“How can we afford not to?”, educators ask when discussing Connection Point, JEM’s groundbreaking program in collaboration with Tzivos Hashem that connects children directly to the Rebbe.
By Aharon Loschak
“How can we afford not to?” was the question Rabbi Zalmy Kudan, principal of Lamplighters Jewish Academy in Oxnard, California asked. The question at hand wasn’t about a meal plan or upgrading the air conditioning; but a critical cornerstone of education today: Connection Point, JEM’s highly regarded program in collaboration with Tzivos Hashem that allows children to connect directly with the Rebbe.
Launched just three years ago, Connection Point’s impact is well documented, and the results speak for themselves. The program has revolutionized the way students interact with the Rebbe.
In the short amount of time since its inception, Connection Point has saturated schools, youth groups, and children’s programs around the world. When any barriers between the Rebbe and the children are removed, what else should be expected?
“We heard so much positive feedback from other schools, we very much wanted to join Connection Point as soon as we were able to do so,” said Rochel Lustig, a teacher and director of extracurricular activities at Cheder Chabad in New Haven, Connecticut.
“I am consistently amazed to review the answers on the students’ worksheets. It’s clear that they’re absolutely absorbing the Rebbe’s message and understanding his words. One student told me, ‘Until now, whenever any video of the Rebbe came on, I would tune out. Now I know that it’s for me. I always try to see if I can understand.’”
The notion of sitting the children directly at the Rebbe’s feet and empowering them to understand his message for themselves is as simple as it is powerful. “ “There are children from all over the religious spectrum in our school,” said Kudan, “and the resources provided by Connection Point keeps them focused and creates a special relationship between the child and the Rebbe.
“The Yoma Depagra sessions are particularly inspiring, as Connection Point has managed to bring both the guf and the neshamah of the day to the children. On Hey Teves, for example, the students were truly able to sense the fear and anguish leading up to Didan Natzach. Likewise, the joy and feeling of victory thereafter was so palpable for them when hearing it from the Rebbe directly.”
Lustig explains that in today’s climate, it’s imperative that children don’t only hear things from their teachers, rather develop a relationship to ideas on their own. “With Connection Point, students move from, ‘Yeah, it’s something my teacher told me,’ to, ‘Wait, this is something the Rebbe is telling me.’ That shift has infinite value.”
While Connection Point is not free, as a result of generous donors, led by Yossi & Nechama Dina Katz and family, and supported by members of the JEM Foundation, it is priced well below cost, making it affordable to even the smallest schools. And so, Kudan found himself saying, “The question isn’t how can we afford it. The question was ‘how can we afford not to do this program?!”
Baruch Hashem, generous local sponsors came through to pay the membership fee for the students at the Oxnard academy.
At the rate Connection Point is gaining traction across educational institutions today, it’s only a matter of time until every Lubavitch child will be able to say, “It’s not my teacher, mother, or mentor who told me; the Rebbe told me!”
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