While many American Jews spent the days leading up to Shavuot baking cheesecakes, 110 Chabad rabbinical students were busy boarding planes and busses to different remote locations across North America.
The students, who were participating in a program that provides support to Chabad emissaries operating in small and isolated cities throughout North America, traveled to forty-two destinations to help emissaries lead holiday prayers and programs.
The program was launched a few years ago when a New York businessman found himself spending Shabbat with Chabad emissaries Rabbi Yossi and Chani Jacobson in Des Moines, Iowa. During his stay, he was moved by their love and dedication to their community. A frequent traveler, he often benefits from the hospitality of local emissaries. Seeking a way to repay them for their kindness, he launched the Shavuot initiative.
The Shavuot initiative is coordinated by Merkos L’Inyonei Chinuch’s Ufaratzta Circle. Now in its third year, the project has continued to expand, sending more rabbinical students to remote communities so that all Chabad Houses, no matter where they are, can celebrate the holidays with the additional support that these young rabbis-in-training bring. Many of the students return repeatedly to the same locations, cultivating a strong connection with emissaries and their communities.
“Living hundreds of miles away from the nearest observant community, having these rabbis interacting with our children means the world to us,” shared Rabbi Shmuel Hecht of Kelowna, British Columbia.
Founded at the request of several emissaries, the Ufaratzta Circle is a support system serving shluchim families in remote locations in the USA. Program initiatives include supportive webinars and Whatsapp groups, Shabbatons, gifts for children, holiday packages, weekly group learning and more.
“These emissaries and their families are stoking flames of Judaism in distant outposts, far from Jewish amenities, families and communities. They face an extra level of sacrifice with the many unique challenges that come along with their work,” said Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky, Vice Chairman of Merkos L’inyonei Chinuch. “The Ufaratzta Circle initiative is an incredible support to these families.”