by Malki G.
A welcoming BBQ dinner at Mrs. Groner’s house before the start of the semester augured well for our first few weeks of Ohel Chana, as both Melbourne and Sydney girls settled into a new routine of classes, Shlichus, and learning together. Although our group is unique, comprising just Australians, our achdus stands out, in tow with our incredible learning and extra-curricular programs.
We dove straight into learning – beginning with the Yom Tov of Tu B’shvat, occurring just the day after seminary began. Our Yomim Tovim teacher, Rabbi Szmerling, gave over insightful lessons on the origins of the Hebrew months, derived from the permutations of Hashem’s name, as well as the Chassidic understanding of the Shivas Haminim based on their arrangement in the Torah, and practical lessons thereof for our avodas hashem. On Tu B’shvat eve we had a fresh feast in the dorm comprising 15 different fruits and Tu B’shvat trivia. A Thursday night Farbrengen with Rabbi Y Lever which followed left us feeling inspired, as he gave over personal stories tied to Tu B’shvat, as well as various Halachos relating to Terumah and maa’ser – mitzvos for which the day of Tu B’shvat was originally dedicated.
As preparations for Tu B’shvat gave way to Chof Beis Shvat programs, we engaged in meaningful preparations for the special day. These included hearing first-hand about the personal encounter shared with the Rebbetzin from Mrs. Groner, and insights into the Rebbetzin’s middos and little-known stories about her from Leah Groner, one of our Chassidus teachers. In honour of the Rebbetzin we had a formal banquet at the home of the Groners, in an elegant setting with a delectable meal, complete with a guest speaker – Mrs Mushkie Raskin, a Shlucha of Carnegie - addressing us and expounding on her own connection to the Rebbetzin. We decorated small mementos with which to adorn the dorm, as our own personal reminder of our ability to mimic the Rebbetzin in her middos and quiet contribution to the world of Chabad Chassidus.
On Chof Beis Shvat day we a special schedule all day which included the opportunity of enjoying a special panel of Shluchos from states all around Australia, to whom we posed many questions and learnt powerful stories about the importance of Shlichus from the perspective of women. The panel consisted of Mrs Rubin Shlucha in Cairns, Mrs Feldman Shlucha in Canberra and Mrs Gordon Shlucha in Tasmania. This was followed by an evening Farbrengen with Mrs. S Gutnick, who was privileged to be acquainted with the Rebbetzin as a child. She passed on to us her own interpretation of what it means to be a ‘bas melech penimah’ in our times.
On Friday we embarked on an OC highlight – our bi-semester, three-day Shabbaton – at the all-new Point Leo campsite, where we davened, shared Shabbos meals, learnt divrei Torah on the Parshah, played games, relaxed, and sang Seder Niggunim together. Throughout the Shabbaton we shared many discussions on different Chassidic interpretations on everyday life situations. One memorable activity we enjoyed was a Friday-night game where we took turns to choose from different scenery photography, and teach a personal lesson based on a Chassidic concept relevant to the photo. Our trip gave us a relaxing break while also enthusing us for more learning and informal shiurim, inter alia. We also took advantage of the beautiful Peninsula Beaches on our way back home – Ma Rabu Ma’asecha HaShem!
With birthday parties, Rebbe times and achdus programs already underway, we dove straight back into our regular program after arriving home from Point Leo, and soon thereafter had the privilege of hearing from Rabbi Ruvi Cooper of Chabad Malvern. He spoke to us about a miscellany of topics relating to the rewards and challenges of shlichus and the unique opportunity it provides us, including strengthening our hiskashrus to the Rebbe, bringing Jews closer to Yiddishkeit and overcoming personal challenge challenges along way. We left feeling inspired and awed at the large responsibility of shlichus, and the dedication of shluchim all around the world.
Next Friday was Rosh Chodesh Adar, which brought with it a rewarding trip to a rock-climbing centre where we built our physical stamina and worked together b’achdus. That Shabbos, being an in-Shabbos, afforded us the opportunity of enjoying a warm and lively meal together as a group, where Rabbi and Mrs. Y Lieder joined us. We shared a large home-cooked meal which we spent Friday evening preparing together, as well as interactive stories from our guests lasting until midnight about their life experiences, stories involving the Rebbe’s guidance, and their advice to each of us which was very interesting, entertaining and inspiring.
We are both inspired and energised following this month’s full-to-the-brim schedule, and we eagerly look forward to next month’s program!