South America Hosts Its First-Ever Shabbos Tzuzamen

Voyaging by air, sea, and land, young South American shluchim excitedly gathered in Buenos Aires for a Shabbos Tzuzamen linking three countries for a Shabbaton of inspiration and brotherliness.

Voyaging by air, sea, and land, young South American shluchim excitedly gathered in Buenos Aires. In celebration of The Year of Hakhel, Shabbos Tzuzamen–Argentina would be going international, linking three countries for a Shabbaton of inspiration, enjoyment, and brotherliness.

Some of these boys are within commuting distance of a Chabad school; others are the only Shluchim kids in their country. But they all live, with their families, outside the conveniences of a Jewish community, devoting their lives to the Jewish nation. 

Take, for example, the Benchimol brothers: Levi, Shneur, and Shmuli. Living in the southern suburbs of Buenos Aires necessitates a wearisome hour-long commute to school. Their parents strive to imprint on them the privilege—and integrity—that comes with being a shliach. Nonetheless, it’s not always easy to help with event set-up or to hold oneself to a higher standard: A boost of inspiration may be in order.

Take a ferry across the Rio de la Plata, and you’ll be greeted by Tzvi, a sunny eight-year-old boy living in Montevideo. Tzvi’s lifeblood is shlichus; standing out in the local school, his classmates admiringly look up to him. He’s always happy to share and teach, recognizing his role as a shliach. And whenever his parents arrange an event, he’ll ensure his friends come (and shlep their families along).

One thing that’s less than perfect: he misses his two older brothers (and best friends) who’ve left for yeshiva primary school; they return home only every other week. He’s also a bit apprehensive about how things will be when he joins them away from home.

If he could spend a few uplifting days with fellow Shluchim, and make new friends along the way, it might just make his year.

Fly a couple of hours north to meet Mendi and Ovi, proud emissaries of the Rebbe in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion. With school being online, and friends—mainly virtual, being an isolated lighthouse for Judaism can, at times, be lonely. They’re excited yet trepidatious about the big trip; this Shabbos Tzuzamen may just open a whole new world for these two boys.

They all joined tens of other boys for this retreat to remember. How was it, you ask? “The friends, the trips, the farbrengens, the accommodations, everything was great! It couldn’t have been better!” they say.

With counselors Moty Moscowitz, Mendi Lapidus, and Meni Naymark taking charge (“so caring! amazing! 5 stars!” says Mendi from Paraguay), the boys enjoyed memorable outings and thrilling trips together. Pizza and ice-cream parties added to the three whirlwind days of fun, and rounds of bubble football and roller skating cemented the newly-made friendships.

Arranging from a continent away, at MyShliach Spanish HQ at Merkos 302, Rabbi Chai Kohan set a high standard: every aspect of the program had to be top-notch. “We skimped no efforts; we wanted to ensure these boys felt truly appreciated,” he said.

Accommodations were at a premium hotel; Shabbos Tzuzamen logos adorned the walls; snacks and treats were abundant; and the action-packed program was flawlessly executed. “Levi, Shneur, and Shmuli felt truly appreciated as the Rebbe’s shluchim,” enthused their mother, Mrs. Chaya Benchimol. “They can’t stop talking about their new friends, and they’ve never been more excited to be the Rebbe’s shliach!”

Seeing their spirited yet sincere kabolas shabbos prayer delighted the Buenos Aires Chabad community. A delectable Friday night meal, replete with songs, stories, and games, followed; hosting were Tzivos Hashem directors Rabbi Shloime and Leah Taubenfligel, who masterfully engineered the logistics for the weekend.

After davening on Shabbos day, the boys were in for a treat—one boy would describe it as his highlight. They were hosted by Argentina’s head shliach, venerable chosid Rabbi Tzvi Grunblatt. The boys, awed by his presence, were astounded as he personally served them, putting some salad on each plate. Rabbi Tzvi went on to farbreng about “the heightened standards that we, the Rebbe’s shluchim, must have; he urged us to keep strong in fighting our yetzer hara,” according to one young shliach’s recollection.

As for Rabbi Grunblatt, he humbly intoned: “It was my greatest honor and privilege to host, encourage, and be inspired by the Rebbe’s children.” 

On Sunday afternoon, after a fun-filled day of activities, the grand banquet finale took place, featuring a Chinese auction, with every boy receiving a prize. Following, they wrote panim and took on hachlatos to keep the inspiration until the next time together. And with a goodbye, they parted ways, returning to their respective places of shlichus.

Mendi and Ovi “came back to Paraguay in seventh heaven,” exclaimed their mother emotionally. “WOW. The smiles on their faces couldn’t be wider; they were so so happy! They were swept right in and fully taken care of; the experience was incredible. It was the first time they truly felt ‘part of it.'”

The Benchimol boys returned home with a major shift in attitude. It’s remarkable how three short days can have such an impact. “There’s someone out there who cares so much about our happiness just because we are shluchim,” they were heard saying. Well, now they seek out—with a smile—any chance to help their parents.

Young Tzvi, came back home more inspired and proud as a shliach than he ever was!

He’s even more excited to do his shlichus; he teaches his classmates Torah whenever he can, and he asked his father to start going out every Friday on mivtzoim, so that he can come along. And now that he’s made some friends there, he’s ready to join his brothers in yeshiva when his turn comes and learn more Torah than he can in Montevideo.

 “We are now in the season of Matan Torah, the time that we, the Jewish nation, promised our children as guarantors for the Torah,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice-Chairman of Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch and Chairman of MyShliach. “Encouraging these young Shluchim, dedicated to perpetuating Yiddishkeit, is the strongest fulfillment of that commitment.” 

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