Bochurim who will be heading out on Merkos Shlichus to lead seders around the world gathered in Oholei Torah on Tuesday to prepare for the unique challenges and experiences.
With Pesach just around the corner, hundreds of Yeshiva students gathered in Crown Heights on Sunday for an evening of workshops to help them prepare for the unique challenges and experiences of running a Pesach Seder in far-flung cities around the world. The day, a “Yom Iyun,” was dedicated to equipping these young rabbis with the knowledge and tools they need to create a positive Jewish experience for the diverse and unaffiliated crowds they will be leading.
The event, held at Oholei Torah Beis Medrash, is an annual part of the Merkos Shlichus Pesach program. With this year’s program being the largest ever, the room was filled to capacity. The goal of the evening was to provide the Bochurim with all the necessary tools to lead a public Seder, which requires a comprehensive knowledge of the relevant halachos as well as the ability to create a positive Jewish experience for the participants.
Rabbi Chaim Schapiro, the Rosh Yeshiva of Rabbinical College of America in Morristown, went over practical Halachos regarding how to run a Seder, including Kashering Keilim, dealing with the Seder coming in late in various time zones, and the laws of selling the Chametz.
Rabbi Yosef Wilhelm of Chabad Young Professionals on the Upper East Side of Manhattan shared with the students his personal shlichus experiences. He emphasized the importance of maintaining the highest standards of Halacha regardless of the challenges. “People respect and come to Chabad because they want to see what authentic Yiddishkeit looks like and have the real deal experience,” he said. “They will be happier if you don’t cut corners. That’s why they are here. And that’s what the Rebbe expects of us.”
Rabbi Raleigh Resnick of Chabad of the Tri-Valley in Northern California shared tips and advice on how to lead a Seder and keep the crowd engaged. Making sure to keep things entertaining with humor and meaningful insight, he also spoke of how important it is for the Bochurim to realize that they will be looked at as a role model of what a religious Jew looks like.
The evening was not just filled with tips and tricks and Halachos, but the speakers also emphasized the tremendous responsibility that is on the students. “For many of the participants in the Seder, this is their only Jewish experience all year,” said Avremel Silberberg, one of the 800 yeshiva students leading a Seder this year, speaking of the impression the evening made on him. “We have the opportunity and responsibility to make their relationship with Judaism something they are happy and proud about.” Silberberg and his Chavrusah, Mordechai Rozensweig, will be leading the Seder for English speakers on the exotic rainforest-filled Island of Phuket, Thailand.
Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice-Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch and entrusted by the Rebbe with the responsibility of the Merkos Shlichus program for over forty years, spoke about how although the students may be leaving their families for Pesach, going on Shlichus should not be looked at as Mesiras Nefesh, it’s a Zechus to be a Shliach.
“Being on the Rebbe’s Shlichus for Pesach is not just an act of selflessness, but a great merit that should be approached with utmost joy and dedication,” said Kotlarsky. “The opportunity to share the mitzvos of Pesach with other Jews, and to create a meaningful and positive Jewish experience for them, is a tremendous privilege and responsibility that should not be taken lightly.”
Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, executive director of Merkos 302, emphasized the importance of maintaining a connection with the Jews the students meet on their travels. He also emphasized the importance of completing a detailed Duch after they fulfill their Shlichus, keeping the Rebbe informed of their holy work.
The evening was filled with valuable insights and advice for the 800 young rabbis traveling to hundreds of locations around the world as part of the Merkos Shlichus program, ensuring that every Jew can celebrate Pesach this year no matter where they may be. With their newfound knowledge and sense of responsibility, they are sure to make this year’s Pesach Sedorim the most meaningful and inspirational yet.
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