The final term of OC, spanning the end of Nissan until the middle of Sivan, was chock-full of exciting events, activities and inspiration. After a great Pesach break, students returned refreshed and revived, ready to make the most of the last 6 weeks.
Farbrengens for this term included one for Beis Iyar by well regarded teacher Rabbi Krasnjanski. The next Thursday night farbrengen was held by Rabbi Yirmi Lever, who shared about treating life with simplicity and an amazing story of overcoming challenges. Maamarim teacher Rabbi Glasman came to fabreng, due to popular demand, and gave his manifesto about sincerely keeping Torah and Mitzvos, which is what every Jew’s soul demands. This devolved into an interesting question and answer session. In honour of Mimi D’s birthday she arranged a beautiful fabrengen at which primary shlucha Chavi Block spoke in a very relatable way. Pre-Shavuos, Mrs Bracha Kantor led a farbrengen that was well enjoyed and extended long past its projected finish time. The very last farbrengen of OC 5779 invited Mrs Devries to share her personal story and instruct us all to ‘trust the processes’ of where life takes us.
In the months of Iyar and Sivan we also hosted a bunch of fascinating guest speakers. Rabbi Danziger of Rostov came by and shared incredible stories from his shlichus leaving everyone moved and entertained. We were lucky enough to hear from Rabbi Boruch Kaplan, a seminary teacher in Israel, who for the first time visited Melbourne while OC was still in session. He spoke about our ability to maximise the last few weeks of seminary, based on his experience teaching in Maayanot and seeing lives changed around within weeks. Another visitor was Rabbi Dror Shaul of Dhramasala, India, who shared his fascinating path of finding Yiddishkeit and the experiences he has had with Israeli backpackers in the Himalayas.
Other guest speakers taught classes about important and interesting topics. Mrs Sheiny New came to educate about the difficult but vital to address issue of abusive relationships, in a two part series that were greatly appreciated. Dr. Yetta Krinsky shared her tale of rediscovering Yiddishkeit, and how Chassidus can help people to heal. Rabbi Laibl Wolf taught a class on ‘Practical Kabbalah’ that gave tips how to implement ‘moach shalit al halev.’
This term we were lucky to have three separate in-Shabbosim, to give us time to savour being all together. For the month of Iyar there was a beautiful Friday night meal in which we ate and sang together, followed by a farbrengen by well admired teachers Rabbi and Mrs Blesofsky. In a candid, open discussion, all participants alike shared thoughts and experiences and their hopes and strategies to keep up the inspiration they gained in seminary in the following year. In Sivan after another well-cooked Shabbos meal, prepared by OC volunteers, Rabbi Tenenbaum came to lead his final farbrengen, where he really emphasised the necessity of a connection to the Rebbe to keep us going, and went around giving everyone a chance to answer about what they took from this year and how they hoped to continue it.
Some exciting events and programs happened this term as well. Lag b’omer night, students attended a lag b’omer bonfire and drumming circle arranged by Bnos High School, and then a bonfire just for OC hosted by Sara J. Replacing the traditional hike was a spectacular Lag b’omer camping trip! On a freezing cold afternoon, a bus full of excited/nervous (depends who) OC girls headed up to the Cathedral Ranges. After some uncertainty and unpacking and reloading the bus multiple times, the camping spot was finally located, to our great relief. First we were divided into groups and then set up our tents, some groups more successfully and independently than others. With dusk setting in early we followed this with a night hike in which we essentially saw trees and mud, and this only by use of flashlight. Returning for a delicious barbecue dinner, and then a bonfire with the unheard of phenomenon of a surplus of ingredients for smores, we held a beautiful kumsitz and then sang and chatted around the campfire until early hours of the morning. Friday we awoke to damp, fresh air, quickly packed up our tents and supplies and returned by bus for an early Shabbos. To spare our exhausted selves from having to be socially engaging at various Shabbos meals throughout Melbourne, Mrs Groner graciously hosted the entire dorm for a beautiful Friday night meal. Thank you so much to the dorm counsellors for their hard work arranging and chaperoning the trip, as well as Mrs Groner for the abundance of food and supplies.
To farewell three students who left early for family simchas, a banquet was held at the Reicher’s house, motzei Shabbos כ"ז אייר. In honour of Rosh Chodesh Sivan, on Sunday a trip to paintball shooting was held. A fun, intense and aggressive game ensued as we let out our energy, and came home bearing the colourful souvenirs of painted clothing and bruises.
Unfortunately, all good things have to end and this holds no different for OC. The last bnos was held as a Shabbos Achdus before Shavuos, followed by fantastic Shavuos night learning programs for upper high school, lower high and Grade 6 respectively, in which several OC students shared their stories. After a 3 day stretch of Shabbos and Yom Tov during which the whole Melbourne community welcomed us into their homes, there was a final week of classes. Every teacher tried to impart words of wisdom for us to take, from Rabbi Wolf’s parting shiur on hashgacha pratis, to Rabbi Abenaim’s review of all the lessons we learned in Avos, and other teachers asking students to provide take-away messages from the year.
On Wednesday night there was a beautiful Chabad Youth farewell event, decorated to reflect the culinary journey down Carlisle Street. Representatives from each division of Bnos, Mishmor and Tzivos Hashem spoke about their experiences, while the Roshes and the Lipskiers and the Kahns shared words of thanks and gratitude, followed by a video of students who expressed their thanks as well. After the final Achdus in-Shabbos, Motzei Shabbos the Reicher’s kindly hosted a final farewell program, where we decorated pinboards with pictures taken all throughout the year, sparking warm memories and reminiscing.
The Sunday night graduation was a beautiful opportunity to express gratitude to our teachers for all they taught us, all having busy schedules and multiple other jobs yet taking time out of their weeks to teach us through their prepared lessons and their impressive personalities. Sara J and Gitty L each presented a reflection of their time in OC, as an Australian and overseas student respectively, and Mrs Greenbaum and Rabbi Broh delivered interesting Divrei Torah. Two awards were given out, the Rochwerger Award for courage going to Chana B Y and the Rabbi Groner award for Commitment to Torah Learning to Chana G. Next all teachers present were thanked individually by a student reading a heartfelt message and presenting a gift from the entire group. Each student was then presented with a gift of a Sefer by Rabbi Tenenbaum and Mrs Althaus.
That night a candle lighting ceremony was held in the dorm where girls shared reflections and how they grew and gained from the year. With tears and hugs we said farewell to those leaving from early Monday morning until Tuesday evening. OC 5779 will forever treasure the memories of the valuable experience they gained and allow it to guide them throughout their futures!