By a participant for COLlive
The students of Seminary Chaya Mushka of Tzfas, Israel recently returned from their annual inspirational trip to Ukraine where they were privileged to have the once in a lifetime opportunity to visit the Kevarim of many of our Rebbeim and their contemporaries.
A Yasher Koach and a thank you must be given to Menahales Mrs. Rochel Leah Rosenfeld, who put months of effort and tireless dedication to ensure this trip was a success in all aspects. A thank you must go to the girls who helped organize and stayed up many nights to fundraise – Sarah Kupfer, Shira Greenberg, and Mushky Krasnijanski.
All the girls underwent an intensive Hachana program in preparation for the trip that included daily checklists and twice weekly Farbrengens by inspiring speakers. Preparing for their visit to the Alter Rebbe’s Ohel in Haditch on Chaf-Daled Teves, the girls also took part in a series of three Tanya Gemers during which they learned over forty Perakim of Tanya.
Not only were the girls privilaged to go to Kevrei Tzaddikim, but also to see the revitalization of Yiddishkeit in the former Soviet Union. In Zhitomer, they visited the Chabad orphange witnessing how Jewish children are literally given life, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. In Chmielneski, they saw how the Shliach, a former Red Army officer, assists the Jews in any way needed and in the Chabad House of Barditchev they were privileged and inspired to see the Mesiras Nefesh exemplified by the Shluchim who truly work day and night helping the Jews in their community.
Accompanied by Menaheles Mrs. Rochel Leah Rosenfeld, Tzfas shliach and mashpia Rabbi Aaron Lazer Ceitlin, Toronto educator Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Ceitlin, and Rabbi Amram Moyal of Tzfas, over 50 girls traveled to Ukraine to take part in this incredible program.
Traveling by bus that was a virtual living Farbrengen with stories, niggunim and learning the teachings of the differnent Rabbeim bringing every stop to life, and were enthralled by stories of our Rebbeim as they visited Ohelim in Nezhin, Haditch, Berditchev, Slovita, Anipoli, Mezhibuzsh, Pastov and Babi-Yar in Kiev.
The climax of the Hachana program and the highlight of the visit to Ukraine occurred on Chaf-Daled Teves at the Alter Rebbe’s Ohel in Haditch. Being at the Alter Rebbe’s Ohel on his Yartzheit was a tremendous Zechus and moving experience. There, the girls wrote Panim and said Tehillim before joining together in singing heartfelt Niggunim that was a true emotional turning point for them all. Each girl came with her own personal Tefillios on behalf of many, yet as a group they joined together in a circle of unity and love, as they Davened, sang and cried together.
Spending Shabbos by the Baal Shem Tov in Mezhibush was another highlight of the trip. The girls Davened in the Baal Shem Tov’s Shul together with hundreds of diverse Chassidim, truly honored to Daven in the very spot where the Baal Shem Tov had Davened and where the Maggid as well as the Baal Shem Tov’s other students lived and learned. There the girls were privileged to be addressed by Rabbi Vechter and to witness a moving Davening and Seder Niggunim where the many Chassidim joined together in song and dance, a scene that looked like they traveled back in times of the Baal Shem Tov for Shabbos.
The trip culminated in a moving visit to Babi-Yar, where the girls truly understood the horror of the ‘Final Solution’, and how we must live on for these Kedoshim, and a beautiful dinner hosted by the Rutman Family.
It was a week of Davening, of Tehillim, of Niggunim, of stories of Rebbeim and Tzaddikim. Actually seeing and being at the places where they lived and the streets which they walked brought all the stories they heard to life, really enabling the girls to understand the great Mesiras Nefesh of the Rabbeim and their Chassidim. Not a single girl left the trip untouched. Rather, in addition to both group and personal Hachlatas, the real change has been made and can be felt in each girl herself. Never again will a story of our Rebbeim and their contemporaries and Chassidim be heard in the same way. Now every story heard and every piece of Torah learned that was said or written by these eminent personalities, will be accompanied by a vivid picture and the rush of warmth, love and inspiration that was felt by each girl as they walked the streets of Ukraine and Davened by their Ohelim.
As a group we cannot begin to thank Mrs. Rosenfeld whose long hours of work and incredible dedication and determination allowed this trip to take place. We would also like to thank our tremendous sponsors and our parents who enabled our trip. We had you in mind every step of the way and we bless you that you should continue in such endeavors and truly go M’Chayil El Chayil. In addition we would like to thank Rabbis Tzeitlin and Moyal for their endless words of inspiration.
This visit left an indelible impression on us all and we bless you that you should be Zoche to continue in such activities.