Wednesday, September 28, 2016

A Special Thank you!


(Front row, from right: Miri and Sheldon Adelson, philanthropists, Gidi Mark, CEO of Birthright, Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Dean of the Mayanot Institute, Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, Executive Director of Mayanot, meeting with the Birthright Academic pilot trip

Fortunately for Mayanot, we receive wonderful thank you letters, from past students and Birthright Israel participants on a regular basis, but this letter was extra special and we wanted to share it with you. As you are our supporters and help make all the magic happen, we hope you feel as inspired as we did! This beautiful letter came from a Washington University student who attended our Birthright Academic, pilot program, this past summer. 


To the entire Mayanot team,

After finishing up my Birthright Academic paper, I wanted to share a few thoughts with you.

Wow it's hard to believe that just over a month ago I was meeting 26 amazing people and 4 incredible staff members.  Rather, it is more amazing that just over a month ago; I didn't know these people, who have become such an important part of my life. 

I would like to thank Mayanot and Birthright for everything that went into the incredible experience that was Birthright Academic!

I'm going to be honest...because this wasn't my first trip to Israel, I didn't expect much.  Sure, it's a beautiful land.  Sure, I have considered aliyah for the last year or so, especially since I've been taking Hebrew in college.  But I didn't expect the experience to be any different than previous trips.  I certainly didn't think it could compare to my first trip, when everything was new.

Well, Mayanot team, I am indeed a critical Jew, but you completely melted the heart of this cynic. :)  Traveling on birthright was a life changing experience.  It truly changed my life.  I can definitely say it was just as exciting, or maybe more so, than when I first saw the Kotel at age 11, just before my Bat Mitzvah, and this was something I could never have expected going into it.

Religiously, personally, and academically I learned so much about myself.  I learned about the person I want to be.  I learned how to open up and be a true friend.  I had more fun with the group, just being our goofy selves, than I have had in a while.  This was a special group of participants and staff who I really gained a lot from and who I feel will be part of my life for many years to come.  For that I am exceptionally grateful.  I think sometimes experiences come along at just the right time in your life, and this certainly was the case with birthright for me.

Regarding the academic elements:
My closest friends at Washington U tease me that, 'I should become a Professor of Israeli history', because my idea of a fun night is getting to watch a documentary on Yoni Netanyahu, an IDF officer that commanded the elite commando unit Sayeret Matkal during Operation Entebbe.  I have a deep passion for Israeli history. I feel my purpose is to learn as much as I can.  So, I wanted a more in-depth experience than just regular touring, and I wanted to be surrounded by equally serious and fun peers.

With these hopes, the trip far exceeded my expectations.
It was great to get such an in-depth look at Israel and Israeli defense.  Between the lecturers, the Rabbi, and talking with the Israelis, I don't think I've ever asked so many questions in my life, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to be around experts to ask.  :)

One cool anecdote: I spent the summer of 2013 lobbying with AIPAC for more Iron Dome funding, and on the trip we visited Sderot and I got to hold an Iron Dome rocket head.  That really brought things full circle in a way only birthright academic, only this trip, could.  

Also, this past week I went to meet my Congressman.  I interned for him last summer so we knew each other a bit.  He votes on issues pertaining to Israel and I wanted to share my experience so he knows what an amazing place it is.  We had a great chat about how at the end of the day, Middle East politics is about people.

For me the academic portion really comes down to this: as I said to Gidi Mark, the CEO of Taglit Birthright Israel, I have attended 4 AIPAC conferences, I was part of the Tikvah Fund's year long fellowship and I read Times Of Israel regularly, but I learned more in the 13 days with Birthright Academic than I did from all three of those sources combined.

Academically and culturally, the trip enforced for me, that while I love international relations, this is where I want to be. There is something special about the middle east- about Israel. Israel's history has an unbelievably powerful and rich energy and I want to be part of that for the rest of my life. 
  
I would ultimately like to extend a tremendous thank you and make a small ask.  
The ask is this: How can I get involved? 
Birthright academic is one of the most in depth, incredible programs out there for young people, hands down, and I want to see it succeed.  I know it was a trial but I want to see it continue for others.  Anything I can do, during the summer or during the year, let me know.  Let's talk.  I'm in!

Hope to be in touch.  Really all I can say is thank you.
H.S. 
Wash U, St. Louis






Monday, September 26, 2016

First Israel Alumni Hakhel BBQ


 BBQ Reunion Clip

During this Hakhel year, following the Rebbe’s directive of gathering the masses, Mayanot hosted its first ever Israel Alumni event on Sunday August 28th, 2016.

A family friendly BBQ in Gan Sacher welcomed over 80 attendees and 30 children, across from the location of the new Mayanot World Center, on 7 Ben Tzvi, in Jerusalem. There were alumni present spanning over 20 years of Mayanot’s educational programming. Many were excited to share their experiences from their Yeshiva and Seminary days, and how their experience at Mayanot continues to impact them.

(From Left: Alumnus Sam Schubert and Rabbi Chaim Moss, Educational Director of Mayanot)

Sam Schubert, originally from Dayton, Ohio, made aliyah a few years ago and attended Mayanot in 2012. When asked to reflect on what he gained from his experience, he simply stated, “I will only marry Jewish now”. Kira Waxler, an alumnus from 2013, enthusiastically shared, “I never thought I would end up in a Yeshiva, but I ended up in Mayanot and it completely changed my life.”Dr. Yoni Stanleigh stated that, “I found that learning chassidus at Mayanot has helped me very much, to retain a connection with G-d, Torah and the Mitzvot, and I am very thankful for that.”


The director of the Post High School Program, Rabbi Mordechai Guth, was a student of the Mayanot Men’s Learning Program, and has been teaching at Mayanot for the past 15 years. When asked about his experience learning and teaching at Mayanot, he responded, “Mayanot has changed my life and I wouldn’t be where I am today, or doing what I do, without it.”

Most of the attendees have made Aliyah, and Israel is their permanent home, and were very open about feeling supported by the Mayanot family and the friends they made while they were learning.
Rabbi Wichnin, the Rosh Yeshiva of the Men’s Program, inspired the crowd with a beautiful explanation for the idea of Hakhel and the important for all of Am Yisroel to unify and come together in their love of a fellow Jew.

Mayanot is very proud of their alumni, and their achievements, all over the world and are very excited to do more of these types of events. To find out how you can host a similar alumni gathering, in your city, please email: Susie@mayanot.edu 

For more information about Mayanot, please visit www.mayanot.edu










Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Sunday, Mayanot International Alumni Hakhel Day


We are very excited to invite you to the very first:
Mayanot International Alumni Hakhel Day
This coming Sunday! 

Mayanot Alumni from around the world will be gathering to celebrate
this auspicious year of Hakhel, representing Jewish Unity and Ahavat
Yisroel on Sunday September 25th, 2016, in communities around the
world. 

There are many gracious host across the globe, that have offered to
open up their homes for fellow alumni. We want to thank them for
their generosity and willingness to help the Mayanot community. 

Each location will be skyping in with a different Mayanot teacher, 
fabrenging with a local guestspeaker, 
and sharing some wonderful Torah, and good times. 
We hope all of our Alumni can join us! 

See below for more information for each of the global locations. 
If you don't see your home city, don't worry. We will be posting a
recording of a skype call on our men's and women's facebook pages! 
https://www.facebook.com/Mayanot/ 
https://www.facebook.com/MayanotWomen/

SYDNEY(Men and Women)
Host: Eli Herbst
Email: profet_elija@hotmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1090246011091607/

MELBOURNE MEN
Host: Eli Bekker
Email: eli.bekker@gmail.com 

MELBOURNE WOMEN
Host: Talia Chaya Bloom
Email: taliachaya36@gmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/357809581020098/ 

JERUSALEM (Men and Women)
Host: David Borrocas
Email: dsbarrocas@gmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1770170289897547/

JOHANNESBURG (Men and Women)
Host: Dev Rothman 
Email: devorahrothman@gmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1848855165350609/?notif_t=plan_user_invited¬if_id=1473774483984793 

LA (Men and Women)
Hosts: Becca Delshad, Leah Molayem & Marisa Belinfante
Email: mbelinfante@gmail.com 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/195740950838054/

NEW YORK (Men and Women)
Host: Mayanot, Rabbi Silver 
Email: silver@mayanot.edu 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/339289089742391/339293483075285/?notif_t=admin_plan_mall_activity&notif_id=1474209664846473

MIAMI (Men and Women)
Host: Dovid Duchman
Email: dduchman@gmail.com
Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/events/362816357439247/?notif_t=plan_user_invited¬if_id=1473775412945273 

We can't wait to see you all on skype! 
Please RSVP to the Facebook group or email the hosts so they have an
idea of who is coming! 

If the Facebook event is 'private' and you are having trouble
viewing, send us an email and we will personally invite you, and for
any other questions, please feel free to email us at:
susie@mayanot.edu 


Monday, September 12, 2016

First Mayanot Essay Contest Winner



Mayanot Women’s Program, First Essay Contest Winner 
Chassidus on Campus By: Emily Seynaeve
8 Av, 5776
August 12, 2016

I discovered Chabad for the first time at an info fair during my first year in college. I had a strong interest in Judaism and wanted to know about the lives my ancestors had. What holidays did they celebrate? What traditions did they have? After a lot of introspection and soul searching, I knew I found the right direction for my life and I made a commitment to learn and practice Judaism. However, I was still struggling with developing faith and spirituality. Our sages already commented on this issue because of the fact that we are commanded to love G-d. We recite in the Shema every day, “You shall love the Lord your G-d with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your might”[1] but how can we possibly be commanded to feel something? Maimonides states that,
            “The 3rd mitzva is that we are commanded to love G-d (exalted be He), i.e. to meditate     upon him and closely examine His mitzvot, His commandments, and His works, in order   to understand Him; and through this understanding to achieve a feeling of ecstasy. This is            the goal of the commandment to love G-d.”[2]

I interpreted “examine His works” as an instruction to study the natural world since everything that happens in the world is a result of G-d’s will. The Alter Rebbe also discussed meditating on the natural world, but just as one of two approaches for developing a love for G-d. The quicker method is uncovering the natural love that every Jew has for G-d. The second, more difficult way, is through meditating on G-d’s greatness. But as the Alter Rebbe pointed out, “Meditation requires knowledge of the subject at hand, and intellectual predisposition.”[3] Over two years of learning, I used the Alter Rebbe’s second method and developed my love for G-d through science and other secular classes.
           
After five weeks at Mayanot, my entire strategy for developing a love for G-d changed. Learning Chassidus every morning changed how I looked at G-d’s role as the creator and what “unity of G-d” actually means. The Chumash classes taught me how to read between the lines and look for the deeper meaning. The chavrusa style forced me to push myself in Hebrew and critical thinking skills. Instead of focusing on the intricacies of the natural world as a way of developing a love for G-d, I started working on my spirituality by meditating on the essential connection and relationship I have to Hashem. Every day at Mayanot offered new insights and endless inspiration which made it easy to feel a connection. However, I know it will be challenging to go home and study on a secular campus. If I’m not careful, I will lose my inspiration and get lazy with my learning. On the bright side, I’m confident that the Chassidus I learned at Mayanot gave me the tools I need to stay focused and motivated, especially when confronted with challenging situations.
           
College is a unique time in life. I’m at a point where I’m not responsible for anyone but myself. I don’t have children to take care of or a spouse to check in with. Ideally, I should use this time to focus on improving myself, but I only focus on myself externally. One of the reasons I came to Mayanot was to give myself the necessary space from my daily routine in order to work on myself internally. When I’m in school, I have little time dedicated to developing my spirituality. My schedule starts early in the morning and goes late into the evening. I constantly run back and forth between classes, work, club meetings, and study groups. I have little time for introspection. This causes a lack of menuchas hanefesh, or peace of mind. The solution I drew from Chassidus is to remember my purpose in life. A lot of people, including myself, confuse their purpose in life with their own definitions of self-worth. Many students only think they have self-worth if they ace an exam or secure a decent job. On a college campus, failure is equivalent to worthlessness. These pressures and expectations only add to the turmoil of college life. Chassidus illuminates the idea that self-worth does not come from academic or professional success. Self-worth comes from the fact that we exist because G-d saw worth in us. No amount of academic or professional struggle can diminish our essential self-worth. In order to internalize this idea, you need to be in a state of bitul. Bitul means that you have a sense of self-worth that comes from something higher than yourself. Even so, self-worth is not equivalent to purpose. In chapter 33 of Tanya, the Alter Rebbe explains that our real purpose in life is to create a dwelling place for G-d. We do mitzvot to connect to Hashem and when we choose to connect, we create a dwelling place for G-d. While mitzvot are expected of every Jew, we each have a personal mission to fulfill. Even when my schedule is overwhelming, I need to realize that I’m here because of something greater than myself. I know now that what I’m doing in school and work is really just a means of fulfilling my mission; it is not who I am essentially. When I realize my greater purpose, I can better focus on developing my relationship with G-d.
           
Even though meditating on G-d’s greatness and the purpose of life is theoretically always accessible, it is still difficult on a campus with a lack of resources. There are no longer Chassidus classes in the morning, philosophy in the afternoons, or farbrengens that go late into the night. It is easy to lose inspiration when it is no longer right in front of me. Chassidus taught me that just because I don’t see G-dliness, does not mean that it does not exist. I still have to strive to reveal the G-dliness in my surroundings. This is one of the most basic concepts of Chassidus: G-d exists and there is “none besides him.”[4] It would seem from this verse that we actually don’t have a purpose on earth. If nothing exists but G-d, then surely the world does not actually exist. Yet this definition of G-d’s unity does not contradict the existence of the world, because it says in the Torah, “In the beginning G-d created the heavens and the earth.”[5]  
           
Chassidus explains that the world evolved through seder hishtalshelus. The Previous Rebbe taught that “Hishtalshelus is the progressive chain of descent from one level to the next.” [6] He then goes on to explain that “The manner of understanding G-dliness is twofold: that G-d is all and that all is G-d. Both these aspects contain profound intellectual concepts. G-d Himself, however is “atzmi,” or “essence,” and totally beyond comprehension. All that can be comprehended is ha’orah, the radiation emanating from His essence.”[7] This means that the world we perceive is still G-d’s essence, but with a higher level of concealment. The application of this idea is just because I don’t see revealed G-dliness on campus, does not mean it does not exist; I just have to work harder to see it.
          
 While it is true that G-dliness is everywhere, true appreciation of G-d’s unity comes from study. I know at some point I’ll face a lack of motivation to learn. In college, I have to reach out to find chavrusa partners and work harder to keep up with my learning. I was easily motivated at Mayanot when I had hours of time to study and a classroom of girls to learn with. I may still be motivated when I get back, but I know over time that I might readjust to my old routines and lose touch with the passion I found at Mayanot. In the beginning of the summer, I thought my passion came from a purely intellectual place. I loved the satisfaction of translating a line of Hebrew and piecing out cases from the Mishna. Over time, I realized the joy I felt actually came from a deeper level. My joy came from reconnecting to Hashem and the mitzvot in a totally new way. Chassidus taught me that the reason why we do mitzvot is because we care about what Hashem wants and want to strengthen our connection with Him. If I keep this in mind, then the mitzvot I do will only strengthen my will to keep learning and trying to connect on a deeper level. The Alter Rebbe explains this concept in chapter 44 in Tanya when he says “the individual’s love of G-d will encourage him in his Torah study, since He realizes that this will enable him to draw down the infinite light of the Ein Sof and become united with G-d.” [8]  The G-dly spark in each of us wants to connect back to its source. Revealing this hidden love is not an impossible task. If one makes it a habit to do mitzvot with the intention of connecting to Hashem, the natural love for Hashem will eventually be revealed. The Alter Rebbe then goes on to say “These levels of love are the cause of the performance of one’s Torah and mitzvot, for they result from the portrayal of this love in his mind.”[9] This means that even after long days of classes and work, if I can remember why I do mitzvot and why I want to connect, I can further reveal the natural love for G-d that keeps me motivated.
           
Even when I’m not actively studying Torah, love for G-d can still be stimulated on campus in my secular classes. When I sit in anatomy classes, I can think of the words of Rav Yonasan Eibeshutz,
            “One who is proficient in anatomy recognizes Hashem’s great love for man and the wisdom involved in his creation. One becomes aware all his needs are performed by different organs- some are hard while others are soft, some are dry while others are moist- and yet they work together precisely. ‘How great are your works, Hashem, You make them all with wisdom!’”[10]
          
 My time at Mayanot may be coming to an end, but that is not an excuse to stop learning. I may face more challenges at home than at seminary, but learning Chassidus gave me all the tools I need to keep pushing forward. Whether I’m learning Torah, sitting in class, or going to work, I know I can think about why I’m here and reconnect to the passion I kindled over the past five weeks.





End Notes: 
[1] Pesachim 56a: Deuteronomy Rabbah 2:31, 35, 36
[2] Maimonides. Sefer Hamitzvot. Translated by Berel Bell. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/940228/jewish/Positive-Commandment-3.htm
[3] R. Shneur Zalman of Liadi. Lessons in Tanya. Translated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun. Vol. 1: Likutei Amarim. Chs. 1-34. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1993.
[4] Deuteronomy 4:35
[5] Gn 1:1
[6] Schneerson of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok. ""And Now, Our G-d, Hearken to the Prayer of Your Servant."" Translated by Sholom Wineberg. In Chassidic Discources, 25-26. Vol. 1. Brooklyn: Sichos in English, 1999.
[7] Ibid.
[8] Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. Lessons in Tanya. Vol. 2. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1997.
[9] Ibid.
[10] V'Ani Tefillah Foundation. "Hashem's Chochma at Work." Praying with Passion 11.

Works Cited:
  • Maimonides. Sefer Hamitzvot. Translated by Berel Bell. http://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/940228/jewish/Positive-Commandment-3.htm
  • Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi. Lessons in Tanya. Translated by Rabbi Yosef Wineberg. Edited by Uri Kaploun. Vol. 1: Likutei Amarim. Chs. 1-34. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1993.
  • Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi. Lessons in Tanya. Vol. 2. Brooklyn, NY: Kehot Publication Society, 1997.
  • Schneerson of Lubavitch, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok. ""And Now, Our G-d, Hearken to the Prayer of Your Servant."" Translated by Sholom Wineberg. In Chassidic Discources, 25-26. Vol. 1. Brooklyn: Sichos in English, 1999.
  • V'Ani Tefillah Foundation. "Hashem's Chochma at Work." Praying with Passion 11.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Two Souls: The Jewish Wedding


The dancing, the simcha, the ceremony; one of the most distinct Jewish traditions, is the Jewish wedding! Getting married is an incredibly important land mark in any individuals life, however according to the Jewish tradition, the Jewish marriage is important for not only the individuals involved but it is a celebration for the entire community. A unity of two souls rejoining as one and continuing the tradition of our ancestors. 

The Mayanot Women’s learning program was lucky enough to be invited to join in the celebration of the wedding of Mayanot Director, Rabbi Shlomo Gestetners daughter, Aidel Gestetner to Levi Margolin. It was such a memorable experience for all of the women of the summer program, but it was especially memorable for Nikki Glebatis, as it was the first Jewish wedding she had ever attended. 


Nikki was raised Catholic, but became interested in Judaism at a relatively early age. She remembers learning about the Old Testament in her Catholic school and being fascinated by the stories of the Jewish people. This interest grew into a love of Judaism, which eventually led her to look into conversions. After she graduated with her masters in speech language pathology, she took the next steps to convert to Judaism and finished her conversion process this past January. She wanted to celebrate this momentous occasion, in her life, with a trip to the holy land. She came to Israel to study even more about Judaism than she had already learnt for her conversion. If there is one thing you learn about Judaism, 'it's that there is always more to learn' she says. 

Nikki was especially excited to come to Mayanot because she felt it would be a “warm, open-minded setting”. What she didn’t know was how the teachers and even the directors of  Mayanot would open their homes to all the students. It was so special for her to be invited and to share in such an important occasion, the wedding celebration of Rabbi and Rebbetzin's family. 

"At Mayanot, feeling like a big family is such an important part of the experience. Seeing as all the teachers really take it to heart and make you feel like part of their family, inviting you into their homes, cooking with you, and even inviting you to their daughters weddings, there is really nothing else like it", shared Nikki.


Nikki was ecstatic to attend her first Jewish wedding, she could hardy wait. She had learnt a little about the traditions behind certain customs, but didn't truly know what to expect. When she arrived at the beautiful wedding hall at Maale Hachamisha, just outside of Jerusalem, they were about to begin the ancient ceremony of veiling the bride, called, the bedecken. She walked into the room where the kala (bride) was sitting and saw her, “all adorned and sitting with her family and friends, kind of like a queen”. 

As Nikki had learnt, according to Jewish tradition, for the bride and groom on their wedding day, it is like their own personal Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement), so to speak. As they get the slate wiped clean, starting together anew, this day has astounding spiritual significance for them and they have the power to give blessings. So Nikki went over to receive a blessing and said, “it was so powerful and so beautiful to be blessed and feel so connected to the bride even though I barley know her”. 

When the groom entered the room with all the men and Nikki saw the love between the two as he gave her a blessing and completed the bedecken ceremony by covering the brides face with the veil, she was so inspired.  The bedecken is a custom that is meant to pay tribute to our Matriarch Rebecca who veiled her face when she went to meet her husband Isaac. Kabbalistically, the bedecken is meant for the groom to say that he is interested in the bride beyond her external beauty, that he is interested in the aspects of her that has not been revealed to him; her inner beauty. This Nikki shared, "was her absolute favorite part".

After this, it was time to move towards the actual wedding ceremony under the chupah (wedding canopy). All the guests were greeted by a view of the sun setting over Jerusalem. Watching the ceremony and listening, Nikki loved the spiritual connection that is so emphasized in a Jewish wedding. The emphasis placed on the importance of the event was paramount, "it isn’t just a big party but also one of the most important events in a persons life, so it makes sense that we all feel it".

After the ceremony, all the guests, were invited inside to dance with the bride. In fact, it's a big mitzvah to make the bride happy on her wedding day, and dancing with her is just one great way to accomplish this! "Participating in the endless twirling and jumping, is a pretty fun way to do this", as Nikki states. She was amazed at how lively the dancing was and shocked at how, “everyone was in a state of total joy and ecstasy”. As she was pulled into dancing by people she had never met, she was amazed how everyone was just so enthusiastic and how the dancing just didn’t seem to stop.
           
Before the wedding, Nikki obviously wanted to have a Jewish wedding, but actually experiencing one changed her life. She was amazed that, “In a world where there is so much division between different Jewish groups, a wedding is so amazing because it brings unity,” not just between the two people getting married but between everyone in attendance, as well.  

Nikki can’t imagine anything better than a simcha where people come together as a unified group. It was amazing for her "how at this wedding, the Jewish world seemed so small".  The guests aren’t just there to watch, but  to participate. "There was a deep feeling of connection even between strangers, because all the guests together were dancing as a symbol of showing joy and support", regardless of if they knew the bride and groom well or not. 

It's completely different learning about a Jewish practice, like a wedding, and actually being there experiencing it for the first time. Nikki remarked, "that is what I found to be so amazing about learning at Mayanot, they don't only teach you about Judaism from a classroom but involve you in it in anyway they can, so you can truly internalize what your learning, by experiencing the beauty that Judaism has to offer, in the real world". Its part of the real learning process at Mayanot, actually getting to experience tradition, the love for Torah and the land.

This is what Mayanot has done for her; it has brought her closer to her Judaism and has given her experiences she never could have dreamed of. As the summer draws to a close, Nikki has realized how hard it is to leave this place. It has helped her spirituality thrive and has taught her so much more about what is means to be a Jewish woman, it was truly a life changing experience.  

All of the women in the women's program seemed to have a really transformative experience and were all happy to be able to experience something so profound together and thank the Gestetners for this incredible opportunity! 



Thursday, September 1, 2016

Mayanot Reunion In NYC



A few weeks ago, on a beautiful Friday night in New York, Chabad of Midtown and the Mayanot once again teamed up for a great event, to reunite Birthright Israel: Mayanot alumni from all over the state.

Over 120 returnees from various Birthright Israel: Mayanot trips came together for a lively and enjoyable Shabbos meal at Chabad's regal 5th Ave location.

After many participants arrived and had a chance to mingle, for a while, the women were lead in Shabbos candle lighting with Rivky Namdar, a past Mayanot staff member, who had recruited a large amount of participants. Everyone listened closely and learned about the significance, history and meaning behind the beautiful ritual of candle lighting, as well as the relevance of bringing extra light into the world.

Amidst much singing and enthusiasm, the crowd heard Kiddush and explanations about the Friday night laws and customs from Rabbi Dov Oliver, who serves as Mayanot's alumni coordinator in NYC. Many of those in attendance shared that, apart from their actual Birthright trip, this was one of the first Shabbos meals they have ever experienced, and many guests shared, how much they were enjoying every part of the new experience!

A highlight of the meal was when Rebbetzin Brocha Metzger, who together with her husband Rabbi Josh Metzger, hosts of the dinner, spoke to the all the guests about the significance of this particular Shabbos. Her inspirational words, reflecting on Rosh Chodesh Av and its significance and relevance to every persons everyday life. Her message hit home for each person listening, even bringing the waiters to a halt as they heard her moving message. 

The Rebbetzin concluded with a warm welcome, for this to be just the first of many events attended by those assembled at Chabad. The Farbrenging, singing and good resolutions made, went long into the night as the groups reunited with their fellow alumni and staff in a delightful and idyllic setting.

Many participants mentioned, how excited they were to attend this event, and how much they hope for more events like it. 




















Sunday, August 28, 2016

Mayanot Seals Deal On Building



The official transfer of Mayanot Institute in Jerusalem's new building took place on the auspicious day of Chof Av, launching a renovation campaign.
With G-d’s help and many months of dedication, the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies is excited to announce that on the Rebbe’s father’s Yom Hilula, Chof Menachem Av, ownership of the new Mayanot World Center, located at 7 Ben Tzvi in Jerusalem, has officially been transferred and registered to Mayanot.

The signing for this momentous event took place at the offices of attorneys Ashi Del and Shuki Del in Ramat Gan.

The new Mayanot World Center will offer thousands of young students the opportunity to connect with their heritage, to learn Torah, and cultivate an awareness of their Jewish identities.

"It is a great joy to have the official signing on this most auspicious day," Rabbi Kasriel Shemtov, executive director of Mayanot commented, "We are sure this will be a great source of nachas to the Rebbe. With the help of some major donors and last year’s Charidy event we were able to purchase the building, and today we are one step closer to opening our doors."

Mayanot is currently embarking on a $4 million dollar campaign to renovate and furnish the new building, transforming it into a state of the art educational facility and global center for Jewish learning.

Rabbi Shlomo Gestetner, Dean of the Mayanot Institute of Jewish Studies stated, "We are humbled to have the merit to embark on this major project, of Hafotzas HaMayonos. We are excited to start the second stage of the capital campaign and are looking forward to welcoming thousands of students to our new center."

The target date for renovations is set to commence on January 1st, 2017.
For any inquiries or to donate, please visit www.Mayanot.edu