Chana Hirschowitz, a student at Ohel Chana Seminary in Melbourne, Australia, describes the momentous day of Chof Beis Shvat experienced this year by the students of Ohel Chana:
Kinus Hashluchos, Chof Beis Shevat: a convention consisting of 48 young women. 48 women powerfully bonding together thousands of miles away from their homes and families in order to actively practise daily the purpose and definition of the Rebbe’s revolutionary vision; Shlichus.
Ohel Chana, Melbourne Australia: a vibrant and devoted seminary institution of the Rebbe that spends every minute living and breathing what the Rebbe wanted and expected from us, “learn an Alef, teach an Alef.” And this is why our Chof Beis Shvat began with a phenomenal mother daughter program in our beautiful dormitory. 80 mothers and daughters from our local Lubavitch primary school, Beth Rivkah Ladies College, including others from all walks of life, bonded and learnt together in honour of the Rebbetzin.
High school girls gathered in our Chabad Youth headquarters, to listen to four very powerful Shluchos, each with individual and different roles in their respective communities. We not only learnt about the complexities and ways in which Shlichus is applied in many different protocols, but rather reinforced that Shlichus does not begin and end with an official title, but rather something we all practice daily as chassidim of the Rebbe, spreading the light of Chassidus. No matter where life takes us, we must try our outmost to take Yidden by their lapel, their collar and being them closer to Yiddishkeit. I am therefore proud and thankful that I was given the opportunity to spend an uplifting chof beis shvat in this vicinity.
Yet like the importance of self-growth and self-motivation that is attained in the kinus hashluchos in New York City, on the Friday prior to chof beis shvat, the 48 of us drove an hour away from our daily distractions to participate in a shabbaton hachana for chof beis shvat in Alexandra, Victoria.
Arriving at our beautiful camp grounds in rural Australia, we opened our weekend with water activities, the flying fox, rock climbing and Shabbos preparations. Beginning in such an enjoyable opening only broadened our hearts and mind to experience the most touching and motivating kaabalas Shabbos. The oneness we felt in our connection between us and Hashem permeated throughout the whole Shabbos, as 48 of us put our arms around each other through Sholom Aleichem, zemiros and most of all the uplifting seder Niggunim soaring high with hachlotas and improvements for the coming year. Our chaperones, the relatable and motivational Rabbi Shlomo and Chaya Barber, along with our dorm counsellors Mussia and Leah, conducted our weekend allowing us to be fully engrossed in workshops and powerful uplifting farbrengens discussing back and forth both how to work on our challenges that arise during our shlichus as well as improving our techniques in relating to our assigned shlichus areas.
As soon as we got home Sunday evening, we continued to actualise our inspiration. This was accomplished through firstly our weekly Tuesday night hiskashrus shuir with Rabbi Tenenbaum, where we continued to farbreng about how to maintain our hiskashrus with the Rebbe and our connection to our Rebbetzin, as well as daily videos about the Rebbe and Rebbetzin and being well versed into the history of chof beis shvat given over by a shiur with Rabbi Shmzerling.
We then opened chof beis shvat morning with tremendously insightful learning in honour of our Rebbetzin and then proceeded to begin strengthening our hiskashrus by watching a video of those in contact with the Rebbetzin. Thus through this inspiration we began our Shlichus convention banquet. Our convention opened with a motivational, and passionate speech from our very own shlucha of the Rebbe in the North shore of Sydney Australia, Raizel Schapiro, where she opened up to us about the struggles, yet profound sense of accomplishments that her life of Shlichus consists of. Consequently we did a practical Shlichus activity with Rabbi Blesofsky where we explored with different objects the way in which seemingly random objects have the potential to powerfully interrelate with the complexities of Shlichus. We thus concluded our banquet with a role call which emphasised that despite our relatively small group of 48, we each come not only from many different corners of the world but despite our age, individually contribute to Shlichus and the Rebbe’s work in both different yet unique and tremendously significant ways.
Following a block of learning the Rebbes Sichos related to chof bais shevat, we had the privilege of listening to the moving, powerful and memorable life story of Mrs Mina Ledeberger and her unbelievable sense of positivity and Mesirus Nefesh she endured despite her challenges. Our day was then concluded with poignant and motivating farbrengen through the eyes of the powerhouse behind Chabad youth Melbourne, Mrs Dina Kahn. A shlucha that truly dedicates every moment of her life to the Rebbes work and bringing young people, the leaders of the next generations not only closer to Yiddishkeit and but enriched with a passion and appreciation for the Rebbe and Chassidus.
Thus, my chof beis shvat experience in Ohel Chana Melbourne was a powerfully practical insight into the reality and tremendous benefits of Shlichus in our daily lives. Yet despite phenomenal motivation and growth I experienced from my chof beis shvat in Ohel Chana, my insight into the significance of Shlichus was not only as a result of hearing about the various different forms of Shlichus but rather, Hamaaseh Hu Haikar. Through practically seeing the way in which my contribution to both the Melbourne community as well as Australian Jewry not only profoundly impacts and fulfils the Rebbe’s revolutionary vision, yet even furthermore knowing that the Rebbe believes in me, motivates me every moment to be the Bas Chabad and Shlucha I hope to be.