Women from all over Australia gathered at Chabad of North Shore in Sydney this past weekend, Rosh Chodesh Elul, for the 17th Annual Nshei uBnos Chabad Convention. The convention theme was expressed in the pasuk from Tehilim, “Wisdom begins with the fear of G-d, it is sound intelligence for all its practitioners: (thus) a person’s praise will endure forever.” (Tehillim 111:10).
The newly acquired facilities provided ample space for the various workshops, fabrengens, and shiurim. Upon arriving at the vast Chabad House with its rambling airy halls, high ceilings, and lovely original works of Jewish art on every wall, one woman remarked, “This place is like a castle! And it’s all ours for the entire convention!” Indeed, there was a feeling of sharing a wonderful warm home together, as women savored this special respite to relax, reconnect, learn, and nurture themselves spiritually.
The organising committee, Gavriella Aber, Elka Feldman, Michelle Brenner and Cassia Partane, took special care to make each woman feel comfortable. Treats and lovely small gifts were placed on each bed, as well as pertinent reading material including a convention journal filled with Torah thoughts, Chitas, articles, and the convention program. The food was abundant, each meal consisting of a large variety of fresh, delicious, and healthy food. There were even volunteers designated as ‘customer service’ ladies available to cater to every need.
Elka Feldman from Young Adult Chabad warmly welcomed the crowd after candle lighting. After davening Maariv together the women enjoyed the Friday night meal and heard words of encouragement and inspiration from the shlucha of the Gold Coast, Dina Gurevitch. She inspired the crowd with her talk entitled “Meeting the King in the Field- how to roll out the red carpet in time for Rosh Hashana”.
Women stayed up to the late hours engaged in either one of the two Friday night workshops. The workshop entitled “Addressing the Challenge of Going off the Derech” featured a panel discussion led by psychologist Zippy Oliver OAM. This controversial and timely topic proved to be of great interest and spurred a long, heartfelt, and lively discussion. The other workshop entitled ‘Moshiach: The Final Frontier” became an inspiring fabrengen that lasted into the wee hours of the morning.
Chabad of North Shore’s Rebbetzin Fruma Shapiro addressed the gathering during Shabbos lunch with a powerfully inspiring and riveting talk that deeply touched everyone.
Shabbos day offered a variety of shiurim and activities to choose from. The array of choices ranged from Chitas and sichas, to dealing with stress, chinuch, and how to have a more positive outlook. Women took this special time to take walks, catch up on sleep, schmooze with friends, and learn Torah. Later towards the end of Shabbos the entire group gathered for niggunim.
After havdalah there was a market night. On offer were sheitels, various accessories, apparel, jewellery, artwork, children’s toys, and unique chocolate treats.
After enjoying a scrumptious Melave Malka the entertainment highlight of the entire convention began—the concert. Original Songs composed by Rivka Leah Cylich from Melbourne, all taken from her recently released CD ‘Silent Prayer’ were performed. The incredible talent on display was astounding. Women sung along and danced in unity, finally retiring late but with hearts filled with joy, inspiration, and a huge feeling of pride in being Jewish women.
Sunday workshops included Jewish meditation, more Torah learning, and a continuation of the Off The Derech workshop. Other workshops offered were, improving our relationships, personal growth through Torah, shalom bayis, addictive behavior, and even a workshop on the kabbalah of challah.
Rebbetzin Pnina Feldman gave a deeply moving talk at Sunday lunch that did not leave a dry eye in the house. She pointed out that we can learn from Sarah Imeinu, that despite our doubts or inner insecurities, Hashem has faith in us that we can make it happen! She inspired all women to attend a shiur at least once a week.
The Gematria for 17 is the same as the word ‘tov’ meaning good, and the 17th Annual Nshei uBnos Convention of Australia surely accomplished the Rebbe’s goal of spreading goodness and kindness. Each participant came away with a bit more wisdom and added Torah inspiration to carry them through the month of Elul in preparation for the coming New Year.