2019 MyLife: Essay Contest Winners

The winners of this year’s 5th annual MyLife: Chassidus Applied Essay Contest were announced live during the special Yud Alef Nissan Edition of the MyLife: Chassidus Applied Webcast.

The 1st place winner of $10,000 was Ayelet Skinner, a 48-year-old Medical Esthetician from Southfield, MI. Ariel Nevei, 44, a Kolel member in Beitar Illit, Israel, won the 2nd place $3,600 prize. Aidel Cohen, 24, from Brooklyn, NY, and Mushka Silberberg, 22, from Lincolnwood, IL. each win the 3rd place $1,000 prize. And the special $500 student prize went to Arye Yonatan Chadad, 21, current student in Central Tomchei Temimim Yeshiva 770. Visit meaningfullife.com/contest to read the winning essays.

Below is a list of the top ten essayists as well as the in-school winners from participating Mosdos who brought this amazing project into their schools, promoting, encouraging and even awarding students who submitted an essay.


1. $10,000 winner: Ayelet Skinner. Medical Esthetician, at FACE. Home city: Southfield, MI. Age: 48. English. Topic: Ageless

2. $3,600 winner: Ariel Nevei. Member of Tzemach Tzedek Kolel in Jerusalem. Home city: Beitar Illit, Israel. Age: 44. Hebrew. Topic: הדרכת תורת החסידות בנוגע לטיפול בפחד וחרד בהשוואה למקורות תורניים קודמים וכן לפסיכולוגיה המודרנית

3. $1,000 winner: Aidel Cohen. Mobstub, Customer Service. Home city: Brooklyn, NY, Age: 24. English. Topic: Rediscovering the Joy of Giving

4. $1,000 winner: Mushka Silberberg. Teacher, Lubavitch Girls High School. Home city: Lincolnwood, IL. Age: 22. English. Topic: The Essential Yes of a Strong No

5. Student Winner, $500: Arye Yonatan Chadad. Student, Central Yeshivas Tomchei Temimim, 770.Home city: Migdal Ha’emek, Israel. Age: 21. Hebrew. Topic: הדרך להמנע מדימוי עצמי נמוך וקבלת מוטיבציה בעבודת ה’

6. Shraga Crombi. Beit Chabad, Rutgers University. Home city: New Brunswick, NJ. Age: 38. Hebrew. Topic: פנימי’ – הפתרון החסידי למגפת האסקפיזם

7. Devori Garelick. Student at Beit Chana, Tzfas. Home city: Naharia, Israel. Age: 19. Hebrew. Topic: קשה זה הקל החדש

8. Aharon Zev Moshel. Student Yeshivah Gedolah, Melbourne. Home city: Melbourne, AU. Age: 17. English. Topic: Chassidic Lessons on Growing Through Trauma

9. Menachem Mendel Dekel, Tomchei Temimim, Teveriah. Age: 21. Hebrew. Topic: מודל א.ב.א. – התשובה החסידית להפרעות החרדה בעולמנו המודרני

10. Levi Wilhelm, Student, Yeshivas Chabad Tzfat. Age: 17. Hebrew. Topic:אגואיזם-מבעיה אל פתרונה


Rohr Bais Chaya Academy, Coral Springs, FL

Chaya Mushka Hodakov, Coral Springs, FL

Bais Chaya Mushka Seminary, Montreal, Canada

Chana Lazar, London, England.

Beis Chana, Tzfat, Israel

English Division: 1st place: Shayna Slaven, Sydney, AU. 2nd place: Mina Zalminov,   Hollis Hills, NY. 3rd place: Minna Phillips, Worcester, MA

Hebrew Division: 1st place: דבורי גרליק, Naharia,Israel. 2nd place: מושקא מלכה דקל Yokne’am, Israel. 3rd place: חנה אסתר כהן

Beth Chana Academy High School for Girls, Orange, CT

Geulah Ezagui, Palm Beach Gardens, FL

Beis Chomesh, Toronto, Canada

Menucha Rochel Dubinsky, Newton, MA

Bnos Chaya, Albany, NY

Ita Gordon, Albany, NY

Bnos Chomesh, Brooklyn, NY

Salome Rafaela Allouche, Brooklyn, NY

Lubavitch Girls High School, Chicago, IL

Chanale Schusterman, Chicago, IL

Machon Alte Seminary, Tzfat, Israel

Rivky Rosenwasser, Miami, FL

Ohel Chana, Melbourne, AU

Shira Adina Zigelbom, Miami, FL

Beis Rivkah High, Melbourne, AU

Chana Block, Melbourne, AU

Yeshivah Gedolah Melbourne, Melbourne, AU

Aharon Zev Moshel, Melbourne, AU

Beis Rivka High, Montreal, Canada

Shterna Sara Scheiner, Montreal, Canada

Ohel Chana High School, Los Angeles, CA.

Malka Bracha Heidingsfeld, S. Monica, CA

Tiferes Bachurim, Morristown, NJ

Noach Kane, Morristown, NJ

Torah Academy Girls High School, Johannesburg, South Africa

Esther Rivkah Rodal, Johannesburg, South Africa

Yeshiva Darchei Menachem, Brooklyn

Shmuly Katzoff, Brooklyn. NY

Machon Leyahadus, Brooklyn, NY

Chavah Levine, Brooklyn, NY

Beis Chana Seminary, Tzfat took the essay contest to the next level, with over 35 students participating, as well as many staff members assisting and mentoring the students with writing their essays. Rabbi Chitrik, Dean of Beis Chana Seminary, describes the experience as a “beautiful and heartwarming scene to see students looking for sources in Chassidus for their essays. The results were so incredible that we published a book with all of their essays compiled and beautifully displayed. The applied Chassidus in this book is a treasure for them to keep and share with others around them as well as a great example to other students and programs.”

Contest director, Rabbi Sruli Steiner, explained the remarkable experience of the entire process, from the submission stage to the evaluation stage to the final announcement of the winners. “The much-anticipated announcement came after weeks of intense deliberations by a panel of esteemed judges, who used a rigorous grading system to select the winners out of the hundreds of essays submitted in this year’s contest.”

Hailing from every continent around the world, the contestants spanned a wide variety of ages and backgrounds, attesting to the broad appeal of the MyLife: Chassidus Applied Essay Contest. Submissions arrived from men and women of the entire social spectrum, including rabbis, laymen, professionals, shluchim, educators, professors, yeshiva bochurim, seminary graduates, and high school students.

Rabbi Simon Jacobson announced the winners during this week’s Sunday night broadcast of the highly acclaimed MyLife: Chassidus Applied series, which spawned the Essay Contest five years ago. This week’s 257th episode of the popular series was a special Yud Alef Nissan edition honoring the Rebbe’s 117th birthday.

“What better way to honor and celebrate the Rebbe’s birthday than to have hundreds of people and thousands of readers invested in learning and applying Chassidus to contemporary life?” said Rabbi Jacobson.

Ayelet Skinner, first place winner, used her experience working in the beauty industry to write her essay, titled “Ageless”. She applies the concepts she learns in Chassidus to her daily work providing facial treatments to women. “Helping people feel beautiful inside and out is something I am very passionate about. My clients are women concerned with aging, preparing for their weddings, coping with illnesses such as cancer and dealing with appearance changes. Using Chassidus in my consultations with women takes everything to a deeper level. My clients relate that treatment with me is like successful therapy, they leave glowing from within. I am so deeply grateful for all I have learned from the research I did for this essay, and all I’ve learned from My Life: Chassidus Applied, and I look forward to continued growth. Thank you to Rabbi Jacobson and the judges, and the Meromim Foundation for supporting this contest. It’s so deeply appreciated and helpful!”

Rabbi Jacobson explained that the auspicious days leading to Yud Alef Nissan is a “most fitting time for the culmination of this extraordinary contest, driven by our collective mission and quest to disseminate Chassidus. The MyLife: Chassidus Applied Essay Contest has proven to encourage hundreds of men and women to study and apply Chassidus to their, and our, personal lives. The contest has created an unprecedented surge and excitement in the core mission of the Rebbeim: hafotzas hamayonos chutzah. Surely the Rebbe is deriving much nachas from the study and the propagation of Chassidus that this contest has brought about.”

The MyLife Essay Contest Team is proud to showcase the amazing talent that has emerged through this year’s contest! The essays will be published on the website www.meaningfullife.com, and will be reviewed on the weekly MyLife broadcast over the coming weeks and months.

The MyLife: Chassidus Applied Essay Contest is a project of The Meaningful Life Center, and graciously sponsored by the Meromim Foundation. MLC reports that there will be exciting new follow-ups to the Essay Contest. To stay tuned for announcements, read the winning essays, and to find out about next year’s contest, subscribe to the MyLife mailing list and follow MyLife on Facebook.

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