Yud Tes Kislev was day on which Bais Rivkah High School was entirely transformed, with every aspect of the day infused with the messages of Chassidus.
A BRHS student from out-of-town relates:
I came to Bais Rivkah in the ninth grade, coming from an out of town day school where we never mentioned the word Tanya. We learned Chumash and Navi with Rashi, and that was about the extent of my Judaic studies.
In ninth grade I learned Tanya for the very first time – and I didn’t understand a word. It meant nothing to me; just another test on my calendar and mark on my report card. I took the notes and passed the tests, but I didn’t feel like it was applicable to me and my life. Well, that’s changed. I’m in 12 grade now, and Tanya is still a subject in my schedule – but it’s also so much more.
Yesterday was Yud Tes Kislev, Rosh Hashana of Chassidus – but also a personal Rosh Hashana, for me, as a chossid. I came to school on Yud Tes Kislev not quite knowing what to expect. I knew that girls in my grade had been working for days on the Yud Tes Kislev program; spending countless hours and sleepless nights perfecting and tweaking and adding more and more. I had even helped out a bit. But the program they prepared was beyond what I ever expected. Where to start to describe the incredible day that I experienced yesterday?
I guess the best place to start is at the very beginning. After davening, Rabbi Wertheimer spoke started off the day on the right foot, speaking about the power of Yud Tes Kislev.
The school then divided by grade to attend the amazing workshops that were prepared for us. And that’s when my day truly started. The work that the girls of Bais Rivka did was INCREDIBLE.
First up was the niggun workshop. Everyone knows that music is the pen of the soul, but yesterday I truly felt it. My grade sat together and went through each of the ten niggunim that the Alter Rebbe wrote; learning the background and meaning behind each one. After each niggun that we learned, the niggun was then played for us. I sat in my chair listening to the niggun with my arm across my friend’s shoulder, singing my heart out. In middle of the singing, I closed my eyes, and let the music wash over me. My heart swelled with a certain feeling of pride and emotion that stuck with me throughout the entire day.
After the niggun workshop, we went upstairs for workshops on Tanya.
Somehow, the same old classrooms that I’d been sitting in for the past three years were TRANSFORMED. Sometime since the end of the previous school day, the rooms had been metamorphosed into a world that told a story. The walls were covered top to bottom with cloth and paper and paintings, with props to bring out the points to be brought up in the workshop. The work that went into this process was mindblowing. I couldn’t stop looking around and noticing the little details. After we all stopped admiring the decor, the workshop began. Girls in the 12 grade delivered the workshop with such passion and clarity you couldn’t help but feel a connection. They divided the Tanya into 5 sections, with each workshop ending with a question and leading onto the next. The girls presented with confidence and an obvious love for the Tanya that inspired me to strive to have that same fire for the Tanya that they have. They somehow managed to bring the Tanya to a level that every girl could relate to.
I didn’t think the day could get any more inspiring when I headed downstairs to listen to a panel discussing what makes Chabad unique. A girl spoke of the time she spent in a non Lubavitch school; of how she was constantly bringing Chassidus up in class and seeing the awe on the faces of her classmates when they heard what Chassidus was all about. Listening to these three women speak about Chabad and its specialness made me so proud to identify myself as a Lubavitcher.
We paused this incredibly inspirational day for lunch – but even lunch proved to be inspiring. The murals on the walls and the singing of niggunim were absolutely beautiful. After bentching and a delicious dessert, the entire BRHS headed up to the shul for mincha.
After a beautiful davening, we heard from Rabbi Zaltzman, who gave us an even greater appreciation for Chassidus and made us so proud to be Chassidim of the Rebbe. He encouraged us to take hachlatos upon ourselves, to learn the Tanya of the day in depth. Although chitas has always been a challenge for me, he inspired my friend and I to take upon ourselves to say Tanya for the next month.
The school day ended, but Yud Tes Kislev did not. I came home inspired, and thirsty for more. That night, I attended a Yud Tes Kislev farbrengen held for the 12 grade. We had 2 incredible speakers, Rabbi Ginsburg and Mrs. Gitty Rapaport. They said many inspirational things, but the one thing that stuck out to me from Rabbi Ginsburg was that each day you receive new kochos. It doesn’t matter what you did yesterday – make today count! I certainly made this Yud Tes Kislev count! Mrs. Rapaport was both entertaining and uplifting. She led us on her journey to Chassidus, and she spoke with such a passion that made me want the love that she had for Chassidus. She hadn’t been brought up Lubavitch, yet today she stood a prouder Lubavitcher than I ever was. I vowed to change that. I went home that night with so many thoughts filling my brain that I couldn’t fall straight to sleep that night. I spent a long time thinking about everything I had heard and seen throughout the day, and I can tell you that this Yud Tes Kislev did not just pass me by. It changed my life.