As part of an ongoing effort this Hakhel year, campus shluchim from around the globe have been organizing regional Pegishah events, with over 1000 students from 73 schools gathered at numerous recent Pegishah gatherings.
As part of an ongoing effort this Hakhel year, campus shluchim from around the globe have been organizing regional Pegishah events, made possible with a generous grant from Chabad on Campus International.
Hearkening to its grander cousin, the annual Chabad on Campus Pegishah, that sees thousands converge upon Crown Heights, Brooklyn—these “mini Pegishahs” extend that energy and spirit to other locations and times. In the past few weeks, over 1000 students from 73 schools gathered at numerous Pegishah gatherings.
From Canada to Upstate New York, to the West Coast and Florida, and all the way to Slovakia, students assembled and energized each other.
Initial reports from these regional events are enthusiastic.
San Louis Obispo is a beautifully quaint and historic town on the Central Coast of California. It’s known for many things—from the world-renowned California Polytechnic University to a 70-foot alleyway in its downtown lined with chewed bubble gum. But one thing it isn’t usually known for is a large gathering of Jewish students from all over the Golden State.
But this year isn’t just another year. This year is a Hakhel year, the Jewish year of gathering. And so, Rabbi Chaim Leib Hillel, co-director, together with his wife Miki of Chabad of SLO and Cal Poly, made the decision that it was time to bring the Hakhel spirit to SLO.
And that’s exactly what happened. Over a weekend in mid-February, students from close to twenty Chabad on campuses assembled in SLO for a regional Pegisha.
Make no mistake: Hillel and the many other California shluchim involved already have their plates full with all their current programming. But when there’s a Hakhel, there’s a way. With students sleeping in various hotels across the town, a large hall for meals, two massive refrigerator trucks of food all the way from Los Angeles, and a special tent erected for davening and farbrengens, the hundreds of students who came from far and wide were in for a real treat.
And a treat it was. Friday night pulsated with energy as students from Reno, Nevada to Chico California, all the way to Arizona—and everywhere else in between—rocked together for an uplifting Kabbalos Shabbos and dinner that followed. Farbrengens lasted well into the night.
Shabbos day was packed with special programming to whet every intellectual and emotional appetite. Breakout sessions included topics like “Science and Torah,” “Why Marry Jewish” with world-renowned speaker and author Doron Kornbluth, as well as a candid and intimate session with a Shliach about his personal mental health journey.
A uniquely meaningful session on Shabbos afternoon took place with two wounded Israeli soldiers visiting with the Belev Echad organization. Drawing from their personal journeys, these brave IDF veterans impressed upon the students a profound sense of Jewish pride and identity
The climax of the weekend was a Motzei Shabbos concert with Bentzi Marcus, kumzitz style, with sumptuous barbecue fare for all. With arts and crafts to go along with it and other niche activities, there was something for everyone.
“Every time a regional Pegisha takes place, students return to their individual campuses recharged with such positive resolve and energy,” said Rabbi Yossi Gordon, CEO of Chabad on Campus International. “Spending an immersive Shabbos with Shluchim, Shluchos, and other students goes a long way in increasing their Jewish pride, commitment to Jewish living and sense of urgency to be active at home. We’re excited to hear about the tremendous results from the regional Pegishas that just took place, and IY”H, the many more coming.“Each one of these gatherings is a true realization of the Rebbe’s rallying cry in the spirit of the passuk ‘Gather the people—Hakhel!’”