Photos: Benams Photo and Bentzi Sasson
Until last Sunday afternoon, Binyamin and Tzvi Hirsh were still Victor and Gregory. Inspired by a weeklong Hakhel trip to Crown Heights and the Ohel, they then celebrated their Bris near the Ohel.
Over 30 outstanding Jewish students from 15 cities across Russia participated in the trip organized by ‘Yachad’, a national study program for Russian youth run by Rabbi Mendy Wilansky from Moscow. Based in Crown Heights, the students had the opportunity to meet a number of Jewish communities in the New York area and their local Shluchim. The highlights of the trip were the moments of prayer spent in 770, the Rebbe’s room and house, and the Ohel.
During the long Shabbos in Crown Heights, the group studied with Russian Chief Rabbi and Head Shliach Rabbi Berel Lazar. Rabbi Lazar held an inspiring Farbrengen with the students, during which many of them made resolutions to increase in their study of Torah and Mitzvah observance. Rabbi Avi Cassel, Regional Director of Olami, participated in the Davening and Farbrengens as well, leading an inspiring Havdala ceremony at the conclusion of Shabbos.
Before leaving to the airport for their flight back, the group sat down to a Farbrengen at the Ohel, where each of the participants summarized their experiences and shared their feelings. “I’m happy that we had an additional opportunity to visit the Ohel before our trip back, because after such a special Shabbos I had many more things to request and pray for”, said one of the students. Another participant said, “This trip has given us so much energy to take back home with us to fulfill the resolutions we made and continue to grow in our Judaism.”
Rabbi Lazar concluded the Farbrengen by saying, “I am not just a Chief Rabbi, but primarily a Shliach of the Rebbe. When you return to your home cities you will also be Shluchim, to help your local Shliach prepare all the Jews of your city to greet Mashiach.”
The participants thanked Rabbi Shimon Bergman, Shliach to Nizhni Novgorod, and Rabbi Levi Mondshine, Shliach to Smolensk for organizing the trip. Rabbi Alex Porchenski, Rabbi Mottel Gordon, as well as T’mimim Mendel Lazar and Nachshon Lonayev from the Yeshiva in Moscow, accompanied the trip and made it a success.
Thanks go to Rabbi Josh Metzger from Manhattan, Rabbi Velvel Belinski from Baltimore, Rabbi Levi Shemtov from Washington D.C., Rabbi Mordechai Kanelsky from New Jersey and Rabbis Asher Altshul, Shlomo Galperin, Dubi Rabinowitz and Baruch Levkivker from Brooklyn, who hosted the students throughout the trip.
The trip made possible through generous grants from Keren Meromim and Horn Family Foundation. Production was coordinated by Bentzi Sasson with the assistance of Mendy Weg.