Over 1,200 students, almost 200 Shluchim & Shluchos, and 65 additional chaperones descended upon the streets of Crown Heights, bringing unprecedented energy and excitement.
Each year, the Chabad on Campus International Pegisha Shabbaton for university students brings swarms of students to Crown Heights from around the world to be in the presence of the Rebbe and soak in the inimitable atmosphere. Baruch Hashem, each year, the number of participants grows ever larger, the Pegisha’s impact expanding along with it.
But this year, it wasn’t just incremental growth or a small increase in numbers. For this Hakhel year that emphasizes assembling as many Jewish people as possible, the Pegisha did just that. Over 1,200 students, almost 200 Shluchim & Shluchos, and 65 additional chaperones descended upon the quaint streets of Crown Heights, bringing unprecedented energy and excitement.
Organizers made room for many extra participants, and still, registration
filled up so fast. “It was a terrific challenge to have, and with G-d’s help, we expanded our scope to put things in place to accommodate such a large group. In future years, we’re going to be creative so as to accommodate even more people—and we absolutely plan on doing so,” said Rabbi Yossy Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International.
The students were hosted by hundreds of families of the incredible Crown Heights community, which modeled ahavas Yisroel and hachnosas orchim in the most gracious way possible.
Extra tents were set up in the Oholei Torah yard to accommodate the overflow crowd. Not only was the quantity enhanced, the quality was as well, with additional features including a Friday musical intro to Shabbos with 8th Day and a unique and inspiring closing program with the Global Head of culture at TikTok, author of What Would You Do If You Weren’t Afraid, Michal Oshman.
The pride and joy of being part of it were palpable. “It was seriously incredible to see so many Jews in college from all over the world come together. The energy and pride I got to experience this weekend is something that will always stick with me. From the lessons we learned to standing on a chair singing my heart out at Shabbos lunch to going to the Ohel, this trip is unforgettable and something I hope every Jew on campus will experience. I am so grateful to have this opportunity!” said Katie Penn of Illinois State University, where Rabbi Chaim and Rochel Telsner operate the Chabad on Campus.
Sessions throughout Shabbos offered lectures, discussions, and farbrengens with every type of personality and topic imaginable, allowing students to stimulate their hearts and minds.
Numerous campus Shluchim and Shluchos presented, including Mrs. Yocheved Boyarsky, Mrs. Esti Hecht, Mrs. Miriam Lipskier, Mrs. Shifra Sharfstein, Mrs. Chanie Shemtov, Rabbi Shlomo Banon, Rabbi Shloime Chein, Rabbi Yossy Gordon, Rabbi Yossi Greenberg, Rabbi Eli Moshe Levitansky, Rabbi Moshe Raichik, Rabbi Mendel Rubin, Rabbi Adam Stein, Rabbi Zalman Tiechtel and Rabbi Avi Weinstein.
Guest presenters included Dr. Binyomin Abrams, Tonia Chazanow, Rabbi Menny Chazanow, Jordan Garfinkel, Yerachmeal Jacobson, Rabbi YY Jacobson, Rabbi Simon Jacobson, Doron Kornbluth, Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Chanie Loschak, Dr. Gavriel Ostrow, Attorney Ron Swartz, and Rabbi Kalman Weinfeld.
The famous Motzei Shabbos Havdalah concert reached new levels of energy with 8th Day, and cameo appearances from newly minted Tik Tok stars of the Miami Boys Choir of old kept things rocking until late in the night.
The program climaxed Sunday with a trip to the Ohel. Once again, in keeping with the Hakhel spirit of this year, organizers arranged for an entire tent in the Ohel area to be dedicated for students to come afterward and reflect on their experiences. A carefully planned program enabled participants to unpack the inspiration with their shliach and internalize the entire weekend on a personal level.
“Pegisha was an incredible experience,” said Julia Freedman of ISU. “I had the opportunity to learn about myself and my Jewish identity, ask questions, and so much more. I feel so inspired and couldn’t have imagined an amazing weekend. “
The weekend was truly remarkable.
As Rabbi Dov Wagner of Chabad at the University of Southern California said: “Thank you to the Chabad on Campus International team. Our first Pegisha was over 21 years ago. The growth in both quantity and quality is unbelievable. The professionalism, care for detail, and smoothness of the program this year were on a completely different level!”