JNet volunteers from around the world convened in Crown Heights at the organizations 5th annual volunteer appreciation dinner, inspiring each other to strengthen their half-hour Torah study sessions with Jews worldwide.
At the Jewish Children’s Museum, volunteers and their guests were greeted with gentle dinner music performed by Mendel Deutsch and a buffet dinner catered by Bension Cohen.
Koby Berkowitz, a 15-year-old volunteer who flew in all the way from Australia, started the program with the Rebbe’s kapital and introduced a video presentation of the Rebbe from JEM on the evening’s theme, “Michayil el choyil.”
In a special video message, JNet’s chairman Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky extended a brocha to the volunteers that their enthusiasm should always be at least strong as it was on the day they started this shlichus.
New in this year’s program was a siyum ceremony that honored the learning accomplishments of several chavrusas pairs. Whether it was completing the study of the Alef Bais or nine chapters in Igeres Hateshuva, each accomplishment was celebrated. Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos Suite 302, presented the celebrants with a certificate of accomplishment and thanked them for their dedication to studying Torah with a chavrusa. See below for a full list of siyumim that were marked.
Rabbi Yehuda Dukes, director of JNet, concluded the presentation with a siyum on Masechta Brochos. “We must continue from one strength to the next. We celebrate the accomplishments but we are always looking for that next strength to reach for.”
In his entertaining style, featured speaker of the evening, Rabbi Shais Taub, highlighted the wondrous concept that the more a person learns the more he is thirsty for more.
Mr. Larry Miller, who completed Masechta Megilla with his chavrusa Yossi Greenberg, spoke about the effect the learning had on him and encouraged members to participate in JNet’s $10K raffle in July.
Participants were amazed at the featured member of the year Zack Gilbert Burke’s advancement from starting to study Mishnayos with his JNet chavrusa volunteer Shneur Tarlow with a very limited Hebrew vocabulary, to heading his Chabad Club on campus, learning with his second chavrusa Yisroel Ohana to prepare to go Mayanot Yeshiva, and eventually studying smicha.
In a surprise twist Zack was introduced by Kalae Abrams not as just member of the year but as his JNet chavrusa volunteer as well.
Kalae is a 13 year old boy from Princeville, Kauai, Hawaii. His mother, Meryl, had been learning with JNet volunteer Malka Phillips. When her son needed to learn more about Judaism for his bar mitzva she turned to JNet.
“My JNet partner is the funniest, nicest guy I have ever met,” says Kalae in a video message.
Zack shared his story and a dvar torah on one of the mishnayos he learned with Shneur. “My study partners commitment taught me the value of each Jew,” says Zack.
“A few months ago I was approached by Rabbi Eytan Waxman to learn with a young boy in Hawaii, I was ecstatic and decided to go from strength to strength!”
Members who were not able to attend in person watched online via a livestream courtesy of chabad.org.
Rabbi Dukes concluded the event by presenting the volunteers with a personalized gift, Pearls for the Shabbos Table, sponsored by Rabbi Refoel and Etti Huisman in loving memory of Arje ben Jitschak OB”M.
To become a JNet chavrusa or to donate, visit www.jnet.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 347-770-JNET (5638).
JNet is a project of Merkos Suite 302.
Miss Ariella Salsberg (Brooklyn, NY) & Mrs. Misty Elkins (Sanford, FL)
Mrs. Esther Serebryanki (Brooklyn, NY) & Mrs. Natalie Goldsmith. (Bayside, NY)
Chamisha Chumshei Torah & Yehoshua, Shoftim.
Ms. Mazal Zirkind (Brooklyn, NY) & Ms. Lana Yankovich (Brooklyn, NY)
Seven prokim Shaar Hayichud Vehaemuna
Rabbi Dovid Ginsberg (Myrtle Beach, SC) & Mr. Josh Mogilner (Flushing, NY)
Maamer: מאמר בלילה ההוא תשכ”ה
Rabbi Yossi Greenberg (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Larry Zalman Leib Miller (West Orange, NJ) – Masechta Megillah
Rabbi Yossi Kahan (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Eric Siegel (Wheatley Heights, NY)
Six prokim of Tanya
Rabbi Avrohom Keller (Brooklyn, NY) & Eliezer Moshe Bulman (Annapolis, MD)
Masechta Brochos & Nineteen prokim of Masecta Shabbos
Rabbi Yechezkel Landa (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Jeff Langer (Milwaukee, WI)
Mr. Brandon Margolis (Lawrence, NY) & Mr. Levi Stewart (Inwood, NY)
Mishnayos Brochos and Pe’ah
Rabbi Mendel Perl (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Brian Feuer (Bayonne, NJ)
Perek Alef Tanya
Mr. Faivish Pewzner (Lawrence, NY) & Mr. Shimon Kalen (Cedarhurst, NY)
Eight prokim Igeres Hateshuva
Rabbi Avrohom Rotban (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Arnie Herz (Port Washington, NY)
Maamer: מאמר בחודש השלישי תשל”ד
Rabbi Tuvia Simon (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Steven (Yisroel) Levine (Greenlawn, NY)
Perek Alef Tanya
Rabbi Avi Webb (Brooklyn, NY) & Mr. Derek Zisser (Woodmere, NY)
Shaar Hayichud Vehaemuna – שער היחוד והאמונה