Beis Chana, the girls’ high school division of Lubavitch Educational Center of Miami, spent Tuesday giving thanks in the aftermath of the great miracle that they experienced with the safe return of two students who had gone missing during a Shabbos afternoon walk in Orlando, during the school’s annual Shabbaton.
Mrs. S. Rosenfeld and Mrs. A. Capurso, two members of the school’s faculty, wrote their first-hand account of the electrifying experience:
After davening, the students wrote Panim to the Rebbe to say thank you for the many brochos that we received. The Panim were delivered to the Ohel on Tuesday afternoon followed by our students coming together for a grand Seudas Hodaah. The atmosphere was electric, and the students all cheered excitedly as Brocha and Rivka arrived with their mothers and sisters. Rabbi Benzion Korf, who was one of the first to arrive in Orlando on Motzoei Shabbos, addressed the girls and then several girls spoke, sharing the different feelings they experienced during those agonizing sixteen hours when their friends were missing. It was beautiful and heartwarming to hear the students’ thoughts, the lessons learned, and to see them show hakaras hatov to those who they felt had helped them. They also gave Brocha and Rivka gift certificates to buy themselves new shoes, which they lost during their ordeal.
Brocha, Rivka, and their mothers also addressed the students and teachers. The underlying theme of the day was thanking Hashem for the many miracles He performed, which ended in such a wonderful outcome with the safe return of our girls. We are humbled and so grateful.
As you can imagine, this was an extremely difficult time for all of us. Our thanks go to so many people for all they did. Rabbi Chaim Zvi Konikov, Rabbi Yosef and Mrs. Chanie Konikov, Diti Glazier, and all the volunteers in the Orlando community who were there all night helping out. Rabbi Benjy Korf and brothers Mendy, Motti and Zalman, as well as Zalman Myer-Smith came immediately to take over the situation. Rabbi Mendy Levy, Mr. John Capurso, the Hatzala and Chesed Shel Emes volunteers, and all other volunteers from Miami and Orlando searched in the darkness for the missing girls. Ayelet and Shayna Bortunk came to be with us, the students, and Brocha’s and Rivka’s parents.
We are so grateful to all the parents who encouraged their children and helped them throughout the long night. A huge thank you to our Bnos Chabad head Chana Vita Wolf and her friend Leah Lew who we flew in from Atlanta to help chaperone the trip. Their strength, compassion and guidance were incredible and had a very positive effect on the girls.
We are exceptionally proud of our students. They reacted to this very frightening situation with such bitachon, maturity, and unity. They sang nigunnim, gave tzedakah, made hachlatos, told stories, and gave each other so much chizuk. Many of the Chassidic concepts that they learn in school became a reality. “Tracht gut vet zein gut,” “Simcha poretz geder,” “hiskashrus to the Rebbe,” were all moved from theory to practical applications. Beis Chana was given a real test that night, and our girls rose to the occasion. We truly have much for which we are grateful.
And finally thank you to all those who davened and were with us in thought, and for the many brochos we received and the thousands of tefillos that led to our witnessing an open miracle and the safe return of our beloved students. Boruch Hashem!