Four hundred women from Jewish communities in central Ukraine, came together at a regional convention at the Menorah Center in Dnepropetrovsk.
The convention, entitled “To be a Woman”, was organized in preparation for the 22nd of Shvat, the day that marks the passing of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka Schneerson, the Rebbe’s wife.
Thanks to the initiative of the Shlucha Mrs. Shoshi Weber and the support of the Jewish community in cooperation with the Meromim Foundation and its representative Rabbi Moshe Weber, the women enjoyed a well-organized convention, packed with interesting and varied content in an elegant setting.
Sunday morning started with a warm welcome to the participants who had come from eight different cities – Cherkassy, Poltava, Kremenchug, Krivoyrog, Kharkov, Dniprodzerzhinsk and the host city Dnepropetrovsk. Some had travelled for up to six hours to be able to attend!
After a warm welcome and rich breakfast, the groups were invited to visit the Jewish Museum located in the building.
At 12:00 when everyone had arrived and settled in, the Sinai Hall opened for the first part of the “To be a Woman” convention.
Rabbi Shmuel Kaminezky, the Chief Rabbi and Head Shliach to Dnepropetrovsk, opened with words of greeting to all the participants, and went on to explain the tremendous power the woman has to influence her family.
Rabbi Kaminezky expressed the hope that the women would adopt the Chassidic insights they had gleaned from the convention into their lives, and wished them great success in their efforts to maintain a Jewish lifestyle and raise happy families.
A group of young dancers from the Beis Chaya Mushka school performed a dance to the accompaniment of lively Chassidic music.
The MC, Ms. Dina Kolomoizev encouraged the women of the different communities to present themselves to the audience while pictures of activities in their cities were displayed in the background. There was loud applause, heard above the Chassidic music, which accompanied the displays.
When all the participants were already in high spirits, and a sense of unity was felt in the air, the Psalms of the Rebbe and Rebbetzin were recited by representatives of the women.
The Rebbetzins who participated in the convention told inspiring stories about Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka. Each chose to tell the most exciting story she had heard. Rebbetzin Chani Kaminezky spoke about her own personal visits as a child at the Rebbetzin’s home.
The “Chassidic Women’s Theater” from Dnepropetrovsk staged an original play of stories, familiar and less familiar, from the life of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka, incorporating Chassidic principles relating to women’s lives and insights to take home.
The Guest of Honor at the event was Rabbi Yehoshua Raskin, who fascinated the audience in his lecture on “Being a Woman”. Through personal stories and a lot of wisdom and humor, Rabbi Raskin taught us how precious we are as Jewish women. The women, who came from different backgrounds and were of different ages, took great interest and pleasure in the words of Rabbi Raskin.
Entertainment was provided by talented Klezmer musicians who played happy, uplifting Chassidic melodies.
The first session ended with a symposium about women and their duties, presenting answers to questions submitted in advance by the participants. The questions were presented in a humoristic way with video clips and skits.
The panel of respondents consisted of a young mother of four children from Dnepropetrovsk and three Rebbitzens, who shared their experiences of dealing with challenging situations. The women thoroughly enjoyed the session and gained a lot from it.
Spontaneous dancing followed, to the music of “Uforazto” during which the women accepted upon themselves a commitment to live their lives as a continuation of the life of Rebbetzin Chaya Mushka.
Before heading off to lunch, the MC thanked the organizers of the convention – Rebbetzin Chani Kaminezky, Mrs. Shoshi Weber, Mrs. Dina Stambler, Mrs. Daliah Kurtzweil, Mrs Leah Metz, Mrs. Leah Brez and the Shliach Rabbi Moshe Weber whose encouragement and support helped make the convention happen.
After the first session the women were invited to enjoy a festive meal in the ballroom at the Menorah Center.
On their way out of the hall the women signed a Pidyon Nefesh and for the second session they were divided into groups and workshops for study. Each woman was invited to participate in two workshops, with the opportunity to explore various fields of interest. The workshops hosted professionals in the fields of psychology, the Jewish Home, personal development, styling, grooming, nutrition, hospitality and other topics relating to the personal lives of the women.
When the convention was over, everyone was invited to visit the kosher stores of the Menorah center, to tour the luxurious Mikvah and to visit other parts of the Jewish Museum and Synagogue.
“The success of the convention went beyond all expectations thank G-d,” organizers said. “We especially would like to thank the Jewish community of Dnepropetrovsk and the Meromim Foundation for their economic support of this amazing project. We hope and believe we have given the Rebbe and the Rebbetzin great satisfaction. We’re already looking forward to the next gathering,” they said.