After a successful pilot program, JEM, in conjunction with Tzivos Hashem, is launching a groundbreaking new program called “Connection Point,” which enables children to understand the Rebbe in his own words.
“There is nothing like the connection that comes through hearing a Sicha and learning directly from the Rebbe – with no one in between,” explains Rabbi Elkanah Shmotkin, Director of Jewish Educational Media.
He is describing a groundbreaking new program being launched just in time for the coming school year.
“One of the unique things about the Rebbe,” he continued, “is the amount of time he spent speaking directly to children, the most of any Jewish leader in history. One possible comparison might be Mordechai Hatzadik.”
“Hearing Sichos of the Rebbe, either at Farbrengens or rallies, fostered such an incredible Hiskashrus inside of us,” says Rabbi Shimmy Weinbaum, Program Director at Tzivos Hashem. “Since Chof Zayin Adar,” he continues, “our children don’t get this. Why can’t they grow up watching full Farbrengens of the Rebbe and understanding his words? Wouldn’t that be a dream come true?”
Now, thanks to a new program called “Connection Point” being launched by Jewish Educational Media in collaboration with Tzivos Hashem, that dream is becoming a reality.
Connection Point is being billed by its creators as the ultimate program to enable every Jewish child to understand the Rebbe.
“It’s not easy for us kids to understand when we watch a Sicha,” remarked Benny Slapochnik, a student in Oholei Torah elementary. “The Yiddish is difficult. You may understand a word here and a word there, but that’s it. With this program, I was able to actually understand the Rebbe for myself.”
Having participated in the pilot program, Benny had the opportunity to take part in this project firsthand.
“On one hand,” Shmotkin said, “we are extremely lucky to have hundreds of hours of the Rebbe’s Sichos to children recorded on video. On the other hand, many children today, so thirsty for this connection, have difficulty understanding them. We knew we needed to do something.”
“When I first thought of this program,” Rabbi Levi Plotkin, the program’s creator shares, “the goal was: how do we bridge this gap? How can we break down the barriers, be they language, attention, or others, and help every child understand when the Rebbe speaks?”
When he first approached principals to do a test run, they were skeptical.
“When the idea came up, we weren’t sure how well it would be received by the Talmidim and how successful it would be,” remarked Rabbi Yehoshua Lustig, principal in Oholei Torah.
But Plotkin was unfazed. Having seen this method work in various Yeshivos and summer camps, he was sure it was worth a try.
And try they did – in a pilot program in six boys and girls schools.
The early adopters were shocked with the results.
“It was really incredible, and I have to say, a bit shocking to see,” said Mrs. Chaya Cadaner, who ran the pilot rallies in Bais Rivkah’s fourth to seventh grades. “When we first introduced the program, some of the girls asked ‘what if we can’t understand?’ But at the end of the rally, every single girl in every class we went to was able to understand what the Rebbe had said and was able to answer the questions confidently.”
“The Connection Point program shows you it’s actually possible,” continued Benny Slapochnik. “It’s easy, it’s exciting. I never felt that way about watching a Sicha of the Rebbe before.”
After the success of the pilot, and with seed funding provided by Shmulik and Sara Aizenberg and by the members of the Jem Foundation, Connection Point is being expanded to more Lubavitch schools.
“Today, after Gimmel Tammuz, this is what is needed so much,” said Rabbi Shmuel Turk, Principal in Lubavitch Yeshiva. “To have the videos, where we get to see and hear the message the Rebbe is giving directly to us, this enables us to have Hiskashrus, to connect with the Rebbe. There is no better way to do it.
“What JEM has given us with this program is absolutely incredible. We owe them a big Yasher Koach,” he added.
With limited spots available for the next rally, principals are being encouraged to get in touch as soon as possible to bring this to their students as well.
Plotkin sums up the vision quite simply. “Through this curriculum, children can walk out understanding directly from the Rebbe the key points that he is expressing. When they leave this program, he or she could understand a full Sicha of the Rebbe.”
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