120 Shluchim from 7 countries converged in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., to attend the annual Chabad on Campus International Kinus. Shluchim enjoyed simply being together, sharing laughter, tears, inspiration, Torah study, farbrengens, and of course, best practices with each other.
In the summer of 5779 (2019), campus Shluchim from across the globe gathered together for their annual Kinus. Little did they know that it wouldn’t be until three years later that they would have the opportunity to do so once again. So, if there was something this cohort of dedicated Shluchim craved more than anything else, it was the camaraderie and intimate environment that can only be had at such gatherings.
And indeed, it was with great exuberance that over 120 Shluchim from 7 countries converged in Woodcliff Lake, N.J., to attend the annual Chabad on Campus International Kinus. Beginning Tuesday midday and running through late afternoon Thursday, Shluchim enjoyed simply being together, sharing laughter, tears, inspiration, Torah study, farbrengens, and of course, best practices with each other.
“After years of Covid, this was one of the greatest things ever,” said Rabbi Diddy Waks from Chabad of Clinton – serving Hamilton College. “I must say thank you to every single person involved in organizing. The program was so well thought out, as was every element of the kinus. Thank you to every Shliach for attending and being present. If we conversed, I hope you had as much fun chatting as I did. There’s nothing like hanging out with family.”
In the spirit of the much-needed closeness, every part of the Kinus program was styled in a facilitated, interactive, and down-to-earth manner. “Instead of long lectures, we focused on curating sessions that were highly interactive and engaging,” said Rabbi Avi Weinstein, COO of Chabad on Campus International. “For example, at the very beginning of the Kinus, one Shliach interviewed three other Shluchim on stage, asking them what they expected to gain from the Kinus. This set the stage—literally—for others to open up and really learn, share, and grow over the Kinus.”
Indeed, much facilitated networking occurred throughout the Kinus. Matching the style of increasingly popular speed-dating and networking events popping up everywhere, a highlight of the Kinus was the “Speed Meeting” session. In a short amount of time, all Shluchim were given the chance to quickly meet every one of their fellow Shluchim for just five minutes apiece with quick get-to-know-you questions and learn about each other’s Shlichus.
“By facilitating these types of interactions, every Shliach was able to feel just how much of a cohesive family they really are,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International. “With over twenty new Shluchim ka”h since the last Kinus, this was a key component. We kept on hearing just how warm and connected the entire experience felt.”
With over 52 hours together to concentrate exclusively on their shared Shlichus, the focus was palpable. A Beis Midrash open 24 hours a day was always full of people sitting and learning, as were regular shiurim in Chitas and Rambam both mornings. Personable and internal sessions about parenting, Halachah, and other matters relevant to the personal growth of the Shliach and his family were well received and much appreciated.
Beyond the family atmosphere that prevailed throughout, much attention was given to practical growth and creative paths forward. An “Engagement Hackathon” challenged Shluchim to put forward their most innovative ideas on how to engage even the remotest, most disengaged students. Contestants submitted their ideas and were whittled down to five contestants. A game show-style event at the conclusion of the Kinus saw each contestant present their idea before a panel of expert judges, including Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chairman of the Chabad on Campus International Board of Directors, and famed philanthropist Mr. George Rohr, Chairman of the Chabad on Campus International Advisory Board, whose generous support has helped transform the Chabad on Campus network into what it is today. The two winners were awarded generous grants from Chabad on Campus International to pilot their ideas. Based on the success of the pilot programs, the programs will be expanded and offered on more campuses.
The Kinus concluded with an emotional banquet that saw heartfelt words from a student, Shluchim, a professor, supporters, and Chabad on Campus International representatives.
As Rabbi Nosson Meretsky from Chabad of Penn State said, “A huge yashar koach to the whole COCI team. No detail was overlooked. This Kinus was a life-changing (hopefully) event for me. The Chabad on Campus family is so special. There was so much love and support in that building. IY”H we can take that love and inspiration back to our families and our students!”
The Chabad on Campus international team eagerly looks forward to hosting the equivalent Shluchos Kinus in a couple of weeks IY”H.