As the year 5771 draws to its conclusion, we salute our Shluchim for the pivotal role they play in Yeshivah Gedolah and in the community at large. Here is a brief roundup of their activities this year.
TheRebbeconstantly emphasized that the primary preoccupation of the Shluchim is the learning and dissemination of Torah. The Shluchim achieve this in a variety of ways:
1. Studying and mentoring at the College
The Rabbinical College of Australia & NZ is famous for the individual attention it affords each of its students, and the methodical structure of its curriculum. The Shluchim play a large role in the success of our program, and they allocate much of their day to assisting the student body with their studies.
In addition, the Shluchim run a variety of extra-curricular Shiurim, including a daily Rambam Shiur (see here and here), a bi-weekly Seder Sichos program (see this link), and a weekly Moshiach Shiur.
All of the above is in addition to the advanced personal studies of the Shluchim, the highlight of which is a weekly pilpul shiur delivered by the Rosh Yeshivah, Rabbi B Cohen, specifically for them.
Rambam Shiur coordinator:Menachem Mendel Begun. Seder Sichos coordinator:Shmuel Lipskier. Moshiach Shiur coordinator:Shimon Yisroel Dubinsky.
2. Shiurim with school students
In addition to learning with students of the college, the Shluchim forge many learning partnerships with primary, secondary and tertiary students, as well as laymen and businessmen. During the daily breaks in the College schedule, the study hall and libraries are filled with the sounds of learning. The Shluchim are more than happy to focus on any aspect of Jewish study, and successfully build strong ties with many of their partners.
Coordinator: Mendy Kesselman.
3. Friday morning learning with year 11 and year 12
Each Friday morning, the Shluchim visit Yeshivah College in order to learn with year 11 and 12 VCE students. The classes are divided into small groups, and the high school boys enjoy the unique opportunity to learn through discussion. These forty-five minute sessions are an enjoyable weekly highlight for both the Shluchim as well as the high school students.
Coordinator: Mendy Kesselman.
4. Torah publications
“Heoros Hatmimim V’Anash” is a compilation of Torah insights authored by students, Shluchim and staff of Yeshivah Gedolah, as well as by members of the general community. The publication of Heoros inspires the students to utilize their academic talents and abilities to their fullest. Heoros is compiled, edited and published by the Shluchim. This year, six issues were published, bringing the total number of issues to 119.
Coordinator:Levi Liberow, Menachem Mendel Polter.
"Va'ad L'hafotzas Sichos" is the publishing arm of the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand, and is managed by the Shluchim. Each week, several thousand copies of a wide variety of Torah publications are printed and distributed to many Shules in Melbourne.
Coordinator:Yitzchok Meir Einstein.
"Chayenu" (external site) is an international weekly Torah magazine for the English speaking, with special emphasis on the daily study schedules of Rambam, Chitas and Hayom Yom. The Shluchim ensure that this publication is available to every student at the College.
5. Torah Gatherings
This year, the Shluchim coordinated a number of special Torah gatherings, including:
Siyum Harambam - the annual Torah gathering marking the completion of the annual cycle of Rambam study.
Kinus Torah - the annual community Torah event conducted in association with the festival of Shavuos.
Kinus Hashluchim - the annual convention of student Shluchim of Melbourne and Sydney.
Torah Lending Library was founded by previous groups of Shluchim. The library houses a large collection of Jewish English-language books, as well as a digitized audio collection. The library is very popular with our students, and is also used by members of the general community. The library also contains a collection of Torah videos, which are occasionally screened to the student body.
Tahalucha is a campaign created by the Rebbe, which sees Chabad representatives visiting community synagogues on the Jewish festivals of Pesach, Shavuos and Sukkos. These representatives share inspiring words of Torah and Chassidus, and celebrate the Yom Tov joy with spirited song and dance. In Melbourne, Tahalucha is coordinated by the Shluchim, with delegates walking up to four hours each way, reaching over forty synagogues.
Judaism is not just a learning experience; it is a way of life! The Shluchim conduct a wide variety of activities for the benefit of the students at Rabbinical College, inspiring them with the joy of Torah and Chassidus:
1. Hiskashrus Farbrengens
A Farbrengen (Chassidic gathering) is an ideal time for its participants to inspire each other in the spirit of true Ahavas Yisroel (love for one’s fellow Jew). Some of the Farbrengens at Rabbinical College are led by a staff member, and have come to be known as "official Farbrengens". However, many Farbrengens are led by the Shluchim, and are known as "Hiskashrus Farbrengens". Being that the Shluchim develop close ties with many students, these Farbrengens are the perfect opportunity for the Shluchim to inspire the students to study Torah diligently, to fulfil Mitzvos in the best possible manner, to improve their character-traits, to spread Judaism to others, and to spur them on to new heights.
2. Preparation Campaigns
A basic tenet of Chassidus is that an inspiring “Yom-Tov” (Jewish Holiday or special day) is a product of diligent preparation. Yom-Tov is not merely a time of celebration, but an opportunity to focus on its inner message. With this in mind, the Shluchim arrange a number of campaigns to assist students in preparing themselves suitably for these special days. These campaigns include the special days of Yud Sh’vat, Purim, Yud-Alef Nissan, Gimmel Tammuz and Tishrei.
3. Seder Nigunnim and Friday night meals
Each Friday night, Seder Nigunnim is conducted at the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand. Chassidic melodies are sung; at times poignant and at times exuberant. These melodies set the mood for the subsequent Chassidic discourse and Kabbolas Shabbos. The Shluchim also energize the Friday night Shabbos meal with words of Torah, stories and Nigunnim.
Baal Menagen:Hirschel Gourarie.
The Shluchim conduct a variety of activities to benefit the youth of the Melbourne Jewish community:
Each Thursday night (from 7:30 to 8:30), school boys aged 8-13 attend Mishmor at the Rabbinical College. The boys are divided into small groups for a half-hour study session with a Shliach. The next half-hour is devoted to a riveting story or an exciting game. Towards the end of Mishmor, the boys are quizzed about what they learned, and a video of the Rebbe is shown. Mishmor concludes with a raffle and a snack. The school boys eagerly anticipate Mishmor all week long.
2. Shabbos afternoon and Messibas Shabbos
Each Shabbos afternoon, the Shluchim daven Mincha together with high school students. Afterwards, the Shluchim divide themselves into pairs, conducting Messibas Shabbos for a different grade of high school. The Shluchim use the opportunity to Farbreng with the students, inspiring them through story, song, discussion, fun and games. After Messibas Shabbos, the Shluchim and high school students reconvene for a beautiful Seder Nigunnim in Mesivta.
3. Overnight Camps
Chabad Youth (external website) arranges several overnight camps throughout the year. The comprehensive camp programs are designed to imbue the campers with a deep sense of pride in their Jewish heritage, through exciting activities, stories, songs, discussions, games and contests. The success of camp lies in its staff. The Shluchim serve as counsellors and learning teachers at both the summer and midwinter overnight camps, as well as Masmidim overnight camp. The Shluchim are great role models as they warmly care for each individual child, ensuring a rich and wholesome experience replete with fun, friendship and meaningful educational experiences.
Throughout the year, the Shluchim arrange and chaperone a number of sleep-away Shabbaton retreats, primarily for high school boys. These Shabbatons are the perfect setting to celebrate Shabbos and Yiddishkeit, and to inspire all those who attend.
The Shluchim conduct outreach activities, and the impact is felt Australia-wide:
1. Weekly Mivtzoyim
Every Friday afternoon, students at the College utilize a break in their studies to “hit the streets” and spread the light of Judaism to the masses, with a special emphasis on the ten-point Mitzvah campaign instituted by the Rebbe. This year, about sixty-five students participated each week, and they were joined by students of Yeshivah College. The Shluchim coordinated the “routes” and provided all necessary supplies, including Mezuzahs, charity boxes, Shabbos candles and publications.
2. Lamplighter Weekly
Lamplighter is a popular weekly newsletter published by the Chabad House of Caulfield in conjunction with the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand. The newsletter is edited and prepared by the Shluchim. Lamplighter offers a range of features to suit all tastes, from short stories to intricate insights into the weekly Torah portion. This year, Lamplighter published its 1000thissue.
3. Chanukah Holiday Outreach
The warm glow of the Chanukah Menorah goes a long way in dispelling much spiritual darkness. To publicize the message of Chanukah, the Shluchim arrange a magnificent Menorah parade. Many community members and their families join in spreading light and warmth. This year, the parade was preceded by a Chanukah Rally, with over 150 children in attendance. Entertainment was provided by our very own jugglers, Nochum Greenwald and Shmuel Lipskier, who were accompanied by the Yeshivah Gedolah band, featuring Moishe Procel on the drums and Adam Finck on the keyboard.
Prior to Chanukah, as well as during Chanukah itself, our students distributed thousands of Menorah kits, and spread Chanukah joy to all segments of the wider Melbourne Jewish community.
Coordinators:Moshe Wolvovsky and Yisroel Halon.
4. Purim Holiday Outreach
The Shluchim and students of the Rabbinical College actively spread the joy of Purim by conducting Megillah readings and Purim events in a wide range of businesses, eateries, residencies, hospitals, old age homes, markets, schools, childcare centres and prisons. They also assist and participate in various events conducted by synagogues, Chabad Houses and community organizations, both locally and interstate. In addition to hearing Megillah, the commandments of Purim include Mishloach Manos (gifts of food), Matanos L’evyonim (giving charity), and participating in a joyous feast. In the weeks prior to Purim, students of the Rabbinical College devoted much of their free time to preparing thousands of Mishloach Manos packages for community distribution.
Coordinators:Moshe Wolvovsky and Yisroel Halon.
5. Passover Holiday Outreach
The Shluchim coordinate the activities of Passover-Australia, with the goal of providing an authentic Passover and Jewish experience to hundreds of Jews scattered across Regional and Rural Australia. The Shluchim visit Byron Bay, Cairns, Coffs Harbour, Darwin, Fremantle, and surrounding regions. A summary of this year's activities can be viewed here.
6. Lag B'Omer Holiday Outreach
Chabad Youth (external website) coordinates an annual Lag B'Omer Parade, saluting Jewish youth and Jewish pride. The Shluchim and students of the Rabbinical College of Australia & New Zealand were involved in many facets of the event. They designed and built a “Mitzvah Amusement Park” theme float; they featured as the Yeshivah Gedolah Band, they trained and conducted a marching band, and were the energetic and exciting clowns at the parade. Upon the parade’s completion, Shluchim and students attended the subsequent festivities at Princes Park in order to reach out to their fellow Jews.
7. Roving Rabbis
During their week-long winter break, the Shluchim visited a number of locations in order to connect with unafilliated Jews. Mendel Polter and Nochum Greenwald travelled to Brisbane in order to assist Chabad of Brisbane. They visited over 100 Jewish people, including many Israelis who were manning the kiosks in large shopping centres. Nochum Greenberg, Moshe Arye Wovovsky and Yisroel Halon travelled to Laucenston and Hobart under the auspices of Chabad of Tasmania. They met a number of Jews who had no prior contact with their Jewish heritage. Their activities included donning Tefillin, putting up Mezuzahs and Torah study. Hirschel Gourarie and Shmuel Lipskier visited Campbelltown and Parramatta; their activities are detailed here. Mendy Kesselman and Yitzchak Einstein travelled to Canberra; click here for a report of their activities.