Hundreds of JNet volunteers gathered Monday at the Jewish Children’s Museum for their sixth annual volunteer appreciation event, which honors the volunteers who dedicate time weekly to learn with Jews all over the world.
Professionals, students, and homemakers of every age and background use JNet to study the weekly Parsha, discuss the history of Judaism, analyze the Talmud, and discover Kabbalah’s spirituality and man’s purpose on earth.
At check-in, volunteers were presented with the book Daily Wisdom 2 as a gift and a specially printed journal showcasing all the volunteers and donors, featured members, and snapshots of JNet’s programs this year.
The event began with a buffet dinner catered by Mendy’s, with a scrolling video listing the thousands of volunteers and their locations, and music by composer Sarah Dukes playing in the background.
Rabbi Yehuda Dukes, director of JNet, started the program by introducing the theme of Ki Heim Chayenu and how the volunteers were connecting their chavrusas to life itself.
In a special video message, JNet chairman Rabbi Moshe Kotlarsky spoke about how volunteering was part of hiskashrus and introduced a special toifeach al menas l’hatfiach campaign to have the volunteers encourage their chavrusas to inspire someone else to do a mitzvah in honor of 25 years since Gimmel Tammuz.
A special video of chavrusa Rael Codron in the Australian outback showcased JNet’s expansive reach. Rael, who led a Purim seudah and two Pesach Seders and recently got a pair of tefillin for a fellow Jew, credits the Jewish revival in his part of the world to his learning on JNet.
The guest speaker, Rabbi Eli Goodman of Chabad of the Beaches, spoke about the significance of humility when it comes to learning Torah.
To show the impact JNet had on his community, he introduced Mason Fein, one of his congregants, who spoke about the change in his life that studying Tanya had effected. “I may not be perfect now, but when I have a negative thought or grudge come to my head about someone, I immediately try and push it out. My relationships with everyone in my life have changed dramatically.”
He then asked his chavrusa Moshe Parelman to come to the podium so he could thank him for the first time in person after having studied only on the phone for the past year.
Rabbi Dukes then proceeded to present them and several other attendees with accomplishment certificates, finishing with Rav Mordechai Gurary, rav of Chevra Shas Shul, and his chavrusa of more than eight years, Mr. William Shulman, who came in from Cliffside Park, New Jersey, to attend the event.
Rabbi Gurary then proceeded to talk about the importance of learning and made a siyum on Maseches Sotah.
Rabbi Dukes introduced “chavrusa of the year” Rabbi Yoel Chazan with a video testimonial from his now close friend Dr. Alexander Birbrair, head of a stem-cell research lab in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.
“I always thought I was religious. When I came to Chabad for the first time I brought all my religious articles, including my tefillin. However it was Friday night. I know now that they are muktzah.”
He proceeded to thank Yoel and all the JNet volunteers for the meaningful change they make in people’s lives.
The event concluded with Rabbi Chai Kohan, director of JNet’s Spanish division, drawing the winner for the raffle of the Shavuos learning campaign.
“Rabbi Manes Weingarten and his chavrusa, Yosef Waslow, who had been studying for more than six years, met here for the first time tonight. When I see the power of what these chavrusas can achieve, I’m encouraged to recruit even more,” says Rabbi Dukes with a smile.
“It was very inspiring. You could really feel the impact that people are having on their chavrusas,” said JNet volunteer Mrs. Shoshana Lifshits, whose husband attended as a guest and has decided to volunteer as well.
To become a JNet chavrusa or to donate, visit JNet.org, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 347-770-JNET (5638).
Siyum Honorees: Ms. Chanie Dubov (Brooklyn, NY) and Mrs. Barbara Nevin (Excelsior, MN)—five years of parashas ha’shavuah; Mrs. Leah Portnoy (Charlotte, NC) and Mrs. Linda Kogin (Yonkers, NY) —parashas ha’shavuah; Miss Bryna Telsner (Brooklyn, NY) and Mrs. Marlene Dowling (Thornhill, ON)—parashas ha’shavuah and Pirkei Avos; Rabbi Shimon Goldenberg (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Shmuel Weiss (S. Diego, CA)—14 perakim Tanya; Rav Mordechai Gurary (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Zev Zalman Shulman (Cliffside Park, NJ)—Masechta Berachos; Rabbi Moshe Parelman (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Mason Fein (Long Beach, NY)—35 perakim Tanya; Rabbi Shloime Sirota (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Adam Kaman (Austin, TX)—perek Hamafkid Bava Metzia; Rabbi Shlomie Stock (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Dylan Feinberg (Taipei City, Taiwan)—six simanim Kitzur Shulchan Aruch; and Rabbi Itche Zalmanov (Brooklyn, NY) and Mr. Raphael Rose (Brooklyn, NY) 34 perakim Tanya.