Although physically distant, 2,500 women from over 30 cities participated in the second ‘Never Alone’ learning event to learn the Rebbe’s Torah in connection with Lag B’Omer.
Anash women from communities all over the world came together to learn the Rebbe’s Torah this Lag B’Omer. Of course, “together” looked a little different this year, but thanks to Zoom and the creativity of a dedicated team of Shluchos, a new way of learning is gaining momentum.
‘Never Alone’ was an event that focused on two short video clips from the Rebbe’s 5744 Lag B’Omer parade sicha. A facilitator in each community moderated the program through analyzing the clips, providing insights, and taking questions from participants. Nearly 35 communities from across the globe signed on.
The ‘Never Alone’ series was the second installment in a new line of offerings from Vaad Or Vechom Hahiskasrus, building off of a successful Yud Shevat program. The communities were given everything they needed for the event from start to finish – including promotional materials, registration tools, handouts, and detailed instructions. Marave Herbstman who arranged the event in Seattle said: “A big Thank you for making this possible during this time. With the resources provided I was able to create a program just right for my community and everyone loved it. You catered to those that can do more and those that can just get it up and running. Incredible!”
Whether in person or over technology, the idea behind the events is for women in Anash communities to learn practical life lessons from the Rebbe’s teachings. Mandy Hakimi, who attended in Chicago, reported, “It’s easy to watch a video of the Rebbe speaking and become inspired for the moment. But it’s an hour long… how much am I really understanding, let alone internalizing? They chose two small segments – just a few minutes each – and our facilitator helped us really break them down and mull them over. I walked away with a practical understanding of how to implement part of the Rebbe’s message for Lag B’Omer in my day to day life.”
In addition, they aim to make learning inside accessible to all, by removing some of the common barriers. Not only are English translations provided, but women are encouraged to learn together or in groups. Furthermore, critical background information is given to ground the Rebbe’s words in context, citations are explained in detail, and overarching analysis is always performed with practical, real life application in mind. The goal is to make sure that women don’t feel like they aren’t able to contribute or keep up.
Also central to the program, is its customizable nature. The format is flexible and organizers are encouraged to tailor it to their community’s needs, ensuring the effect is a global initiative with a local flavor. Melbourne, for example, ran two versions of ‘Never Alone’ simultaneously – one for women over 40, and one for women under. According to Tamar Rosenthal, the gathering for older women ran for almost two hours, due to the farbrenging and socializing. Many communities made gift bags that were delivered to participants, infusing a much-needed personal touch during these times of social distancing.
So far, over 2,500 women have joined in learning from the Rebbe through this new venture. Nechama Dina Feller, of Twin Cities, MN, said her community members shared that, “they heard just what they needed to hear, that it was inspiring, and made them want to learn more.” They shouldn’t have to wait long. With Gimmel Tammuz coming soon, a new and inspiring event is already in the works.