On Shabbos Parshas Shelach, over 550 parents of children “on their derech,” gathered at the Raleigh Hotel for four incredible days of inspiration, encouragement, and connection. Organized by Kesher Nafshi, the world-renowned organization founded by Reb Gedaliah Miller to provide training, support and chizuk for parents of struggling children, the event had been sold-out weeks earlier. Over a third of the attendees were parents who were new ‘in the parsha,’ who were still in the early stages of shock and grief, and were desperate for guidance, for someone to hold their hand and tell them they were not alone.
Featuring speakers including Reb Shimon Russell, guiding director of Kesher Nafshi; Rav Yitzchok Schwartz and Rav Gershon Schaffel of Eretz Yisroel; Rabbi YY Jacobson; Rabbi Shlomo Usher Tauber; Rabbi AY Goldman; Rabbi Benzion Twersky; Rabbi Shloimy Ehrlich, and so many more, this weekend was an opportunity for connection, chizuk and renewal. Yet the speakers and jam-packed program were only the tip of the iceberg.
For it wasn’t merely the memorable sound bites and stirring addresses, the opportunity to speak with Rabbonim, professionals and those on the front lines and receive life-altering guidance. It wasn’t the scenic grounds and delectable meals, the Thursday night kumzits with Reb Mota Frank, the haunting musical presentation by Yossy Schwartz, a wonderful young man who appeared on stage to bring his parents nachas.
A Chabad Shliach from New England along with his son shared with the captive audience their journey. They related how with the help and guidance from Kesher Nafshi they were able to repair their bond to each other. The son has since returned to Yeshiva and is now guiding other “on their derech” bochrim.
It was the opportunity to spend time with kindred souls who ‘get it.’
For four days and three nights, during which we barely slept, we connected with some of the most loving, compassionate, sensitive and caring parents that I have ever met—parents who found space in their hearts and egos to truly love and accept their struggling children.
I had the privilege of spending Shabbos in the company of giants: Rabbonim and Rebetzins of shuls. Professionals and therapists. Artists and teachers and psychologists and regular fathers and mothers, all of whom have one thing in common: we are raising children who are in pain, teens and adults who need us so desperately and who force us to face our deepest doubts and fears. Most of all, they compel us to keep growing, keep reaching deeper within ourselves to find love, compassion, and understanding.
Kesher Nafshi gives us the courage to hold our heads high, to know that we are doing the right thing for our families, for our communities, for Klal Yisroel. And the more care and compassion we show our children, the more we create powerful bonds of love that will remain with them for eternity.
For more information about Kesher Nafshi, go to KesherNafshi.org