Over 200 men, women and children of the Melbourne Anash community, gathered at Australia’s very own ‘770’ for a grand Hakhel experience which included performances by the Cheder boys.
Photos: Sholom Raskin
On Sunday, over 200 men, women and children of the Melbourne Anash community, and particularly the families of the Cheder Levi Yitzchok and Bnos Chana schools, gathered together to experience Hakhel in our days.
Ever since this year’s debut group of Talmidim HaShluchim to the Cheder touched down in Australia in Cheshvan, still riding on a high from the experiences of Hakhel Tishrei in Crown Heights, and primarily the central Mega Hakhel event that took place on Chol Hamoed Sukkos outside 770, they felt the need to share that excitement with the Lubavitch community Down Under.
Following the overwhelming success of the community-wide Rosh Chodesh Kislev celebration earlier this year, arranged as a joint effort between the three groups of Shluchim in Melbourne, the Shluchim were galvanized and enthusiastic about continuing. Talk of arranging a Mega Hakhel ensued, but the plans petered out without any practical decisions being made.
A few months later, the Shluchim to the Cheder decided to pick up the slack and set a date just a month in advance to hold the event. With Purim smack in between, and a rigorous learning mivtza coming along with it, it didn’t leave much time to focus on the Mega Hakhel, but as soon as Purim was over, the Shluchim started working in overdrive towards the date looming just 2 weeks ahead.
Various classes began working on different video and live presentations to feature at the event, with the Shluchim’s encouragement and direction, while the organizational arrangements – finding a guest speaker, booking a hall, printing Hakhel-themed merch, etc. – were also well underway.
Finally, Sunday, Daled Nissan dawned bright and clear, and people started trickling into “770” – Chabad House of Caulfield, and took their seats in the beautifully decked-out room.
The event was opened by MC Zalmy Engel, who welcomed everyone and thanked them for coming, and pointed out that the Hakhel was taking place in the very best location possible in Melbourne – the replica of 770! Being that Hakhel took place in the Beis Hamikdash, which in our times is 770, the best place to hold such a grand representation of it can only be in Melbourne’s very own 770.
The event continued with a video of the Rebbe, recitation of the Rebbe’s Kapitel and the 12 Pesukim. Later elements of the program also included a video skit prepared by one class, a Hakhel music video performed by another class, and a dance and reenactment of Hakhel Then and Now by a third.
The highlight of the program was the special appearance by renowned mechanech and lecturer Rabbi Yaakov Lieder, who flew in specially from Sydney for the occasion. Rabbi Lieder engaged children and adults alike with his inimitable storytelling talent, and then surprised the crowd – and the organizers! – with an exciting announcement, that he is donating a dollar of the Rebbe towards a Mivtza Hakhel in the school, to be raffled off between all children who will organize a Hakhel by the end of the Pesach vacation.
The principal of the Cheder, Rabbi Eliezer Kornhauser, also addressed the crowd, expressing his amazement at the magnitude and success of the event, and thanking Hashem and the Rebbe for the Shluchim who bring so much chayus into everything that happens at the school.
After closing remarks, raffles, and thank you’s, the crowd left the event uplifted and motivated to channel the inspiration into each of their homes – and as we go to print, numerous families have already sent in pictures of their Hakhels that they have held at home as a result of the inspiration of the event.
“In the zchus of our Hakhel gatherings, may we be zoche to experience the ultimate Hakhel with our Melech in the Beis Hamikdash now!” organizers said.