sentiments, thankful for the opportunities for friendship and fun their children had in camp and for the chassidishe inspiration that followed them home.
“And thank you to the Webers and the amazing staff for everything they’ve invested into the camp, b’gashmiyus and b’ruchniyus!” wrote Rabbi Akiva Nemoy, Shliach to Berdichev, Ukraine.
Special thanks to Rabbi Shmuel Kaminetsky, chief rabbi of Dnepr and the staff of the Menorah Centre in Dnepr for hosting the girls camp, Rabbi Shlomo Wilhelm of Zhytomyr for hosting the boys camp, and to Rabbi Mendy Shanowitz and the staff of MyShliach for their dedication to the children of Shluchim worldwide.