Raising Kids On Shlichus




    Raising Kids On Shlichus

    From Beis Moshiach Magazine: A panel discussion on the benefits and challenges of Raising Kids on Shlichus with Mrs. Chana Beckerman is a shlucha for many years in the Gilo neighborhood of Yerushalayim. Mrs. Elisheva Russo of India runs the online school “Moshiach Kids,” and Chaya S. Moderated by Aluma Shemli Full Article

    By Aluma Shemli, beis Moshiach Magazine 

    A couple goes out on shlichus. With this decision, they take into consideration the distance from family, difficulties with davening with a minyan even on Yom Tov, difficulties in obtaining kosher food, getting to a mikva, and financial difficulties. No question, the most difficult challenge is chinuch, because a Chassid is willing to forgo many comforts and conveniences but won’t compromise on chinuch.

    We have three dedicated shluchos with us who are also mothers. They are happy to share their difficulties and  challenges along with tips, insights and nachas, of course.

    Mrs. Chana Beckerman is a shlucha for many years in the Gilo neighborhood of Yerushalayim. Mrs. Elisheva Russo of India runs the online school “Moshiach Kids,” and Chaya S. wants to remain anonymous.


    Yaakov Avinu was in Charan, far from the holiness and his parents. It was there that he raised the twelve Shivtei Ka, the progenitors of the Jewish people. Tell us about this success from your personal perspective.

    Mrs. Beckerman: A mother who goes on shlichus needs to be at peace with herself and know that being the Rebbe’s shlucha is the best thing one can be. When she feels this and lives this, it naturally carries over to her children. But it needs to be something very internalized for her and not just something she says. If she feels it and the children experience it as she does, it’s altogether different. The children are in a position of influence and privilege along with her. The difficulties dissipate in the face of happiness and then you can return to the Land of Canaan with a complete family that is entirely connected to the Rebbe.

    Mrs. Russo: When going on shlichus, especially to a distant land, there are major technical difficulties in basic living on the level of bread and milk. You can’t go to the nearest kosher grocery store and stock up on pasta and canned goods. You learn to live this way and make do with shechita, milking, and baking and you are still missing numerous very basic products that you are used to.

    When speaking about children, our first thought as parents is what they’re lacking in the nosh department. We need to remember that to us, these things are missing because we grew up with them and it seems very hard to do without them, but our children are growing up differently; what they’re not used to, they’re not missing.

    When Yaakov returned from Charan and met Eisav, he said, “I have everything.” Yaakov wasn’t lacking anything on shlichus. There are cakes that mommy bakes (along with the bread), there’s a great chocolate treat that you make with cocoa, sugar and coconut milk. Let’s not pity them because it’s unnecessary and only weakens them.

    Chaya: I take a different message from the story of Yaakov. I’m a shlucha who hasn’t seen success with all my children; I haven’t yet seen the fulfillment of the Rebbe’s taking responsibility for the chinuch of children on shlichus. My Shneur (fictitious name) went off the derech and I hope and believe he will come back.

    At first, when I was asked to participate I declined. Why should I be interviewed if not all my kids are Chassidish and shluchim like me? Afterward, I thought about how even Yaakov did not immediately have nachas from all his children. He also dealt with plenty of challenges when it came to his children’s chinuch. Reuven mixed in to his private business, Shimon and Levi killed an entire city without consulting him, ten of them sold their brother. It’s not exactly the ideal family situation. Ultimately, he had nachas from them all. I believe I will also have nachas from Shneur, just like Yaakov. Chaos first and nachas in the end. Unfortunately, there are many who contending with this same difficult challenge and these shluchos aren’t “less than” as shluchos or less mekusharos.


    How do you combine children and shlichus? What should be done so the children don’t get turned off from the workload we have as shluchos?

    Mrs. Beckerman: The children need to be top priority. This doesn’t necessarily mean we will be spending more time with them than we put into our shlichus; it’s not a matter of time but a place in our heart. You can be in your chinuch-shlichus from eight in the morning until four in the afternoon and with your children for only two hours after that, but if your children feel they are number one, that’s enough. They know that you remember what is important to them, you ask about their day, you know what interests them and who their friends are and what’s going on with them. When a mother leaves a note for a child or prepares food she knows he likes for the next day, she shows that he/she is really important to her.

    Mrs. Russo: The question itself is problematic since the children are our shlichus! Caring for our children is our shlichus. We need to remember that our children are our lighthouse which shines over the ocean and shows wayward ships where to go. If the lighthouse is not lit up, what is our shlichus? A mother must put into her children at least 90% of her time and energy, into their physical needs, preparing tasty food and their clothing, into overseeing their proper development and their proper chinuch whether they are in a Chabad school or she is homeschooling them. After all that she can give the remaining 10% of her time and energy to shlichus. After all that work, she doesn’t need much more in order to provide for another Jew.

    Chaya: To begin with, try as much as possible to include the children in the shlichus. This connects them very strongly to shlichus, more than if they are home alone and waiting, hungry and tired, for their mother to come home from another women’s event.

    When I first started teaching, I once had a class with three daughters of shluchim. The differences between them were stark. One of them got all nervous before a Yom Tov. “Oy, I’m going to have to watch all the kids because my parents will be busy day and night…” Another one was excited every Tuesday. It was the day of the weekly shiur and she would be going with her mother to set up the tables nicely and prepare the refreshments. The third one didn’t know much about what her father did; he was never home.

    Children need to be connected to the shlichus, given jobs from a young age. We shouldn’t just be thinking of how to occupy them so we can be free to do our work.

    What about if they can’t be included in everything? Then maybe you need to give some things up. There are endless possible good things we can do, but they can’t be at the expense of our children. True, if you give a shiur every night, more women will learn Torah, but there are times when you will give just one shiur a week and times when even that won’t happen. As shluchos, we cannot forget our children; they are our first shlichus targets.


    What can we do so our children don’t feel they are missing out by being on shlichus?

    Mrs. Beckerman: The children need to benefit as much as possible from our shlichus, not just a spiritual benefit for there is no doubt they are getting that, but also a literal material benefit that they feel with their animal soul… If we prepare something special to serve for a women’s evening or event, the children will prepare it with us and we will always make more so they can have some too.

    Whether it’s going on special trips or farbrengens or mivtzaim, the type which their friends don’t get to do, just them, because they are shluchim, children need to walk tall and proud for being a shliach, to know that there are benefits to being on shlichus.

    If it happens that I need to travel in the afternoon for an important meeting or to arrange something urgent connected with our shlichus, and I take two children with me and they benefit by having time with me, I’m taking something that could have had them grumbling and instead, I turn it into an adventure from which they personally benefit.

    Mrs. Russo: Children don’t need to suffer or feel bad for being on shlichus. Time-wise, they need to get quality time with each of their parents. In an area where there are tourists passing through, they can enjoy the atmosphere and attention they get from the many visitors. There must always be something tasty at home in the event they are offered something that doesn’t have a hechsher so it can be substituted. Even without being offered a non-kosher candy, the house needs to be a pleasant place. You need to provide them with the best chinuch, a rich social life according to the local conditions and age of the children. You need to invest in them and their chinuch.

    Chaya: First of all, we need to feel that we aren’t losing out by being on shlichus… If the mother is unhappy about all the things she’s missing out on, from the difficulty in obtaining kosher products and the social situation, the children will feel that way too. Secondly, make sure they’re not losing out! If you need to give them rides to friends or activities, do it. Buy things with good hechsherim so you always have them in the house. Give them time, go on outings with them. Their childhood is part of our shlichus. Just as it’s obvious to us that we won’t give up on hechsherim and a mehudar mikva because of the distance, so too, we should not give up on what a child needs: private lessons, friends, transportation to camp, to Tzivos Hashem, or an activity.

    What if, once in a long while a child needs to forgo something? That’s okay; even children in established Chabad communities forgo all kinds of experiences because of various reasons. Can a mother always go with a child to where he wants to go when on vacation? No. As long as this doesn’t happen too often, you don’t need to feel bad when a child forgoes something occasionally. He might pick up on those pitying feelings we have and blame all his ordinary difficulties on the fact that he’s on shlichus which is really incorrect.


    How can we protect children from foreign influences?

    Mrs. Beckerman: Children can come back from the street and even from school with inappropriate behaviors, words, and ideas. When this happens, we will always remind them of our special place, of our standing. We are shluchim of the Rebbe and that is not for us. We also need to constantly try to ensure that our child is the one doing the influencing. When you’re influencing, you’re not being influenced. When our child is a Tzivos Hashem leader, arranges Mesibos Shabbos, each one at the appropriate age, she is not open to picking things up from the environment, G-d forbid.

    Mrs. Russo: A child on shlichus needs to be given a chinuch that is no less and even better than that of a child growing up in a community in Eretz Yisrael. This is one of the reasons that motivated me to take on the running of “Moshiach Kids.” He needs to receive the full package of the three ‘ches’ words; chinuch, Chassidishkeit and chevra (social circle).

    Chaya: The child of a shliach who lives in a community, city, country whose residents aren’t religious, knows exactly what the difference is between him and them. He was born and raised on shlichus and naturally draws the distinction between him and those around him. A girl on shlichus doesn’t feel competition from a neighbor who walks around in leotards. That is way distant from her and her world. She knows how to behave and they don’t. The problem begins with a friend in a Chabad school.

    In my bitter experience, friends from Lubavitcher families who bring foreign ideas, are exposed to inappropriate content and are not particular about Chassidishe conduct as we are, are a far more difficult enticement to our girls. My son didn’t even have a taava for the neighbors’ television or dog; it was foreign to him. But friends from his class who brought in inappropriate songs and admiration for people not in our cultural world, were a tough challenge. “They’re also Lubavitch! Why can they, and I can’t?” A girl on shlichus is not jealous of a blouse that doesn’t cover enough; it has nothing to do with her, but a classmate who wears short socks definitely makes it hard to be particular about tznius. We need to explain to our children that shlichus doesn’t end in our neighborhood; it goes everywhere with us, even to… the Kinus HaShluchim!”


    Mrs. Beckerman: When we see our children carrying on our work on shlichus, there is no greater nachas. When a married daughter gives of her money and energy and goes with her husband, every night of Chanuka, to make house calls, when boys in yeshiva make “Hakhels,” when girls are madrichos in Tzivos Hashem, this is our nachas.

    Mrs. Russo: Two small/big stories:

    One day, the children went with one of the babysitters on a trip to a place where there are inflatable rides and other activities. When I asked what they enjoyed, they told me about making chocolate. I was taken aback. India is not a place where you can imagine that maybe the ingredients are kosher. I checked things out with the babysitter and it turned out that she had tried to keep them away from the demo, but they said they didn’t understand the problem, “We won’t taste it; we just want to see how it’s made.” The children knew to enjoy the process without the self pity about not being able to eat it, and they really hadn’t touched any of it.

    Another story: My husband took our two-year-old along when he went to take care of something important with a respected official. The fellow enjoyed the little boy and offered him chocolate. “No point in trying,” said my husband. “He won’t take it; he knows already.” And so it was. This little one did not touch the chocolate; it was as though he didn’t see it. Children of Moshiach …

    Chaya: I think that shlichus in my situation provides more nachas moments. Firstly, that which is considered ordinary to another shlucha, is nachas for me. My son comes home from yeshiva with a smile and good marks? He goes on mivtza tefillin on Friday and reviews a sicha on Shabbos? That’s not a given; that’s real nachas. I know it can be very different than that… Secondly, I have nachas that nobody else has; when I’m sent a picture of Shneur putting on tefillin at a Chabad tefillin stand, that shakes something deep inside the heart. When I learn that Shneur spent the entire night in a questionable venue, but insisted on lighting a menorah at the beginning of the night with a large crowd, it brings tears to my eyes. And that’s even before I start imagining when he comes back altogether!

    Wow, after all that was said here, there is nothing to add. We just need to take the powerful ideas and messages to our heart and home, and wish you all lots and lots of Chassidishe nachas, that you merit to stand on the front line together with your children and receive a true smile of nachas from the Rebbe Melech HaMoshiach! 


    The magazine can be obtained in stores around Crown Heights. To purchase a subscription, please go to: bmoshiach.org


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