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“On Tuesday I witnessed a miracle,” Rabbi Yosef Levin, Director at Chabad of South Bay, wrote to his community. “I remember when we had only 35 children in our camp, and we were hoping that one day we would be able to expand. Seeing 500 Jewish kids from the Bay area unite to celebrate their Judaism was the most amazing sight I have ever seen”.
It truly was amazing.
Over 500 children from day camps across the entire North California converged on Chabad of South Bay, Palo Alto, for a day of Jewish unity and Jewish pride. The children learned together, sung together, and ate together — creating an authentic “rally” environment. The camps enjoyed an exhilarating BMX stunt show, were treated to delicious food, and participated in special raffles and prizes.
This event was part of a joint effort between CKids and Tzivos Hashem to coordinate unity gatherings for regional CKids chapters. “When children get together with other groups from different communities,” Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos, explained, “they get a real feel for what it means to be a part of greater Klal Yisroel. We’re all one big family; all working towards the same goal”.
The California gathering was hosted by Rabbi Ber Rosenblatt and his wife Estee, Program Director at Chabad of South Bay, and was emceed by Rabbi Raleigh Resnick, Chabad of the Tri Valley. Chayala Mentz, Program Director at CKids international, planned the event and flew to California to coordinate.
Another such event took place the week before, this time on the other side of the country. Close to 300 campers from the greater Chicago area gathered at Lubavitch House of Skokie, where they were treated to exciting entertainment and an inspiring program.
Rabbi Shneur Scheiman, Director of Camp Gan Israel, ran the events proceedings. “You can call me crazy,” he said, “but I really felt the Hakhel energy in the room. The power of so many kids coming together… When the Pesukim were being read I could not keep my eyes dry”.
“We are still feeling the energy,” says Mrs. Hertz, Shluchah to Chicago. “We need to do something like this every year”.
There have been 7 such events worldwide in the last year alone, and 20 are already scheduled for the upcoming year. Close to 12,000 children participated in a live streamed Hakhel rally earlier this month, bringing together summer camps from around the world.
“The immense power of kids is something the Rebbe repeatedly stressed”, said Rabbi Mendy Kotlarsky, Executive Director of Merkos Suite 302. “Events like these are unleashing that power, and focusing it on changing the world”.