One more set of Shabbos candles changes hands. One more neshama, ignited, burns strong and fast. This story is just one of many that Ufaratzta groups have experienced in the past six weeks.
It’s a typical Friday afternoon in a typical NYC subway station. People of all stripes are rushing about, some walking calmly, others racing as their train screams into the station.
One train stops, and opens. Out of its doors comes a group of smiling girls, about 10 years old, in their school uniforms, accompanied by their two chaperones. No, they are not here on a school trip. That is not why they are in this subway station, a few hours before Shabbos. These are Ufaratzta girls- there to uncover the G-dliness inside each person they meet and bring it out into the open.
They come with a full bag, hoping to leave with it empty. The bag contains their tools- Neshek, Good Cards, Ois Besefer Torah brochures, and sometimes other goodies. The group heads for the stairs. They have a designated area they will cover for the next hour, making sure no Jew is left behind. On their way out, they spot a few girls that seem to be their age. One of them looks Jewish.
The girls are shy. It’s hard to walk up to someone they don’t know and ask them if they are Jewish. But their chaperones are there to encourage them.
“You are the Rebbe’s shlucha, and are being empowered with the Rebbe’s kochos!” they remind them. “And you never know-perhaps this girl’s neshama has been waiting for you to come along and get her to light Shabbos candles!”
No longer shy, they approach the young girl and ask her the million-dollar question: “Excuse me, are you Jewish?”
She is Jewish, and she takes their package of Shabbos candles, listens to their excited instructions on how and when to light them, and the girls part, one neshek lighter.
Two weeks later. It’s the same girls, same place, same mission. The only difference is their enthusiasm-it’s only grown since that first Friday.
Heading for the exit, they pass someone familiar. It’s that Jewish girl they met two weeks earlier, the girl they almost didn’t ask.
She recognizes them too. Before they even open their mouths, she smiles brightly.
“Yes, I’m Jewish!”
One more set of Shabbos candles changes hands. One more neshama, ignited, burns strong and fast. This story is just one of many that Ufaratzta groups have experienced in the past six weeks. Project Ufaratzta, run by The Mivtzoim Shop at the Lubavitch Youth Organization, aims to bring girls’ mivtzoim in Crown Heights up a notch with routes, organized groups, and motivation.
One of its projects (in collaboration with Beis Rivka Seminary) is the Ufaratzta groups, in which girls in elementary school get to be part of the front line troops with weekly Friday mivtzoim. The first session, which ended just before Chanukah, boasted the participation of over 100 girls, with hundreds of Shabbos candles and Good Cards given out, each one with its own story.
Kids love it. Mothers are excited by it. Chaperones are inspired by the enthusiasm their young charges display. And now, it’s your turn:
Project Ufaratzta has opened registration for its second session on Sunday, Hey Teves, open until Motzai Shabbos, 11 Teves, 12 AM. Second session will be running from Friday, 17 Teves, through Friday, 7 Adar Alef. Any girl in 4th-8th grade is welcome to sign up! The link to sign up is here:
Older girls! We need you! If you are in 11th grade or older, you can enable another group of young, eager girls to go on mivtzoim each Friday. Two chaperones lead each group. Chaperones are treated to fabrengens and rewards of their own. Sign up today:
Mivtzoim supplies, transportation, and other expenses all add up, and you can help with that! Click the link below to contribute. Any amount helps!