A Golden Reunion: Oholei Torah Alumni Mark 50th Birthdays Together

This past weekend witnessed a remarkable gathering as 60 alumni of the Oholei Torah class came together to celebrate their 50th birthdays. Hosted at the beautiful Chabad Pocono Retreat Center in Clarks Summit, PA, the event was more than a reunion; it was a heartfelt celebration of lifelong friendships and shared experiences.

This past weekend witnessed a remarkable gathering as 60 alumni of the Oholei Torah class came together to celebrate their 50th birthdays. Hosted at the beautiful Chabad Pocono Kosher Retreat Center in Clarks Summit, PA, directed by classmate Benny Rapoport and his family, the event was more than a reunion; it was a heartfelt celebration of lifelong friendships and shared experiences.

From the outset, the weekend was charged with emotion and nostalgia. The event kicked off with a visit to the Rebbe’s house, where Sholom Ber Lew shared personal stories about his encounters with the Rebbetzin at the house.

As the group journeyed together to the retreat center, the atmosphere on the bus was filled with camaraderie and laughter, reminiscent of their school days. It was a trip down memory lane, both literally and figuratively, rekindling bonds that had stood the test of time.

The organizers, Mendy Chanin, Yitzy Geisinsky, Yochanan Goldman, Mendy Paltiel, Moshe Pinson, Benny Rapoport, Mendy Smetana, Zalman Stock, and Shlomie Tenenbaum spent months meticulously planning every detail. Their efforts ensured a seamless and memorable experience for all attendees.

The alumni gathered from Crown Heights and as far away as Australia, England, Canada, 14 US States and Puerto Rico. A truly diverse group of Baalei Batim Rabbonim, Roshei Yeshiva, Mashpiim and over 25 Shluchim underscored the group’s wide-reaching influence. This added a significant layer of depth and diversity to the discussions and interactions throughout the weekend.

The weekend was imbued with an almost euphoric atmosphere of Achdus that filled every aspect of the weekend. As old Chaverim reunited, the air was filled with an infectious joy, and a sense of Ahavat Achim that transcended mere words.

The program was filled with inspiring Shiurim and Divrei Hisorirus by respected classmates such as Rabbis Mendy Schapiro, Zalman Oster, Aryeh Weinstein, Yochanan Rivkin, Efraim Silverman, Moshe Lieberman, Yochanan Marozov and Schneur Orichman. Their sessions offered profound insights, connecting the attendees not just with each other but also strengthening their Emunah and Hiskashrus.

The reunion was marked by lengthy Farbrengens, where personal stories, memories, and words of encouragement were shared until the early hours of the morning and throughout Shabbos afternoon. Resulting in individual and group Hachlotos Tovos.

Mendy Paltiel, the MC on Friday night, set the tone of the evening by encouraging his chaverim to share words that come from the heart in a spirit of true Achdus and brotherhood. This was followed by a Sicha Anecdote by Mendy Zarchi, Reflections by Dov Drizin, and the State of the Class talk by Mendy Deitsch.

Eliyahu Schusterman MC’d the Kiddush on Shabbos day and reflected on the incredible Achdus that was felt among the classmates. Sholom Ber Lew shared a Sicha Anecdote, Avremy Popack addressed the importance of Making it Real, and Levi Feigenson shared his reflections and memories of growing up together as classmates.

The Shabbos Davening was led by Gabbai Mendy Smetana and Shmuly Kornfeld as Baal Koreh.  The Davening was highlighted by Chazanim Shuey Samuels and Yudi Cohen who also led the soul-stirring Kumzitz Motzei Shabbos, accompanied by Levi Feigenson and Ari Cattan on the piano.

Yosef Konikov led a meaningful and entertaining Melava Malka that included humor and group interactions, adding a fun touch to the weekend.

The seamless flow of the entire weekend can be credited to the exceptional work of the Vaad Hamesader, Mendy Chanin and Shlomie Tenenbaum.

The high-quality mementos were a pleasant surprise to all. These keepsakes, thoughtfully selected and crafted, will serve not just as souvenirs, but as tangible reminders of the special moments shared together.

Shimmy Weinbaum took on the task of gathering, transcribing, and publishing “Our Stories,” a booklet that compiled 40 personal stories with the Rebbe shared by the classmates. This collection offers a deeply personal glimpse into the lives and experiences of those who attended the reunion.

The apex of the reunion occurred during the group’s visit to the Ohel on Sunday. An event organized and led by Yochanan Goldman and Moshe Pinson. In an act of collective devotion, the group engaged in saying Tehilim led by Yitzy Geisinsky and singing Nigunim. The emotional pinnacle was reached when Zalman Stock read the heartfelt Pan Klali written by Rabbi Noam Wagner, which was signed by all participants, symbolizing the shared hopes and spiritual aspirations to give Nachas to the Rebbe; and included Bakashos for the classmates individually and collectively, for the Yidden in Eretz Yisroel and the Geulah.

As the event drew to a close, there was a noticeable sense of rejuvenation and unity among the attendees. The weekend was repeatedly described as an “unforgettable Shabbos,” capturing the spirit of joy, reflection, and spiritual elevation that permeated the event and its attendees.

The Oholei Torah reunion was not just a celebration of 50 years of life, it was a testament to the enduring bond and shared commitment to the roots and the teachings of the Rebbe. The overwhelming sense of Achdus and the encouragement undoubtedly gives the Rebbe much Nachas. As they parted ways, they carried with them not only memories but a renewed spirit to continue their journeys with vigor, unity, and a deepened sense of purpose.

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